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Kate Mara is refreshingly honest about her emergency C-section

But she says that looking back, she wouldn't do a thing differently.

Kate Mara is refreshingly honest about her emergency C-section

For a lot of mothers, the way they become mothers is different from how they imagined, and for House of Card's Kate Mara that was true. Her journey wasn't exactly how she pictured it, but it is one so many mothers can relate to.

Mara recently opened up about how her first pregnancy ended in an miscarriage, and her second ended with an emergency C-section and a blood transfusion. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast, Mara told prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin about her experience, and it is definitely a story about the strength of mothers.

Kate Mara is refreshingly honest about her misscarriage 

Mara explains that she first told her husband, fellow actor Jamie Bell, about her pregnancy when they were stopped at a red light. "I turned to him and I was like, 'Is now a bad time to show you this?' " she tells Berlin. "I showed him the [test] stick. He was at a stop light, and he just burst out laughing and was like, 'Oh, my God. How is that possible?'"

"It was the first time I've ever been pregnant, and I've never had that excitement and shock of being an almost mom," says Mara.

She continues: "That just was such a special sort of reveal."

Unfortunately, about eight weeks into her pregnancy Mara learned something was wrong. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a blighted ovum, a type of early miscarriage where a fertilized egg doesn't continue to develop into an embryo.
Weeks later, the pregnancy officially ended with a miscarriage. "Everything just took so much time, by the time it was all over. It just dragged out forever," Mara explains.

Kate Mara's birth story didn't go as planned (but she wouldn't change it) 

After her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, Mara did get pregnant again but was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition that can make mothers extremely itchy in late pregnancy and can result in complications as serious as stillbirth.

Mara's medical team determined the safest thing to do was induce her a month early, dashing her dreams of an unmedicated home birth. Instead, she spent several days laboring at the hospital and did get an epidural. Eventually, though, things took a serious turn as her temperature spiked to unmanageable levels and she needed to be rushed to the OR for a C-section.

"Right before I went in for the C-section, that's when I sort of [felt] the devastation of it and the disappointment of not being able to experience a birth any way that I had hoped," Mara tells Berlin.

She goes on: "I was so scared to have the C-section, to have this surgery. I was genuinely terrified of what that meant and what could happen and all of these things, and then of course just being tired made me that much more scared, I think."

Once her baby girl was born and safe, it became clear that Mara was not. She'd needed a blood transfusion during the operation and was experiencing something a lot of C-section mamas know all too well—the post-surgery shakes. These tremors kept her from holding her baby.

"My husband brought her over to me and he kind of held her on my chest and it was amazing, but it was not at all what I imagined it would be. I could barely keep my eyes open to look at her."

Mara was sad that day because her birth experience didn't go as she'd hoped, but she also says that looking back, she wouldn't do a thing differently. Everything that was done was done for really serious medical reasons and her baby girl ended up with the best outcome.

It's okay to feel either sad, happy (or both) when your birth plans change 

Kate Mara's C-section story is like a lot of moms', and her feelings are totally valid, say experts.

According to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C-sections are super common, representing about 32% of all births in the United States, but emergency cesareans can be so stressful. "The emergency nature of C-sections leads [some mothers] to feel out of control, as well as fear that there will be harm to the baby or themselves," Dr. Sarah Allen, a Chicago psychologist and director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune.

Mara's worst fears did not come true that day, but her dream of motherhood did. And that is why she doesn't look back on her birth and regret the interventions. She was scared, but she was so strong and she's telling her story in the hopes of lending some strength to other mamas.

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Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

Minimize smoke exposure.

Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

Do your best to filter the air.

According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

"Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

"COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

Most importantly, don't panic.

In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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