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anyone have a vaginal birth and later wish they'd had a c-section?

(142 Posts)
izzzie Sun 22-Apr-07 13:52:18

i have a big fear of tearing and also of damaging my pelvic floor (already got problems in that department, though kegels are helping a lot.) and am considering elective c-section but am aware it's no picnic and would rather have a natural birth if I can get over these fears. I don't want to live to regret my decision, ie, go for a natural birth and end up a real mess and wishing i'd followed my instinct which is that a c-section might be better for me personally, despite all the downsides to it.
I was just wondering about other people's experiences - if you had a 3rd/4th degree tear, or if you are suffering from incontinence after birth, did you later really wish you'd had a c-section?
any advice/experiences gratefully received...i'm doing a lot of reading and researching..

lissielou Sun 22-Apr-07 13:55:21

is this your 1st?

Nbg Sun 22-Apr-07 13:58:17

I suffered a 2nd degree tear with dd and 3rd degree with ds as I had an episiotomy and he came out face up.

I dont regret it for a minute. I healed so quickly with ds. Took lots of arnica, tried to get up and about a little bit at a time.

Obviously with a CS things take longer to heal and you cant drive for 6 weeks etc.

There are lots of ways to help you overcome your fears.
Have you considered hypnobirthing?
How many weeks are you?

izzzie Sun 22-Apr-07 14:06:47

hello again
i'm 27 weeks, nearly 28. I have hired a doula, and we are going to have our first "birth planning" chat in a week or so. She's very positive so hopefully i might feel better after that.
It's my first baby. I am also thinking about hypnobirthing - might get one of the books and CDs to see if it helps me get into a positive frame of mind. My biggest fear is living to regret my decision if I have a vaginal birth. but there are no guarantees in this business, i realise that!

lissielou Sun 22-Apr-07 14:10:39

tbh i think youll be more likely to regret not trying. i had an emergency cs but initially wanted an elective cs. however, im glad that i tried! it didnt work out, its not my fault, but i gave it a go!

ill see if i can track down lulumama for you, she FAB at this type of thing!

MKG Sun 22-Apr-07 15:02:33


Don't worry. You only hear about horror stories when it comes to giving birth. I had a wonderful birth, and I was scared to death of it that it wouldn't go well.

Make sure you surround yourself with a coach that you trust, make sure you have faith in your practitioner, and faith in yourself.

I did hypnobirthing and it really helps calm your fears. Of course it's scary when you have your first, but I think that it will help you relax when you are in the moment.

ZoeC Sun 22-Apr-07 15:05:41

I had a 3rd degree tear with dd1 and it was fine, they gave me lots of pain relief, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and it healed really well. It was probably not really much worse than after dd1 where I didn't tear at all other than a scratch as I didn't get the drugs that time!!

Both times back to normal and all is fine, so no, definately would not have chosen c/s.

lisad123 Sun 22-Apr-07 15:07:58

I had a C section with my 1st and would never recommend a section to anyone unless really needed.
It is so painful afterwards and you walk bent over for atleast 4 days, and then hurts for weeks if laughing, crying or coughing. I have major problems with pelvic floor since the section and have never got back to my nice flat tummy because the overhang that some woman get. Im hoping for a natural this time, I cant afford to be out of action for 6 weeks with DD (4) to run around after.
Good Luck, you'll make the right decision for you

SPARKLEO Sun 22-Apr-07 15:15:07

Hi Izzie,
I had my dd last June, she was my first and i was terrified of tearing. But when it came to the birth i didnt even think about it and when it came to it i did have an episiotomy and a slight tear. Tbh, i never felt a thing - or if i did, i dont remember it now!! I was healing quite well at first but then got an infection which was a bit of a nightmare, but i can honestly say i NEVER thought i wished i'd had a cs.

Whatever happens, you'll be so over the moon with your baby that you prob wont even think about your birth decisions much xx

Good luck either way xx

rabbleraiser Sun 22-Apr-07 15:20:40

I had massive tears with my son (and he was only 6 pounds but I just wasn't doing it right!). I still have some incontinence problems now (2 1/2 years later), but I certainly don't regret any of it. C-sections should be reserved only for those who really need them on health grounds. All the women in my ward had had C-sections and they were depressed and miserable (for the most part).

Snaf Sun 22-Apr-07 16:19:45

Hi izzzie. I think a fear of severe perineal trauma is very natural. However, for the vast majority of women, an elective c-section simply to avoid the possibility of a severe tear is an extreme option, especially given that this is your first baby. It might be considered if you had a very bad experience previously, but I think you'd have a hard time persuading even the most pro-section of surgeons to cut for this reason.

3rd and 4th degree tears are pretty unusual. I've never seen one (in my admittedly fairly limited experience!). It is quite possible that you may not even tear at all. It is hard to avoid the horror stories but please remember that everyone's birth is different and just because it happened to Them doesn't mean it has any relevance for You.

Practical tips - there is good evidence that perineal massage from 34 weeks helps reduce the incidence of tearing. Massage the perineum (inside and out) with almond oil for 10-15 minutes every day.

- position and analgesia can have an effect. The traditional semi-recumbent-on the-bed position can increase the possibility of tearing - all-fours is great because it reduces pressure on the perineum. Water birth seems also to have an positive effect as water softens the tissues, plus the counter-pressure of the water as the head crowns acts as a perineum protector! Epidural and 'directed pushing' also makes tearing more likely.

- keep doing those kegels, even during pregnancy! It is pregnancy itself that does a lot of the damage to your pelvic floor, not the birth, so it's important to keep your pelvic floor strong. This in turn will help ensure the baby is a good position and again, help reduce the risk of tearing.

- Write a birth plan that emphasises your fear and discuss it with your midwife. Make sure whoever attends you during the birth is aware. Listen to the midwife during the pushing stage as she will be able to see exactly what is going on and will be able to help control the baby's head if necessary.

Finally, because c-section is so common we often forget just what a big deal it can be. It is major surgery and pain/some loss of mobility etc afterwards is pretty much a given. It will also have implications for future births. On the other hand, the chance of you having a severe tear that causes incontinence is very small. I do understand your fears but I wouldn't ever recommend a section to a first-time mum on this basis.

Loads of luck - keep in mind these practical tips and I'm sure you'll do great


morningpaper Sun 22-Apr-07 16:29:16


I assume that if you are already having problems with your pelvic floor muscles then you are seeing a consultant? I would really recommend that you take their advice. They will know you and your history better than anyone. Yes vaginal birth can cause extensive damage, whether it will, no one can say. I have had two vaginal births and suffered a lot of back problems and other damage - if I knew 100% that they were due to vaginal birth and that a section would have prevented them, then I would have had a section! But unfortunately we don't have this information and just have to make the best guess with the odds available.

Personally I would see a good consultant who you trust and take his or her advice once she is fully aware of your history and condition. Childbirth isn't a competition and there is no moral superiority in a vaginal birth over a c-section. It's what happens afterwards that counts.

morningpaper Sun 22-Apr-07 16:31:34

p.s. my second birth was a water birth with no drugs at all and I still ended up with a lot of tearing and damage to my back. There are no guarantees, there are just statistics that will point you in the direction of Best Chance.

Twinklemegan Sun 22-Apr-07 16:51:19

I think if it looks likely you're going to tear badly they will do an episiotomy. That's what I was told when I wanted to stipulate no episiotomy in my birth plan. I ended up having a double episiotomy btw, but had very little trouble afterwards. Yes it was a bit sore down there, but that's all. No problems with incontinence here.

izzzie Sun 22-Apr-07 18:13:13

thanks everyone for the encouragement and positive advice! I will go on researching, but i'm now leaning towards giving it a go naturally and hopefully will feel even more positive after I've seen my doula next week - she's a real ray of sunshine!
thanks again

lulumama Sun 22-Apr-07 18:14:32

hi izzie

posted on your other thread, delighted to see you have a doula ! she will certainly help you get the most positive birth experience you can x

Snaf Sun 22-Apr-07 18:20:07

That's great to hear you're getting yourself some knowledgeable support! Use her and a sympathetic midwife (there are some out there ) and let us know how it goes.

chipmonkey Tue 24-Apr-07 02:20:39

izzzie, other way round with me. I have had 3 CS's and honestly feel that there may have been no need for the first one, and hence no need for the two that followed. My wound got infected the first time and I walked as lisad123 describes, like an eighty-year-old with osteoporosis, for a good 3 weeks afterwards. I had an attempted VBAC with ds2 which resulted in the rupture of the original scar and was told after this that I had no choice but to have a CS on my third son. CS is abdominal surgery after all and it is also the only surgery where you are handed a newborn to look after immediately afterwards, which I think does not aid recovery!

bebespain Tue 24-Apr-07 07:31:57

I feel the same way as chipmonkey. I had my 1st by c-sec and also feel it wasn´t necessary but that´s another story...
What I want to say is that it is horribly painful and very limiting afterwards but the worst bit for me is that I didn´t "give" birth to my son, never heard his first cries and wasn´t the 1st person to hold him etc and this will haunt me for the rest of my life...

Good luck

cathcart Tue 24-Apr-07 07:49:40

hi izzzie,
i had a 3rd degree tear and quite a traumatic birth 3 months ago, however i have now healed up very well and do not suffer from any ongoing problems. At the time i did not even notice or feel that i had torn because, well, in the midst of childbirth you are going through a certain level of pain anyway. i am glad i went through what i did without having to have a cs and it is important to remember that by having an ecs you are swapping the risk of a tear and some pain discomfort, for the certainty of a major operation with pain and discomfort!
If you are fit and well enough to have vb then do so i say
good luck izzzie!

hoolagirl Tue 24-Apr-07 08:49:32

Hi Izzie, I had a massive fear of giving birth and the damage it would do.
I tore a lot (no idea what 'degree').
It wasnt as bad as I thought, though of course it hurt some!
Im so glad I had a natural birth when I seen some of the poor women coming back from a CS onto the ward. They looked exhausted and in agony (not that your not exhausted yourself).
I haven't had any ongoing problems. Remember down there is a big muscle and heals really quickly.
I know its horrifying to think about, but it really wasnt as bad as I thought. HTH.

saintmaybe Tue 24-Apr-07 09:08:30

I had 3 emergency c-sections, all planned homebirths, and still feel a bit sad that I didn't have natural births. Of course it doesn't matter one bit now, dcs are fab, and here, and possibly without the surgery they wouldn't have been.

But I'm glad we went through long labours; it's apparently helpful for producing oxytocin, which helps with bonding, and possibly developmentally relevant for babies.

As with anything, you do what you do, there are pros and cons to any choice, and it's got to be about what YOU want and need.

Hope there will be lots of lovely positive natural birth stories coming for you.

Oooh, a first baby. You lucky thing!

Eleusis Tue 24-Apr-07 09:23:18

I know a couple of people who had vaginal births, bad trear, long recovery, and very much were envious of my quick c-section recovery. I also know people who had bad tears and don regret it.

C-sections are not that bad. The worst part is itchy scar that remains. And sitting up from lying on your back will hurt for a few weeks, but it's nothing compared to the pain of delivering a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon.

Do what YOU feel is best. If you want section don't let anyone scare you out of one with scare mongering stories about six weeks of no driving, etc. (I drove after 2 weeks and had no problems) Have you talked to the consultant about your options?

RedFraggle Tue 24-Apr-07 09:35:36

Agree with Eleusis, there are pros and cons to both delivery methods. I had an emergency section last time and will be having an elective this time around. I didn't find recovery that bad from a section but of course everyone is different and you won't know until it's too late! I was up walking the same day as the op, home after only 2 nights in hospital and stopped walking like the hunchback of Notre dame after about 5-6 days. Driving at 5 weeks, but could have much sooner if I'd known I was allowed...
My pelvic floor was screwed after dd because they left me pushing for ages when she was actually stuck. I am very happy to be having a c-section (for other reasons) as it means that all my hard work to regain control down there will not be totally buggered again!
Good luck with the birth whatever you decide.

saintmaybe Tue 24-Apr-07 09:36:27

Eleusis, that's an unnecessarily scary and inaccurate image. Nobody has ever given birth to a watermelon as far as I know
and the is incredibly elastic. I have more than one friend who hasn't torn AT ALL with a first baby, why say such a horrible thing to someone who's nervous before her first birth?

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