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Entries in c-section (9)


The “Gentle C-Section” Featured on NPR


Skin-to-Skin Immediately after C-Section = Pure Joy

I promised you a post on “family centered c-sections” two years ago when I wrote Z’s birth story. Life got in the way and it never happened—I’m so sorry. It’s a really important post and I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to share it with you.

This morning on NPR, I heard the story I’ve been meaning to write. It’s all about the small changes that some hospitals are making to allow women to have “gentle c-sections,” which are “more like a birth and less like an operation.” I was so lucky that three years ago a MommyBeta reader alerted me to this trend and that my OB and hospital were so willing to do this for me.  

What is a Gentle or Family-Centered C-Section?

First off, the idea of the gentle c-section is not to encourage elective c-sections, but to make the process more graceful and loving for those who need a c-section.  Some of the ways that this can be done are:

  • Lowering the drape or using a see-through drape so that the mother can see the baby being pulled out.
  • Placing the child directly onto the mother’s chest after being pulled out.

When I had to have a c-section with Nic after 27 hours of labor, the only thing that I was really disappointed about was not having him placed on my chest right after birth.  I knew that I didn’t want a VBAC with Z, but still ached for that experience of having immediate skin-to-skin contact with my baby.

I gave birth to baby Z at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, California. My request for this type of c-section, though a first for my OB and the hospital, was well-received and executed seamlessly. I was pleasantly surprised at how flexible and on-board the doctors and nurses were. It made for a relaxed and loving birth experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone having a planned, not high risk c-section.

Not everyone can have the birth that they really want. Hearing the NPR story this morning made my heart happy to know that mothers and hospitals are collaborating to make births as special as possible, no matter the method of delivery. 

After more than a day of labor, I was so happy to have my first baby. I wish I could have been the one holding him in this picture though.


According to Plan – C-Section vs. VBAC


Such a big decision, however early on my OB and I decided that it would be best for me to schedule a c-section vs trying for a VBAC due to the many complications I had with labor last time, which ended up in an emergency c-section. So I decided trying for a VBAC just wasn’t worth it to me especially since the chances are slim. Nathalee shared her reasons for choosing C-Section over VBAC here and Jennifer is leaning towards a VBAC

Part of me is totally bummed because I wanted to skip the six-week c-section recovery period (a very long time for me not to be able to pick up Reese) but I know this decision is in the best interest for me and this little peanut inside me. Although I guess he’s not a litte peanut anymore as I’m approaching seven months.

Anyway, since I have decided to have a planned c-section, instead of dreading the lenthy recovery period I’ve been focusing on the benefits of a planned c-section *if all goes according to plan and he doesn’t come early!

  • No waiting around to go into labor wondering if today is the day!
  • I’ve been able to enlist and schedule help from my Mom and in-laws during my four-day hospital stay and recovery period.
  • I am not as worried about Reese since I will have family here beore, during and after.
  • Finally, Nathalee shared her wonderful experience of a “family centered c-section,” where baby can be put on my chest immediately after he is pulled out as long as he cries.  

My first c-section recovery was terrible. I ended up with a blood clot and and infection so the healing time was slow and painful. For those who have had c-section – when did you start to feel yourself healing? And for those with another child at home, how did you manage not being able to carry them?


Baby Z’s Birth Story


I know, I know. Baby Z is nearly five months old, and I’m just writing his birth story. Let’s just say we’ve been busy. Without further ado, here it is.

Relatively early in my pregnancy, I chose not to attempt a VBAC. So, as my due date approached, I didn’t have too much anxiety about the birth. I was pretty confident that I’d make it to my C-section at 39 weeks, and knew what to expect of the recovery.Really? No one could tell me that I was so huge that all of my clothes looked see-through?

We were due at the hospital at 6 am, so we packed up the car and left a sleeping Nic with my parents. I debated whether or not to wake him to say goodbye, but I’m glad that I didn’t. That probably would have been traumatic for everyone.

After miles of paper work, it was finally time to get started. Shaun suited up in his scrubs and I walked to the OR (which was strange, since last time I was wheeled in). The very handsome anesthesiologist gave me my spinal, which hurt less than last time, and we were on our way.

With Dominic’s birth, the only thing that I was disappointed about was that I didn’t get to hold him as soon as he came out. When I wrote about this on MommyBeta, one of our fabulous readers introduced me to the idea of a “family-centered C-section.” In this type of C-section, the baby can be placed directly on mom’s chest after he is pulled out. You can also lower the drape to see the baby come out if you so desire—Shaun can’t handle the site of blood, so this wasn’t an option for us.

I was so excited about this possibility, although I was skeptical that my OB would go for it. To my pleasant surprise, after I sent her the link about family-centered C-sections (she’d never heard of it before), she talked with the hospital’s nursery and everyone was on board! They said that as long as the baby cried when he came out, he could go directly on my chest. I was so excited about this possibility. (I'll write a separate post with more info on the family-centered C-section later.)

So, as I lay on the operating table, everyone took some extra steps to prepare for our special moment. During a C-section, it’s typical to use something called a “bear hugger” that blows warm air on to mom’s chest. Because we had to make room for baby, the anesthesiologist moved that around a bit, but it still made me wonderfully warm. I remember feeling so peaceful waiting for the surgery to begin. I was completely relaxed, but excited. It was a very different feeling from when Dominic was born. That time, I was exhausted after 27 hours of labor, my shoulders and neck ached with tension and my whole body was shaking.

Shaun soon entered the room and took his place beside me. He was so nervous. After a few minutes of tugging and pulling, Baby Z was out. After about 15 seconds, I heard the amazing sound of Z’s first cries and my doctor placed him on my chest. I was breathless. It was exactly what I wanted and I was so happy that it had finally happened.


I could see his tiny face and feel his warm breath and slimy little body. And he was huge! I got to hold him for a few minutes and then the nurses took him to clean and weigh him. He was 8 lbs. 12 oz! That’s almost a full pound more than Nic. No wonder I was SO HUGE. Plus, my OB said that I had a lot of fluid.

She also said that my uterine wall was very thin, upon hearing that, I was very glad that I had chosen to forgo the VBAC. My doctor also put some extra stitches in my ab muscles all the way up to my belly button, as she suspected I was starting to have some diastasis or abdominal separation.

I nursed Z in the recovery room—he latched right away—and then we were moved to our real room, where we’d spend the next few days bonding and healing.

This time around, certain parts of the recovery were better and certain parts worse. This time, I wasn’t as afraid to get up and move, because I knew how much it helped last time. However, this time, I felt like I needed the pain meds more. There was one day when a nurse failed to stay on top of my meds and I really felt the repercussions. It was awful.

The other weird thing was that I had intense pain in my shoulder blade if I lay down for more than 20 minutes. Apparently, when you are splayed open on the operating table, air can become trapped inside your body and you can actually get gas pockets in places like your shoulders. Who knew!?! The worst part about it was that I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, and there was nothing the doctors could do about it. It lasted for almost a week and was definitely the worst part of my recovery.

Because I had such a hard time sleeping, I spent a lot of time snuggling with Baby Z those first few days. With Nic, I was terrified to have him in bed with me, and never once slept next to him. But with Z, I was more comfortable and more confident and we slept side-by-side from the very beginning. I loved it then, and still love it now. There’s nothing better than feeling his soft, warm face against mine while hearing him snore soundly (he’s always been noisy sleeper).

I never had much anxiety around Z’s birth, what made me nervous was how Nic was going to respond to his little brother. We did tons of prep with him—reading books, taking him to the hospital to see what it was like, a sibling preparedness class—but you never know how it’s going to transpire. We’d planned for Nana and Grampy to bring him to the hospital the day after Z was born, but we were all doing well by the afternoon of his birth, so we moved up the visit one day. I’m glad we did! Such a happy family.

We made sure that baby was in the basinet when Nic entered the room. I wanted to put all of my attention on him and let him ask about the baby. I didn’t want him to feel replaced. I was happy that as soon as he entered the room, he was happily inquiring about Baby Z. He met his brother and quickly learned to say his long name. I think his favorite part of the visit was the special gift that Shaun, Baby Z and I gave to him. We took a few pictures together as a family and wrapped up our short, successful visit. I was relieved.

When I think of Z’s entrance into the world, three things stand out in my mind—the peaceful feeling I had during his birth, the feeling of him on my chest, and snuggling him in bed during those first few days. Compared to Dominic’s birth, there was much less drama and anticipation, but it was filled with just as much love and many more cuddles! 

 My favorite photo with Baby Z.



Podcast #55: Waiting for Champagne

The MommyBetas will be gathering in California for a dear friend's wedding this weekend and are looking forward to champagne toasts and wedding cake! While Jennifer and Natali are in-transit, Alex and Nathalee discuss the week's posts and news. Topics include: A possible link between C-sections and obesity in babies, potty training (of course!) and the intricacies of gift-giving

And a big thank you to our sponsors, and!

Listen to the podcast here.

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Why I Chose Not to Attempt a VBAC


As you may know, I ended up delivering Nic via C-section. When thinking about baby #2, I often thought I would try for a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC), and it was one of my first questions for my OB at our 8 week appointment. The news wasn’t what I expected. Our first picture with our new baby will probably look a lot like this, but this time I'll have makeup and contacts on!

My doctor explained that because the problem during my first delivery was failure to progress, that my chances of having a successful VBAC are only about 10%.  She explained that if you have a C-section because of fetal distress or breach presentation, you have about a 50% chance of having a successful VBAC. I wasn’t quite sad when I heard this, just surprised. I had always thought that VBAC was a real option for me, but a 10% success rate didn’t seem worth the stress.

You see, if I were to go for a VBAC, I think I’d put everything I could into it. I’d hire a doula, probably switch to a more VBAC-friendly OB and commit myself to the most natural birth possible. And after putting all of that energy into a VBAC, if I ended up with a C-section, I think I would be truly disappointed. For me, it just comes down to not wanting to set myself up for that. I wasn’t disappointed the first time around, and I don’t want to be this time.

I think if my C-section had been for different reasons, I would have more seriously considered a VBAC. My husband was never into the idea (he still cringes when we talk about how much pain I was in right before I got the epidural), but I know he would have supported me if it was really what I wanted.

It turns out, that I’m perfectly ok that my babies come out “through the sunroof.” Although I’ll never have that experience where they pull the baby out and lay it directly on my chest (the one thing I feel I really missed with my C-section), I do get some solace in knowing that my parents will be in town and ready to watch Nic when I leave for the hospital on August 1st.


Note: I’m not a doctor and am just relaying, as accurately as possible, what my doctor told me. Please, please talk to your own doctor about the odds of a successful VBAC and the risks involved. Also, I’m not looking to be convinced into going for a VBAC. I know that do still have the option, but I have chosen not to go that route.