What’s it like to have a caesarean after a vaginal birth? 

This is probably one of the questions I get asked the most, not only by clients but from other birth workers and even my family and friends! 

I guess for many people, they might experience one or the other (don’t forget that vaginal birth is absolutely possible after an abdominal birth!). 

So what did I find from both of my birth experiences? 

Before the birth 

In terms of preparation, both of my children were born prematurely so I hadn’t really fully gotten things ready at home and it also meant that I did end up having conversations with obstetrics (only as my waters broke with Charlotte but of course at length with Williams birth due to my diagnosis of ICP / requesting a caesarean. 

I had been incredibly focused on my hypnobirthing techniques and had written my birth plans and I was incredibly focused on staying within my zone when it came to both of my babies – their labours started in exactly the same way and whilst Charlotte’s labour progressed, I became quite unwell with a gallstone attack (this was undiagnosed at the time) and therefore I found that I really needed to prepare for Williams birth in a completely different way.

With a vaginal birth, it almost felt like completely letting go whereas with a caesarean – the build up felt the opposite. I was wanting to chat through my options and whilst I felt it important to stay in my zone – I almost wanted the distraction of talking to friends, family and my doula whilst I waited to go down to the theatre. 

The Birth 

I loved labour, I felt incredibly in tune with my body and I very much felt the same during William’s birth too – I felt incredibly connected to my babies and really tuned into my instincts to help lead me to do what I felt was right. 

Charlotte was born in a hospital and whilst the room had quite a medicalised look and feel – I was able to switch my mind off and stay focused on being in my birthing zone and this was still so important for me when it came to Williams birth – I’d never been in a theatre before and I was determined that whilst having a spinal block I stay focused, whilst preparing for the caesarean to start, there was a moment where I felt a little out of control and my breathing and visualisation helped me just as powerfully as it had done during Charlotte’s vaginal birth. 

Craig, my husband, played a huge role in the births of both of our children – he was my primary focus just as both of our babies were born. We worked as a team and whilst there were more checks done on William after his birth – we were very quickly able to create our little nook. 

The one thing I would say about having a caesarean was that I did feel quite frustrated that I just wanted to move my arms and hold my baby easily – I totally got and understood why it was harder.. I’d just say it probably was one of the things that I found the hardest having experienced so much freedom to move about when Charlotte was born. Again, just focusing on cuddling William and being with Craig really made all the difference. 

The Postpartum Period 

This is the area that I get asked about the most – what’s it like to recover from a caesarean compared to a vaginal birth. 

One thing I need to say is that the circumstances around my second birth were very different compared to my first, I was suffering with undiagnosed gallstones which had resulted in multiple organ issues so I did end up having 2 surgeries within 6 weeks of William’s birth which did mean my recovery probably felt quite different…

This might sound weird but there were elements I felt so much happier with when it came to caesarean birth recovery – life was slower, I spent more time resting and relaxing in skin to skin with William in bed. I felt nurtured and held by my midwives, doula, Craig and family and friends – I genuinely believe that this slower period helped me to recover both physically and mentally from a very challenging 2 months. 

The recovery from the caesarean birth wasn’t actually as scary as what I thought it would be. At first standing up and walking around felty quite daunting, yet I very quickly gained my confidence – I get why people said it was important to walk about as soon as I was able, it really helped me build my confidence up straight away. 

Charlotte’s birth was a physiological vaginal birth with a few small stitches, I’ve got to admit, being a first time mum it was more the anxiety of not knowing what was normal which I found quite difficult (again, this did impact me a little bit after a caesarean with my 2nd birth as it was my first experience!).

Overall, both of my experiences were really positive with my taking care of my stitches, listening to my body and seeking out advice from my GP and midwives if I needed reassurance.

My biggest tips from experiencing both types of birth 

Have an action plan on how you can use your hypnobirthing anchors for different birthing scenarios.

Chat with your birth partner and midwife about your birth preferences and the ways you want them to support you. 

Have a bit of a plan for the postpartum period and consider what your recovery might look like and how to reach out to others.

Remember that your breathing techniques really are the best tool in all types of birth

You are very much in the driver’s seat regardless of the type of birth – everything is always your choice.

How can I use hypnobirthing techniques during antenatal appointments?

When it comes to hypnobirthing techniques, they are sooo adaptable that when it comes to teaching my clients – I’m forever suggesting different ways that they can use their hypnobirthing toolkit outside of wherever they are choosing to give birth!

During antenatal appointments, its great to practice with any relaxation techniques that your planning on using for the birth of your baby as it helps you to put them into practice whilst creating an association with the techniques and birthy sort of environments (e.g. midwives, the hospital etc).

What sorts of techniques and tools can I use during my appointments?

Calm breathing – Breathing well during labour can be an absolute gamechanger, not only does it provide us with a focus, it helps us to stay within the rest and digest nervous system and contributes towards creating the powerful birthing hormones that fuel birth.

Breathing well during any moment, can help us to think more clearly and that’s why its great to use during any type of antenatal appointment.

Simply take a long deep breath in through your nose and a longer one back out through your mouth (during my hypnobirthing classes, we learn about a variety of other tools that you can use whilst using your breathing too)

This will help your mind to become clearer and for your body to feel safe.

Ask for time – This is such a good tip! We often feel like we need to make decisions quite quickly during our antenatal appointments, a lot of us suffer from that fear of taking up someone’s time or that dreaded white coat syndrome.

In the vast majority of circumstances, there is always time before making a decision… when it comes to your body, your baby and your care.. its important that you feel like your able to make choices based on what really feels best for you so ask for time to think about it.

Tell them you’ll call them once you’ve made a choice, ask them if its that urgent that you need to make a decision straight away (this way you can really gage whether or not you do have that time consider things for longer).

You can then do your own research, speak about it with your partner or doula and really listen to your gut before making your choice. Never feel pressurised to make a choice – this is your antenatal appointment, it has to work best for you.

Use positive affirmations – These were a biggie for me with both of my children, having pregnancy anxiety in my first pregnancy meant that I was keen to find different methods that increased my confidence during antenatal appointments from the word go.

Affirmations are a really great way of bigging yourself up – a bit like preparing for a job interview, they can be used to tell yourself certain statements (even if you don’t always believe them at first).

They can almost trick your mind into thinking in a more positive way so have a think of a few simple ones that you can use for your appointments – ‘I can do this’ was a big one for me as well as ‘This is my baby, its always my choice’ was another.

Chant them in your head.. out loud if you prefer, write them down and stick it on the car dashboard, make it a screensaver on your phone or even ask your birth partner or a friend to remind you of it too.

Bring your birth partner or another supporting person – It can often be tricky based on peoples work schedules etc to attend antenatal appointments, however, it can be really great to have an advocate with you.

Doulas can be a really great support during appointments!

There is so much information being flung at us in every direction during pregnancy and often.. it can feel a tad overwhelming so having that extra person with us who is advocating for us can really help build our confidence and they can also be great taking in the information too.

When it comes to conversations during your appointments, its always your choice if you want someone to be able to support you – having that familiar person really can make all the difference.

Hopefully you’ve found some of these tips useful – feel free to share this blog with your pregnant friends or if your looking for a hypnobirthing class or doula support in Leeds – feel free to get in touch about how my services can support you during your pregnancy.

Always remember, your baby, your birth, your choice!

Stay tuned for my future blog post – How can I use hypnobirthing techniques after my baby has been born?

What can I do to support early labour?

When it’s clear that labour is about to begin, many of us tend to think it’s time to make arrangements to go to the hospital or stop everything we are doing and focus on the labour.

  • It’s estimated that for many spontaneous labours (ones that start without any form of intervention) we can spend up to 70% of our time at home.
  • Heading to the hospital or having your midwife come over soon can actually slow down the labour process so listening to your body and tuning in with what’s happening is important to time it right! Here are some tips on what to do during early labour, as part of my full hypnobirthing class 
  • We talk through how labour tends to work during my full hypnobirthing classes and it’s a great opportunity for you to have a think about what you might want to do, what support you might want and what you might need too! 

Here are some tips, let me know what you think and whether you used any of these in your labour!

  • Continue as normal for as long as you feel that you can. Distract yourself with things that you enjoy doing, go for a walk or make some delicious food.
  • Eat a good meal and get hydrated!
  • Get into a rhythm of using calm breathing during your surges or contractions
  • Don’t get too hung up on the pattern of your surges or contractions, ask your partner to support with this so that you can focus on raising your oxytocin!
  • Stay in your own environment or private space as long as you can – this will help the oxytocin flow!
  • Listen to your instincts, you know your baby and your body better than anyone
  • Listen to your body, rest when you need to and move your body intuitively