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Mystory. (in collaboration with Bountiful)

Updated: Apr 2

April is International Caesarean Awareness month so it only seems fitting to share more about myself and the story behind the heart of Myscar.

Hi, I’m Lara Hofer, Founder of Myscar. I had an emergency caesarean section almost 5 years ago and I still struggle to watch a birth scene on the TV. This is my story. I hope you find it informative and it helps create more awareness around caesarean section birth and recovery.

Much like most kiwi women, I planned to have a vaginal birth. As a first time Mum, I did numerous amounts of research, attended an excellent hypnobirthing course, and believed almost everything my midwife told me. I felt incredibly prepared. I trusted my body. I was going to have a vaginal birth.

My due date came and went, however I trusted my body to go into spontaneous labour. I waited until I was 41 weeks. And nothing. I tried all the old wives’ tales numerous times. For example, my husband and I went to our local Indian so often that we were on first names’ basis with the staff and I was so heavily pregnant that we felt that every person in the restaurant knew that we were desperate for the baby to come. Still nothing. Most first time mums will understand the wait. The anticipation, the excitement, the fear, and the waiting - like watching paint dry with time slowed down all whilst getting increasingly impatient text messages from family and close friends.

I waited until 42 weeks and still nothing. At 42 weeks, I started daily monitoring to check in on my baby. 42+1, 42+2, 42+3, 42+4 and s.t.i.l.l. nothing. 42+5 and still nothing. Some may think I was crazy for waiting that long but I was convinced through all my research and reading and my hypnobirthing course I would go into labour without assistance. That is what I understood at the time to be best for my baby. I wanted an extremely low invention, drug-free birth. In hindsight I’ve realised that’s partly due to the pressure society puts onto women. Unfortunately, after weeks of monitoring culminating in daily monitoring and doctors wearing me down I agreed to be induced.

Now, please don’t automatically jump to, “oh that makes sense, she was induced no wonder it resulted in a caesarean section - intervention only leads to further intervention”. Please don’t do that. I made the same mistake. I did that before my birth experience. Through my own experience, I’ve found that mindset to be naive, hurtful, and judgemental. Caesarean section mothers deserve better.

I will spare the gory details of my birth. Yes, that is partly because it is still raw to revisit. Partly though, it is because through my experience and the distance of time I have learned that even some women who have the ‘perfect’ birth still struggle to revisit it. It’s not a competition. That said, to summarise my labour, it was one complication after another. After a very long labour and just when we thought a vaginal birth was achievable at around 8-9cm dilated, things went down hill and they went down hill fast. The room flooded with medical staff, including staff I had not met which was overwhelming to say the least. I was advised that my baby was in serious distress and I needed to be taken off for a caesarean right then. I was told there were serious concerns for the life of my child.

An average 45 minute procedure took over 2 hours. I sobbed the entire time with tears raining down my cheeks like a monsoon. During this time doctors estimate I lost almost 30% of my blood.

We remained in hospital for 8 days following the birth of my son. I was so out of it that for half the time we were in hospital I wasn’t sure if it was for me or him. It was for both of us. My son was born with a serious infection which required immediate treatment. It was touch and go on night two but thankfully he recovered and has suffered no permanent affects. I had lifesaving surgery. We were lucky, we both survived. I can say that proudly now, almost 5 years on - but it has a been a long road to get to where I am today.

For me, recovering from a caesarean was extremely tough, both mentally and physically. Growing up in New Zealand, a vaginal birth was all I knew. It was all I was taught. Blame it on society, blame it on my upbringing, blame it on the New Zealand holistic natural culture, blame it on my naivety, who knows - but by having a caesarean section I felt to my absolute core that I had failed. Why couldn’t I do it? My mum had six children - all vaginal births. All my friends had had vaginal births. Thoughts circulated my brain like the colours on a roulette table and often blurred into each other as my brain went faster and faster: Why does my body suck? What did I do wrong? I failed. My body failed. Everyone is going to think I couldn’t do the hard work and push a baby out. They will think I am a quitter. That I took the ‘easy’ option. I will always remember what one person said to me “I guess you don’t deserve a push present because you didn’t push the baby out”. I was crushed. It is safe to say I had a lot to work through mentally.

If the mental recovery was hard, the physical recovery was not easy for me either. I couldn’t get up out of bed the next day and walk around, like the doctors and midwives encourage. I felt too faint and heavy and like my tummy was going to fall onto the floor. I still remember my first shower post caesarean like it was yesterday. I have never felt so weak and vulnerable. I was grateful to have the assistance of my husband but I never thought I would ever have to shower sitting down on a chair with someone else washing me at the age of 29. The pain around the incision site was excruciating even with all the medication I was given. Not to mention attempting to breastfeed. My son would often kick out during a feed directly onto my incision. It was so frequent and painful that I researched ceaselessly until I found the appropriate breastfeeding aid for caesarean mothers. It was a pillow that sat between my son and my incision that prevented a full force kick (see helpful resources below).

I could not look at my incision site for many months. I was too scared. With time, this changed and I started to want to be more proactive in my scar recovery. Unfortunately, the ultimate solution wasn’t readily available to me. The common unhelpful feedback I received was “It’s a scar, there is nothing you can do, just get used to it” or “see it as a reminder of your son” at a time when honestly I had not mentally processed what I went through. I was desperate to improve the look of my scar. I tried every cream and oil that advertised scar rehabilitation qualities, none providing the solution I was seeking and none are actually medically proven.

After many moons, I finally found 100% medical grade silicone strips. They are clinically proven to treat and prevent abnormal scars. Typically used on burn patients, and well known overseas as the gold standard in scar rehabilitation, they are not commonly advertised for use on caesarean scars (hence why they were a little more challenging for me to find). So almost 2 years on from my caesarean section (yes, fun fact, they are also effective on older scars), I procured a few samples from a number of different international manufacturers. The result on my scar just spoke for itself. Absolute magic. My scar (my actual scar) has gone from a purple scar to a skin coloured scar. Of course, it is still noticeable and it always will be but the level of improvement in the appearance of my scar even two years after my caesarean is, in a nutshell, the start of the idea behind Myscar. Why should other women have to go through what I went through? Myscar provides the golden solution that I never readily had.

I am proud of my scar and I do love my scar. For me, however, that took time. Finding a way to rehabilitate in the best way possible was extremely healing and empowering for me. A caesarean section is a major surgery that is not given the credit for being such. Women need to look after themselves and I encourage all women to seek to rehabilitate mentally and physically post caesarean. From my experience, rehabilitating your scar aids both the mental and physical rehabilitation.

I will conclude with this. The above is my story and I can obviously only speak from my own experience as every women’s birth is different. I would have loved to have shared a positive caesarean section experience, because I know they exist. I know they can be calm, controlled, and empowering. Mine wasn’t. I now know I am not alone.

Through my experience, I have learned that the narrative around caesarean sections (planned or unplanned) needs to change. It is not the easy way out or an inferior way to give birth. Too often, people refer to a vaginal birth as a ‘natural’ birth (and I am previously guilty of it too), but it only makes a caesarean section birth sound like the opposite. Birth is birth. I support the choice of the individual and doing whatever is right for them. It is their body and baby after all. I encourage everyone to try be more supportive and a less judgemental. I know that my mental recovery journey may not have been a road so difficult for me to traverse had I been surrounded with more positivity and awareness around caesarean sections.

Your story is so important, and could help empower others. If you have story you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.

Some resources you may find helpful in your recovery and motherhood journey:

Products:

Services:

  • Bountiful - a leader in providing up to date and relevant educational resources to expectant and new parents. Link to the original publication of this story here

  • OHBaby - they have a number of helpful articles on caesarean sections, well worth a read.

  • Elevate Physio and Auckland Physio- A women’s Health Physio - I recommend everyone who has had a baby to go and see their local women’s health physio

  • Jaala Goodwin - Top Pharmacist - Unichem Inglewood Pharmacy

  • Origins - Private Obstetric care

  • Gary Calitz, Taylored Health - Biokinetics specialist

  • Lifted and Unity Studios - Pilates & Yoga studio - re-strengthening your core post birth is extremely important

  • LuxeCare - Postnatal stay - providing an opportunity for you to rest and relax after birth



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