C Sections: do they really do this?

(59 Posts)
HollyRose6 Tue 17-Jun-14 22:33:53

Hi all, I'm 33 weeks pregnant with second DC. I was sexually abused as a child and have huge issues around vaginal examinations etc. For DS1' s birth I went out of my way (hypnobirthing, home birth) to ensure I had a natural delivery without much intervention. Ended up having a lovely birth with only one midwife down the business end (if you get what I mean) and had a really positive experience. I had to fight hard for my home birth because the doctors decided DS1 was a giant baby who wouldn't fit it off my pelvis, the midwives thought this was a load of rubbish funnily enough. Doctors tried to push me into induction at 35wks and then placed c section at 37wks. I ended up insisting on a home birth so they would leave me alone. I'm so glad I did because DS1 turned up without any issues at home weighing only 7lb5.

Anyway I'm expecting DS2 and once again the baby is supposedly huge and I am really being pushed to have a c section and the idea of a c section terrifies me.

To make matters worse my friend has just had a c section and has been left feeling pretty traumatised by it. Firstly she said she was left completely bare below in front of all the people in the operating room and was shaved with a blunt razor (she had been told that she couldn't shave herself) and then had a catheter inserted, she found this all very undignified. She then found the sensation of the c section itself rather frightening and was left distraught when she was only allowed to barely glimpse her baby before he was taken off and cleaned, I pretty much delivered DS1 myself and had him in my arms and straight away and I would have hated someone other than me cleaning him. She then said after they had finished stitching her she realised they were lifting and spreading her legs so her bits were on display. When she got upset they said they were cleaning her out and given her pain meds but she claims no one had warned her of this. Then she was left exposed again whilst they cleaned her up. She then said whilst she was in recovery they left her bleeding on a pad and a midwife kept coming in and washing out her vagina.

Do they really do all this or is she exaggerating slightly? To me get c section sounds way more undignified than a natural birth but I'm sure not every mum feels like this.

Ledkr Tue 17-Jun-14 22:37:44

With a planned section you can state your wishes before.
I shaved myself and asked for the catheter to be Inserted after my spinal block. Baby was born and put straight onto my arms, it was a lovely experience.
I've had two emergency and two planned and the planned were lovely experiences.

Haggisfish Tue 17-Jun-14 22:44:47

I have no idea what was on show but it was all hugely dignified for me in both my emcs and my elcs. I got skin to skin within ten minutes if birth and breast fed as I was stitched up. Recovery was great and certainly not 'left' anywhere. Think your friend maybe exaggerating. Speak to your midwife if you are c

Haggisfish Tue 17-Jun-14 22:45:44

Concerned-I was anxious about elcs and got to meet the snaesthetist and talk it all through and she gave me anti anxiety drugs too.

Haggisfish Tue 17-Jun-14 22:47:27

I would be astonished if razor was blunt-I'm sure they use a new blade for every patient. Most hospitals prefer to shave you to reduce the chance if cuts.

HauntedNoddyCar Tue 17-Jun-14 22:53:29

None of that mirrors my memories of my planned section! DH did the shaving.

GertrudeBell Tue 17-Jun-14 22:59:42

Hi Holly,

I shaved/waxed to within an inch of my life and I'm not sure what they could do to stop you if that's you're preference.

Once you have the spinal, you are gently laid down and the a fabric screen is put up at chest level so you can't see what is happening. They could, I suppose, have shaved me then had I needed it but I would never have known.

I walked in at 10am, and DS was born at 10.44am. He was raised above the screen immediately, and I saw his very grumpy little face straight away. He was bundled in a towel for warmth and placed on my chest immediately. I held him there (with a bit of help from DH as my arms were a but jelly-like) as the surgeons sewed me up, and it was a while before he was taken away for weighing etc.

They did clean me out, but the only reason I know is that they mentioned it because I was concerned about prolapse issues and the surgeon was reassuring me that things were ok down there. I wouldn't have known otherwise, thanks to the spinal and the screen. You literally can't feel a thing.

It's true that you are conscious of being naked from tummy down, and the operating theatre is very bright so there's not much getting away from that. However it feels quite theoretical because of the numbness and the screen, and everyone is utterly respectful. The surgeons and team chatted to me throughout, and I felt very much a person rather than a piece of meat.

I had no internals after that at all. Certainly no midwives checking on the ward.

HilariousInHindsight Tue 17-Jun-14 23:00:05

The shaving did happen for me as it was an emergency cs but if pre booked you could shave at home that morning or get your partner to do it just before.
Very dignified I had a sheet over my breasts and below my pubic bone leaving my tummy and upper abdomen exposed. This was even with an emergency cs.
Your friend sounds like she's exaggerating or was poorly treated.
Maybe get a second opinion on size?
If so, go in knowing your rights.NGOs luck and congratulations smile

SoonToBeSix Tue 17-Jun-14 23:01:55

Stupid question but why do they shave you?

GertrudeBell Tue 17-Jun-14 23:03:42

Sorry to blather on, but it was more dignified than my hospital vaginal birth, because I was always calm, in control and it was such a short period of time to be naked in comparison.

Have you met your surgeon? I did, twice. She was very lovely (a new first time mum herself who was very sensitive to my concerns) and meeting her really helped to build trust and put my mind at rest.

The bit about the MW repeatedly washing out your friend's vagina sounds very peculiar. And if your friend exaggerated about that, I would wonder what else she might be embellishing - especially if she enjoyed the drama of getting a big reaction from you.

Please book an appointment with the Supervisor of Midwives to talk through all your concerns in detail. She will be able to talk to you about your choices and also exactly what the protocols are in the hospital you are planning to use. Most MWs are very keen to help women have vaginal deliveries if that is what they would prefer.

Petallic Tue 17-Jun-14 23:05:37

I've had two CS in the past 3 years - one EMCS and one ELCS and wasn't shaved for either of them. I didn't think they did the shaving anymore but maybe it just varies depending on which hospital it is.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Tue 17-Jun-14 23:08:51

SoonToBeSix they shave about an inch of pubic hair off at the top where the incision will be. If you are lucky that area will still be numb when the hair starts growing back so you won't feel the awful itching. grin

RedToothBrush Tue 17-Jun-14 23:10:16

HollyRose6 explain the situation and your fears to a trusted midwife. If they know that being exposed is potentially triggering to you, they can take that into account when they do a planned CS.

Its my understanding that some places are less sensitive to how this can be upsetting than others; however if you make them aware of the problem they are then obliged to do their upmost to make you feel safe.

I have heard of women in similar situations to you, have good experiences because the people caring for them have been brilliant about maintaining their dignity.

I think that they should do this for everyone as a matter of routine, but they don't always seem to. However I do know they will take more care in these circumstances.

I hope that if you do have a CS it is a positive experience for you.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Tue 17-Jun-14 23:11:01

Suspect the blunt razor is just an outright lie - they have to open the packaging in front of you.

SoonToBeSix Tue 17-Jun-14 23:13:12

Thanks schnitzel I didn't realise the incision was that low down.

I have had two and it never occurred to me what was going on behind the screen. I felt totally disconnected to that end of things. The team in the theatre did go to some effort to retain my dignity, I remember that.
I did get shaved by a midwife and that was the most undignified I felt. I'll try and do myself this time round. Just the top bit I think!

Suggest you ask for an appointment to talk about your concerns though - no point in worrying if it can be discussed beforehand.
Good luck!

FruitbatAuntie Tue 17-Jun-14 23:24:30

When I had my first CS, the surgeon had an argument with the midwife who attended about whether to shave me or not. The surgeon asked her to do it (I was numb and screened off by this point btw) and she refused, saying they didn't do that now at this hospital, as it could cause more of an infection risk.

Second time, same hospital, I was shaved by the MW. But it was only the top inch, and I couldn't see or feel it.

It's pretty hard to avoid being naked from the waist down in front of a load of people when you are having a CS! But in my experience everything like shaving, catheters etc. is done after you are numbed, and there is a screen up so you can pretend it isn't happening. You could ask for them not to tell you exactly what they are doing at each stage, that may help. I didn't really need to have the handsome anaesthetist telling me that he was just going to insert a suppository now! But I suppose they want to make sure you consent to everything they do?

CocktailQueen Tue 17-Jun-14 23:24:44

Hmm. When you have a cs you can't feel what's going on south of your boobs. Or I couldn't. So you don't know if your legs are being hefted around or your vagina cleaned out - which sounds really Odd. Mine certainly wasn't.

I was given the option to shave at home - so dh did.

The cs did feel frightening - but the anaesthetist was right by me all the time to answer questions and give me drugs.

Yes, you are catheterised. Normal.

Cuddling baby - it depends how baby is when born. If ok, they can come straight to you for cuddles. They may gave to put baby under a heat lamp etc. first.

Sounds like your friend is madly exaggerating if not just lying. Sorry!

DevonCiderPunk Tue 17-Jun-14 23:34:54

I've had two c-sections. The first was over a decade ago and as your friend describes, particularly the lifting of my legs and bottom bit, so much so that I wonder whether it was the same hospital. I remember about five staff just standing around looking on absent-mindedly during that.

The second (more recently and at a different hospital) was nothing at all like it, DH says that I had a blanket across my upper legs which was only pulled down when necessary and then replaced, plus the staff were amazing at spiriting themselves in when needed and then spiriting off again, rather than hanging about watching the procedure. And there was no leg-lifting for pessaries for pain relief, as I had a spinal block and epidural which stayed in for 24 hours afterwards for morphine top-ups (I had a big cry of relief when they told me that). It was, in fact, a beautiful experience.

I hope this means that times are a-changing, but PM me if you'd like names of units. Remember that all through the procedure you have a voice and can say if something feels inappropriate; you are entitled to your dignity. Good luck!

DanaBarrett Tue 17-Jun-14 23:36:18

Everything was done after the spinal block! I shaved at home having suffered the indignity of being shaved two weeks post op the first time. But everything was fairly classy tbh.

Babies were quickly checked and on my chest less than two mins after birth both times. I really didn't care what was going on down below once I had my baby smile.

Certainly no washing, I did that myselfll

DevonCiderPunk Tue 17-Jun-14 23:38:10

No CocktailQueen it happened to me. I remember feeling like I was falling off the bed and shouting for help, then seeing my two feet being lifted very high up into the air over the screen, so high that my bottom must have been clear off the bed.

I remember the feeling of "the cleaning out" bit. It felt really high up, almost under my ribs (which is impossible). What they are doing is swabbing the uterus to make sure that no clots are left behind. Clots can cause infection if they are left in the uterus.

It is a very strange sensation that I didn't expect. It feels higher up than it actually is. It must be due to stimulation of nerves that are not usually touched. Feels very odd indeed.

The description of a cs feeling like someone is washing up inside you without pain, is very accurate.

WalkingThePlank Tue 17-Jun-14 23:44:08

OP, I think your 'friend' is somewhat embellishing her story.

I have had 2 CSs - both great experiences. It was dignified throughout. I never felt more exposed that I wanted to be.

I was shaved but the razor came out of a fresh individual pack.

I couldn't feel anything below my breasts and the catheter was fitted after the anaesthetic had been given - this is standard procedure.

I chose to have my gown on back to front so that my baby could be given straight to me for skin to skin and the baby stayed with me for a good hour after birth - no cleaning, no wrapping.

I didn't feel that my legs were being moved - why would they, nothing cam out from between them? A towel was placed between my legs and regularly changed but there was no washing out of my vagina - my husband had to get a warm flannel and do that.

Ask the hospital why they think your baby is big - actual proof - and how that would impact your birth. A fat baby does not have a fat head and that's the crucial body part. Ask your consultant - which you should have if CS recommended - if the events that your friend described will happen. Remember, you can write birth preferences for a CS.

Most importantly, ignore your friend. She is not being helpful and I suspect not being truthful either.

TheABC Tue 17-Jun-14 23:45:34

Emergency CS here - yes, they shaved (time was of the essence) and yes I was naked from the waist down in front of the operating team. However, by that point I just wanted a healthy baby and for the whole thing to be over. I did not care about the catheter or operation. The team were reassuring and professional throughout and obviously had seen lots of lady bits before.

It was a million miles away from the water birth I had hoped for, but an hour of skin-to-skin and a nice long cuddle with DS afterwards helped.

From what I have heard/read, a planned CS is a bit different - you get the chance to prepare more for it and plan it out. Whatever happens OP, good luck.

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