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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!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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...

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.

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

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 18:11:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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