What I Wish I Knew Before My Caesarean Birth

Mum with caesarean scar holds newborn baby
PĒPI Luca Ardern
ĀMĀ Teri Ardern
PHOTOGRAPHY Catherine Smith @catherinesmithphotography

April is Caesarean Awareness Month so we asked you, our readers, what you wish you’d been told before you had your C-section birth.


Please note: These are personal accounts and you should always seek professional medical advice when making any decisions related to your or your baby’s health care. For more information on caesarean births, see our articles here.


“I was completely surprised how easy mine have been. Prior to my first c-section I had been led to believe it would be the worst thing ever but I had an amazing experience. I know that’s not always the case and recovery can be hard when people have complications etc. but I wish I had been told more positive stories and that it can actually be lovely. I had skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping, and breastfeeding straight away. Following Dr Morgan Edwards’ advice and info on c-sections was a life saver prior. Her website is yourcsection.co.nz.”
– Katie


“I wish I knew about the stomach injections [to prevent blood clots] afterwards.”
– Krista


“I wish I knew how hands off I would be for the baby in the first few days. I also wish I knew how big the scar can be when there is an emergency. Also that the pain is so bad the first few days but it gets better so fast when you’re at home moving around. My advice is when you come home, have something beside the bed you can use to pull yourself up. Fatty cream and retinol cream for the scar and pregnancy control leggings can help afterwards. Also, if you need to sneeze, cough or laugh, grab a pillow and push it into your stomach to help with the tugging on the incision.”
– Olivia


“That having a caesarean doesn’t mean you are any less strong, powerful or capable than if you had a vaginal delivery. Giving birth by caesarean does not make you a failure.”
– Anna


“That is feels physically lower than what I was expecting. In theatre, during the operation, I requested a top up of my epidural because it totally threw me; firstly, that I could ‘feel’ it and secondly, that it felt so low down. I guess I expected to feel it more in my belly… and because I had been through so much pain already that day (pre-epidural) I just completely freaked and asked for more pain relief. That, of course, gave me the chattering teeth, but at least it put me at ease.”
– Bridget


“I wish I was told it was okay to not be up and walking quickly. I pushed myself at 5 days postpartum and it was awful.”
– Sam


“I wish I had known that even though it would be an abdominal birth, I wasn’t aware that they place a sponge in the vaginal canal to hold the bleeding until the procedure was completed. I wasn’t aware that they cleaned you everywhere thoroughly afterwards which left me feeling very exposed. I also wasn’t aware that for the next 12 hours I would have multiple different nurses and doctors coming in to check my ‘pad’ which, again, all my dignity was left at the door when I walked in. Although there is so much I was unaware of, my team was incredibly kind to me and my newborn baby, he was born into this world with love and kind words from the surgical team. My healing was extremely fast and within a week everything was back to normal.”
– Kaetyn


“I wish I knew c-section guilt is a real thing. I had an emergency c-section and I really felt robbed of the ‘birth experience’ and felt very let down by my body.”
– Becs


“I wish I was told that you can feel absolutely everything happening (not the pain, but the pulling, moving, stretching etc.). That the lump on the side of the cut is the stitch tie. That even after two years, my scar is still numb and some days it’s sore, depending on the work I’ve done. I didn’t know how fast and intense an emergency c-section can be – I was in labour for 2.5 days before being offered an emergency caesarean. Doing daily tasks becomes extremely challenging, especially if you already have small children. I had so many people telling me before I had my caesarean that it’s the easy way out… clearly those people had never had a caesarean. I was lucky enough to be able to afford a house cleaner both times and arrange my older children to get to and from school, but not everyone is in that position.”
– Rebecca


“1. That it could actually be a really amazing positive experience (mine was) and 2. I wish I’d prepared my husband more. I spent a lot of time educating myself about the operating theatre and the process but didn’t really think to take him on that journey so on the day it was a bit of a shock for him!”
– Courtney


“I wish I was told that my milk could be delayed. Mine came in on day 8. If I was to go back and do things differently, I probably would read up some more pre-birth about mixed feeding or interim topping up with formula to feed the baby, instead of being screamed at and feeling like I wasn’t enough. I would have done much more antenatal colostrum collection for “that night” because boy was he hungry! And I wish I knew that if you do need to supplement with formula, it doesn’t mean you have to keep going with it. We are now EBF (exclusively breastfeeding), so if that’s what you want, it will come!”
– Ashleigh


“That you’re not any less of a birth warrior if you have a c-section.”
– Belinda