Having a C-section might make you a little nervous, mama, but don’t worry we’ve got you covered with this nifty guide. Happy birth-day mama!
Congratulations, mama! You’re welcoming a new baby into the world, and navigating the safest and healthiest delivery plan for your little peanut. As like any expectant mum, you may have a lot to consider before you make an informed decision. We’re here to help you answer all the questions you may have about a C-section delivery.
What is a C-section?
A C-section is when a physician makes an incision in the abdomen and then uterus to deliver a baby, and it can be a planned or unplanned procedure, should complications be identified during the pregnancy or labour process. From start to finish, it may take three to four hours, but you will be awake during the procedure, although numbed from the abdominal area downward, as general anesthesia is not usually given. Even if you plan on having a vaginal birth, it is helpful to stay informed about the options available in a C-section birth.
Consulting the Experts and Finding Support
In Hong Kong, you will find a wealth of information and plenty of experts to consult in finding and establishing your best delivery plan.
For expert advice, there are a multitude of women’s clinics in Hong Kong with services to fit any birth plan, new moms, experienced moms, and everyone in between. The Women’s Clinic and Central Health are both staffed by excellent doctors and birth specialists who will be able to expertly guide you through the medical procedures and tests during your pregnancy.
If you are seeking a modern midwife or a birthing expert, Annerley has got you covered with midwife services, pre-natal classes, and post-natal care. The Hong Kong Midwives Council has a list of their registered midwives here.
A Mother’s Touch offers a supportive community of experts and other expectant mums, as well as classes and services from the beginning of your pregnancy to post-natal care. For those of you who would prefer a doula, there are resources at the centre to find a doula who can provide non-medical help throughout your pregnancy.
Analysing the Benefits and Risks
As with any surgery, there are serious risks to consider, both short term and long term. Your recovery time will be longer than if you had a normal vaginal birth. Recovery in the hospital will be extended several days and at-home recovery will also take several weeks. After your delivery, you’ll be up and taking short walks to help prevent blood clots, but you will be given pain medication as well, to help with some pain in the first week or so. Exercise will have to wait until about six weeks after the birth and should be done with the approval of your doctor, once they are assured that you are recovered and ready to get back in fighting shape. A longer recovery may even take several months, to make sure mama is fully recovered and able to transition back to her daily routines.
In having a C-section, there will be a scar in the pelvic area below the pubic hairline, with what is called a “bikini” incision so that it will not be very visible. There are risks of damage to the organs in the area of the incision, excessive bleeding, and infection. Caring for the C-section scar will require meticulous care to keep it dry and clean, with special care during and after a shower to pat it dry. While your wound is healing, heavy lifting and housework need to be done by someone else for help the first few weeks.
Mothers who have had a C-section before, or of an older age, may opt for a C-section as there is a reduced risk for complications during pregnancy and labour. For mums who are expecting twins or triplets, a C-section is also an option to consider.
However, the benefits to consider can help you decide if a C-section is a good option for mum and baby. Scheduling a C-section often happens in advance, which means that the time of birth and delivery is determined. Knowing the exact date and time can be an important aspect in a mother’s birthing plan and mental preparation, while she is also physically preparing a nest for the arrival of her little peanut. In a hospital setting, a scheduled birth means that there will be an expert team assembled during the surgery to aide and assist should there be any need. A C-section in a private or public hospital is possible, and additionally, a lot of hospitals offer post-natal care, with nurses and midwives who can be accessible for questions and concerns on caring for the baby and C-section incision after leaving the hospital.
In choosing a public or private hospital for the C-section, there are lists of public or private hospitals in Hong Kong, where you can find out more about their maternity care units and wards for the one that fits your needs best.
If you choose to give birth in a public hospital, you will need to clarify that you would like to opt for a C-section birth and ask the hospital staff if they recommend this type of delivery. If it is, it will be scheduled in advance of your expected due date. It’s also possible to provide a birthing plan to your obstetrician during birth in the public hospital, even though they may not be the obstetrician who followed you through the pregnancy, and they will work to accommodate your birth plan suggestions. In a private hospital, an elective C-section will be easier to schedule, but you may need to consider the costs in private care, as opposed to the less expensive options in public care. Matilda Hospital has posted a clear and concise list of their packages here, which you may want to think about well in advance to financially prepare.
One important aspect of the differences between a public and private hospital birth is that a public hospital will only allow one birth partner at the time of delivery, so you will have to make the appropriate decision of who will be allowed in during the delivery. In a private hospital, the doula or private midwife may be able to accompany you throughout the birthing process depending on the hospital and doctor.
You may want to have a public tour of the hospital if you would like to familiarise yourself with the hospital before you go in for birth. There are many other factors to consider as well, but it should be noted that if a private hospital lacks the resources for proper care, you will be transferred to a public hospital. It is also an option to supplement a birth at a public hospital with private care before and afterward, if there is any concern for quality of care.
Planning and Preparation
In planning and preparing for a C-section, your first step will be discussing your options thoroughly with your doctor and possibly midwife or doula, so that you and your birthing partner can assess the benefits and risks properly with a healthcare professional. You will then need to schedule your delivery date in advance. In Hong Kong, scheduling for the birth should be done quite soon to ensure a spot in the hospital of your choosing or your doctor’s recommended hospital for optimal delivery date.
Necessary items to bring to the hospital for the C-section procedure do not differ much from items to bring for any type of delivery. Essential toiletries, nursing bras, and maternity underwear for several days are recommended, as a C-section birth will require a longer hospital stay than a vaginal birth. You may bring your own sanitary napkins if you do not prefer the ones provided by the hospital. Feel free to bring a notebook and pen as well, so that you may jot down tips and pieces of advice from the nurses and hospital midwives for after-care for you and the baby.
Download our helpful What To Pack In My Hospital Bag here!
On the day of the scheduled delivery, you can bring a copy of your birth plan along with you to the hospital, in case of need for clarification. For the procedure, you will be closely monitored and you will be given an IV to deliver medication, such as antibiotics. Your abdomen will be cleaned and you will be using a catheter. To numb the area, the doctor will administer an epidural or spinal anaesthesia. Your doctor will begin once the epidural takes effect.
After the delivery, you will feel the side effects of the medication, such as nausea or itchiness, but the anaesthesia will begin to wear off while you are in recovery. For the next few days, you will experience pain in the incision area and also have vaginal bleeding, requiring the use of sanitary napkins.
Caring for Your New Baby and Your Recovery Health
While the recovery time after a major surgery is longer than a natural vaginal birth, mummies can expect to be back on their feet within several days of delivery. While still in the hospital, the staff will help you start walking again, as this will help with preventing blood clots. You will likely have abdominal pain for one to two weeks. After the delivery, you will be allowed to breastfeed once the anaesthesia wears off. Some mums find that nursing pillows are great for supporting the baby over the abdomen while breastfeeding.
After returning home, it is important to have someone help with more physically stressful tasks, as mama should only be allowed to lift her baby for the first few weeks. New moms will want to look into a post-natal helper to assist with cooking and cleaning in the first month. The hospital may provide post-natal care, or you can also opt for private post-natal care with a licensed practitioner.
You will want to keep your incision clean, and if you suspect anything is wrong, do not hesitate to contact a healthcare professional. In post-natal care for the Cesarean scar, you may cover the incision area with gauze and change daily, to prevent anything from rubbing against the stitches. Daily walking is recommended to prevent constipation, as bowel movements will begin to return to normal.
With plenty of rest for mom and child, you’ll soon be able to stroll into your new paediatrician’s office with your newborn baby for baby checkups, and on your way to becoming a Sassy Mama!