Ovia's co-founder Gina Nebesar on her unplanned C-section: "It wasn't what I wanted, but it was still amazingly special."

Your Body & Wellbeing   |   Age: 6 days

Ovia’s co-founder Gina Nebesar on her unplanned C-section: "It wasn't what I wanted, but it was still amazingly special."

When I gave birth to my first child - a beautiful baby girl - via an unplanned Caesarian section, while initially disappointed, I was not surprised. C-sections rates are high in the US (approximately 1 in 3 births are delivered via C-sections), and are one of the most common operating procedures. At my 38-week appointment, my doctor had told me I had a big baby - this meant there was a strong likelihood I would need one.

Working at Ovia, I’m been so lucky to have access to the nation’s leading pregnancy experts and writers. When first pregnant, this helped me feel not only knowledgeable about C-sections, but also empowered if one were to become a part of my pregnancy. Weeks before my due date, I spoke with one of Ovia’s medical advisors who encouraged me to advocate for myself in the delivery room. I communicated my desire for a vaginal birth with my doctor, learned all the reasons an unplanned or emergency C-section might arise, and felt mostly prepared for whatever might happen.

And whatever did happen. My baby was quite late, and eventually I had to induce. After two days of trying, with very little cooperation from my cervix, my doctor advised that it was time to change plans. I was disheartened, but also comfortable with the decision. I went into the delivery room informed, empowered, and I advocated for my birth plan.

Still, there were elements of the experience I didn’t fully anticipate.

C-sections are scary

This is major surgery, which I think is sometimes forgotten. And it starts out alone. My husband wasn’t allowed in the room while I was getting the epidural, although he was there for the delivery. I was awake during the operation with a hanging cloth separating my head from my body. I was given the option to look through a window in the sheet, but the thought horrified me so I chose not to. I was surprised that despite the anesthesia, I could feel the operation happening. It wasn’t painful, but I felt a fair amount of movement. At one point I imagined zombies eating my insides like a scene out of The Walking Dead.

Although it wasn’t according to plan, my birth experience was still amazing and special

After getting the epidural, my time in the operating room was only about an hour; Baby Hazel came out within 10 minutes, the rest was stitching me back up. But it felt much, much longer, and was the same powerful, emotional experience that I thought I might miss out on by not having a vaginal birth. My nurse made sure I saw my baby through the sheet opening as soon as she was born, and even today, remembering seeing her and hearing her first cry now still gets me choked up.

Other nurses quickly whisked her off for clean-up and measurements (my husband was allowed to observe and take photos) and just as quickly brought her back to me for skin-to-skin contact. In the meantime, my nurse could see I was a little uncomfortable and asked me questions to distract me. We spoke about the work I do at Ovia, and it was incredibly soothing to think about Ovia in that moment. It felt like I had the support of the millions of women, telling me to be strong and congratulating me on my little one. Who, it turns out, wasn’t so little. Hazel was born at 9 lbs 10 oz (with her dad’s large head), making me perhaps a little bit relieved I hadn’t given birth vaginally after all!Baby Hazel

Recovery was harder than expected, both physically and emotionally

Obviously no woman walks out of her birth experience (vaginal or C-section) pain-free, but I found the physical recovery to be more than I anticipated. I was kept in triage care a few days after my delivery, which was after days of failed induction, and by the time I got home from the hospital I was fully stir-crazy. As a generally active person, I desperately wanted to be out and about. The pain medication initially gave me more confidence than was merited and I pushed myself too hard (specifically with a long walk around my Boston neighborhood) and ended up with painful complications. After that experience, I made a point of reducing the medication so I could feel the pain and better gauge my limits. Sometimes the pain was so hard it became difficult to nurse and hold Hazel. Thankfully my husband was very supportive - he’d wake every night with every feed to carry her to me. And for the first two weeks, he changed every diaper!

Emotionally, despite my amazing surgical delivery, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat robbed of a birth experience. I had seen vaginal birth as a natural human right of passage. I also felt ashamed, as if I had failed at this most basic of human endeavors. I was afraid to tell colleagues because they knew how strongly averse I felt to c-sections. So I allowed a little space to grieve for my experience, but then I told myself it was time to accept and move on.

And now, years later I have two babies (both born via C-Section for different reasons), and I no longer think I failed. My body has made two perfect babies, and I am just as strong as any mother.

More articles at this age

Sleep in the first 0 to 3 months

You're probably familiar with the lack of sleep that most parents of newborns get, but the newborns themselves don't know the feeling. In fact, for them, the early months are filled with more sleep than a person will ever get again.

Your newborn's reflexes

You may have noticed that your baby holds tight to any finger she can grab. This is a natural reflex that your baby's body has developed to help her through the early months of life. your baby has a couple more reflexes up her tiny sleeve, and you can check on them to keep up with your baby's development.

How to manage stress and anxiety during the coronavirus

This is a stressful time for all of us. Here's some advice on how to care for yourself.

Baby blues vs postpartum depression

You might have heard about the baby blues and wondered if it was just another term for postpartum depression. They're actually two different conditions with different courses of treatment. Learn how to tell them apart.

Multiples and crib-sharing

The most important thing to do when you're putting your little ones to sleep is make sure they're as safe as possible. There are certain safety guidelines to remember around bedtime to keep your multiples safe, secure, and snug as bugs, so where does crib-sharing fit in?

Newborn poo: a quick and dirty guide

Let's face it: wiping up poop isn't anybody's favorite activity, but when it's for somebody like your baby whom you love so much, it's pretty easy to look past the...poopyness of it all. So what should you expect from a newborn's poop?

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏