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ELCS fears - bonding with the baby and feeling positive?

(44 Posts)
Plateofcrumbs Tue 24-Jun-14 07:36:03

Am 36 weeks and think it's likely I'm going to be advised to have an ELCS after I've been psyching myself up for a natural birth.

My main fear is that I won't bond with the baby. I think I've read too much about natural birth and attached a lot of significance to going through that process - that it will somehow be what transforms me into a mother, the importance of oxytocin and skin-on-skin etc.

I'm not one of those people who is naturally overwhelmed with excitement about the prospect of having a cute little baby but everything I had read, hypnobirthing CDs NCT etc had really helped me feel more positive - it's just all being tied up with the idea of giving birth.

Reassurance or ideas about how I can get into a more positive frame of mind about ELCS would be really appreciated.

Marnierose Tue 24-Jun-14 07:45:37

Just focusing on the baby and not the birth. Can you discuss letting them drop the screen as the baby comes out ? Instant skin to skin. Having your music playing during the birth?

TakingTheStairs Tue 24-Jun-14 07:53:35

I understand your worries but getting your baby out safely is the most important factor. I had an EMCS (but a elcs was planned, DS decided to arrive 5 wks early and then got into difficulties)
You can request skin on skin I believe in a section too. I was given DS within a matter of minutes and the delay was only because the Paed needed to check he was okay as they knew he had been in distress.

Waswondering Tue 24-Jun-14 07:59:03

Bonding was way easier with my ELCS than with my complicated natural first birth! At least with the section I could actually hold dd: with ds I spent the first night helplessly watching him, with lines in both hands, and trapped by various machinery. I had a very slow recovery from his birth.

ELCS was great. Speedy recovery. Bf was a dream.

Good luck, hope it all goes well for you.

McFox Tue 24-Jun-14 11:55:58

I was aiming for a natural birth, had done a hypnobirthing course and practised relentlessly for weeks. I then ended up with an emcs under a general, and just as I was coming out of the ga fog, my DS was taken to the neonatal unit for 24 hours. We didn't have time to bond at all, although I know that the midwives ensured that we had skin to skin when I was still under.

My DS is now 2 weeks old and I'm just so glad to have him here that my advice would be to try not to worry about it. Like Marnierose says, try to focus on the baby, not the birth - that's definitely the most important thing!

We do skin to skin every day now (DS is sleeping on my chest as I type smile) and he is a contented, happy little boy. We are having a lovely time together, so I'm not going to worry about things that that happened and that I can't change.

You're going to get a wonderful baby no matter how they arrive, so try to focus on that and don't beat yourself up about things that can't be helped - it's all for the best I'm sure.

smogsville Tue 24-Jun-14 16:04:56

I loved my ELCS. All booked in for a particular day, no fuss. Had to have GA because of my back so DH got to hold DD first while I came round. BF for 10.5 months, no trouble bonding at all and afterwards I could sit down without needing a rubber ring, like some of my NCT class who'd had to endure 'natural' childbirth. Best of luck.

Calmbirthbecky Tue 24-Jun-14 18:31:44

It's tough when the course of action changes at the end.

Have you done Birth Preferences?
Immediate skin to skin, feeding in theatre while surgery finishes up and and a lot of skin-skin afterwards really helps.

Recent studies show that CS babies are missing out on vital flora from the birth canal and lots of mums are now being creative in how to get that flora to baby asap after birth.

My first daughter was a CS. We found slinging skin-skin, breastfeeding and lots of warm bubble baths together really helped. smile

Plateofcrumbs Tue 24-Jun-14 19:08:50

Thanks everyone for the reassurance smile I'm feeling very conflicted at the moment. I completed the consent forms for ELCS today, although am still pursuing the preparation for a natural delivery as first choice, but there are a number of things which will have to go right in the next week or two for that to be a possibility. Part of me just thinks I'm better forgetting natural delivery and accepting the greater certainty of ELCS.

callamia Tue 24-Jun-14 19:19:47

I wonder if I can reassure you from a different angle. I did have a natural birth, but my son was taken up to nicu within his first hour, and I didn't have chance to feed him or get more than a couple of minutes skin-to-skin. I didn't see I'm for the next few hours at all, but we bonded just fine. As soon as I could, we had skin to skin and spent as much time together as possible.

I wish you well however you give birth, and I think as soon as you see your baby the method that they got out by will be largely immaterial. I can feel the moment he was handed to me for the first time, and it was incredible.

peeapod Tue 24-Jun-14 20:50:11

sorry to say but the people who prescribe to the whole as long as baby is ok forget the mother!

it is your birth experience too and something you will remember forever. I am now 6 and a bit weeks post my elcs and it was the best experience for ME as well as for baby.

Do not sacrifice your needs over your baby's and that goes for post birth too. It will ultimately benefit baby too as your happier and in a better place to deal with them.

you need to think of how your birth can be yours even as an elcs. I wasnt allowed music in theatre but I could have my mp3. I negoiated and arranged everything and every scenario with the surgical team so they knew what I wanted and i felt happy with them.

take a look at

and the birth plan ideas.

il leave you with my story, but it is just my story and its not indicitative of every birth (please talk to your suregon etc to make sure you get what you need)

My baby was born at 17:02, by 17:05 she was on me skin to skin. She was feeding from me as soon as we were in recovery and spent until 10pm that night continuously skin to skin and breastfeeding on and off during that time.

however you give birth i hope it works out well for you and ulimately your baby.

Gennz Tue 24-Jun-14 22:49:37

Hi plateofcrumbs

I am planning a ELCS and I can honestly say that the bonding issue is not a concern for me. A huge percentage of babies are born via CS (between 20 - 25% I think) and I don't think between a fifth to a quarter of children have trouble bonding with their mothers as a result. Personally I think the CS/bonding issue thing is rubbish but I am more comfortable with medicalised birth (and less comfortable with the natural philosophy) so of course I am biased.

In any case, I've had friends who have had natural births who've had trouble bonding; one was so traumatised after the birth (her midwife refused to let her have an epidural) that she wouldn't hold her baby for the first bit (her DH did) - another had to be rushed straight into surgery to repair a 4th degree tear so never had the bonding opportunity despite a "natural, intervention-free" birth.

Of course their are good, straight-forward natural births, and there are good CS' - and equally there are bad, traumatic version of each as well. Whatever you go with I hope you have the former and not the latter!

Gennz Tue 24-Jun-14 22:50:28

*there are (not "their are"! <hangs head in shame>)

MerryMarigold Tue 24-Jun-14 22:55:48

I did both and I can say that the ELCS was a million times nicer and actually helped me bond with my babies better.

My first delivery was traumatic. I had to be taken to theatre and leave the baby for a considerable amount of time. I was anaemic from blood loss, tired. I still bonded fine, but there were a lot of obstacles.

With the ELCS. They passed me the babies immediately. I was much more 'with it' than I was with a natural delivery. I held them and had skin to skin not long afterwards. I bonded really well and didn't have the trauma (physical and mental) to deal with, just a c scar which healed up beautifully.

The other HUGE advantage is that you remain intact down below and don't turn into the channel tunnel (as 'natural' as that may be, it's not pleasant).

MerryMarigold Tue 24-Jun-14 22:57:39

The only 'bad' c-sections I've heard of have been emergency ones. If it looks like a natural delivery could end up there for you, I'd opt for elective anytime.

Jcb77 Wed 25-Jun-14 10:36:14

Try to remember that however much you 'plan' a birth, Mother Nature has her own way of doing it that takes no account of what you want.
If you plan a 'natural birth' and focus entirely on that being the only acceptable outcome, how will you feel is you need an instrumental delivery or an urgent c-section? What about if you deliver normally but need to go to theatre for a manual removal of placenta or repair of a tear? Both of these mean leaving your baby for a bit and are probably not on your plans for 'natural'.
Even if you book for an elective section, if you go into labour early (eg at 3am) you might well end up having an urgent c-section.
You really can't plan delivery. You can have ideas about what you'd like to happen, but please please be very prepared to go with the flow. Don't make your method if having the baby a determinant of how you bond after. There is a 20% chance that you will have a c-section. If you tie all you thoughts and expectation up with having a vaginal delivery to 'make you a mother' then you stand a very real chance of being disappointed. A vaginal birth absolutely does not make you a mother. Yes you get hormones and stuff but they are absolutely not essential to be able to bond with a baby.
Not everyone gets a rush of love in the first few seconds, it isn't always wonderful and the postnatal period is another challenge to go through, however little one comes out.
The oxytocin 'cuddle hormone', also released during sex, makes you feel a rush of contentment and closeness. So you don't leave your baby at the back of the cave and wander off. You aren't going to do that anyway. The real bonding comes over the following days, weeks, months and years as you come to know and love your child, and they you.
Please please be gentle on yourself. Don't set yourself or your baby up for a massive fall that you can't control. You are having a baby, a child and a lifelong relationship. It's important that the delivery is as safe for both and as pleasant for you as possible but it is only a brief period of time in the grand scheme of things. There will be enough hurdles to jump in the process. Don't give yourself any more than necessary. Good luck.

PenguinsHatchedAnEgg Wed 25-Jun-14 11:03:04

Everything JCB said.

But also, regardless of how you birth, you may not instantly bond with your baby. I didn't with DD1. I'd had a long labour, was exhausted and overwhelmed. The relentlessness of newborns was also a shock - I'd only ever been around babies for shorter periods, or when sitting for three hours with them on your lap was a nice way to pass an afternoon, not a trapped frustration! I loved her because she was mine, but not in that 'rush of adoration' way people talk about and some people experience.

And that's ok. It was something which grew over the first few months of adjusting to being a mum. She's 5 now and I adore her to the moon and back. It can happen that way, and it's ok.

Also, it's ok not to be a baby person. I now have three kids and I'm not. I adore DS (two months' old), but I know that I'll have a lot more fun with him in 12 months' time.

micah Wed 25-Jun-14 11:21:54

You'll be fine.

Like others have said, the type of birth has little bearing on your bonding with the baby. It's also OK not to bond, feel all rush of love, pink and cloud 9 ish.

I'm not a baby person, and have never been around babies. DH isn't a romantic rub the tummy type of guy either. So basically we both just ignored the pregnancies and got on with life in the meantime.

DD1 was a very emergency CS. I refused to hold her at first, but it was just she was fine with DH, and I wanted some time to get over the shock, stop shaking, get the right way up (they had me head down for blood pressure). Once I was thinking straight it was fine, no amazing instant bond, just a huge sense of responsibility and the desire to look after her as best I could.

DD2 was an elective CS, and tbh I felt much the same. Didn't want to cuddle her until I felt human, but then got on with the job.

For me the proper bonding comes when you get to know their little personalities. You do need to spend quite a lot of time with them in the beginning and being laid up after a cs gave me an excuse to sit and cuddle- I had a friend who didn't bond well because she basically had a straightforward birth, was home in a few hours and then got on with going to the gym, out for lunch etc, only looking after the baby when her DH or family weren't around. The bond did develop eventually, but took much longer.

Plateofcrumbs Wed 25-Jun-14 13:08:41

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful words.

I think (hope) I've always been quite realistic that you often don't get the birth you aspire to, but as much as anything else I think it was that the preparation for giving birth was quite tied up with my preparation for motherhood in general, and I felt a bit at-sea thinking that I might suddenly be preparing for a C-section instead.

With a bit of time to adjust I'm feeling much more positive about ELCS, to the extent part of me thinks it would be a preferable option - especially as the certainty would mean I could focus more on the bigger issue of having a baby rather than how it gets out into the world!

1944girl Thu 26-Jun-14 00:54:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eurochick Fri 27-Jun-14 10:35:34

OP, I understand your fears. I am also trying to get my head around a planned CS (I won't use the word elective because that implies some element of choice and this is the last thing I would ever choose). I was planning a home or MLU birth and had spent most of my pregnancy dealing with my fears around VB and convincing myself that my body could do it. I'd done that really well and had got to the point where I had real belief in my body. I'd been reading the Birth Skills book and listening to hypnobirthing stuff, which meant a lot of visualising how birth would be. It did not involve an operating theatre! Now I somehow need to let go of all that and come to terms with the fact that my baby is going to be cut out of me and whisked away as he/she will be prem (my placenta is not doing well, which is the reason an early CS has been raised). I know that birth doesn't always turn out as planned but I thought it would at least start off as planned, whatever happened down the line.

My mw described a CS as going to sleep on Christmas Eve and waking up on Boxing Day with the main event over. Your presents are there, but someone else opened them for you. That analogy rings true for me. Although in my case someone will have taken my present and stuck it in a plastic box a couple of floors away from where I will be.

I'm trying to come to terms with it all but not doing very well.

Plateofcrumbs Fri 27-Jun-14 10:55:27

Oh eurochick sorry you are feeling so uneasy about it. I am trying to convince myself that so many VBs don't go to plan (whatever the lovely hypnobirthing stories tell you) that the greater certainty of a c-section is slightly reassuring - even if you don't like it, you pretty much know what's going to happen and can prepare for it.

Today will probably be decision time for me. I just realised that the date for the possible CS would likely be 14/7/14 which has a pleasing symmetry - I know it's only a tiny thing but that made me feel happier.

lentilpot Fri 27-Jun-14 11:07:36

Hi plate, have you seen the NCT's template Caesarian birth plan? It might help you ask for what you want from the consultant etc

beccajoh Fri 27-Jun-14 11:18:59

There's loads more to bonding than the birth you have. If natural =bonding and section means you don't! then 30-odd percent of UK women wouldn't be bonded with your babies. I had two sections, one EMCS (having hoped for a hypno-water-birth) and one ELCS and I bonded with them both just fine. The ELCS was much easier and bonding happened loads faster (months faster!) Ditto feeding method. DD was breastfed and DS is FF for a variety of reasons (he's five months). I'm no more bonded to my breastfed baby than I am my FF baby.

Don't put pressure on yourself. Mothers bond with their babies eventually unless there are other mitigating factors. It can take months for it to happen so don't blame the section if you don't feel the whoosh of love immediately. Many women have it, many don't.

Having an ELCS you're in the privileged position of being able to more or less know exactly how things are going to go and can ask for certain things to happen.

beccajoh Fri 27-Jun-14 11:19:46

Urgh typos!

Plateofcrumbs Fri 27-Jun-14 12:15:45

That's really helpful lentilpot and v reassuring becca smile

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