Sharanya Misra

At 6.30 AM one Sunday, I was wheeled into the Operation Theater and shortly thereafter my daughter came wailing out into the world. A beautiful moment, one would expect. Only, I was too stressed to enjoy it, because this was not how I had imagined my delivery would go!

You see, I had a very, ‘low risk’ pregnancy. No high BP, no diabetes, no family health issues or past complications to consider. As a result, I was a case of high-probability-normal delivery. That stuck in my head. All through my pregnancy, I read and read about how I could prepare myself mentally for the big day. I read of breathing techniques, I read of hypno-birthing, water birthing, exercises. I had watched my sister have a normal delivery 5 years back and knew her recovery process and imagined myself going through the same. But at 6.30 AM that morning, when the doctors recommended an emergency c-section, all my plans went haywire. I had not read up anything much on this bit at all…assuming a normal delivery to be the more ‘complex’ scenario that needed preparation for. A c-section, if at all, I would ‘manage’ was what I had believed. And now I was being taken for it and I was completely in the dark as to what would happen next!

Unfortunately for me, I was not up for what followed. I struggled tremendously with my recovery post the surgery. The 2 weeks after my delivery were a terrible time, and I would be lying if I said I am in perfect health even now. While the process itself may not have been different, I realize now, I could have been mentally much stronger and better prepared if only I had taken time to understand what to expect in a C-Section. It wouldn’t have made recovery any easier, but the elimination of the surprise element would have helped me sail through with lesser stress and greater determination and grit.

1. It is not the ‘Easier Way Out’!
It is important to remember that a c-section is NOT painless! Only, the pain sets in much later, as opposed to a normal delivery. While the recovery from a normal delivery is usually swift, a c-section recovery is slow and long – with the internal stitches taking at least 6 weeks to heal. Moreover, numbness at the site of incision and back pain could be long-lasting side effects.

2. It is a SURGERY – but not just!
A c-section is after all a surgery and one must go through all the post-operative recovery measures. But that’s not all. What makes a c-section recovery truly challenging is the presence of your newborn. Your body cannot reserve all focus on recovering from the procedure. Your child will need your attention too – especially for feeds, assuming you have help for all other needs – and your own pain must take a back seat to cater to her.

3. You may miss your child’s firsts!
As I dozed in and out of pain-killer induced sleep, I missed my child’s first bath, her first vaccination and her sight and hearing tests. For a new mother, already under much stress, these can be huge emotional triggers. It’s important to remember that there are many more baths, vaccinations and tests in the future where you can be next to her for support.

4. The bond takes time!
I remember thinking during the first week of recovery that I had felt much more connected to my daughter when she had been inside my womb! The recovery from a c-section can take a toll on your body and the pain can take your mind away from your baby. I resented feed time because my stitches hurt like crazy upon sitting up and I just wanted to rest instead. This in turn left me guilt-ridden! But what’s crucial to know is that this is okay, and that over time as you feel better, you will naturally connect more with your child.

5. Emotions run high!
All these points put together can make the recovery phase an emotional roller-coaster. I was a wreck, breaking into tears every now and then, for no known reason. Post-partum depression is real, and given the added stress of recovery from a c-section, a new mother could have a huge struggle at hand. It’s important to reach out for help when needed and unload to feel better.

The birth of a child is also the birth of a mother, both struggling to cope with their new environments. Let’s help mothers-to-be with some proactive preparedness to make their recovery easier and the challenges of new motherhood less daunting!

Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

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