Having a C-Section in Ireland

I know this is primarily a travel website but I think it’s good to sometimes go ‘off topic’ and write a post about what I struggled to find information on when I was searching for answers. In this case it’s having a C-Section in Ireland (in particular Cork University Maternity Hospital). Here is my detailed experience of having a C-Section in Ireland.

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My experience having a C-Section in Ireland

I had a Caesarean Section at Cork University Maternity Hospital on September 16th 2020. It was a last-minute operation – I went in to hospital for my Clinic (I was 38 weeks) on September 15th and due to my baby being in breach, my amniotic fluid levels on the low-side at a level 6 & high blood pressure – the Obstetrician felt it safest to perform a C-Section early. This was to avoid an inevitable emergency C-section closer to my due date. My baby girl was delivered at 38 weeks plus 3 days. It was a bit of a shock to me as it wasn’t my birth plan but I was happy to know the hospital was being cautious of mine & the baby’s health in ensuring I had the safest delivery possible.

The Obstetrician gave me a prescription for Omeprazole – to reduce stomach acid – with one tablet to be taken after my dinner that night & the second tablet to be taken the morning of the surgery. Before I left the hospital the day before, I had bloods taken which were to be used in case of an emergency during my surgery.

On the day of the C-Section surgery

At 8pm the evening before I received a call asking me to check in at the main reception at the hospital at 7am. On checking in I was told to go straight to my ward where I’d be given a bed. The Midwife there told me I was 6th in line for surgery so likely would be called down at 3 or 4pm. So, I just relaxed in my hospital bed. Although, I was starving having been told to fast since 9pm the evening before.

My Midwife came in at 1pm to let me know I was being called down early. I quickly called my husband who was to meet me in the waiting room of the Theatre. The Midwife gave me a hospital gown and compression stockings to put on & then she walked me down. I brought a camera, babies first outfit, a nappy & a cellular blanket down with me.

Consultation with Theatre staff

In the Theatre waiting room I met with the Head Surgeon & an Anesthetist who went through the surgery in detail with me & my husband. I will admit I was very nervous at this point as I didn’t know what to expect. They helped to put my mind at ease & happily answered my questions. We were then left there until they were ready to bring me in to surgery. Unfortunately, there were two emergency sections come through in that time so we had to wait an hour longer.

What to expect in Theatre

Eventually I was wheeled in to Theatre. In here was my two Anesthetists, the Head Surgeon, an Obstetrician, two Midwives & two medical students who asked my permission to watch the surgery. The first thing was for a cannula (needle) to be inserted in my hand for fluids & antibiotics to be fed to me during the surgery (this was honestly the most painful part of the surgery & not very painful at all). A urinary catheter is also placed in your bladder so you don’t need to get up to go to the toilet, this will remain in place for 12 hours.

Then, the anesthetist administered the epidural. You are to sit on the edge of the bed with your shoulders hunched forward, the second anesthetist will stand in front of you & hold you while the second anesthetist administers the epidural on your lower back. This wasn’t painful at all and to me just felt like a pin prick in three separate areas on my lower back. After a few minutes the Head Surgeon tests the epidural by pressing different areas of your stomach/legs to ensure you can’t feel anything. After all of the above is completed my husband was allowed into Theatre. This is due to the current COVID-19) restrictions – he was dressed in scrubs.

For the surgery I opted to have the curtain up, but you can have it down & witness the surgery itself. All in all you will be in Theatre for about an hour.

When your baby is born

The strangest part of the surgery for me was the pulling to get the baby out, you don’t feel anything but your body is jerked from side to side. I didn’t expect this to happen ( & it may not happen to everyone) but I remember being concerned and asking the staff if everything was okay. They assured me everything was normal. When my daughter was born they held her over me. Then took her to the side with my husband to be weighed, dressed, ID bands and security tags put on and a vitamin K injection is administered (with your permission). They then administered skin to skin for me with the baby, by lifting her on to me for a couple minutes.

having a baby at Cork University Maternity Hospital

Following your surgery you will be stitched up. Your partner must leave the room for this part (again a COVID-19 restriction), you feel nothing thankfully. Then you are transferred to another bed and wheeled into the recovery room. You will remain here for just over an hour with your partner & baby. The staff will help you breastfeed your baby if this is what you have decided. We took most of our photos here. Then, when the hour is up my husband unfortunately had to leave due to the COVID restrictions – which was difficult.

You are still not allowed to eat after surgery, only allowed sips of water for the next 6 hours. This was tough – as I was starving. Even worse was that after those 6 hours your first meal is small – tea & toast only. For the next day too you are on a light diet menu, this is to aid your stomach recovery.

having a baby at Cork University Maternity Hospital

Your recovery in the hospital

Due to the epidural you are unable to move from your bed for 12 hours. After the 12 hours is up your Midwife will assist you in standing up and walking a few steps. She will also remove your bladder catheter. They will likely wait a few more hours before removing the cannula in your hand.

Some important points to note for your recovery in hospital –

  • You will likely need to remain in hospital for 3 or 4 days.
  • Your first wee or poo may be difficult due to your stomach muscles being affected from surgery. But, don’t worry it’s not as bad as you may think.
  • There is enough room to wheel your baby’s cot into the bathroom for you to shower. As the midwive’s can be very busy and may not be available to watch your baby while you shower.
  • You will be served three meals a day and place your order the evening before or morning of. The food options were surprisingly good – I had beef stew, vegetable lasagne, spiced beef salad among others. You can get snacks throughout the day if you ask, but I brought my own snacks with me.
  • Here is a great Hospital Bag List to follow, to ensure you have what you need whilst in hospital

**This is just my personal experience of having a C-Section in Ireland, it may be slightly different for everyone.

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