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Should I ask for elective section? (traumatic first pregnancy and labour)

(32 Posts)
rachelrcrossley Wed 20-Apr-16 11:49:07

So it's an age old question...just interested in others' views and experiences.
Bit of background, sorry for the long story -
I was lucky to fall pregnant quickly with my son (now 14 months) and all was going smoothly until the 20 week scan. We were told that he had enlarged ventricles and part his rear brain was malformed or absent. We were told that this could be Dandy Walker variant plus/minus a genetic disorder and faced huge uncertainty about what the future may hold (ranging from mild disability to severe handicap and even conditions incompatible with life). So began the most intense and traumatic two weeks of our lives whilst we underwent amniocentesis, genetic tests and foetal MRI. We then saw a specialist at Alder Hey who painted a much brighter picture but talked to us about hydrocephalus and the operations that might be needed to correct this. Baby was monitored by ultrasound for the rest of the pregnancy and thankfully (understatement of the century!) the scans began to look normal! Plan was to further monitor head circumference after birth.
On to the birth bit. From 38 weeks I was very swollen. I checked my BP at home and it was high and was in and out of the antenatal unit a couple if times for monitoring. The third time, my BP was again monitored, and came down. I was told that there was no significant protein in my urine. It later transpired (when I went to see my midwife 4 days later) that this was not the case; my urine protein was in fact very high. In short, they missed my preeclampsia. I was sent straight from my midwife appt to be induced that day.
I had two pessaries and got to 3cm and was coping ok. BP was still high so they wanted to get things going. I had an epidural (also intended to help with BP as well as pain), but sadly it didn't work at all and I felt everything! I had my waters broken (I found this horrific) and then was started on the drip. Things then went from 0-60 almost immediately and I was in genuinely mind bending pain with continuous contractions for around 5 hours. During this time my BP hit the roof and I had to have to have hydralazine and magnesium (very unpleasant, lots of vomiting). Miraculously the second stage was less painful (maybe the epidural had some effect lower down) but at this point lo became bradycardic (the worst sign on monitoring) so a load of ppl came in and were standing over me with forceps. The registrar and midwife then wrestled the baby out of me which was agonising, and he was here! Thank god he was absolutely fine.
I had to be catheterised and fluid restricted (73 ml an hour) for 24hrs and also lost a fair amount of blood (just above the transfusion cut off). LO had to gave cranial ultrasound with paeds, breastfeeding took a while to get going and BP stayed high so we were in hospital for another 5 days. The midwives monitored my BP at home for 6 weeks and twice we were sent back in in a bit of a panic because it was high.
I also had a 2nd/borderline 3rd degree tear which has now healed fine but it was a good 9 months before sex was tolerable, and about a year before it felt 'normal'.
So ultimately lo and I are both physically fine, and I am beyond grateful for this, but I feel quite psychologically traumatised, not only from the memory of the pain, but also from all that uncertainty and fear. When I think about it all I often cry (as does my husband!), and there were several nights early on when I was sobbing for my little boy because I thought I'd never be able to face giving him a sibling (raging hormones didn't help!).
My husband and I have just decided to start trying for a second baby. I'm not even pregnant yet but already thinking about the delivery. My sister in law had a baby 9 months before me and had ELCS which went really smoothly. She had a nice calm delivery and felt back to normal after 2 weeks. She is having another one shortly. I know it's wrong to compare but I can't help but wonder what my experience might have been if I'd done the same. On the other hand, I know the risks of section are greater for the baby, I won't be able to lift my little boy, I may not have the complication of preeclampsia this time, and a positive vaginal birth could be a great healing experience. Just don't know if I'm prepared to take the risk of another 'bad' vaginal birth as I'm genuinely not sure how I would come back from that mentally and emotionally.
If anyone has read this far, thank you! It actually helps just typing this all out. If anyone has any experience or opinions to offer I would be very grateful.

1001questions Wed 20-Apr-16 13:00:39

In a word, yes. I'm confused as to why you didn't have one in the first place given the complications? This time around, without question.

rachelrcrossley Wed 20-Apr-16 18:14:24

Thanks for your reply 1001 questions. It's just impossible to be objective about these things so I really value others' opinions x

untinctured Wed 20-Apr-16 19:17:56

Given your first experience I would absolutely go for a csection. Be prepared to fight for it though when the time comes. At the relevant appointment have someone with you for support and write down all your reasons for wanting a csection. Also, have the relevant bits of NICE guidance to refer to.

kiki22 Mon 25-Apr-16 22:11:45

I had a traumatic first birth so said section from day 1 of ttc from my very first midwife app I said I wanted one didn't ask told them, it was agreed easily at 16 weeks. I've been struggling to decide if I defo want to go for it went back to my midwife and she assured me my mental health and well being was paramount and they will go with what I want.

I think I will do the section because its much more controlled and predictable so I wont be as scared. I think if you want to go for a section tell them from day 1 don't ask just state the fact you will be having a section.

scrumptiouscrumpets Fri 29-Apr-16 12:29:27

Tbh I think you need to work through your son's birth before deciding. I'd ask for a debrief at the hospital you gave birth at. Talking to a midwife who knows exactly what happened is therapeutic in itself. What also helps is reading about birth, reading birth stories and talking to other women who had traumatic births, in RL and online. And counselling of course. You had a really tough time during your pregnancy and birth and working through your feelings and trauma would not only help you come to terms with it, but also decide what kind of birth you want for your next DC. Other people telling you what they would do if they were in your position isn't going to help that much, after all, it's still you that has to give birth!

TheodoreEvelynMoseby Fri 29-Apr-16 13:15:48

Have you spoken to a trauma midwife? I had an awful experience with my first baby and struggled physically and emotionally for over a year after. I did want another though and fell pregnant but I was in complete denial about giving birth; it was only when I got to 30 weeks that it hit me and I started to panic and have awful anxiety. I saw a trauma midwife who talked me through everything from my first birth (I declined to see one straight after birth) and then arranged for me to see a consultant to talk things through further. The consultant offered me a section straight away and didn't question anything - I have a friend who went through similar to me and had to really fight for a section (different hospital though).

The section was amazing, it was just so calm and although difficult at times it was a perfect birth compared to my first. Recovery after wasn't as bad as I expected, the first 2 weeks were hard at times but fine overall. So, yes I'd be asking for a section!

Ihatechoosingnames Fri 29-Apr-16 13:23:17

I had a traumatic labour resulting in an EMCS. My second I had an elective section. Best thing I ever did. I still have flashbacks about my first birth but my ELCS has really helped me come to terms with it. Yeah recovery wasn't easy but it wasn't awful by any means and because it was all planned out my mental health was MUCH better afterwards. Go for it OP

TheCatsMeow Sat 30-Apr-16 16:15:12

Yes. I had one because everyone in my family has had bad births and I have a hip condition. It was fine. Would pick a cesarean over labour.

1001questions Thu 05-May-16 16:35:13

I honestly don't know why anyone would choose to go through labour.

I think the general obsession with promoting it is basically a reaction to the fact that anyone who thought about it hard enough would reach this conclusion and the health service couldn't afford it. So in a way I'm glad that others are willing to be brainwashed...but I do wonder when my position will become the norm and how we'll cope with that.

FutureGadgetsLab Thu 05-May-16 16:53:52

I honestly don't know why anyone would choose to go through labour.

I think this too, I don't vocalise it often because I know it's not a popular opinion and it will offend.

1001questions Thu 05-May-16 16:56:56

I gave up on being popular long ago. Better to offend a few people than to put up with things that you know to be unacceptable.

LottieDoubtie Thu 05-May-16 16:59:38

I agree with the last two posters wholeheartedly. Have the section.

thatorchidmoment Thu 05-May-16 17:13:14

1001 and future, I know where you are coming from, but having gone through labour 3 times, I can honestly say I would not choose a section unless I had good reason. My third labour, particularly, I felt calm and in control to a great extent. And I say that having gone through a relatively unpleasant induction with my first, and with some worries that I might have a precipitate labour with my subsequent babies that might mean I would deliver at home with only DD7 in attendance!

OP, you have every reason to request a section. Please ask to discuss it with your obstetrician. A midwife is more likely to dismiss your concerns, IME. They rightly see labour as a physiological process, and there is a sense that obstetricians are more likely to 'mess up' labour by intervening as their main purpose is to step in when birth isn't going to plan. Your experience seems like it has had a massive impact on you, and I agree you need a debriefing session, to go over what happened, and help with future planning.

Sorry for essay, and all the best for your baby plans! smile

1001questions Thu 05-May-16 17:19:23

Fine, but I do have good reason: I don't want to go through labour. Fortunately there are medical professionals out there who agree that this alone is grounds not to inflict it - otherwise I'd never consider motherhood as an option.

LostAtTheFair Thu 05-May-16 17:23:42

I thought I had a traumatic labour with DC1 but OP it was nothing compared with your experience which sounds horrific. flowers On my second pregnancy I requested an ELCS. Best thing I ever did. I actually enjoyed my DC1's delivery - it was calm and controlled. The recovery was actually much much much easier than my first delivery with very very little pain. I know that this isn't everyone's experience after a CS but I really found it very manageable pain wise. It's true that you won't be able to lift your little boy and I found this tough but it is temporary and you can get around it by giving lots of hugs down at his level. Best of luck OP and I hope all goes well for you.

FutureGadgetsLab Thu 05-May-16 17:31:50

1001 Usually I don't care and speak openly, but I've been insulted a few too many times about childbirth to bother. I will occasionally mention it but a lot of women get emotive and nasty about it.

FutureGadgetsLab Thu 05-May-16 17:32:56

Moment do you mind if I ask why you enjoyed labour? If I'm being too nosy that's fine.

1001questions Thu 05-May-16 17:37:57

You say this as if your experience is unusual but I have only heard positive elecs experiences, both of the procedure and recovery. The only single bad I've heard was of someone who was not 100% up for it.

thatorchidmoment Thu 05-May-16 18:37:24

future not at all: I had waves of pain, but it was for a purpose. I could ride each contraction and had a sense of my baby coming closer. It felt like I had been waiting for ages to do this last job before my baby appeared, and I was desperate to get it over and done! My midwife during my third labour thanked me for a 'good labour' that she had enjoyed, and it all felt quite calm until the last couple of minutes when I had an unexpectedly quick second stage! I had DH there to support me hand me the water bottle and I just kind of got on with it. It was kind of amazing, and I had a proper euphoric sense of achievement at the end. I was up into the shower within minutes, and home the same day.

Please don't take this to mean that I regard a section as anything 'lesser', or not an achievement. I'm trying to explain why I enjoyed my own labours. I would have a section in a heartbeat if that was the best thing for me or my baby. I think it clearly is for the OP, and for many others. In fact, there is a v high proportion of medics who choose to have a section as they are disproportionately exposed to the consequences of problems post-labour.

FutureGadgetsLab Thu 05-May-16 20:00:19

moment thank you. If you don't mind me asking though, why would you want to experience "waves of pain"? That's what I don't understand. I'm very curious but I'm aware this is a sensitive topic so feel free to tell me to stop asking!

I support birth choices for all women I'm just unsure why anyone would want to subject themselves to something uncomfortable.

LadyAntonella Thu 05-May-16 20:29:39

Sorry to hear about your experience OP. It does sound horrific as pps have said flowers. We are TTC DC2 now too. Good luck!

Just chiming in on the conversation re why someone might choose to go through labour over CS. I have one DC and had a (not brilliant but not traumatic) VB. I would love to do it again and I don't know if I can really explain why. There was something enjoyable about giving birth, despite the pain (obviously at the time it wasn't so great). I'm sure a CS can be equally enjoyable though and without the pain and maybe less panic in some cases, so I understand why it seems odd to choose a VB.

Of course I would be totally fine if a HCP advised me to have a CS for medical reasons and I would probably be a bit relieved to not have to go through labour again. However, given the choice, I would have another VB if I could do so safely and it's one of the things I would actually look forward to if I found myself pregnant again. It's weird, because before I had my DC I would have preferred a CS if I was offered the choice. I just didn't feel strongly enough about it (as I had to real anxiety about giving birth and no medical reason to have one) to go through the whole process of asking for one, so I just sort of went with the flow and ended up having induction and ventouse delivery. I recovered very quickly and was hardly in any pain at all after the birth, so that helped.

LadyAntonella Thu 05-May-16 20:33:31

That should have said "I had no real anxiety", not "I had to..."

FutureGadgetsLab Thu 05-May-16 20:38:34

Thanks LadyAntonella. I found my CS enjoyable but that was because the drugs were cool and the team were talking to me about something interesting (I can't remember what). I also found it fascinating that I was awake yet being operated on.

I think I don't have the emotional connection to giving birth that some women have.

SaltySeaBird Thu 05-May-16 20:50:08

I honestly don't know why anyone would choose to go through labour.

I've experienced both. A long and very traumatic natural birth and a c-section.

I hated both. I would choose the labour every time.

To the OP - go with what will give you peace of mind. If that is a c-section, tell them that is what you want.

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