There are debates over regular deliveries versus surgical deliveries, and these can make moms think the two are vastly different with nothing in common. While it's true that the experiences are very different, what many people fail to realize is how similar some of the side effects and recovery can be.
Women who deliver vaginally can easily talk to a woman who underwent a C-section and find out that they suffered through some of the same struggles. In fact, many women who end up having C-sections went through a trial of labor, so they have similar stories to share. Even women who have scheduled C-sections go through many of the same recovery issues as women who deliver vaginally.
Why is this important? Because in the world of birthing as a competitive sport, it's good to be reminded that no mom escapes the indignities of wearing an adult diaper or having strangers stare at her private bits. Those are the realities of having children. We love them, we want them out of our bodies and in our arms, and we'll do whatever we have to in order to make that happen.
In most life situations, we can find something that we have in common with someone else just as easily as finding something different. That's especially important for moms who are trying to find mom friends and share stories of life in the trenches of recovering from birth and having an infant. One place we can start looking for commonalities is in our birth stories.
15 Every Mom Suffers Through Contractions
Every woman will experience contractions. Some women have them during labor, such as those who deliver vaginally. Women who undergo C-sections may still have contractions before they have the C-section if they have a trial of labor first, but even if mom has a scheduled C-section, she won't escape contractions. That's because in a cosmic twist of crazy, mom still suffers contractions after the baby is out.
That's right, the contracting part of labor isn't over for a while. Luckily, the contractions serve a purpose. After birth, they stop the bleeding in our uterus, causing us to lose much less blood than if we didn't have them. They also contract our uterus back down to size. I know, it doesn't look that way when mom looks at her stomach after giving birth, but contractions will whittle our uterus down.
As our babies nurse, our uterus will continue to contract. So don’t worry C-section moms; we don't miss out on contractions, even if we'd like to!
14 Bleeding After Birth Is Unavoidable For All Moms
Make no mistake: every mom leaves wearing the adult diaper. Bleeding after birth is a rite of passage no mom misses, no matter how her baby arrived.
The bleeding that comes after birth isn't just because our bodies have opened, either vaginally or by way of a scalpel, to birth a child. The main reason is the detachment of the placenta. Lochia, the discharge and blood we bleed after birth, is like a period in some ways.
However, it is usually heavier and lasts longer. The reason it occurs is that our placenta detaches from the uterus after the baby is born since it is no longer needed. Blood vessels around the area of separation are then open, and they bleed.
Luckily, our uterus contracts to close off those vessels, so while it's not fun to have contractions after having a child, they serve a purpose.
13 Vomiting Is Real
Mom may have thought the first trimester offered her all the vomit she could handle. That's just because she hadn't reached birth yet.
Vomiting is extremely common during labor and after C-sections. There are a variety of reasons, one being that some moms never really stop experiencing morning sickness. They struggle with nausea throughout pregnancy, and delivery day is just another time for them to puke.
The other reason, and the one most often shared by women who have C-sections or vaginal deliveries, is the use of pain medication. Epidurals and spinal blocks, the top choices for pain management during labor, can cause mom's blood pressure to drop, and that results in nausea that can lead to throwing up. The medicine in general can make mom sick, and she should tell her doctor if the pain medication is doing more harm than good.
12 Medicated Birth = Uncontrollable Shaking
Veteran moms tend to warn newbies about this development that takes place while mom is having her child. As if there isn't enough going on, mom can start shaking uncontrollably without any warning that it's going to happen.
Moms who deliver without an epidural or spinal may have the privilege of skipping this one, but mom's who receive drugs for pain management will likely find they can't stop shaking. This is an effect of the anesthesia, and it can be very concerning if mom doesn't know it's going to happen.
Moms who deliver vaginally or by C-section may be surprised to find they need help holding the baby because of the aggressive shaking. This will pass, but many moms are familiar with how weird it felt while it was happening. Shaking stories abound in the mom community.
11 Constipation Is Common After Any Delivery
Constipation is very common after mom has a baby. The reason moms who experienced C-sections and moms who had vaginal delivers deal with this issue usually comes down to one thing: fear.
For a woman who just gave birth vaginally, she may have some concerns about pushing anything else out from her southern region. If there is a tear or stitches were required, this can add to the fear of putting pressure down there while trying to have a bowel movement.
Moms who are recovering from C-sections fear the stitches or staples holding their abdomen together ripping open as they attempt to force stool from their body. The pain at the incision site is not easy to ignore, and it's a constant reminder that mom's tissue is being held together by string, basically.
Every woman can benefit from drinking water and eating foods that help move stool, and asking for a stool softener if necessary.
10 Drugs Are A Big Part Of Both
It's true that some moms deliver without medication. However, that doesn't mean they will escape meds after the baby is delivered since there is no way to know what waits on the other side of labor.
For moms who have C-sections, drugs are a given. No woman wants to feel a scalpel cut her child out of her body, so anesthesia is a must, as are antibiotics to avoid infection. Women who choose anesthesia for vaginal deliveries may also take pain medication home with them to continue to take the edge off while they recover.
Even moms who deliver naturally can end up with medication if they develop an infection from a tear. Also, most women end up on mild stool softeners after birth since constipation is not something mom wants to deal with, especially since it can lead to hemorrhoids.
9 All Moms Go Through Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring
Moms who deliver in hospitals will quickly find that the doctors want to monitor the baby's heart rate constantly or near constantly during birth. For women in labor, this looks like being strapped to a machine that tethers them close to the bed while readouts of their babies' heart rates pour forth from a machine.
For moms who have C-sections it looks the same. Mom will usually have a heart rate monitor strapped to her body until she is wheeled in for surgery.
While modern technology is great, excessive heart rate monitoring can lead to unnecessary C-sections if a doctor jumps the gun. In fact, many moms go through a trial of labor only to end up with a C-section due to an odd heart rate reading that was not actually a risk.
Mom has the right to put in her birth plan that she would like to modify the amount of heart rate monitoring that takes place, but hospitals can refuse. Both vaginal and C-section delivery moms can understand the struggle.
8 Infections Are A Risk For All Moms
There's no doubt that moms who have C-sections are at a higher risk for infections. Research supports that find often. However, infections can happen to any mom, no matter how she gave birth.
Moms may tear during delivery or receive an episiotomy to open the area down below so the baby can slide out easier. Either one of these can lead to an infection, though an episiotomy is more likely to. All moms are also at risk for mastitis, an infection in the breasts due to bacteria or blocked milk ducts. Mom could also have to deal with urinary tract infections or endometritis, an infection of the uterine lining.
Though most of these infections aren't common, they put all moms at risk, not just ones who had surgery. Our bodies are susceptible to infection after going through something as major as birth, so it's important to look for signs.
7 Excessive Blood Loss Is A Risk
Women who have C-sections lose twice as much blood as women who deliver vaginally. That's one reason researchers are concerned about the increase in C-sections across the United States. If a woman who has already lost blood due to a C-section experiences a postpartum hemorrhage, she is at an even higher risk for serious problems.
However, excessive blood loss doesn't just affect C-section moms. If mom's uterus does not properly contract after the placenta detaches, she won't stop bleeding. Those contractions help stop the blood flow, and without them any woman can hemorrhage. If this occurs, doctors will have to assist to stop the blood flow, and mom may end up with a blood transfusion.
Excessive blood loss is rare, but every mom should know it's a possibility. Moms who have C-sections are usually made aware of this risk before surgery, but moms who deliver vaginally are sometimes not.
6 Moms Can Feel Ignored During Birth
No matter how mom delivers, she can be surrounded by people who talk around her as opposed to to her during birth, and she may find other people are being asked to make decisions that should be hers.
Since moms are in pain during vaginal deliveries and a bit woozy from all the drugs during C-sections, some healthcare practitioners forget that mom is still capable of making decisions. They can also forget that it's nice to be checked in on and that having someone talk to mom is different than having someone talk about her while she is in the room.
Birth partners who accompany mom to the labor room or the operating room should be prepared to focus their attention on mom and to make sure doctors and nurses do the same. It's our birth; we should feel a part of it.
5 Horrible Headaches Await Moms
Not everyone experiences the post-birth headache, but many women complain about it, and they come from groups of C-section moms and moms who delivered vaginally with pain medication.
The likely culprit is an epidural or spinal. When that long needle that no mom wants to think about is placed in the fluid around mom's spine, it's possible that spinal fluid will start leaking out of mom's body. This process changes the pressure in the brain and spine, and if enough fluid escapes, mom is going to know because her massive headache is going to alert her.
Moms need to notify their doctors, nurses, or midwives when this occurs. Though they usually take care of themselves, spinal and epidural headaches can occur up to a week after birth, and mom may need help to stop the spinal fluid from leaking anymore.
4 No Matter How She Delivers, Mom Needs A Birth Plan
Birth plans are sometimes seen as a sure sign that nothing will go as mom planned, but it's good to have a birth plan, no matter the circumstances of mom's delivery. While moms who want to deliver vaginally know how a birth plan can benefit them, moms who need C-sections should also consider writing one. Birth plans can help mom, no matter how she labors.
Having desires spelled out in writing helps the medical staff know a bit about where mom's mind is and what her ideal delivery looks like. Moms who have C-sections can still request to be able to hold their baby in the OR, to be offered the opportunity to breastfeed ASAP, and to watch the baby emerge from her body. Those little choices help mom feel a bit more in control of a surgical situation.
3 Itching Is Universal
While mom is trying to focus on bonding with her newborn, she may find herself distracted by sudden and violent itching. Mom's skin feels like it needs to be clawed off for her to receive relief, and it's a very strange start to recovery.
The reasons vary, but pain medications administered to moms during or after births can cause itching. Even moms who deliver without pain management can deal with this since some moms opt to receive a bit of pain relief after the baby is born. If given a medicine their body isn't fond of, these moms will start having a reaction.
Moms who go through C-sections and are almost certain to be on intravenous medication for the next 24 hours are especially at risk. They should tell the doctor or nurses if this annoyance will not go away, as should any mom who delivered vaginally who can't get itching relief.
2 Moms Stress Over Regular Or Surgical Delivery
No matter how mom delivers, she may have post-birth stress related to the birth. This is largely because despite our best plans, birth can take unexpected turns quickly, and decisions have to be made that we didn't think about before. This can leave many women feeling traumatized even when they walk away with their precious baby.
For moms who deliver vaginally, what was supposed to be a natural birth may have turned into a medicated one, and mom may feel needlessly guilty about that change. For moms who have C-sections, planned or not, there can sometimes be a very strong feeling of failure, even though there shouldn’t be. C-section moms often suffer with the idea that they didn't try hard enough to deliver vaginally.
Moms can talk through this guilt together and bond over it. What is important is that they understand they did a great job, no matter how baby arrived here.
1 Mom Still Leaves With A Baby
Whether mom had an all natural birth at home, a medical vaginal delivery in the hospital, or a C-section, the goal is the same: get the baby to evacuate. At the end of the day, each mom just wants to hold her baby, and no matter how that has to be accomplished, mom will leave with her little one and start raising a child.
While many mothers put a ton of thought into how they hope to birth, some have admitted to not thinking much about what happens after birth. Giving birth is important no matter how we do it, and moms should research and understand all of their options.
However, they also have to remember that birth is the beginning of a lifelong journey, and there will be a million more decisions to make that will also have to be researched and discussed. Our birth stories, good or bad, are not the end.