C-Section Stories: Laura Berry

1. Briefly, please share the circumstances that led to your c-section birth(s):

For my first child, I had a traumatic labor and delivery. I developed preeclampsia with the onset of labor so in order to speed up delivery, I was given Pitocin along with the magnesium sulfate for my rising blood pressure. Upon checking in to the hospital, I was not adequately educated on how serious preeclampsia is and how it affects labor and birth outcome. I’d never heard of preeclampsia before. So, I was under the impression that it was not a big deal and expected to still be able to labor according to my "natural, no pain meds" birth plan.

After 19 hours of excruciating and mind-numbing pain, I was fully dilated and allowed to push. However, my son was failing to descend and my blood pressure was not getting any better. After being told by my midwife that an "almost" emergency c-section was far better than an actual emergency c-section, I finally consented to the surgery and my healthy 9 pound baby boy was born. I suffered tremendously from postpartum anxiety and depression and severely struggled to function while my broken body tried to heal, let alone as a new mom trying to bond with my new baby.

After becoming pregnant with my second child, I knew immediately I wanted to attempt a VBAC. I also knew I wanted a doula this time around who could advocate for me during labor and delivery. At my 37 week appointment, the nurse informed me that I was measuring more around 40 weeks. An ultrasound revealed that this baby, too, was very large and with my prior history of failure to descend, attempting a VBAC would be risky. I was still given the option of trying, but after lots of thinking and prayer, I decided to schedule a repeat c-section. I felt grief and loss over this decision, but I also felt hope at the possibility of having a very healing, family-friendly, positive repeat c-section - and it was!

2. What surprised you the most about having a c-section?:

The first time: the healing process and how different my body felt even months down the road.

The second time: how positive, beautiful, and healing they can be!

3. What kind of support do you feel you received (from friends, family, healthcare team) after your c-section(s)?:

Sadly, I had little support in dealing with the emotional effects of having a surprise c-section, particularly after my traumatic labor. My husband and family did the best they could in supporting me, bless their hearts, but I craved some type of support group. No one I knew had ever had a c-section, so I felt alone and broken because my body didn't do what I always thought it would be able to do.

4. What’s your #1 piece of advice/encouragement for a new c-section mom?:

If you know of your c-section in advance, just know that you can still have a birth plan with a scheduled c-section. There are so many things your medical team can do (and not do) to make the delivery as positive as possible for YOU. Most nurses and doctors will be more than happy to accommodate your requests, when possible. If you've already had a c-section, just know that it's completely normal to feel thankful for a healthy and safe outcome while also feeling confused and maybe even angry at how your birth went. Reach out to people you know will listen and don't try to deal with your feelings alone.

5. How do you believe having a c-section birth(s) made you stronger?:

This may sound funny, but my c-section births have made me stronger by showing me how weak I am. They were extremely humbling for me. Before my c-sections, I found it easy to judge other women's pregnancy and birth choices and thought that there was only one "right" way to go about bringing a baby into this world. Now I have so much more compassion for women and their birth choices and stories.

Name: Laura Berry

Your Profession: Stay At Home Mom