A cesarean section, whether premature or not, can have an enormous impact on you as well as your baby. All three of my children were born through C-sections. I will attempt today to enlighten you on the special needs of a C-Section baby, and my massage tips to establish the mother-child bond that gets delayed due to a C-section.
Yes, all 3 Were C-Sections!
I have often expressed my desire to have four babies. Well, the simple reason I did not go in for a fourth was because all my deliveries were through C-section. My gynaecologist, who is also a family friend, advised against another surgery out of concern for my health. Many others, including senior family members, also advised me regarding the precautions and extra care needed after a C-section delivery. The wound and the fatigue that can occur during a C-section can terribly affect your first few weeks as a new mom.
However, most of the concern and the advice was for me - as a mother. Do you have any idea what a C-section baby goes through? I am not trying to scare you, but if a C-section is inevitable, it is better to be prepared.
Challenges Faced by Your C-Section Baby
At first, I wasn't aware of how being delivered by C-Section can affect babies. The natural process of birth gets interrupted, and a surgical act takes place instead. That is bound to have its consequences, right? I took pains to educate myself and am sharing this with you all.
- The reason for my first delivery being a C-section was NOT Cephalopelvic disproportion, or when the baby's head does not match the diameter of the mother's pelvis. But since I did not 'open up' enough, a similar situation took place for my baby. She was stuck in there with a feeling of helplessness, even hopelessness. This could manifest later in life as claustrophobia!
- The baby - especially if the delivery started vaginally, but ended with an emergency caesarean section (as happened with my first one) - experiences changes in the respiratory and cardiac rhythms whenever a situation reminding the birth occurs.
- In a C-section, the baby is dislodged from the pelvis, and this action causes her a lot of confusion.
- The baby does not pass naturally through the birth canal and is lifted out of the womb in an abrupt movement, causing some amount of shock.
- During a cesarean, there is an increase in the level of stress hormones in the body of the newborn.
- When your baby is born through vaginal delivery, she is 'massaged and kneaded' through the canal as she makes her way out into this world. This massage, as you may already know, is very important for her lungs. But since she does not get this massage during C-section, there is a chance of the amniotic fluid from your uterus still being present in her lungs. This fluid needs to be manually squeezed out so she can breathe in air. This can cause respiratory problems later in life. My second born - my son - who came out one full month earlier due to minor complications, suffers from these issues.
- Immediately after a C-section, moms are not in a condition to get up and take the baby in their arms. The rosy images in my mind of being handed the baby after the doctor said 'Congratulations, it's a girl!' were shattered. Once I heard that the baby was fine, I just wanted to drift away to unconsciousness. And this is what I did. But my baby missed me! She did not get the skin-to-skin contact that would have reassured her of still being close to me - the only person she really knew since she was conceived within me. The sooner the baby finds the comforting touch of her mother, the better she is able to cope with the trauma of birth.
All or any of the above could lead to colic disorders or indigestion in your C-section baby.
None of this is intended to make you feel bad about having to go through or opting for a C-section. I have been through it myself - and not just once. But when you know what your wee little baby has been through, you are better prepared to make it up to her!
Massage Your Baby to Soothe and Comfort Her
TOUCH is important - to us and even more to a newborn baby. The vaginal/birth canal massage that I mentioned above is important for all the organs of your baby and not just the lungs. A massage is the powerful tool that can make up for the delayed mother-child skin-to-skin contact. It helps to resensitize the legs and the hands. It fulfills the intense need of your baby to be close to you. It gives the security and peace that your baby needs to grow.
To recreate the biological process that my baby missed, I used the power of TOUCH and soothing massages. Here are some tips I can share with you based on my experiences:
- Choose a quiet and relaxed moment and corner to massage your baby. Any kind of nervousness or anxiety of yours can pass on very quickly to your baby. So, it is best to choose a moment in the day when you are as relaxed as possible. No work pressure, no appointments, no inner unrest, no phone calls and no doorbells (have someone to answer in case of a knock).
- Do not massage your baby if he is tired and would rather sleep. Also avoid massaging immediately before or after a feeding, or if she has a fever.
- Before you massage your baby, make sure that the room is pleasantly warm - neither too cold nor too hot.
- Remove your jewellery and trim your nails. You can try to be careful but let's not take a chance here.
- It is customary in India to sit on the floor and massage the baby. That need not be the case. You can sit anywhere but I find I am the most comfortable when massaging on the floor. With my back rested very well so that my scar doesn't hurt, I stretch my legs in front and place the baby on them to massage comfortably.
- Choose an oil that works for your baby's skin. My first baby had no problems with any baby oil we used. But my second was sensitive to what was available back then and we had to use olive oil for him. My third baby was also sensitive to most oils. We finally used Baby Dove Massage Oil and found that it was both moisturising and hypoallergenic, which made it a safe choice for my baby's delicate skin. More about it below.
- Take a little oil in a katori and use from there instead of pouring from the bottle directly when massaging. Rub the oil between your palms first to warm the oil. Do not directly pour oil on the baby's body.
- Start with small massages for 10-15 minutes. Stop if you feel the baby is uneasy or starts crying.
- If you have an experienced family member at home, ask them to demonstrate a massage for you. A good massage addresses different parts of the baby's body. A lot of attention goes to the limbs, the belly and the back. You need to gently caress and massage the different joints softly.
- Never massage your baby distractedly. Always be 100% present when massaging as even the slightest problem can bring discomfort to your baby. You also need to be alert because the baby can get slippery when massaging. This is another reason I like Baby Dove massage oil as it gets absorbed very easily, thus minimising the chances of slipping.
- Whenever possible, maintain eye contact with your baby and keep talking to them in soothing tones during the massage.
Post massage, I always leave my baby in the light sun, to play and exercise their arms and legs while the oil moisturises the skin. This is followed by a gentle bath, feeding, and then nap time. I suggest that you time your massages when the baby is fully awake and in a good/playful mood.Baby Dove Massage Oil for My Winter Babies
Two of my babies are winter babies and have had a problem of having sensitive and dry skin. I wish Baby Dove massage oil was available at the time of my 2nd delivery because I really could have used it. We faced A LOT OF trouble with my son's sensitive skin. It was available for my third though, which was perfect because she is also a winter baby and shows her brother's skin symptoms.
Dove, as a brand, is already well-known for its gentleness and moisturizing properties, so I decided to give it a try. It did not let me down. The non-greasy oil is actually very, very moisturizing and perfect for baby skin. I use it along with other Baby Dove products. My readers have also reported a good experience with the Baby Dove Rich Moisture baby wash, and Daddy wants nothing but their lotion for our babies. Back to massaging, I have had a fulfilling experience using Baby Dove oil for massaging her till date.
Yes, I still massage her lightly! All 3 of my kids have continued to get their massages for 2.5 to 3 years. They rather enjoy it as they grow up. And who wouldn't?! I would absolutely love if someone 10 times bigger in size to me, massaged all my body ache out of me. LOL!
I would like to share one more thing - I am not doing this extra bit just because my babies are C-Section babies. I would probably have done it anyway. But yes, I cannot lie. Educating myself of the effects of a C-section delivery on my babies does make me want to make it up to them. A proper massage from the loving hands of their mother was the first step I took, and I recommend you do too!