Accepting the Journey, After Two C-sections

 
Image Courtesy Ashley Marston Photography

Image Courtesy Ashley Marston Photography

I have had two caesarean sections, TWO. I love my daughters more than I thought it was possible to love two of the messiest people in the whole world (or that’s what it feels like when I’m cleaning up after them), but I never thought I would have one C-section let alone two.

That’s how the cookie crumbles I guess. My first was an emergency C-section after labouring for way longer than I would have liked, and the second C-section was because my daughter was breech, six days overdue and way too big to be turned around.

After my first C-section I had some issues healing. The right side opened up and it took a few extra weeks to close again.

That’s real life folks, there’s no ‘easy way’ to have a baby.

As a result, I developed some extra scar tissue and pain on that side of my scar. That pain never went away and if I’m being honest I did nothing to help that situation get better.

Fast forward two years and I’ve just had a second C-section. The surgeon tells me that he’s removed some of that scar tissue but also that he had to lengthen my incision by 2.5 inches to get my gigantic breech baby out. After that horrifying revelation I was pretty concerned about that scar!

My midwife must have seen the distress I was trying to hide and assured me it would be all right. She referred me to a physiotherapy clinic that does laser, massage and pelvic floor physiotherapy among other things. If I’m being honest, I had heard about the pelvic floor but I didn’t really know much about it. I was more concerned about the huge scar that I had yet to even look at in the mirror.

I had two psychological stumbling blocks after both of my caesareans, the first was looking at the scar, and the second was touching it.

If you are at that point in the healing process, let me assure you that once you look at your scar and acknowledge it, things start to seem a whole lot better. After the initial six-week healing period I pretty much figured I was done but I wanted to do better the second time around. I realized I probably shouldn’t have pain all the time like I did after my first daughter was born, so I went to physio.

There are a couple things I learned after my second C-section that I wish I had known before the first:

The first is to move your scar around! Get the go ahead from your care provider to start massaging your scar around six weeks. Move it up, down, side to side, diagonally, pick up your skin around your scar and lift it away from your body (like a gentle pinch), and use deep pressure to massage the scar and area around it. Work mostly on areas that feel sore or restricted. It’s also been recommended to me to use the frankincense essential oil or any other neutral/unscented oil or lotion.

The second thing is that even if you’re not peeing your pants, you still might have a pelvic floor issue. I assumed my pelvic floor would be totally A-OK because I had C-sections instead of vaginal deliveries but my assumptions were not entirely correct.

As it turns out, your pelvic floor consists of a whole slew of muscles that essentially connect and/or help support your entire body. Go figure. So, my pelvic floor is too tight. At physio I learned some techniques to try to relax my too tight pelvic floor muscles. These include breathing exercises and stretching my low back. If you feel like you have to pee all the time, you, my friend, might also have a pelvic floor that’s too tight.

Stretch soon and often! I’ve had some pretty severe tailbone pain post C-section. I discovered this was also related to my tight pelvic floor. So stretching and yoga have been helping tremendously. I assumed that I needed to continue to rest when I felt discomfort but I wish I had started stretching sooner and more regularly because it’s helping so much.

The last thing I wish I did after my first daughter’s birth is accept that this is a journey. I really think that this is the most important thing that I’ve learned this time around.

I wish I had taken the time to consider and accept how my body had changed after my first pregnancy. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I’d love to get my body back soon.

It can often feel like we are not ourselves with all the changes happening postpartum and the demands of feeding and caring for another human being. I often feel pulled in too many directions, with not enough time to complete tasks or do things the way I would like.

If there is anything that life has taught me thus far, it’s that it’s OK to not be the same as we once were.

That doesn’t mean that I will remain this way. This postpartum time is a stage in which many things are changing and will continue to change. I’m doing my best to have patience and embrace this time. It’s a work in progress. There are lots of things, including my postpartum body, that are not exactly where I would like them to be.

Until then, I’m going to try to love my body the way it is because it produced two children who I love way more than I love being in shape.

Jess Little