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Cesareans - advice and experiences wanted please

(55 Posts)
saranga Tue 18-Mar-14 11:12:45

Can anyone tell me the truth about cesareans? I'm first time pregnant and have absolutely NO desire to go through labour. I know that cesareans are a major operation and that they have a longer recovery time, but can someone who has had one tell me what this means in practice, in regards to mobility and pain after the op.
I'm especially interested in women who have gone through labour and a cesarean and can compare the two.


penniespigsandpewter Tue 18-Mar-14 14:38:03

The pain of labour is short term & ends when baby is born. I know plenty of women who've had natural birth & gone onto have c-sec & would choose labour & childbirth over it.

I could not bear having to be cut open.

schmalex Tue 18-Mar-14 14:38:18

I had an ELCS with my first and will have another soon. I can't compare with a natural birth, but I found the experience great. All very controlled and calm. I found recovery much easier than I was expecting - after a week I was 90% back to normal and could walk a couple of miles with the buggy after 2 weeks.

My tummy muscles took a few months to recover to the extent that I could do 'proper' exercise again, but I don't know how much of that was to do with the CS and how much of it was just that they'd stretched so much!

I didn't mind having to stay in hospital a couple of days and take it easy for the first week as I was trying to establish bf so was doing a lot of sitting around feeding anyway. My DH was able to take 2 weeks off to help me at home, and he did all the running up and down stairs, etc.

saranga Tue 18-Mar-14 14:45:36

Thanks everyone. All comments (for VB or for cesareans) are helpful.

I just want to be as informed as possible, regardless of what the docs/midwives decide is best for me.

NancyJones Tue 18-Mar-14 14:47:53

Of course it helps if you have help. How else do you get up and out with older children. I drove my 2yr old DS to nursery 2days after giving birth to his brother. DH had a wk off each time. Last time I had 2 boys to get to school. I couldn't have done that if I couldn't have driven for weeks.

MolotovCocktail Tue 18-Mar-14 16:00:44

Conments like I could not bare to be cut open are panic-mongering and unhelpful.

Compared to a worst-case VB, I couldn't bare to endure a 4th degree tear and face bladder and bowel incontinence. I'd much rather "be cut open" across a controlled abdomindal incision, where the outcomes are predictable and, in most cases, turn out well.

Like I say, you choose your risks. Know the risks for both and make the best decision for you.

NancyJones Tue 18-Mar-14 16:11:49

Molotov, your last post has probably scared the op just as much! The vast majority of vaginal births do not end up with either horrific tears or incontinence. Just like the vast majority of women do not end up badly damaged by having a CS.
A good VB will always be a quicker and more straightforward recovery than a good CS. That's just medical fact. That's not to say that the op would definitely be fortunate to have one or that VB is right for her at all. She needs to weigh up what is right for her. Stats from this thread don't mean anything as she could ask the same question on different days and get completely different experiences relayed to her.

I do think if it's the pain she's nervous about rather than actually giving birth them she should take steps to ensure she receives an epidural early based on medical anxiety. Because most of the pain associated with CS is post op either on the ward or at home and she won't be able to told something which completely blocks that out.

ditsygal Tue 18-Mar-14 16:26:23

I had a 44 hour labour - drug free, mostly at home with my doula and then into a midwife led unit. but after 44 hours I had got to 8cm but stopped progressing even with my waters broken, so I was blue lighted to hospital.

They wanted to put me on a drip to see if they could strengthen my contractions and move the baby down more but I refused due to the increased chance of an instrumental delivery once engaging with intervention. (I was very anti forceps after being at my sisters traumatic birth and had seen a consultant during pregnancy to say if I came into hospital I wouldn't consent to forceps under any circumstances which he put in my notes and agreed with, I only say this as I think it helped them agree to go straight to c-section once in hospital).

So as I refused to go on the drip they agreed to emergency c-section and they were amazing. I was prepped within 20 mins of being in hospital and then taken into theatre. I was calm and relaxed. The midwife was lovely. The anaesthetist chatted the whole time and it was really lovely and exciting. The only downside was not being able to hold my baby until after I came out of surgery as the sheet was really too high on my body for me to have any space for him. I had also asked if they could delay cutting the cord but they said no as they had women coming in straight after me.

I really hate injections so hated the idea of a spinal block but it was fine at that point you really don't care. I was also worried by the idea of having a catheter in, but again it was fine. Only in for about 10 hours and then they took it out which didn't hurt at all. And I didn't like the idea of a cannula - but it was in my arm, and whilst being annoying, it wasn't really that bad and I knocked it accidentally after a few hours and it bled so they just took it out for me.

The recovery was fine, I was able to walk the same day (to the toilet etc) and I showered and went home the next day. Just stay on top of your painkillers for the first week as you'll know about it if you forget them, but if you take them its really fine. I also got signed off by my dr to drive at 3 weeks.

As my baby was large (9lbs 15oz) so I would expect the same for the next and knowing they wouldn't want me to have a home birth next time as a previous c-sectioner, then next time I will be requesting a c-section I think.

Labour was also fine, I actually enjoyed it - although obviously never got to the pushing.

The hard bit in my opinion is once the baby is here and all the sleep deprivation!

So either way you will be fine. Try some hypnobirthing it works wonders! Good luck either way. The hard bit in my opinion is once the baby is here and all the sleep deprivation!

MolotovCocktail Tue 18-Mar-14 16:29:13

Sorry, hope I haven't scared you OP after what Nancy pointed out. I just tire of comments like that about CS.

I hope everyone understands that I was making a comparative point.

MolotovCocktail Tue 18-Mar-14 16:35:00

Also, I was comparing a worst case outcome of a VB against the concept of 'being cut open' and the connotations that has.

Most VBs turn out fine. Most ELCSs turn out fine. They're just different, with different risks/benefits.

LaCerbiatta Tue 18-Mar-14 16:41:16

I had both and would never chose a c - section due to the recovery. Although I did have a very easy straightforward vaginal delivery.

The one thing about the c - section apart from the recovery that I found unpleasant and is rarely mentioned is how exposed I felt. And I'm not one to be bothered about this, don't care about internal examinations, etc. But not to feel anything and knowing that everyone is looking and touching and o don't know where or what they were doing freaked me out a bit. In my case I had placenta praevia and the drs told me they didn't get much blood out of my vagina, so they were rummaging in there and I wasn't able to tell....

saranga Tue 18-Mar-14 16:50:24

Thank you all. No one on this thread is scaring me!
The way I cope with difficult situations is to get as much information as possible so I can understand as much as possible about the situation.
For me, not knowing detail about what can go wrong and right with a vaginal birth and a cesarean is the scary thing.

I am fully aware that no matter the birthing plan I want, or choose, something will probably happen to change that, but this way, I can be prepared and knowledgeable and at least have a clue about what is happening to me, which is what helps me.

Noddyandbigears Tue 18-Mar-14 16:51:04

I have had one c section (due to breech baby) and one natural. The c section was lovely - you feel quite detached from your baby at first though as its literally like someone coming to hand you a child in the street as you don't actually experience any pain! I took the pain relief drugs afterwards and i was totally fine, my shape went back to normal (no flesh apron as I call it) and I had a bit of numbness round the scar tissue.

My natural birth was horrific, his shoulders got stuck and it was a forceps delivery which basically felt like it tore me in 2. I took weeks and weeks to recover that one as I felt like I'd been kicked right up the @rse with a hob nailed boot.

I am now on baby number 3 and I have been talked into going for it naturally. Apparently this time round "should" be a lot easier. hmmmmm as you can imagine I am VERY nervous that history will repeat itself however, I had to take into consideration the fact that c section is a big operation and hospitals biggest fears are infection.

There is no magic answer I'm afraid all our bodies are very different it really is luck you may find you are a natural at giving birth - if so I take my hat off to you.

Good luck.

MolotovCocktail Tue 18-Mar-14 17:20:00

saranga, do check out the book I mentioned. It contains everything you want to know.

Enjoy your pg, and good luck smile

Booboostoo Tue 18-Mar-14 17:28:40

I had a lovely ELCS - great experience and I am chosing to repeat it with DC2. My DP was in the theatre with me, DD was placed on me immediately which was lovely, I breastfed, my pain was completely controlled by meds so not a factor, I needed a bit of help with picking DD up off the cot for the first two days but after that I had a very quick recovery - out of hospital after 5 days, riding after 7 weeks, no overhang, tiny scar is disappearing 3 years later.

However, it's difficult to rely on personal experiences to make this decision as it's really down to luck who responds to your thread. I chose an ELCS because I did not want to risk a problematic VB. I accepted that a straight-forward VB would be the less risky option but since I couldn't guarrantee that a VB wouldn't go wrong I preferred the extra control offered by ELCS (as it turns out DD was transverse so I would probably have been an EMCS anyway!).

plentyofsoap Tue 18-Mar-14 18:39:11

First one fine, second one hard.
I would have them over labour though.

1944girl Tue 18-Mar-14 23:01:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zoemaguire Wed 19-Mar-14 09:58:21

2 natural births,one c section. I'd take the c section over natural birth 1, but natural birth 2 over the c section! Both can be easy and both can go catastrophically wrong, so no straightforward answers! I had no choice over elcs, but if I was doing it all again (no chance!) and did have a choice, I'd probably opt for labour. With elcs there is the near certainty of pain and extended recovery (bar a few freaky exceptions who are pain free within a few days!) - it is major surgery after all. With a good natural labour, as my second was, you could be fully back to normal within a day or two. Its a chance I'd take!

theborrower Wed 19-Mar-14 10:10:57

I couldn't give a toss about how I look afterwards, the main thing I am concerned about is the pain of labour, and although I am pretty damn certain I'll have an epidural I still don't want the pain (any of it!) of labour.

Except with a CS you have the pain afterwards. I remember thinking at the time (had an EMCS because of undiagnosed breech) that I wouldn't wish a CS on anyone. I couldn't move for hours, had a catheter in for about 30 hours, could barely move myself in bed it was a struggle, when I was up and about you are shuffling like an old lady, it takes a few weeks to recover - and that was me with supposedly a good recovery.

And yes, I'm aware that everyone is different and ELCS can be different from unplanned CSs.

I'm not against CS for those that want them, but I think people need to be realistic and realise that a CS is not an easy option or way to avoid pain. There's no easy way to get a baby out, in my opinion.

saranga Wed 19-Mar-14 10:39:07

@theborrower: "I think people need to be realistic and realise that a CS is not an easy option or way to avoid pain."

That's exactly what i'm trying to understand! Thank you for the input.

zoemaguire Wed 19-Mar-14 10:52:27

Spot on theborrower! I had straightforward elcs but am still needing painkillers on occasion, 4 weeks on, still can't do heavy lifting or long walks. And i was in real agony for a good few days after section, properly horrible! Having a baby is hard, no way around it. Worth it thoughsmile (snuggling one month old as I type!)

RufusTheReindeer Wed 19-Mar-14 10:59:24

Hi there, natural first birth which I didn't find overly painful, however... I was cut and torn so badly that I needed ELCs for both of my further births

I recovered very quickly from the CS's, no pain killers after 2 days with both of them, driving after 2 weeks etc

You do hobble round afraid to sneeze for a few weeks! I think the quick recovery was due to the fact that both CS's were elective, very calm and went well. I should imagine that an emergency CS would mean a very different recovery

Not keen on my apron! But have three healthy happy children two of which tease their big brother mercilessly about him having to come out through mummy's woo!

Good luck

sausagefortea Wed 19-Mar-14 11:10:25

I've had 2 elcs and have never gone into labour at all. 1st cs was because of problems with the pg and that my Dc was breech. 2nd was because I felt it was 'safer' than a vbac (I know that depends on who you speak to, but that was my interpretation based on my experiences and concerns).

I would have liked to have had a VB and experienced labour. I did feel a little like I'd had my babies removed rather than given birth. But it was only a pang of regret rather than any source of angst. My DC are here and healthy and that's all that matters however they came into the world.

As to the CSs themselves... I didn't find either CS particularly great nor too bad though. it was very painful to start, but eased off and was Ok after 4-6 weeks. Just it's a long slog of painfulness when you're tired and dealing with a newborn. I was very sick post op and so after the first 30min felt too ill to actually enjoy my baby. Was sick (vomiting after a major stomach op.....not the best!) for the first 4 hours or so, but daddy had cuddles instead. I don't do well with morphine and codeine based pain relief so I was probably in more pain than if you can take those drugs with no ill effects.

MyDarlingClementine Wed 19-Mar-14 13:04:04

For me there is no comparison. My first labour was 3 days, 6 hours established ( strong regular contractions baby is on way) but I had no sleep for THREE nights because of the milder contractions.

You don't know whats going to happen at any turn, everything goes well then baby gets stuck and so on. Mine was back to back I felt intense and un bearable pain in my back, I had no idea when or how it would end, would I get her out? Would I be cut? You don't know when the pain will stop it just went on and on and on, every minuet was an eternity...

ELC, I was afraid when I saw the theatre, the staff soon jollied me along, the spinal went in with no issues, and very quickly the baby was out, which was amazing, recovery and ward. It was quick, easy and painless. I didn't have to worry about anything getting stuck or problems, and if something went wrong in surgery I had the staff right there in the room to help me....

You have to know your own personality. I found loo issues really stressful after first delivery, I was crying and sobbing in the shower trying to wash myself, crying on the loo, frightened to drink water and so on. I felt I was lucky first time and got away with a good labour. I hated the aftermath of it down below, it put me off sex for a year. I hated the fear of the un kown, your just in a process that can and does go wrong. For me it was hideous. The tiredness the physical toll it took, the headaches and migranes after all the straining, drugs and lack of sleep had took their toll. Emotionally I was wildly up and down.

With the section I had one nasty burning pain that came and went, it was small fry compared to hours of labour slog. It was perfect for me, perfect ( as perfect as an operation can be!). I came at the baby fresh, emotionally and mentally there, I was able to EBF, bond better and so on. I was pleased my under carriage remained in tact and un scathed too, which was a huge bonus for me.

MyDarlingClementine Wed 19-Mar-14 13:09:36

I'd much rather "be cut open" across a controlled abdomindal incision, where the outcomes are predictable and, in most cases, turn out well

This was a strong consideration for me, I would much rather have this, than worse down below.

schmalex Wed 19-Mar-14 13:40:30

There is not always pain after a CS. I didn't have any pain at all, and the anaesthetist told me to ask for more pain relief if I did feel any.

Hopefully it will be the same this time around!

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