The sweet people at the Honest Company reached out to me and asked if I'd share some of my own personal experiences with my C-sections and breastfeeding. They're currently running a really great campaign documenting and sharing other family's honest moments. You need to check out this video to make you smile:
I was 5 cm dilated, at the hospital, in labor, when my doctor checked me for the first time revealing that Landon (my son, my first born) was frank breech and a C-section was a must. (Frank Breech is when the baby's bottom is down and their head and feet are up. They're basically in a V shape) I'd labored at home for several hours before getting to the hospital, in hopes that I was far enough dilated to go ahead and get my epidural started and get the show on the road. My water had just broke before my doctor came in to check me and because of that protective cushion around Landon gone, she wasn't comfortable trying to move him. So off we went to the c-section. I cried, I was scared, I was devastated that I'd have a yucky surgery to recover from after, but once I met Landon I felt relief. He was healthy, I was healthy, and I was a Momma.
My recovery was tough with Landon. Now, that I'm 4 years out from it, and also now recovered from my 2nd C-section, I believe some of the hardships in my recovery with Landon was a result of my attitude and outlook. I gave myself a big time pity party. I was so bummed and bitter and frustrated that I had this surgery recovery to deal with, in addition to a newborn and becoming a new Mom. I didn't get up and move around as much as I was supposed to and it really affected my recovery.
I started feeling more like myself around 3 weeks postpartum and started taking 5 minute outdoor walks, pushing Landon in the stroller. I did that 2-3 times a week, increasing to 10 minutes max eventually, and continued it until I was approved for regular exercise at my 6 week appointment. The journey rebuilding my strength and endurance in my workouts was a steady process, but I got there and felt stronger than I did pre-Landon!
Breastfeeding went really well with Landon. He latched on right away and did amazingly the entire year I nursed him. I talked at length with other breastfeeding friends, other fitness Mommas, and lactation consultants anytime I ran into bumps in the road with supply, clogged ducts (which I had a LOT), etc. Having support and community was so important and is key for Mommas!! Working out while breastfeeding was never a problem for me. My supply dipped a little around the 6 month mark, but that's normal when baby starts eating solid foods/table food, not because of exercise. My main focus (and tips for you) for breastfeeding and exercising is WATER WATER WATER!! Drink a TON of water. Water and calories make breast milk so make sure you're getting enough of both. I always suggest nursing women drinking at least 90-100 oz of water a day (especially if you are working out regularly) and eating around 500 more calories each day too. If your supply dips, eat more (good food choices!) and drink more water!
DOING IT ALL AGAIN
Almost exactly 2 years later, I got pregnant with my daughter, Allie. I prayed a lot about it and talked at length with my doctor, and Ben, about having a repeat C-section or trying for a VBAC. In the end, we decided to do a repeat C-section. I still had a lot of fear and worries because I knew how hard the recovery was the first time. I was scared about that recovery with a toddler and a newborn. I have a couple friends who were repeat C-section Mommas and they were so helpful and encouraging. They assured me the 2nd one was easier and so I just held on to that hope.
Allie's C-section was planned for 9:00 am on March 24 and she was born at 1:00 am on March 24 - 8 hours before her planned C-section. :) I went into labor around 8pm on March 23 and was at the hospital by 10:30pm ready to get her out! (Contractions with her were way more painful than with Landon) One of my biggest worries was going into labor before the scheduled C-section. It made me nervous and scared. It's neat how God works, though, because that is one thing I'm thankful for now. Because I was in so much pain and just had the mentality of "GET HER OUT NOW" I had no time to worry about doing it all again or the what-ifs. Just another small reminder that God's plans are bigger than our own.
A DIFFERENT MINDSET
I knew going into my recovery after Allie, I wasn't going to give myself a pity party. There was no reason. I was having my daughter, my 2nd little blessing, why should I be upset? About a month before her birth, I started changing my vocabulary from "Allie's C-section" and "Surgery" to "Allie's Birth" and "birth". Yes it's a major surgery and yes it's a C-section, but it's still her birth. I'm still birthing a child into this world. That shift in mindset and vocabulary helped me tremendously. After her birth, I moved around way quicker (and easier) than I did with Landon. I obeyed their orders and moved as much as possible. I even got the ok to go home a day early.
Now, I won't sugar coat things: the recovery was still tough, especially with a toddler at home, but I made it. My friends WERE right, it was a lot easier and I recovered a lot quicker too. It was like my body just knew what to do that time and didn't have any problem healing up, doing it all again. While I still started back slowly with my 5-10 minute walks around week 2, I was able to push myself a bit harder after my 6 week clearance. I knew I'd be ok. I knew my body could do it, and I went for it.
I breastfed Allie as well and she was a champ too. With two kids now, I didn't have the time to really sit and worry about my supply or nursing, it felt way more natural and just flowed with Allie.
13 MONTHS LATER
Now, I sit here with a 4 year old and a 1 year old. I've been done nursing Allie for several weeks now and my body has become my own again. It's adjusted back to non-pregnancy and non-nursing mode. It looks WAY different with scars and stretch marks and extra skin, but I can sit here and say without a doubt I'm thankful for the births of both of my kids. C-Sections have a really bad rep out there and rightly so, but there's nothing we can do about it if that's the path God chooses for us. Yes it's hard and it really stinks sometimes and it has challenges, but when you're past it and you're looking back, you realize it was all 100% worth it to be able to bring your little blessings and miracles into the world. That's a privilege that not everybody gets and we need to see it that way. Birth is a miracle and such a blessing - however it happens. During Allie's pregnancy, I knew several ladies who miscarried and even lost their babies minutes or hours after birth. The fact that I got to carry my babies full term, birth them successfully, and take them home - I'll forever be grateful and can NEVER be upset about the way they were brought into the world.
If you're a C-section Mom, or a breast feeding Mom, I hope you are encouraged and know that you're not alone and that you CAN get back to exercising and be just as strong as you were before - if not stronger! Your body may look and feel different, but that's the new you and the sacrifices that you give to have the blessing and miracle or pregnancy and child birth! Being a C-Section Momma is not a black cloud that should haunt you or cover you. You should wear it with pride and strength and grace, knowing God chose YOU to be strong and experience birth in a way that women in centuries past would have never been given the luxury; and as a result lost their babies or their own lives. Change your mindset and attitude and you'll change your outlook and future moving forward!
And hey, the Honest Company has a great line of prenatals you can check out too. And as always, contact me with any questions or comments! I'd also love to help you meet your health goals, while not losing sight of being a Wife and Momma too!