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Forceps and Third Degree Tear has ruined my life - why does nobody talk about the risks?

(168 Posts)
neef Wed 08-Jul-15 19:25:54

I am starting this thread because I cannot believe that no other first time mum has experienced what I am going through, and I cannot believe that the medical profession lets women suffer these injuries in the 21st century. Why isn't Mumsnet all over this?
I am two years on from childbirth and I have lost all sensation in my perineum and outside of vagina. I am suffering prolapses and bowel leakage despite doing millions of pelvic floor exercises and spending hundreds of pounds on women's health physio. I have severe pelvic pain after exercising or even just standing for any period of time. My life will never be the same again.
If I knew of these risks beforehand I would never have consented to vaginal birth and would have insisted on ELCS.
What can we do to stop this and anyone else out there suffering with me?

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome Wed 08-Jul-15 19:37:57

neef I am so sorry to hear that you are suffering in this way and shock too.

I have never heard of this. It sounds horrific.

noblegiraffe Wed 08-Jul-15 19:41:14

I'm so sorry, that sounds terrible. ELCS is not without serious risks either, the only difference is that they make you sign a form acknowledging them before you have the op.

I think if a vaginal birth goes smoothly then the recovery is far easier than if you have an ELCS that goes smoothly - it's major abdominal surgery. The only problem is you don't know whether it will go smoothly beforehand.

Daffodil1210 Wed 08-Jul-15 19:45:06

I'm so sorry to hear that you're suffering so long after birth OP. I had forceps and 3rd degree tear after giving birth 6.5 weeks ago and it was only afterwards while googling recovery times etc that I came across so many similar stories to yours and was horrified that the risks of these things happening aren't even mentioned. I'm counting my lucky stars that I seem to be recovering relatively ok so far but it could've been so much worse. I'm seriously considering an ELCS for my next.

Did the hospital give you any support following the birth and help with the issues you're now suffering with as a result?

HappenstanceMarmite Wed 08-Jul-15 19:45:14

I have nothing helpful to add but wanted you to know that I really feel for you. flowers

Mrsmorton Wed 08-Jul-15 19:46:12

I'm not certain how you can "not consent" to a vaginal birth given that it's the natural process and is the same as doing nothing from a medical perspective.

It sounds awful OP, have you been referred correctly by your GP etc? Is there any scope for improvement?
flowers are no good but I don't have anything else to offer.

Tournesol Wed 08-Jul-15 19:50:58

I really feel for you, that sounds so awful and badly managed.

However I don't want people to be put off from having a vaginal birth because as someone up thread said it can be OK and ELCS can go wrong and also cause problems.

I had a third degree tear with my first (no forceps), no tear with second and second degree tear with my third. Touch wood I have had no problems since.

Every birth has risks associated, it sounds like you were just incredibly unlucky, I wish you all the best in your recovery.

BreeVDKamp Wed 08-Jul-15 19:53:47

Oh flowers OP, you poor thing.

Like Daffodil I had emergency forceps and 3rd degree tear 6 weeks ago and had no idea of the risks and recovery times until afterwards - although there wasn't really time to inform me before it happened. Although they can't really prevent tearing (they tried with an episiotomy in my case but it didn't stop me tearing) and aren't forceps always emergency and rushed anyway?
I completely agree though that the aftercare should be better, the midwives didn't even really tell me how to care for myself afterwards. There must be help for you out there! Is the physiotherapy not doing anything? I know how it feels to have a medical problem that no-One seems to care to help you with so you have my sympathies.

GinandJag Wed 08-Jul-15 19:54:21

I think it depends of the circumstances leading up to the use of forceps.

You are absolutely right to raise awareness of this.

RolyPolierThanThou Wed 08-Jul-15 19:57:23

I have posted elsewhere about my forceps delivery and resultant birth injuries that surgery wont fix (nor will pelvic floor exercises). I am also very very angry. Angry that the 'major abdominal surgery' of a cesarean is acknowledged but the recovery time, long term or permanent damage afyer forceps is not. The incontinence, th nerve damage, the episiotomy that sliced through my pelvic floor muscle and left it fucked.
The sexual dysfunction, the prolapses, the pain from being on my feet too long, pain after sex, no longer feeling the urge to wee and just pissing myself instead without warning. It depresses me and the birth was 3 years ago.

However my second birth was fantastic and im glad I had the courage to go for a second vb.

TopCivilServant Wed 08-Jul-15 20:11:14

I'm another one with forceps, episiotomy, 3rd degree tear, subsequent infection which opened it all up. Horrific. Aftercare was non-existent and I'm unhappy about that.... But it was done to get my baby out safely and she's OK and I am very grateful to the obstetrician and midwives for that.
I wonder if it would be possible for women to have routine follow up after birth trauma like this... And whether this would make a difference?
OP I really feel for you flowers

Redtowel Wed 08-Jul-15 20:21:23

I did a lot of research before giving birth and chose an ELCS for precisely this reason. I'm really sorry you've had to go through this.

You'll hear a lot of negativity about ELCS but I don't know anyone in real life who regrets theirs. I do, however, know a lot of people who have been ruined by vaginal birth.

ReluctantCamper Wed 08-Jul-15 20:32:01

I was thinking about this today. Why is the nhs obsessed with making babies come out of fanjos? 2 women in my family sustained birth injuries, so when my time came I employed a combination of luck and bolshiness to get 2 c sections. It was absolutely the right choice for me.

I have read several stories here that mean I would never, ever consent to forceps while there was any other option available. Why are HCPs so laissez faire about maternal health? A friend of mine had a MW stitch up her tears without any anaesthetic. That's like fucking battlefield surgery.

neef , I am so sorry this happened to you. You are damn right to be angry.

hazeyjane Wed 08-Jul-15 20:38:51

neef - I hope that there is a solution to your problems, is there anything that can be done? I know a friend of mine had to have surgery to correct several issues after her vb - is this a possibility?

You'll hear a lot of negativity about ELCS but I don't know anyone in real life who regrets theirs.

Any birth can have dramatic and life altering consequences - Of my friends who had elcs, 3 have had problems as a consequence - 1 whose scar opened up weeks after the birth, causing her to be rushed in for an emergency operation, and 2 who suffered severe and life long bowel issues following on from their elcs.

of my 3 births, the elcs was easily the worst - i went into shock after the birth and was wired up to monitors following chest pains and uncontrollable vomiting and shaking. I had months of pain, infection, and suffered ptsd as a result of the birth - i still have nightmares now, 5 years on. I remember feeling intense guilt afterwards that I had fucked up so badly, it seemed that every post i read on mumsnet about elective caesareans talked about recovery being a 'walk in the park' and 'a breeze' (i realise this was probably my perception!)

Awareness needs to be raised about all the ongoing issues that can occur following any birth - the focus is on the actual birth and the health of the baby - but lifelong issues for the mother as a consequence of birth, are swept under the carpet. The medical profession needs to take it more seriously, it seems to be treated as 'just one of those things that women have to suffer' - but all forms of birth trauma, mental health and medical issues as a result of birth should be talked about.

GinandJag Wed 08-Jul-15 20:54:54

It's not an obsession with vaginal births as such.

The use of forceps is strongly linked to a cascade of intervention, especially epidural anaesthesia.

There are lots of really good reasons for going straight to c-section, but being impatient for the birth (induction) and wanting to avoid normal pain does not fall into this category.

Forceps are an amazing tool for unanticipated need, but they are probably more often used where their need is predicted via prior intervention.

ReluctantCamper Wed 08-Jul-15 21:04:47

I don't think anyone has mentioned being impatient or wanting to avoid 'normal' pain ( whatever the hell that is), Ginandjag .

I'm a little confused by your post, but I think you're saying if you have an epidural, you're more likely to have a foreceps delivery?

elQuintoConyo Wed 08-Jul-15 21:15:54

I have the same neef it's shocking, isn't it? And nobody wants to hear your story.

We have one dc because of the birth 3.5 years ago. Cannot remember the last time DH and I had sex - well, I say 'sex', a vague 3-minute piv and some hugs with sobbing doesn't really cut the mustard.

flowers for us, and others who suffer.

Canyouforgiveher Wed 08-Jul-15 21:24:35

I'm so sorry OP. I was nearly you. I had a consultant who did not want to do "unnecessary" c-sections for my first delivery. I can still remember the male intern (whose wife had given birth 2 weeks before) shaking his head at dh as they continued my labour despite nothing happening. Finally I had a forceps delivery and the chief resident doing it missed the contraction so I lay there with a forceps in my vagina waiting for the next one.

then I had a 4th degree tear, a pph, nearly died, was transfused, had retained products and was unable to walk for 3 weeks after the birth until finally the consultant took me seriously complaining about the pain (well actually she took my husband seriously - she ignored me) and did a sweep and cleared the retained products.

I was "lucky" enough that she did an excellent job suturing - I had no incontinence or pain or the awful consequences you have had. But it did take me 4 years to conceive my next child and only did so after a d&c - convinced the first birth affected my fertility too.

I nearly died because of her reluctance to do a c section (subsequent children born without incident by c section). I know the dogma about elcs but I honestly think until you have gone through the bloodbath and misery of a truly botched vaginal delivery with all the long term consequences, you don't really understand the actual risks involved. I wish I had known enough to say to her at the forceps stage - hang on a second, why aren't you considering a c section.

I'm so sorry OP. it absolutely stinks.

Finallyonboard Wed 08-Jul-15 21:39:03

I demanded a C-section. The anti-section brigade criticised me. After a natural birth with no complications at all (which is down to luck sadly), a planned section is the second safest option. Get a section next time.

Postchildrenpregranny Wed 08-Jul-15 21:46:02

I suspect a lot of women, despite having it explained to them, do not understand that an epidural hugely increases their risk of a forceps delivery.My DD2, a midwife, says she would avoid an epidural (and a C section) at all costs . I suspect the lack of aftercare is in part because maternity services are so understaffed and stretched .Though it is of course no excuse .

Lonz Wed 08-Jul-15 21:52:28

OP, I don't have anything to say but I really do hope something can be done. I feel for everybody in this thread. We are made to fight for treatment and to find someone who will even do anything about it when it shouldn't be like that at all. It should be taken seriously. 6 week checks is all we get.

I was angry I wasn't told about the risks when I was pregnant. I think they feed you a bunch of lies and don't give you the right information you need to know to be able to make an informed decision before things are done during labour. It's ridiculous. Yes, childbirth hurts, and yes, you should expect some sort of damage after having a baby but we aren't told about any intervention, the damage that causes and why it's used and when it's likely. Is it explained at the time or even afterwards? Not to me it wasn't. They tell you what you want to hear, then leave you by yourself and basically tell you to fuck off afterwards because they don't care. I think my trauma comes from the natural birth process being disturbed by intervention. That's my experience anyway. We're angry in our own right. But we shouldn't have to feel like this. It's such an awful problem but we're not even allowed to whisper a word about it because we got healthy babies. Fuck the mum that got tortured to get it out. Yes, we love our children and would take a bullet. But in some cases intervention is unnecessary and the birth could've perhaps been handled in a better why, but that's not always the case.

There's still women having given birth years ago in the 70s that are still effected by their birth experiences. I really don't get why it's such a fucking taboo when it's such a massive job to do. It just seems like 'have a baby and shut the fuck up, be a woman'. How are you meant to do that when you get your body violated (sometimes without consent!), absolutely shit care, midwives with an attitude, no explanation, no apology when it's necessary and no support when you're left alone with your first newborn baby in the corner of an isolated ward? Outrageous.

I think I read this post at a bad time!

madwomanbackintheattic Wed 08-Jul-15 21:55:53

Childbirth is just pretty grim all round, with virtually any flavour leading to a percentage of long term issues either with the mother or the baby.

I had ELCS (and went into shock like hazey), followed by two vbacs (first one back to back with internal rotation failure, and then a lot of damage and physio, the second one much easier on me bar an infection, but DC brain damaged for life as a result.)

Birth injuries in either mothers or babies are pretty hideous, but to be honest, the medical professionals do whatever they think is going to have the best outcome at the time. None of them set out to maim or kill.

I am just grateful that I have ended up with three live children, albeit it was touch and go. I know it doesn't make it any easier for anyone suffering (mothers and babies). Read the NICE guidelines for your circumstances, and take legal advice if you think that the guidelines were not followed. Or campaign for changes if you think they are inadequate and do not lead to the best outcomes for mums and babies.

GeorgiaOQueef Wed 08-Jul-15 22:28:55

It is now over ten years since I had a forceps birth resulting in a 4th degree tear. I am still in pain, I still have ongoing problems which will only get worse, not better, as I age. My children don't have a normal life because I can't do normal things with them.

I can't work, I can't sit down properly, my hips are becoming damaged because I have to sit on them all the time, I can't travel by public transport, I can't eat out, my marriage has broken up. I can't exercise properly so I am piling on weight. It is hard to socialise. I met a man with an ileostomy and started a relationship with him because I wanted somebody who could deal with all the stuff I have, but he can go and do anything and doesn't have the restrictions I do so that didn't work out. Probably just as well. The thought of sex with somebody new is terrifying.

I had ELCS for subsequent births and the difference was night and day.

I will tell my children about this when they are old enough to understand. I never want them to end up like this.

I hope things improve for you OP.

Preminstreltension Wed 08-Jul-15 22:39:39

Awful stories. Very angry that women have to suffer all this crap and then keep it quiet.

I had Elcs as I felt that the risks of vaginal birth were being underplayed to me and I didn't trust my hospital to provide the right (ie continuous) support and monitoring to make a successful vb likely. I was lucky to have that choice. I'm sorry you are putting up with so much and yes, this should be an MN campaign. We should talk about what we go through to bring children into the world. Forget flowers OP - you should have a medal for courage.

Bigbird69 Wed 08-Jul-15 22:43:24

Totally agree with you. Think the last page of the "what to expect book" glossed over the " in rare cases...." I too would have elected for c section. As it was my baby got into distress and suffered a stroke. We both survived. 50 years ago one or both of us probably would not. I have a second degree prolapse but tbh the psychological scars are worse. I will never risk getting pregnant again.

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