‘I spent eight months in agony after my c-section scar became infected’
‘Birth trauma is such a taboo subject'
A new mum recalls spending eight months in horrific pain after her c-section scar became infected.
In the months following the birth of her son, Dawn Schamely was so succumbed by agony that she was forced to bite down on a flannel daily just to cope.
Though the mental scars remain, she feels it was ‘all worth it’ – as she was originally told she would never be able to have children.
The 40-year-old who is from Ware, Hertfordshire, has endometriosis – a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside it. This can result in severe pelvic pain and make it more difficult to get pregnant, which doctors warned would be the case for Dawn – stating that there was ‘no possible way’ it would be an option for her.
‘When George was born it was so surreal holding him for the first time – I couldn’t believe I was a mum’, she said, noting that she was always ‘adamant’ that she would have a baby one day despite the warnings her doctors gave.
‘But I didn’t expect for months after my c-section to be biting down on a flannel every day because I was in so much pain.
‘Even now, the mental scars are still there’, she said, adding that both she and her husband are now undergoing therapy to deal with the aftereffects.
Just three weeks before the couple were due to get married, Dawn began experiencing severe stomach pains which, initially, she attributed to her endometriosis.
But sadly, doctors revealed that Dawn was actually having a miscarriage.
‘I thought “miracles don’t happen twice” and that had been our only shot at being parents’, she recalled.
What happened next was, as Dawn puts it, nothing short of a miracle. A scan showed both a ‘sack of blood’ and a ‘viable baby’ – indicating she’d actually been pregnant with twins. Doctors explained that one was still alive – a baby that turned out to be little George, who was born via emergency c-section in March 2022, weighing 6lbs 4oz.
However, following the birth her scar showed ‘no signs’ of healing – causing incessant agony. It was when the wound began ‘oozing and bubbling’ that she went back to the hospital, where she learned it had become infected.
Then, just two weeks after the birth of her son, she underwent debridement surgery to remove the infected tissue from the wound – which measured 6cm deep, 10cm wide and 15cm long.
The dressing needed to be changed daily, which her husband took the responsibility for doing – even quitting his full-time job so that he could care for her.
‘I made Dan take George out the house when my dressings needed changing because I didn’t want him to hear my screams’, she reflected.
Finally, after eight months of ‘horrific pain’ the wound healed.
Now, Dawn is raising awareness of birth trauma via the Birth Trauma Association.
‘Birth trauma is such a taboo subject, but it needs raising in conversation because it happens – I am living proof’, Dawn added.
Just last month NHS England announced that it is set to introduce the national pelvic health service dedicated to supporting and informing people who – like Dawn – experience trauma during childbirth.
Set to be rolled out from April 2024, the plans will ensure that all pregnant people are offered a self-assessment of their pelvic health by 18 weeks at the latest, further providing education on the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction, additional support to those who are high risk, and extra physiotherapy assessments for those impacted.
Dawn added: ‘Even though the wound healed it had a massive impact on our relationship, Dan was scared to even hug me for seven months in case it hurt me.
‘But we have our little miracle George, and as awful as it was, I’d do it all again for him.’
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