A personal account of elective caesarian

(76 Posts)
Booboostoo Fri 10-Jun-11 09:33:03

I appreciate this can be a heated topic, but having just recently (12 days ago!) given birth by elective caesarian, I thought it might be interesting to share my experience. It's an entirely personal account and I strongly believe in everyone's right to make their own medical choices, whether they be for an unassisted home birth or for an elective caesarian.

My OH and I chose a caesarian based on research we came across that seemed to indicate that although an unproblematic natural birth carries the fewest risks, an elective caesarian is less risky than either an emergency caesarian or a natural birth with complications, and since no one can guarantee an unproblematic natural birth we went for the next best thing, an elective caesarian. We were lucky to find a sympathetic doctor (incidentally his wife had had a previous natural birth result in an emergency caesarian, with the baby being deprived of oxygen and having, as a result, serious mental disabilities - exactly the sort of scenario we were worried about) and we booked the surgery for 38 +3.

37 +3 and as luck would have it my waters broke! Not that I noticed as it was nothing like the movies, but popped into the hospital just to make sure, and before I knew it I was being wheeled into the operating theater! Slightly in shock at the speed with which it was all happening, but not much I could do about that!!! smile The epidural was fine, lovely anesthesiologist gave me a great massage first and then OH was allowed into the room on the promise that he would not faint! The baby was out after about 5 minutes, I did feel some tugging but it wasn't at all unpleasant, she breathed on her own straight away, was a healthy 3160grams and then she was placed on my chest for the remainder of the operation so time flew by. I had to spend 2 hours in the recovery room under observation until I could move my feet and then back to the room where the baby was brought to me, so that was lovely, and we started calling relatives.

I stayed in hospital for 4 nights, they left the epidural in for 48 hours for pain medication, I was up on my feet on day 2, taking walks on day 3. I did need someone to hand the baby to me for the first 2 days which was a bit of a shame, but I pestered the OH and the nurses. By day 5 I was at home, and by day 10 I didn't even need paracetamol anymore (I think that I needed paracetamol for so long was more of a function of having to be up and about sorting things out, if I had been able to rest a bit more I would have tried with less paracetamol). According to the doc I can start Pilates two weeks after the op, and then six weeks after the op I should be pretty much back to normal. The only restriction for now is no heavy lifting, but I couldn't do that towards the end of my pregnancy either so I can live with that!

All in all, this was an extremely positive experience for me and I would not hesitate to chose it again. Hope this helps someone else with making their own choice!

What a lovely, positive story

I had ELCS due to SPD 3 years ago. It was very relaxed, the anesthesiologist allayed my fears (I don't have an issue with needles but was vomiting a thought of one being in my spine!) I had a spinal block

DD was born after 5 mins but I wasn't allowed to hold her. There was a couple of complications (full true knot in the chord and a retained placenta) but neither of those were due to the CS. I'm glad I had the CS, as the knot could have caused a lot of problems had I delivered naturally

DevonDumplin Fri 10-Jun-11 10:43:05

Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Would you mind posting where you found such a lovely obstetrician? The ones I've seen have been awful and I have personal (same feelings as you), medical and emotional reasons for wanting a section!

TennisFan Fri 10-Jun-11 10:50:17

Well done, I too had an ELCS with my DD - and it was a great experience like you describe.
I had emergency CS with my first DS and was fairly certain i wasn't going to try the 'natural' method with DD.

There were various junior doctors along the way who wanted to know why i was going elective - but frankly i told them it was none of their business.

I too had great recovery - your story will hopefully help others in similar situation

buttonmoon78 Fri 10-Jun-11 10:52:14

What a well timed (from my point of view) story! It sounds like everything worked out exactly as you'd hoped, despite it happening a little earlier than anticipated!

I'm 33wks pg with #4. I've had 3 natural deliveries with #2&3 both back to back so pretty hideous. This time I'm creeping towards 100% wanting a section and as baby is currently breech it looks like I might get one (I've no intention of going through ecv again).

Enjoy your DD - they grow so quickly! Last time I concentrated on enjoying ds as he was rather than looking forward to the next stage all the time. It made it much more enjoyable and i fully intend to do the same this time, esp as it will def be the last one!

Booboostoo Fri 10-Jun-11 11:20:33

DevonDumpling: I am afraid we had to come all the way to Greece to find him! (OH and I are both Greek, so not as weird as it sounds!). We live in France where an elective c-section was a no-no (the French seem to have a national policy against elective c-sections and they all stick to it, even if you go to a private clinic) and then they also refused to collect cord blood, so we gave up and went to Greece very last minute.

Thanks so much for sharing your lovely story and i'm really glad your decision worked for you... I thought I should mention though that another 'impact' for a CS apart from no heavy lifting is that you probably shouldn't be driving a car for 6 weeks either. You may feel fine but in the UK most car insurance companies don't cover you in the 6 weeks after a CS (so i'm told) and as you shouldn't drive uninsured.....

All the best for a wonderful life for you and your family.

fruitybread Fri 10-Jun-11 11:48:48

Just wanted to add - it's always worth checking with your insurance company, and no one should drive before they feel completely up to it -

But my insurance company had no time 'ban' on driving post CS, and didn't need anything from a doc or consultant etc to okay me. They said it was the same as any other situation involving an op - it's up to the driver to use their good sense and judgement. When I had my appendix out, no one said anything about not driving for a specific time, for example.

(I'm in the UK and had a very positive planned CS birth).

seoladair Fri 10-Jun-11 12:27:18

What a lovely message. I'm totally sold on the joys of elective c-section. I had my first child by elective c-sec 4 weeks ago. I loved the operation - it was painfree and joyful. The recovery has been so easy. I feel almost completely recovered, and could push the pram, go for long walks and lift heavy things after 2 weeks. I am having to hold myself back from doing too much. Getting out of bed was mildly difficult for a few days after the birth (as it engages the tummy muscles) but really not a big deal at all.

My mum was very encouraging of my decision to have an elective, and she says my recovery has been much quicker than hers was after two low-risk vaginal births. She had epidural, forceps and stiches with me, and had to sit on a rubber ring for 2 weeks after the birth! She had no pain relief or interventions with her second pregnancy, and said the memories of the birth were horrible. I have wonderful memories of my c-sec, and when I think about it, I well up with tears of joy!

happystressedmum Fri 10-Jun-11 12:38:38

I wanted to post my positive story too! I have had two elective c sections and both times were a doddle to be honest. I arrived at hospital around 7.30am where my DH and I read the papers and chatted for an hour or so why they came and did various checks and monitored babys heartbeat. The around 840am they took me down to theatre which was very relaxed with the radio playing etc, Had the epidural which was painfree and then DH came ini with his 'greens' on and sat with me. After some slight tugging - not painful at all they asked what we thought we had and then they held up my beautiful DS who they wrapped up and gave to my DH and I could kiss him etc. My DS was born at 9.28 and I was back on the ward bf him at around 10.30am. Family came to visit and I had regular checks re blood pressure and painkillers (although I never felt any pain). At around 4.30 they asked me to get up and have a bath and I thought they must be joking but they were not. I walked although assisted by a nurse to the bath and it was the best thing I could have done as I felt great (although lots of blood which alarmed me in the beginning but was told all very normal). I could then get up and pick up my son and was able to walk to get breakfast in the morning and was perfectly fine. I was only in hospital for 2 nights and then went home and felt absolutely fine. Both my experiences were similar and both extremely positive. I would like a third if I can - am ttc at the moment and most definitely would book an elective c section. The first time I did have to 'fight' somewhat but I never gave in and made my case very well and have a right to choose.

happystressedmum Fri 10-Jun-11 12:40:36

Just to say my car insurance had no time ban and I was driving and fully insured at 2 weeks after c section.

I take back my bit about the car insurance then - i was told that in a NCT class!

fruitybread Fri 10-Jun-11 14:00:05

knitter, to be fair, I think a few people on MN have reported being asked by their insurance companies to get their doctor's 'permission' to drive (usually just in the form of a verbal ok, which seems rather informal to me, but hey ho) -

So maybe it varies. The sensible rule of thumb is not to drive until you are absolutely sure you are well enough to do it (capable of emergency stops etc). Women recover at different rates from CS, so will vary as to when is good to drive again.

A mate heard the same thing in a NCT class, btw - 6 weeks no driving - I think, whatever their merits, NCT classes often give a very negative picture of CS recovery. The same friend was very surprised when she came to see me 4 days after DS was born by ELCS, as she thought I'd be bedridden for a week, and unable to hold my baby. Not true.

WidowWadman Fri 10-Jun-11 20:30:02

The car insurance thing is a bit of a myth - most insurances are happy as long as your doctors are ok for you to drive. A CS is nothing to report to the DVLA and legally carries no driving ban.

That said. my CS was 15 days ago and I probably will give it at least another week or so. I was driving 4 weeks after my first CS, too.

happywheezer Fri 10-Jun-11 20:43:39

I had my second elective 4 weeks ago now, on the NHS and from my experience, whether you have a positive birth story depends on where you have your baby.
1st section was lovely, great recovery I was in no pain at all throughout even in recovery. I stopped taking painkillers after 5 days walking around the block after 5 and driving at 2 weeks.
2nd one a bloody nightmare. The section was lovely. I had a drain fitted, which they took out without painkillers,hardly any painrelief apart from paracetamol and voltrol, 6 hours after delivery. could hardly walk and yet had to walk 200 metres for my food, no checks.
I was glad to leave after 2 days even though I could hardly walk. The recovery was much tougher because of the shit care that I received.
you need morphine!
But I'm still pro section-just not at the hospital I was at.

WidowWadman Fri 10-Jun-11 20:53:08

I had only paracetamol and diclophenac both times and coped fine. No need for morphine. But everyone is different, I guess

Chynah Fri 10-Jun-11 22:37:09

* I think, whatever their merits, NCT classes often give a very negative picture of CS recovery. *

My NCT did the same, no driving for 6 weeks,not able to hold baby, unable to walk upstairs unassisted rubbish!

I have had 2 briliant ELCS (no medical reason for either) - fab recovery both times,out and about straight away, minimal painlillers (paracetamol & diclofenac) and back out running at 5 weeks post CS both times. Drove car at 2 weeks and 8 days respecively and could lift my toddler as long as I did it carefully after a week.

1944girl Sat 11-Jun-11 01:10:43

I am very very jealous of all you girls who have posted on here!.
I only wish you could ask for a section 41 years ago.Unheard of then completly, and it was proved after I had two EMCSs I certainly had a medical need.
Things have certainly got better.

fruitybread Sat 11-Jun-11 11:28:48

That's a kind post 1944 girl - it made me feel rather sad... but yes, I am very grateful I had more birth options than I would have had a couple of decades ago.

sloathy Sat 11-Jun-11 11:43:44

Thank you for these posts. I had an EMCS with my first DS 6 weeks ago. I found the labour (up to the point of the c-section) very traumatic and invasive (DS had to have a clip on his head and also blood samples taken from his head, i was up in stirrups a lot of the time, he was back to back, serious heart decels, the epidural stopped working etc etc). The c -section was a relief in the end and the only time that I felt calm. I have already started to think about the next one and my initial instinct was to go for an ELCS but then the "guilt" kicks in and I was starting to feel I ought to try harder and go for a VBAC - but these posts have made me feel more confident about wanting a ELCS.

1944girl Sat 11-Jun-11 18:49:59

Thankyou fruitybread

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 12-Jun-11 10:04:33

I could have written this thread! I had a very positive ELCS followed by a very negative EMCS where the hospital tried to push me into VBAC. My reasons for choosing ELCS with the first one were pretty much the same as yours - yes, natural is great if it goes well but if it goes wrong it can be catastrophic.

I only stayed in for 2 nights with my first one, a lot longer second time round (though this was as the baby needed to stay in, I would have been fine to leave).

darleneoconnor Sun 12-Jun-11 10:15:08

I think you have to be careful about posting about your birth in Greece on a UK website. There are huge differences in care/proceedures in different countries and the exact same birth in 2 different countries is likely to be a very different experience.

Booboostoo Sun 12-Jun-11 12:22:12

Well as I said daleneoconnor it is a personal experience of one birth, it's not a generalisation about all caesarians or an attempt to convince anyone to do the as I did. The reason I posted is that many people are a bit negative about EMCS and it's worth having all view points aired. As it turns out I am quite surprised to see loads of other people on this thread with similar positive experiences.

Mumsnet describes itself as a 'global online network' so I don't see why Greek experiences are precluded. My experience of UK healthcare (20 years of it) is that standards of healthcare vary hugely from one area to another, so under this reasoning no one could post about anything anyway as someone else could have an entirely different experience in another part of the country. A friend in the north of the UK was left alone overnight to fend for herself and her baby following an emergency C-section and chucked out of hospital the next morning - under these conditions she did suffer a lot more than I did, but I don't think this is a Greece-UK issue.

fruitybread Sun 12-Jun-11 13:15:38

I agree it is probably worth mentioning where/when births are, as practices and attitudes towards birth/women do vary from country to country - but there's also a huge range of policies/staff/experiences from hospital to hospital in the UK, too. No one birth can be held up as universally 'true' anywhere.

And the the OP does point out at the beginning that it is an entirely personal account, which is saying the same thing.

FWIW, I had a very similar ELCS experience to the OP in the UK - although I was only in hospital 2 nights, had no problem holding my baby, and was up and walking/showering the same day, which I hadn't really expected. Slowly and stiffly, but it really wasn't a big deal.

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 12-Jun-11 13:31:06

What fruitybread said, including the recovery and hospital stay. I think the basic point being made by the OP was that ELCS can be very positive.

hazeyjane Sun 12-Jun-11 15:18:30

I'm afraid I had a dreadful time of it with my elcs

My bp plummeted, I lost loads of blood, I was allergic to the pain meds, so had to rely on a combination of paracetemol, codeine and morphine. After the op I was too shaky to hold ds, I couldn't eat for a whole day afterwards, as i was throwing up all the time. I felt like I have been sawn in half for weeks everything ached, and I felt shaky on my legs for days afterwards. Because I had to be up and about, I developed an inflammation of the veins in my leg, which was very swollen and painful.

Ds was born with respiratory distress syndrome, he was taken to SCBU before I could hold him, I couldn't hold him for 3 days,and he was in for 8 days (I was transferred there after 3 days on postnatal ward). He was on cpap, tube fed and antibiotics for a possible infection. He had jaundice and a heart murmur. He was 8lb 9oz when born, but had lost 12% of his birth weight in the first week.

I was quite shocked at how appalling I felt, because I had heard mostly positive things about electives.

I had lots of anxiety and panic attacks after the birth, and nightmares about ds being taken out before he was ready. Physically i didn't feel like the same person. I sought birth trauma counselling and am on ads for ptsd and pnd.

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 12-Jun-11 15:26:14

hazey - was yours a full term elcs for a non-medical reason? Sounds like you had an awful time of it.

Respiratory distress is the one risk that is apparently higher with ELCS. I think the risk is twice that of VB but overall the risk is still very small - don't quote me on the stats though, I'm trying to recall what I researched 3.5 years ago.

I don't think there's anything that would connect jaundice, infection and heart murmur to ELCS.

WorzselMummage Sun 12-Jun-11 15:29:21

Not everyone needs much pain relief after a couple of days anyway. I was up and standing 6hrs after my emergency section and apart from morphine of the first night and paracetamol for a couple of days after I didn't get much pain - walked round a shopping centre on day 3, felt fine. drove at 2 weeks.

Glad your section went well booboostoo and congratulations smile

hazeyjane Sun 12-Jun-11 16:09:16

my section was at 39 weeks, and was done to avoid any further damage (I had 3rd degree and 2nd degree tears with dd1 and 2), apart from low bp and varicose veins I was/am in pretty good health.

I think it is good to remember that everyone responds differently to these things (as they do with vb) and that not everyone is off painmeds and back on their feet in a few days.

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 12-Jun-11 16:20:18

Interesting about the low BP hazey. I read on another thread that having very low BP can be a contra-indication for spinal block / epidural and a GA may be required. That said, I had low BP and had no problems with spinal block.

theowlandthepussycatwenttosea Sun 12-Jun-11 16:28:53

Just to give another caveat to c-sections. I had a crash section with my dc and ended up with internal bleeding. Lost over 8 litres of blood (eventually, obviously they were pumping more in at the time) and ended with a hyterectomy.

Total disaster. Obviously it was a crash not an ELCS but I was told at the time that it was the stitching up afterwards that was the problem, a time when the emergency was over so presumebly an ELCS would also run the risk of this happening. It is very rare though.

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 12-Jun-11 16:32:53

What owl said highlights a key point - ELCS is safer for the baby but not necessarily the mother. Complications are rare but can happen as it is surgery and therefore carries risk.

theowlandthepussycatwenttosea Sun 12-Jun-11 16:44:07

Yeah I didn't mean to scare people. I think something that people do need to consider before going down this route (especially for a first child) is how many children they want.
I was quite naive when pregnant and actually asked for a c-section and was told firmly "they won't give you one" and left it at that.
But even if I had researched it I might not have gone for it (even if I'd been able to get one on the NHS) due to the risks associated with having multiple sections if you want several children. And obviously I have no idea how I would have felt if what had happened to me had happened after an ELCS for no medical reason (but no doubt really terrible). Though I think ELCS after a traumatic first delivery is an entirely different matter as by then you have a much better idea how your body copes in labour (though obviously every labour is different).

WidowWadman Sun 12-Jun-11 17:35:39

You could argue though that every attempt at vaginal birth carries the risk of an EMCS with all associated risks (plus the risks associated with VB). Whether a vaginal birth is straightforward can only ever be seen afterwards.

fruitybread Sun 12-Jun-11 17:49:10

I'm sorry for those who have had bad CS experiences (hazeyjane, I know I've read yours before and thought what a rough time you had of it - it seems particularly unfair after your previous traumatic VBs) -

I think the bad experiences are of course every bit as valid, and the mothers have every right to articulate those experiences, as those of us who had positive experiences.

Re: risks of repeat ELCS's - it's hard to build an accurate picture, as the big problem with nearly all reputable CS info is that EMCS's and ELCS's are lumped in together. Obviously ELCS's carry a different and greater set of risks than planned CS's (although it's also true that the vast majority of planned CS's are carried out because there is a medical risk to mother and/or baby).

I'm ALL in favour of informed decisions - it's frustrating that accurate info is hard to come by. Those of you who do want to stay up to day with uk info will find the new draft guidelines on CS from NICE interesting - here - www.nice.org.uk/newsroom/pressreleases/CSectionUpdateConsultation.jsp

A new piece of info to be included is "women who have had up to and including four caesarean sections should be informed that their risk of fever, bladder injuries, surgical injuries and rupture of the womb is the same with a planned CS as it is with a planned vaginal delivery."

Of course there are other risks associated with repeat planned CS. Different women will place different values on different risks. This is an obvious point, I know - but worth mentioning, as discussion of CS often gets very heated when we fail to take into account that what is very significant for one woman doesn't hold the same significance for another. Some women only want one DC. Some want more. Some women worry hugely about the appearance of their body after CS. I don't at all, but I appreciate that it IS a concern for others. Some women have an overwhelming fear of a needle in their spine/a hospital environment - again, I don't, but obviously those that do are dealing with a different set of risks and fears. And so on.

(and this isn't unique to CS, I know - VBAC is also a very heated and emotional debate, where different risks hold different values for different women. )

The question of risk versus benefit is always going to be a very personal one.

Booboostoo Sun 12-Jun-11 20:21:04

I am very much with fruitybread on this, risk assessment is a very subjective matter and no matter how we assess the risks, no one enjoys the experience when the risks actualize. Unfortunately every kind of birth can go wrong, all we can do is choose for ourselves what we think might be the best option given individual circumstances and hope for a bit of luck.

When looking at CS statistics I found it quite useful to look at very recent studies, especially from the US and China which have high rates of electives and can for the first time compare electives vs natural and other options, rather than CS in general (where statistics are skewed by co-morbidity issues in emergency CS). As a general summary the level of risk seemed to go:

natural with no complications
elective CS
emergency CS
natural with complications such as forceps

although even this is misleading as different options are riskier for the mother and different ones are riskier for the baby.

PeppaPigandGeorge Mon 13-Jun-11 17:10:22

Also the risk to the mother will differ depending on the mother - I was in my 20s (just), a healthy weight and have never smoked. The risk of CS to a 45 year old overweight smoker would be higher.

Even hearing bad experiences as per above, I still believe CS to be a very positive choice for a lot of women. I would much rather have had the outcome that hazey and owl had than have had VB go wrong and result in brain damage to an otherwise healthy baby.

hazeyjane Mon 13-Jun-11 18:15:45

Well of course nobody would want the outcome of something wrong with the baby. But when you make the choice to have a cs, no-one conveniently offers you a glimpse into the future, 'well Mrs Hazeyjane you can choose a cs and avoid double incontinence, or you can have a vb but your baby will be brain damaged...'

Also as it turns out, ds has developmental delays, the cause of which we don't yet know, but it could have been something that occurred at birth, or it could have been something that would have been worse had I not had a cs at the time I did, I'm not sure we will ever know.

theowlandthepussycatwenttosea Mon 13-Jun-11 19:40:49

I agree that on a purely objective risk weigh up cs for pretty much everyone might be a good plan, but also think that a lot of the time women have a gut instinct on what they should be doing - which is why for a lot (most?) women a VB is still the right thing to do - as long as the woman is confident with what she's doing.

What society today (and especially the medical profession) doesn't do i think is trust a woman's instinct enough.

Before I attempted my vb I asked for an ELCS because I sensed something was wrong. I was given short shrift but was proved right almost immediately (it was an induction and I had a very severe placental abruption after insertion of the gel).

What I wished the medical profession did was listen more to women and I'm sure some birthing disasters could be avoided.

jojosmaman Mon 13-Jun-11 22:02:48

I had a very straightforward and dare I say it pleasurable elcs 6 weeks ago and very pleased with my decision (first baby was crash section so chose an elcs at last minute for number 2 as worried about not being awake for her birth).

I was up and about the next day, home after two days, walking around the garden centre with the buggy after one week and travelled 180 miles to a wedding at three weeks. I also managed to breastfeed straight away with no issues.

Is it just me or do you suspect that women are being fed misleading information to put them off c-sections? I read on a mummy blog the other day that the mother to be in question was in tears at the thought of a c/s as she wanted to able to b/feed, she needed to be able to take pictures of her new baby before they were ten days and that her husband wouldn't be able to take four weeks off work to look after her hmm ... four weeks? My dp took off two days!

I saw two or three different consultants to discuss my options, two were very understanding but one was very anti c-sect and might as well have said that vbacs are risk free (as she listed all the risks of c-sect but never once mentioned vbac risks). I understand they are a financial burden on the nhs but to to dismiss them for this reason would be at what cost?

OompaLumpa Tue 14-Jun-11 00:15:41

I was told that our trust area (surrey) has a reputation for being too posh to push and the hospitals are under pressure to reduce cs rates. Im reading ths thread with interest a im due to have a ELCS this wednesday for medical reasons and im petrified!

rosielum Tue 14-Jun-11 07:22:29

I'm 35wks preg now and booked for an elcs at 38wks. I had a low risk pregnancy with DD and I think this is why the midwives failed to spot what turned out to be a horrendous placental abruption. The bleeding was concealed and they didn't realise until it was too late for a c-sec. My daughter was basically stillborn as a result with apgar of 0-0-0. She has severe CP as a result of her birth. I am healthy, young, non smoker and it stil went terribly wrong! Elcs for me please!

PMHull Tue 14-Jun-11 09:54:31

I'm so pleased that you had such a positive experience, and I'd be really interested in hearing more about your story (in particular, the difficulty you had in finding support in France).
I run the website http:www.electivecesarean.com and also write the blog http:www.cesareandebate.blogspot.com, and I have spent the last 7 years trying to balance the reporting of ELECTIVE cesareans. As many of the posters here have recognized, there has been a tendency for all cesarean (health and cost) data to be merged together and then used to criticize women who choose to have a cesarean.
I am not an advocate of cesarean birth - I am not interested in trying to convince anyone to choose this birth plan - but I am working hard to ensure that women are equally fully informed about the risks of planning a vaginal birth. I believe that it is unethical and unhelpful to over-exaggerate the risks of cesarean birth and completely under-estimate the risks of vaginal birth (just look how many injured or traumatized women write: 'No one told me this could happen with natural birth'). The car insurance myth is just one example of the misinformation at play - I have checked with both the DVLA and the ABI, and they both said that women do not need to inform them of having had cesarean surgery.
Let women have all the information and then let them make their own informed decision about their birth plan - based on their own perception and tolerance of the different risks.
If you'd be happy to, please contact me via my website, or equally, I'd be happy to learn more via this discussion thread too. :-)
Thanks for your supportive post (I hear from many women who feel alone and isolated in their thoughts and feelings about planning a cesarean), and congratulations!
Pauline McDonagh Hull

stealthsquiggle Tue 14-Jun-11 10:31:44

My insurance too wanted a verbal OK from the GP - GP was entirely chilled about it and basically said that since I was driving a big automatic 4*4 she had no concerns as long as I felt OK with it.

OP - do I take it this was your first DC? Most people I have met have (as I did) had ELCS only after previous EMCS.

seoladair Tue 14-Jun-11 10:34:45

Hi PMHull
Just wanted to thank you for your website - it really helped me to prepare for my discussions with doctors prior to being allowed an ELCS on the NHS. My ELCS was a great birth experience. I wish more women were given objective information about birth options, instead of being misinformed, and bullied into supposedly low-cost VBs.

Booboostoo Tue 14-Jun-11 14:15:54

Thanks for all that information PMHull. I completely agree with you that an informed choice should be everyone's goal.

I am not a medic, but I am an academic and have worked in medical schools and with doctors for the past 10 years, so when faced with birthing options I went on Google Scholar and did some research. On the whole I was inclined towards the ELCS, so I wrote down my references, printed my abstracts and went off to discuss it with the docs, fully prepared to be convinced otherwise.

Gyneacologist no1: patted my hand (literally) and said 'Don't worry dear you'll be fine giving birth naturally', that was the end of the discussion.

Gyneacologist no2: OH and I thought that maybe we should go private so that there would be more options...gyne 2 told us it was her choice whether she performed a C section or not, she would never consider an elective and neither would anyone else in her hospital. She went as far as saying that it was too risky but would not elaborate on the risks. She never discussed the risks of other options.

Gyneacologist no 3: at the large, public hospital. She was the most willing to discuss her decision not to offer ELCS (which was also the decision of the entire team at the hospital so no point in trying another doctor). She said ELCS posed thrombosis and infection risks for the mum and respiratory distress for the baby. However, she could not give any statistics for these risks, nor was she aware of any of the literature I was referring to (she did not speak English and did not seem to be aware of any obs&gynea research in English). She did not mention any risks associated with natural birth and when asked about risks for forceps, lack of oxygen, etc. she said they were not worth considering. She did not seem to be responsive to the argument that an elective is safer than a natural birth with complications and no one can guarantee an unproblematic natural birth - she just re-iterated that I would have an unproblematic natural birth. Overall I found her approach very set, not amenable to reason and one-sided.

From what we found ELCS is not available practically anywhere in France, either privately or in the public sector.

Bonkerz Tue 14-Jun-11 14:22:33

My ds is now five weeks old today. I had an elcs due to previous section so knew roughly what to expect.

Very positive. Ds was born at 10:02am on 10/5 and I was up and walking about by 8:30am the next day. Breast feeding was ok and I was in very little pain. I was released on 12/5 and rested for a couple of days at home. By day 7 I was feeling fab and by day 16 I was back to normal and with gp consent I started driving again ( insurance just needed gp consent) now five weeks on I feel fab and am back to normal.

doziedev Tue 14-Jun-11 15:51:23

Thanks for your posting, i found it particularly useful that your experience is not from a uk perspective. Due to a disability I'm to have my CS in 5weeks. The planned op was meant to be happening in Germany but due to complications I'm having to travel home to uk and have it there under my regular Hospitals care. I've read peoples advice on lifting, washing and driving, but do you or any others know about travel, eg how soon can you fly after op? Is it 6 weeks as well?

Any advice welcome as hubby will only get 2 weeks in uk before returning to work abroad and don't want him to think he's escaped the joys of sleepless nights or a hormonal wife!!

Booboostoo Tue 14-Jun-11 17:02:08

I was told both the baby and I could fly after 7 days. I was told I would have a very slightly increased risk of thrombosis and might want to wear the special stockings during the flight because of that. I was told the baby would be fine with flying as such, I might want to breast feed during take off/landing to help pop her ears, and that the biggest risk for her would be catching a cold from one of the other passengers because of the re-circulated air. As it turns out getting her a passport is turning out to be a huge nightmare due to Greek bureaucracy so we haven't been able to leave yet, but that's another story!

lockets Tue 14-Jun-11 17:07:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeppaPigandGeorge Tue 14-Jun-11 19:23:59

rosielum - just wanted to say I too had a massive abruption that the midwives and the registrar failed to spot as I didn't bleed (at least not externally). Resulted in a crash section under GA which was just in time as luckily my daughter was fine. This was in spite of me begging them for hours to do a CS as the pain was unbearable. They were trying to persuade me to do VBAC as it was pre-term, it seems to be the current fashion to try and reduce CS rates. I more or less passed out before the CS'd me and I count myself very lucky that my daughter as unharmed as really, she ought not to be here at all.

spudulika Tue 14-Jun-11 20:26:09

I think any birth where the mother emerges in good health with a well baby, is treated with respect, and made to feel safe, is likely to get a fairly enthusiastic thumbs up.

Sadly a fair proportion of mums having v/bs in the uk are 'cared for' in such a way as to make a normal, healthy, happy birth quite difficult, don't feel safe. Quite understandible why people wouldn't want to risk this happening to them. Of course the other option is to choose pattern of care which optimises your chance of a normal birth and reduces the likelhood of emcs, namely a homebirth. Given that elcs is only appears comparitively safe if you are comparing low risk women having c/s with low risk women giving birth in settings where there are very high levels of emergency c/s, the safest option surely for healthy mums must be to opt for a v/b where the pattern of care and the birth environment is associated with very low levels of emergency c/s.

From my own point of view, I've spoken to so many women who've had homebirths in particular who feel that the experience of labour and birth has left them with a powerful feeling of self-sufficiency and confidence - stays with them for life. I found the experience of labour life-changing. I wouldn't pass that up for the predictability and control of a surgical birth. But I understand why people would want to pass up the chance of having a birth which might be a life changing experience for one which is predictable and is over quickly.

lockets Wed 15-Jun-11 18:11:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spudulika Wed 15-Jun-11 19:01:55

"Needless to say I thought I was in control of the birth thing how wrong I was"

Nobody is ever truly in control of their bodies during labour or in any other birth. It's simply a matter of 'riding the beast'.

lockets Wed 15-Jun-11 19:23:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WorzselMummage Wed 15-Jun-11 19:35:54

Riding the beast is just the right phrase isn't it.

Nothing irritates me more than women who bang on about their straight forward births and claim that they we're like that because they had 'prepared'.

It's just luck, chance and a bit of genetics.

kitstwins Thu 16-Jun-11 13:19:02

I agree worzsel - there's an attitude that some mother are just not trying hard enough. I gunned for a VBAC this time and did EVERYTHING to prepare - had a doula, did hypnobirthing course, pilates, positive visualisation, osteopathy (pelvic alignment), gentle exercise, etc., etc. My waters broke and had heavy meconium in them. My baby was born by emergency c section and was lifeless due to meconium inhalation and, as it turned out, septicaemia. He spent 3 days in NICU and is now happily home and well.

If the infection/meconium inhalation hadn't happened and I'd managed my VBAC no doubt I could have attributed this to all my preparation. As it was, it made f*ck all difference. Nothing I did or didn't do would have changed the outcome.

I'm pleased to hear the OP had a really positive elective section. I do think caesareans can be good. However, as someone who has just spent the best part of 8 weeks feeling as if I've been repeated run over by a truck I've yet to experience one. They're not always easy to recover from and, a bit like birth itself, that recovery depends on 'luck, chance and a bit of genetics'.

As this is emphatically my last baby, I've decided that in my next life I'm going to have a vaginal delivery. Not so I can unlock the mysteries of womanhood but because I can pick a baby up and climb the stairs post-delivery. Heady stuff I tell you...

spudulika Thu 16-Jun-11 14:40:59

"If the infection/meconium inhalation hadn't happened and I'd managed my VBAC no doubt I could have attributed this to all my preparation. As it was, it made f*ck all difference. Nothing I did or didn't do would have changed the outcome."

Be fair, in SOME situations there is NOTHING you can do to improve the outcome.

In OTHER situations there MAY BE

We know that homebirth, waterbirth, birth with a doula, and active birth tend to result in lower rates of assisted birth, and in the case of homebirth, caeserean section, fetal distress and low apgar scores. Statistically these things do make a difference and mums often opt for them in the hope that they will give them a better chance, not a guarantee of a better birth.

I think if mums do these things and have a good outcome they have a right to believe that their preparation might have made a difference. Of course they can't know for sure, but it's fair they should feel validated in the choices they made.

lockets Thu 16-Jun-11 15:55:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spudulika Thu 16-Jun-11 16:35:02

Given the evidence on how well hypnobirthing works for some women, I think it's hard to deny that in some cases your attitude and mental preparation CAN have an impact on birth outcomes.

Lockets sorry to be nosy, but what happened with your ds1?

PeppaPigandGeorge Thu 16-Jun-11 19:37:37

Totally agree spud - in my case, I had a really positive birth outcome with my ELCS as I was mentally prepared for it. I wanted it.

The point has been made earlier in the thread that you really can't compare EmCS to ELCS. All medical issues aside, it comes back to the attitude and mental preparation - if you go in expecting to give birth naturally without pain relief but end up having an EmCS, you aren't mentally prepared for the CS, so you probably aren't going to think it was all that great.

My EmCS was truly awful, so to that extent I sympathise with kitswins. However my ELCS was fab and not at all comparable.

spudulika Thu 16-Jun-11 19:43:21

But you being prepared and mentally ready for your elcs Peppa, would have made no difference as to whether it was successful or not.

Being mentally prepared for a vaginal birth may impact on the clinical outcomes, if research into hypnotherapy techniques is to be believed.

That's the point I was trying to make. How the labour progresses may not always be entirely down to luck.

kitstwins Thu 16-Jun-11 19:45:51

Spudulika (good name) I agree that making positive preparations for birth, such as hypnobirthing, etc. can influence the outcome (in a good way) but I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that you can be as well prepared as you like but sometimes sh!t will happen regardless. As such, the perception that in having a c section and highly medicalised birth I haven't tried hard enough or prepared well enough is erroneous and highly annoying. To be fair this perception seems to be media driven as I can't say I've come across it in 'real life' much. More the flip that people who manage vaginal deliveries get a metaphorical high five (and people who manage a vaginal water birth without pain relief get a double high five).

Hypnobirthing gets a huge thumbs up from me. It didn't prevent me having an emergency c section but it allowed me to deal with the sh!tstorm that was my baby's birth with a startling degree of calm. Even now I'm able to view what was an intensely traumatic experience with acceptance and happiness. I have no regrets, which is a good place to be.

PeppaPigandGeorge Thu 16-Jun-11 19:52:09

No, Spud, I couldn't have prevented surgical error with a positive mental attitude. However, a lot of people respond very badly to EmCS because they don't want it and feel they have failed. The point I was making was that if you want an ELCS your approach to it is positive so you are unlikely to react negatively afterwards.

At the end of the day, birth is life changing because of the new person, not how you do it. I found being able to control the birth as much as possible, removing the risk of VB going wrong and harming my child, to be extremely empowered. I did not feel empowered when doctors tried to bully me into a VBAC which would probably have killed me and my baby.

hazeyjane Fri 17-Jun-11 03:58:33

Sorry Peppa I disagree.

I don't think you can be truly mentally prepared for an elcs, especially if it is your first cs. I had no idea just how brutalised I would feel by the whole experience, how long it would take me to recover, how my body would react to the drugs, that I would lose tons of blood, that my bp would crash etc.

I felt utterly out of control, and after reading so many positive accounts of elcs on hear I really wasn't prepared for that.

I'm also not sure whether any amount of positive thinking on my part would have helped ds to breathe without the help of a ventilator when he was born.

BizzeeBee Fri 17-Jun-11 09:04:06

This has been interesting for me to read. I had an EMCS four weeks ago because the baby was in distress. I found it so tough that I was thinking CS is definitely not an easy childbirth solution and I can't believe people choose to go through this unless it is truly necessary.

In my case I never imagined I would end up having an EMCS, so definitely wasn't mentally prepared for it. I certainly don't feel like I failed in any way. The baby was distressed relatively early on in my labour so I couldn't have done anything differently or been better prepared for a VB. I see myself as being fortunate in the sense that since the outcome was an EMCS, I didn't have to go through a very long painful labour before - it was only about 8 hours, and for a lot of of that I had an epidural in and didn't feel anything. I had planned not to have an epidural but constant monitoring and having to lie in certain positions so baby's heart rate didn't fall meant I couldn't move around to get through the pain.

I do now find myself thinking that it could be good for me to have a planned csection if I have another baby, so it is nice to know that it can be a more pleasant experience than I had in an emergency.

BrassicaBabe Fri 17-Jun-11 10:54:21

I have truely enjoyed following this thread.

I always knew I wanted an ELCS (I prefer planned CS as a term, less emotive) before I was even pregnant. For me the lack of control in a natural birth was just more than I could contemplate. My personal opinion is that not everything natural is life is a good/healthy thing. I'm pleased God gave people surgical skills to give me another option smile Maybe if a problem free naturial birth could have been guaranteed then I'd be more willing. But of course that just isn't an option.

I had my case setup for a ELCS when I found out I was pregnant. As it turns out I'm expecting twins so while it wasn't a done deal, it was certainly less hard to persuade the consultant that ELCS is the way to go.

I've got 4 weeks to wait to see if I made the right decisions or not hmm

Again, thanks. I've enjoyed reading this thread and glad it hasn't descended into the often seen bun fight grin

PeppaPigandGeorge Sat 18-Jun-11 13:16:26

You may have had a bad experience hazey but the overwhelming majority of people here have had positive experiences of ELCS. And I was totally prepared for my ELCS - as much as you can be prepared for any birth.

Bizzee - I wouldn't voluntarily have my EmCS but it was nothing like my ELCS which was a great experience. DOn't let a bad EmCS experience put you off ELCS if you think it is right for you.

Mackrelmint Sun 19-Jun-11 06:20:14

I've found this thread really interesting and helpful too.

I had a vb for dd - planned homebirth, transferred to hospital as I wanted an epidural. I hated the whole experience, felt brutalised, didn't bond w dd straightaway and found recovery v painful, albeit only 2-3 weeks. many people told me I'd had a good birth and congratulated me on the drug-free vaginal delivery. I find this attitude peculiar. Obviously I'm glad there were no major problems and dd was healthy but surely whether it's good or not is a subjective thing and like others I think there is a huge amount of luck involved in the outcome, (though some preparation may have an impact.)

Before dd I wouldn't have even contemplated cs. My mum had 3 homebirths and I'd grown up believing vb was easy and during pregnancy read quite a lot of Ina May Gaskin et al espousing the wonders of womens bodies and 'natural' birth.

I really applaud the OP on her research and decision-making process. I wish more of the discussion on childbirth could be like this - just about being able to choose what is right for us and be supported. acknowledging that different people want different things and will experience the same kinds of births differently. I wish there was less ideology and emotive argumentation around birth and that meaningless offensive terms like 'too posh to push' didn't exist.

I am ttc dc2 presently and if I get pg again am not sure I would go for elcs -despite the intense pain and negative experience of my (fast) first labour, I know my body is capable of vb and feel with the right help and some luck I would have a good chance of a good vb. But I also am really afraid of tearing again and after hearing friends' forceps stories am v scared of that so I'm glad that I now feel like elcs is an option I can research and consider.

hazeyjane Sun 19-Jun-11 07:02:19

Fair enough, Peppa. I do wish I had heard some negative accounts before making my decision, though (I have heard more since having ds, but I guess people worry about being negative).

I heard so many people saying that they bounced back, that they were walking with buggy days after, up and about after a couple of days etc. I really had no idea as to just how awful I would feel, and for so long after. I thought I was being pathetic and just not coping.

I still don't know what choice I would have made if I had known that an elcs could be so much worse than my vb's.

PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 19-Jun-11 19:48:36

Sorry hazey - wasn't trying to have a go. The point I was trying to make (badly, I think) was that I was fully prepared for ELCS, at least as much as you can be for any birth, and it seems like most people on this thread who chose ELCS for entirely non-medical reasons were too. I absolutely agree that you need the whole picture - including negative stories - to make a decision. That's one of the problems with choosing ELCS to start with - doctors (NHS at least) are simply not prepared to be honest with you and own up to how negative VB can be in some cases, and how positive ELCS can be, and allow rational adults to make their own minds up based on fact.

alliwant Sun 19-Jun-11 21:26:12

Due to have my second ELCS in 6 weeks, and even though i've done it before (plus a third degree tear - long healing time with 1st) I am still shitting myself! Just hope I get lucky again and the recovery is as straight forward as my first ELCS. You just never know how things will pan out. Ultimately if you come out without any long term damage and so does your little one, that counts as sucess.

Good luck to all of you.

LoobyLou33 Tue 06-Nov-12 21:50:03

Interesting thread, thanks for all the views and information.
I had an EMcs with DS1, as labour wasn't progressing and he was distressed (heart rate dropping). Recovery wasn't quick but wasn't bad either.
Now I'm pregnant again I'm tussling with what to do, if I even get that choice. Part of me wants the "easy" plannedbirth without the horrible labour I had last time and unknown quantities, then another part of me wants to try for a VBAC from a belief in keeping midwifery skills alive and not overmedicalising life. Hm, head vs heart maybe!

LivingThings Tue 06-Nov-12 23:07:27

I have had both my DC by ELCS very close together in age. Fab experiences both times, little pain, on my feet again in hours as soon as I got my legs back, fast recoveries and back out running 5 weeks later - lovely happy chiled babies.

I chose ELCS after researching the risks benefits etc (for me) and very pleased with how it all worked out. If I was to have another (which I wont) then it would be ELCS again.

loubeebaby Tue 08-Jan-13 17:01:28

Like BrassicaBabe I had decided that an ELCS was the right choice for me after reading tons and tons of research.
As most of you have said it is very difficult to get unbiased info on ELCS and you have to dig deep. I believe NHS policies and budgets have a big part to pay in this.
It was fantastic to hear all of you CS stories and although I am still early days I am totally shitting myself about the actual procedure. Does anyone have any relaxation techniques that I can master to stop me turning the car round and not going to the hospital or turning into a blubbering wreck just before theatre!? Any tips would be appericiated!

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