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Sick with anxiety re c-section, please help

(33 Posts)
whatwasIthinkingof Fri 04-Oct-13 10:26:46

I might be having first c-section in 3 weeks’ time and am terrified. Consultant has worried the hell out of me by talking about bleeding and people dropping dead after surgery because of the immobility and the general risks of surgery.

Can anyone say about their experience of the spinal block as this really scares me – for how long did you have total loss of sensation in your legs and feet? How did you cope with this psychologically? And how long after the op did it take for even the tiniest bit of sensation to return and where was this, ie toes or higher up?

I am worried I will get really panicky when I start to lose sensation in my legs and know that I can’t do anything about it. Can they give you anything for anxiety alone to help with this? Was there gas and air available? Any strategies anyone has used to help calm themselves down?

Also when they put the cannula in your hand was this painful at all?

Any advice/tips on coping would really help.

Notonthisplanet Fri 04-Oct-13 10:35:05

Ignore the consultant they on purposefully try and scare you out of c sections. I'm planning on second one. The spinal absolutely fine, you can still feel your legs as such you just feel no pain, you will feel pressure and movement during operation but honestly it is FINE. With me they sprayed a can of cold air on you to check feeling before op where you will feel the air but not the cold iykwim. All feeling came back about an hour or so after. The cannula is just like any injection and not painful once it's in.

ShowOfBloodyStumps Fri 04-Oct-13 10:38:21

Hang on. I wrote a very, very long reply to a cs thread recently. I'll find it...

Thread is here. Saves me typing out the whole thing again.

I understand why you're frightened, it's fear of the unknown and I think perhaps you're pinning all of those fears on key things which you can manage like the spinal and the cannula.

I've described the spinal in that thread but honestly, it's just weird rather than frightening. Sensation returns very quickly indeed. Actually, to clarify, you can still feel. You can feel the cs, you can feel the inflating boots on your feet which are ensuring blood circulation, it just doesn't hurt. You can feel pressure and movement. Once you're in recovery, normal sensation returns rapidly. As soon as I was wheeled out of theatre, I could move my legs normally, bend my knees, wiggle toes etc, then I was taken to a ward and I could scoot up the bed, move around etc and within 3 hours I was up and walking. It wears off VERY quickly but certainly you aren't aware of it once the baby's out as you're busy gazing at them and then you realise actually your legs are normal again.

A cs is a very safe procedure. It is actually more of a 'known' quantity than vaginal birth if you think about it where the range of outcomes and possibilities are wider. Would it help to ask for the hospital stats and/or talk to a consultant. My consultant had been practising for 30 years and had had zero patients die post cs. I asked for the full run down on complications he'd seen and they were vanishingly rare. He was a trained birth trauma counsellor too and said that while a cs sounded scary, the trauma he counselled for often came from vaginal births more than a cs, particularly a planned cs which is a calm, straightforward and positive procedure.

You will be so, so well cared for but I think you need to ask your midwife for a referral to somebody to discuss your concerns. We had psychologists and consultants trained to do just this.

Oh and the cannula is about as painful as an injection or a blood test. Sharp scratch and all that. And bear in mind I have crappy veins and they took 6 times to get it in.

Really, really, really, it's not scary. You have an anaesthetist, two consultants, a midwife and your birth partner with you. I found my 2nd cs a very, very positive experience. I took control and enjoyed it.

ShowOfBloodyStumps Fri 04-Oct-13 10:40:15

I think if the op might have to have a cs, the consultant isn't purposely trying to scare her out of it but doing his professional duty by explaining the risks. Same as any medical procedure. They HAVE to tell you the worst case scenarios or they're totally negligent.

noblegiraffe Fri 04-Oct-13 10:42:42

You won't get panicky when you lose sensation in your legs. It's like if you sit badly and you don't actually notice your leg is dead until you try to get up. You don't know it's working until they ask you if you can feel anything when they spray you with cold water and you say no. You still feel normal.

PoppadomPreach Fri 04-Oct-13 10:50:14

I LOVED my c-sections!

1. Spinal is odd sensation, and I did find it slightly disconcerting at first, but after about 2 minutes I was all settled and not disconcerted.

2 Canula is sore if you think about it too much. Otherwise it's a doddle.

3 you are very aware (in completely pain- free way) of what is going on - in a good way.

4 the catheter is a godsend! Not sore going in or out, and lovely not having to get up to pee.

Try not to focus on the medical aspect. - focus on the fact you are giving birth and about to meet your little one - IT'S SO EXCITING!!

Notonthisplanet Fri 04-Oct-13 10:50:36

Showofbloodystumps, yes you are right of course, I suppose from a personal point of view being almost bullied into a vbac anyone would think a vbac was a perfect risk free birth every time

MILLYMOLLYMANDYMAX Fri 04-Oct-13 11:02:10

I have had 2 cs and I thoroughly recommend them. I didn't even have pain relief afterwards. Biggest fright I had was just as surgeon was about to start on 1st cs (emergency) he said "oh by the way you won't be able to drive for 6 weeks." I am told by dh that the look on theatre staff faces was priceless when I replied "Noooooooooooooooooo. Stop. I cannot do without my car." just to say at this point in time I had been awake for 50hours.

ShowOfBloodyStumps Fri 04-Oct-13 11:06:32

It all feels very emotional at the time Notonthisplanet so either way, it's pressure and anxiety. Same as with bfing. When they explain the risks of formula, it's merely fact but it sounds like pressure. Same as if formula is required and they use phrases like 'failure to thrive', it all just sounds crappy and judgemental. Childbirth and rearing children is so wrapped up in vulnerability and anxiety (and yes, crappy support and advice too) that it's easy to hear the negatives and inflate them. I know I did.

I know when I had my 36 week consultant appointment, they wanted me to have an elcs (just on what seemed clinically most appropriate) and I wanted a vbac so they had to outline the risks of the vbac, their protocols and how it would be managed. It all sounded v doom and gloom but really it was just honesty. Then after 38hrs of labour when it became clear that yes I needed another emcs, the anaesthetist and consultant had to read out the list of possible complications for a cs. grin Jolly.

ChunkyPickle Fri 04-Oct-13 11:20:58

I just had my second EMCS (believed that VBAC was achievable, in my case it really wasn't though), with spinal block and it was absolutely fine - better than the previous CS with an Epidural by far (they told me epidural is more likely to have side-effects than spinal, and that was certainly my experience)

The anaesthetist prodding my back to find where to put the spinal block was actually the most painful bit of everything!

The cannula going in was fine - they numbed it first (bee-sting), then after that it was awkward, but not painful, and it came out after a few hours when they'd got my blood results back to check I didn't need any more medicine down it.

The spinal was a warm feeling through my legs, was odd, but not at all scary (in fact strangely pleasant in the cold operating room), and it wore off entirely within 3 hours and I could get up (carefully!). During the op I could feel something was going on, it wasn't unpleasant or harsh, and the more alarming bit was being moved around and tipped sideways when they put me on the bed to wheel up to the post-natal ward.

I didn't enjoy being on a ward, I was fine, and discharged within 24 hours (I pushed for it, I could have stayed). A week later, and apart from a tugging inside when I walk, I feel absolutely fine and don't need painkillers at all. Tummy control pants are helping with the tugging if I go on a walk.

For me, the more unpleasant bit, and I can't really articulate why, was the self-administered injections for clotting. They aren't difficult, or painful, but there's just something not very nice about doing it.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 04-Oct-13 12:51:48

OP you will be fine. I've had two.

With my EMCS it was the following day before I was out of bed - with my ELCS I was up, catheter out and had showered in the evening.

A great many obstetricians actually choose an elective section because it is more of a known quantity.

The recovery is longer, but you just need to plan to have help.

jimijack Fri 04-Oct-13 13:03:40

I can't speak highly enough of cs.
Brilliant, controlled, calm, exciting ,organised & everything explained well.

The radio was on in the corner, all the staff seemed to be as excited as I was to meet my baby.

It was all over in about 20 minutes & I was starving & fancied a bacon bitty.

I would describe the spinal feeling as slipping your legs into a warm bath.
Numbness wore off later that day, next morning catheter was out & I got up to the loo, Sat out in the chair & breast fed my squishy New baby. Then went for a shower.

Had section on the Thursday, was home on the Saturday, walking my ds to school & back with the pram 10 days later.

For me, it was great, hoping it will be for you too.

EldritchCleavage Fri 04-Oct-13 13:12:28

When I had spinal it went in and immediately I was gently rolled down onto the operating table. Didn't feel scared, more cared for and supported actually. It was all very calm and nice, they talked me through everything that happened, DH looked hilarious in his theatre outfit. All woman team apart from male midwife. Lots of joshing.

The spinal block started to wear off with a warm, buzzy feeling but I can't remember how long after. Honestly the worst bit was finally getting a lovely cup of tea and then thanks to a bit of post-anasthesia nausea it came back up again and no one gave me another cup for ages.

The cannula was like a bee sting, sharp pain but very soon over. The catheter was uncomfortable at most, but really just more undignified than anything.

I was in post-op feeling all warm and snuggly and smiley with DD, it was really nice. I truly love opiates, must never take them recreationally.

RedToothBrush Fri 04-Oct-13 17:30:13

I assume that your CS is planned.

Your consultant is a gigantic bellend of the highest order. His job is to stress the risks, but also put them into context so he doesn't scare you witless. If he has failed to do this, then he has failed in his job. His job isn't just about doing the 'technical bit' of birth, its also about catering to the emotional needs and fears of his patients.

Yes there are risks associated with CS. But these are much, much, much more likely to happen if you have an EMCS rather than an ELCS. Trouble is, this message is being inaccurately being conveyed by just about everyone. This includes, doctors, nurses, midwifes, government bodies, scientists. Basically a lot of people who should know better and should, having studied science and how to conduct a fair experience and compare results, have a fucking clue. Sadly they don't appear to.

If you read statistics and research on C-Sections, ELCS are almost always lumped together with the stats for EMCS. This is completely flawed methodology and is very meaningless. And yet it is widely accepted without question from all the above professionals.

The statistics for a planned ELCS should actually be dealt with separately, with EMCS being looked at either in isolation (where relevant) or as an outcome for a planned VB. You either plan for one or the other, you don't plan to have an EMCS.

There are also risks associated with having a VB... These are not always stressed, and they should be. Especially if you need an ELCS, because the risks of you having a VB will be higher. Why he is stressing the risks of the CS and not the benefits of it in your circumstances is beyond me. (Unless of course he is a gigantic bellend, which since we have already established thats what he is, thats a mute point). In your case, from what I tell from what you've said, you are having an ELCS for a clinical reason and not by your own choice. So keep focusing on that.

Second of all, if you want to put the risks into some sort of perspective, heres one for you. NICE updated their guidelines on CS a couple of years ago. They did this by looking at the risks associated with a planned VB (which includes when it goes wrong and ends up as a EMCS) and a planned CS.

Their conclusion, based on evidence of first time mothers, was that on balance there was such little difference between the two, that they felt it reasonable for woman who requested a CS to be granted one on request if they felt that was in their best interest. This is slightly flawed in, that it didn't look at the effect of women who have already had a child or wanted another child in the future (which is important to bare in mind and should be considered but still wasn't enough for NICE to put a cavat or consider this in their guidance) but the point was that it is regarded as SAFE and that there wasn't a clinical reason in most cases to refuse to do a ELCS.

Then lastly, a couple of the biggest factors about why ELCS are 'safer' are precisely because they are planned. They are booked in during working hours, when there are more staff available and more staff with experience available. Because they are routine there is less of a sense of urgency, so they don't have to rush to do it, so there are less errors made 'in the spur of the moment'. So for example, if you planned for a VB, you have no guarantee about when you will give birth or if you might need an EMCS anyway. In this situation you could end up giving birth in the early hours at the weekend when there may be no senior staff on duty and fewer staff full stop. They might rush to get the baby out and in the process, not take as much time and care as they would otherwise do so. So if things, god forbid, DO go wrong, then you should be reassured having an ELCS, that you have a better chance of having the very best care available than perhaps you would out of hours. (This is wrong, that this is the case, but it is a reality which does exist and has been proven in NHS data).

Oh and theres no danger of you being left alone in theatre when you are giving birth. So if you are anxious, you have someone there to talk you through it and answer your questions. There will definitely be someone there to reassure you and not off dealing with someone else in labour.

In short the relative risk is very, very small. But the consultant is more interested in covering his own arse, than how you feel about any of this.

Thats wrong.

I hope you find the reassurance you need on this thread, from someone, if not me.

Good luck!

Monka Fri 04-Oct-13 19:26:18

I had an EMCS and I recovered so well and quickly that I only spent one night in hospital. I had an epidural though and it was fine. My blood pressure kept dropping during the csection but they gave me fluids to counteract it. They used the cold spray to check I was sufficiently numb and the anethestist was fantastic talking to me throughout and checking I was alright. I did shake for half an hour after due to the pain relief but it was fine.

They gave me a bed bath a few hours after and I had the feeling back in my legs that I was able to wash myself down there without any assistance. It was a bit uncomfortable for the first few days but take the pain relief and you will be fine. I only needed my pain relief for a week and felt okay. Don't do any housework and get lots of rest. I had a positive experience as I got to meet my baby and I had a good recovery. I did milk the whole 'I've just been through a major op' though as needed to remind everyone around me that although I had recovered well it didnt mean I could clean etc although I did cook after a week. I made myself rest as otherwise I didn't want to impede my recovery.

whatwasIthinkingof Fri 04-Oct-13 21:32:20

Thanks so much for everyone’s replies, so helpful. Long post to follow! To answer RedToothBrush, the health professionals I have spoken to basically think there is no clinical reason for me to have a ELCS but I want one on mental health grounds. Here’s why:

DD1’s birth was long and distressing. I laboured for hours and hours on a midwife led unit so no epidural, just gas and air and was exhausted after several days of no sleep. They did ARM which caused several hours of horrific contractions in which I felt very distressed. Then I had two hours of hardcore pushing but crown of DD’s head kept going back inside after every push (sorry if TMI) then a midwife yelled ‘shoulder dystocia!’ and pulled the emergency cord. They put me in several different positions to dislodge DD’s shoulder from under my pelvic bones and this was truly excruciating - no gas and air at this point. DD came out but needed oxygen and I had second degree tear and episiotomy. Then for some unknown reason they took two hours to stitch me up.

In the weeks and months after all this I had recurring nightmares about the birth and felt obsessed with it, I must have bored the shit out of people by talking about it constantly. I had intrusive thoughts and flashbacks to the birth and it felt like my mind was trying to put it all together. I also felt totally emotionally numb at times. This is basically a trauma reaction. I also had two separate infections in my episiotomy and couldn’t sit down for a month because of bruising and swelling in my perineum. Luckily I adored DD1, she was the only good thing about those times.

The midwives and consultants are making me feel like a total wuss to want a ELCS and I am starting to feel like one. Annoyingly my notes from DD1’s birth make only one mention of me not coping and there are several instances before it got really bad where notes say that I was ‘coping well’. I have a massive issue with this as I didn’t feel I did cope well, I believe they think this because I wasn’t screaming in my labour. So any consultant looking at my notes will think it all went fine.

As I said earlier, my reason for wanting an ELCS is on mental health grounds (I have history of depression and anxiety anyway and they know this). However, there are some clinical/medical reasons I think I might end up with a EMCS if I were to have a VB again: DD1 was fairly large and recent growth scan tells me this baby likely to be bit bigger, I also have a higher risk of having shoulder dystocia again. For these reasons I am worried about baby getting stuck and ending up with EMCS anyway. None of this guaranteed of course and the professionals are very much minimising these risks, telling me I have pushed a baby out once and so I can do it again.

I would much rather have an ELCS than run the risk of either distressing labour or EMCS or both. But both consultants I’ve seen seem hell bent on persuading me that it will be much more dangerous to have ELCS than another VB, even with the issues I had. Am I right in thinking this is utter crap? They are making me think that emotional/psychological reasons for ELCS are simply not important enough. Btw, I will not be having any more children after this one so I do not give a flying feck about the risks of CS for future fertility.

RedToothBrush, you know lots about this subject and I would appreciate your comments on asking for ELCS where consultants have said there is no clinical need.

MunchkinJess Fri 04-Oct-13 21:58:39

I am having an ELECS next week not based on medical need but due to mental issues.

This is my first baby.

I had to really fight for my ELECS. I suffer from anxiety and have a huge fear of childbirth, nearly broke down in yeara twice in antenatal class.

I told my midwife from the very appointment of how I wanted to give birth child. I has 3 different obstetrician appointments to go.over and over my reasons why I wanted one. I was booked in at 28/29 weeks due to severe anxiety.

I guess I have been very lucky that my midwife has supported me every step.of the way.

To me their is risks in natural and ELECS and I have researched and weighed up both and for me ELECS is the way I want to give birth.

I have had to fight for it and even after its been booked I have still had to explain myself to a new . midwife and obstetrician I met a few weeks ago.

its all been stressful and distressing having it explain myself over and over again when its already been booked.

omuwalamulungi Fri 04-Oct-13 22:04:01

This is your baby and your body so your consultant needs to remember that. Can you ask for somebody else or a second opinion?

I had a CS (which I requested instead of an early induction, first baby) and while it wasn't my favourite experience, it was nothing like what I was imagining. It went very smoothly, textbook in fact, and I have had no complications whatsoever.

I was up and about pretty much as normal within 2 days but I would say it took four weeks before I felt like myself again. I didn't have much pain but I did keep on top of painkillers.

Good luck.

duchesse Fri 04-Oct-13 22:07:53

I was booked for a home birth with DD3. What I got was a middle-of-the-night crash c section under general anaesthetic (ie very much not what I'd planned)

It was absolutely fine for me! I was very lucky and had no post-op pain (excellent pain management), no infection, no problems with the anaesthetic, and was pretty much back to normal health within a month.

CS is one of the commonest types of surgery. Obviously it carries some risks as it is surgery, but they do so many of them they are actually really good at them. Good luck! Speak to your midwives about your worries- they are usually really good at alleviating them.

duck94 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:15:38

LOVED both of my c sections. First one an emergency so bit stressful to start but procedure and recovery were genuinely painless and I found it all a piece of piss both times. BF both babies with ease. Normal life resumed within a couple of days. Genuinely. Full of admiration for the medical teams who made it all so easy for me. You will be absolutely fine.

Sahmof3 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:41:02

From what you've said, I'm not surprised that you want an ELCS. I think the chances of you having an EMCS are very high and I can't believe the way they are bullying you into a VB.

I've had three CS, first was an EMCS (not really a surprise to me...I just knew I'd never have a VB), other two were ELCS. No problems with any of them, unlike a lot of my friends who had a VB.

For me the absolutely worst part of the whole procedure was the insertion of the cannula...but it was put in by a student and I don't think she'd ever done one before!

Used to live next door to a woman whose husband is a surgeon and he insisted that she had her two kids by CS as he said that he spent a lot of his time repairing damage caused by VB and that a CS was a safer option all round.

Best wishes...hope it all goes well for you.

Floralnomad Fri 04-Oct-13 22:49:00

I had an ELCS with my second for much the same reason as you . It was brilliant and if I had my time again I would definitely opt for a section every time . I found that treating it as ' I'm having a baby' as opposed to ' I'm having abdominal surgery ' helped a great deal and I was literally back to normal activities ( cooking / cleaning / driving / doing horses) within a fortnight . Doctors have to tell you the worst scenario for liability reasons .

ShowOfBloodyStumps Sat 05-Oct-13 08:00:34

I had a very traumatic time the first time round with an attempted homebirth, 8 hours of pushing, bluelight transfer, episiotomy, attempted ventouse, attempted manual rotation and finally an emcs. I was very battered and bruised and DD had some muscle damage and was cut and bruised across her skull. I suffered pnd and ptsd for 2 years and the intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares controlled my life. Hand on heart, the obstetric consultant I was referred to (before even contemplating a second), turned my life around. He not only offered me dedicated counselling but he told me that of course I would be offered an elcs on the grounds not only of trauma from first time round. but also on personal preference if I so chose. I chose to attempt a vbac actually though ended up with another emcs. The second time round, the cs was a positive, lovely experience with calm staff who understand my anxiety. I cannot tell you how different it feels to have a child without trauma. You can feel like you. Not gripped by anxiety and fear and devastation. You deserve to feel that and there's no reason why an elcs can't offer you that.

It's very hard to contemplate having a baby when all you know about the feelings after delivery are ones of trauma (albeit laced with ferocious love for the baby him/herself). You will feel anxiety either way but you do have choices and taking some control will help you.

You need to be referred to a consultant and team who will recognise your trauma for what it is and allow you to exercise that control.

Have you had any help with coming to terms with what happened?

ShowOfBloodyStumps Sat 05-Oct-13 08:06:54

There are a lot of people on here who are telling you about positive cs recovery too. I found it utterly painless too. I was discharged after 12hrs first time round and about 30hrs second time round, had no painkillers, was up and about within hours of each op and second time round was doing a school run after 4 days. Now, recovery might take a few weeks and you might need the drugs, but I tell you what, I'm done having dc and I have no regrets or issues or trauma about having had a cs and the scar is unnoticeable and gives me no problems. The episiotomy wound from 6 and a half years ago still causes issues today. If I found out I was having another, I'd have a cs every time and would positively look forward to it. It's just the day you meet your baby. The other stuff is peripheral when it comes to it.

Orangeanddemons Sat 05-Oct-13 08:15:49

My cs was the best day of my life. Recovery fast and easy. Much faster and easier than the previous natural birth. Staff were amazing...and were talking about football results with dh! It was fantastic.

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