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The truth about c-sections...

(118 Posts)
Ladyem Tue 07-Jul-09 23:05:15


I am 31 weeks and may have to have a c-section as my DD suffered a shoulder dystocia during birth.

The decision is being left up to me, and while I know that having a section practically rules out the possibility of this baby suffering shoulder dystocia I am, well to be honest, terrified of the section and wondered if those of you who've had one could tell me the honest truth about if what I've heard about them is true!

*The drugs will make you shake and throw up - not what I want when lying flat on my back and a man with a big knife is cutting into me!!

*Administering the spinal is really painful.

*You can't have skin to skin and feed straight away, you have to wait until you are in recovery.

Many thanks in advance!

hester Tue 07-Jul-09 23:14:49

Hi Ladyem, please don't worry - it sounds like you've been on the receiving end of childbirth atrocity tales. I had an emergency CS when I had dd and, though it's not what I'd have chosen, it was really fine.

First, the drugs made me a little shaky, but only a little, and I didn't throw up (or even feel sick).

Second, administering the spinal was completely painless - really, no problem.

Third, it's true that dd didn't feed till we were in recovery. When she was born they showed her to me, then checked her over, then gave her to me for skin to skin contact while they stitched me up. I fed her in recovery shortly after, and she took to it beautifully.

I would say that the actual CS was no big deal - and mine was an emergency, at the end of a gruelling labour, so not ideal conditions. Tbh, I think the recovery after is more of a big deal, but not so much that it should put you off a clinically necessary CS.

Also, talk to your midwife about options for the CS. My obstetrician has started doing CS that is as gentle and natural as possible - they did a photo-essay in the Guardian on it about three years ago. Basically, they have low lights, take the baby out slowly and gently, and give it straight to the mother for skin-to-skin contact and breathing. It looked a really lovely way to humanise the procedure. It is only suitable for elective CS, but why not see if your obstetrician could introduce some of this? (My obstetrician was Philip Steer at the Chelsea & Westminster, by the way.)

Seriously, there are good reasons for trying to reduce the CS rate, but a clinically necessary CS is a good thing and shouldn't be a bad experience for you.

Meglet Tue 07-Jul-09 23:16:36

I have had a em cs at 37 weeks and a planned cs at 39 weeks.

- I threw up about 6 hours after both c-sections. AFAIK it's the side effects of all the spinal block, morphine starting to come out. They gave me anti-emetics and changed the morphine to a tablet as they didn't make me sick. I did feel crap for an hour or two each time, but not too bad as all I could do was lie in bed anyway. I haven't heard of anyone being sick in theatre!
- I didn't find the spinal too painful, its a strong stinging / tender sensation. It made me feel a bit sqeamish though as they were going into my spine - eek!
- You can have skin to skin straight away (pics on my profile) but TBH I found it really tricky to hold dd and only held her for a few minutes (dp had to hold her at the same time or else I would have dropped her). Then we bf in recovery, probably about 2 hours later once we were settled.

Claire2009 Tue 07-Jul-09 23:33:46

I've had an emerg cs and planned cs.

Planned Cs.

- Spinal did not hurt, hurt more when the anaesthetist was pressing my spine looking for a spot.
- I felt very sick as soon as it was in, but they lied me on the operating table & got on with it, which was the best way because I got more sick after Ds was born, I reacted badly to the morphine used in the spinal block.
- You can have skin to skin straight away, I had Ds next to me for 1-2 mins before being took away to be sorted, I saw him when I was out of recovery several hours later and breastfed/had cuddles then

Emerg Cs.

- Spinal did hurt, but I was in full blown labour and trying to stay still, was very difficult.
- Wasn't sick on the operating table at all, out of recovery very quick, within 20 mins, then put in maternity and with Dd straight away.
- Skin to skin, breastfeeding within 30 mins of birth.

Best of Luck

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 07-Jul-09 23:43:35

I had an emcs.

1. I didn't have this problem, and I was on a LOT of drugs

2. Yes a little, but I was in labour - it hurt much less than a contraction.

3. We had skin to skin right away, feeding did have to wait until we were in recovery

BlackLetterDay Tue 07-Jul-09 23:43:55

Hi Ladyem, I have had 2 sections one emergency and one planned, there's no need to be terrified honestly. It is a very surreal experience though, just turning up and waiting around knowing you will have your baby in a couple of hours.

Wrt the shaking, I had that with my first but not so much with my second. Had an epidural first and a spinal for the elective, so maybe that had something to do with it?

Did feel sick in theatre with the elective but they gave me anti-emetics which worked quickly.

I won't lie the spinal wasn't much fun, not painful though just odd shooting sensation in the legs and a horrid crunchy feeling when they put the needle in. This should only last for seconds though, mine was probably exacerbated by the fact the numpty tried about 20 times to get it in, then finally called a more senior guy who did it first time (I had a mahoosive bump and couldn't really bend forward properly).

I got to hold ds straight away as soon as they had checked him over although tbh it is a bit awkward. Ds was 9lb 10oz and they plonked him on my chest, I had a cough/cold (not a good idea lol) and felt like I couldn't breathe.

They lowered the curtain to show Dp the sex rather than announcing it which was nice. The recovery both times was fine really, only had morphine once or twice on the ward and was up and about within 12 hours, trundling off to the shops etc within a week. The most painful part of the experiences was getting ear infections afterwards both bloody times, whats that all about hmm.

Good luck anyway, you will be fine smile

MrsHappy Wed 08-Jul-09 07:53:56

OK, here is my experience (of emcs)...

- the drugs did make me throw up (and I did shake a lot), but then I had been in labour for 36 hours by that point and had blood sugar because noone had let me eat. The anaethetist can give you an anti-emetic that stops most people puking (although not me hmm) and anyway this is really not that horrendous - it doesn't last forever. I should add that anaesthetics (spinals and general) always used to make me vomit and shake but then I had one in January after which I felt great! I did go on and on to the consultant about how I didn't want to feel ill afterwards and so I am not sure what he slipped into my IV but obviously it can be done!

- the spinal is not really painful. I had an epidural in labour and the local tingled a bit and there was some pressure when they put the big needle in but that is all. If you are worried ask for a consultant to do it - IME they are much the best at slipping needles in with minimal fuss.

- you can have skin to skin straight away but you may have to make a bit of a fuss (if your team are not used to it). Make sure that they put the monitor pads under your arms instead of on your chest to make it easier. The screen will be fairly high but there is the whole top of your chest onto which your DH/the midwife can help you hold the baby. In any event with a first section you could well be in recovery within about 45 mins of the baby's birth, so it's not as if you have to wait long. TBH I didn't want skin to skin because of the shaking and puking but I did want to be able to look at the baby so in my (em) c-section birth plan this time it says that unless there is something wrong with the baby I want her to be where I can see her all of the time (so they should give her to us right away and do apgars etc while we hold her), and that if I don't want skin-to-skin again they should give her to my DH.

HTH- please don't worry. I haven't had an elcs but am sure that it can be a calm and pleasant experience. As someone said it is worth googling "natural caesarean" to see what sort of things can be done with elcs.

traceybath Wed 08-Jul-09 08:01:53

I've had one emergency and one elective and booked in for another elective in 2 weeks.

The spinal didn't hurt at all - well there was a little scratch but no different to any injection really.

I did shake after my first (was epidural) but not after second which was spinal.

I was sick after both but think that was a combination of shock and the drugs and to be honest i know lots of people who have been sick during a normal delivery.

I did get very itchy after the spinal though which is a well known side effect.

Held both babies briefly in the delivery room and breastfed both. DS2 was more tricksy as he was poorly and so went into an incubator but i still breastfed him for 11 months.

The staff were also wonderful and got good care on the post-natal ward as c-sections seem to be taken quite seriously. I felt more sorry for women who'd had difficult vaginal deliveries who seemed to get less care from the midwifes despite being equally immobile initially.

I could also lift/feed/change baby from pretty much the get go - never had to call the midwife to help lift baby or anything.

Good luck!

sarah293 Wed 08-Jul-09 08:06:03

Message withdrawn

MIAonline Wed 08-Jul-09 08:15:49

Except for being sick, but again I had a very long labour before my ecs and I think that contributed to it and with a planned CS you may avoid that as others have said you can take the anti sickness tabs.

The epidural didn't hurt, and I was in labour at the time with very fast contractions.

Held DS straight away, but didn't have skin to skin or feed for about half an hour, but it felt like straight away iyswim.

My recovery was fantastic, like traceybath, didn't need the midwife or any help at all, picked DS up, changed nappies etc

I can understand your anxiety, but your experience had the potential to be even better as it is a planned CS and you can be in more control. Good luck smile

cory Wed 08-Jul-09 08:39:53

I had an emergency C-section. I did not throw up or even feel sick, and I don't remember shaking. Don't remember the spinal being painful at all. Had skin to skin straightaway and had no difficulties bonding. Recovery much easier than after my previous vaginal birth. Breastfeeding also easier than with first baby.

hullygully Wed 08-Jul-09 08:45:41

I had two electives and they were lovely, felt very calm and floaty from the drugs, absolutely no pain or sickness, breastfed the babies (I don't think we had the skin thing then...)and was up and about almost immediately.

meep Wed 08-Jul-09 08:46:59

I've had an emcs and an elective

1) no shaking or throwing up
2) spinal didn't hurt
3) slin to skin only once in recovery

1) no shaking or throwing up
2) spinal bl**dy agony until Consultant took over and got it in first time pain free!
3) skin to skin once in recovery

Skin to skin only in recovery was my hospital policy - I maybe could have pushed harder to have it - so speak to your consultant and mw if this is what you really want.

Second the itchiness. Didn't notice it with the emcs because I was so exhausted afterwards, really nooticed it after elective, so much so that I had scratch marks on my neck from itching in my sleep.

With an elective I did find the whole "birth" a lot more clinical - but I was cuddling dd2 withing about 30mins and after an hour of skin to skin felt the bonding creeping in - it was lovely - I just slowly fell in love with her!

I have to say that my decision to have an elective was the best one for me, even with the sore spinal!

eidsvold Wed 08-Jul-09 08:55:31

i have had three c-sections. Once emergency and two elective. After the emergency - no skin to skin etc as baby was taken straight to ICU. the other two were given to me as soon as they had been checked over and we had skin to skin and fed in recovery which was not that long - I was able to hold the two dds whilst they were stitching me up.

No throwing up etc. Only thing I had was with third section the terrible itching but they can give you medication to stop that.

I used arnica tablets to help with healing and bathed my wound in warm water with a few drops of tea tree oil. Scar is fab now and barely noticeable, no infection.

You do not see anything unless like me you are strange as I watched the whole thing in the overhead lights - very mirror surface and so could see the whole thing - mainly with dd3 - dd1 I was in a bit of shock.

You do not feel them cutting into you. The only thing that it feels like - nurse said to me and it is so true - like someone is doing the washing up in your stomach - a little rummaging.

I am the biggest wuss when it comes to needles and I was terrified of the spinal. You feel a little prick when they put the local and then all I felt was a warm feeling spreading through my body.

With the second and third section I had pap - morphine I could administer myself - for the first 24 hours and then went on to codeine. With dd1 - morphine for first little while and then onto codeine.

jellybeans Wed 08-Jul-09 09:00:21

Hi I have had 3 sections, emergency, crash and elective.

Threw up after my crash section but maybe as I had 2 general anaesthetics in one day. I had serious complications and was rushed back to theatre after an hour in recovery, but it was very rare.

The epidurals are not that painful, just a few seconds sharp prick and it took 3 attempts with my last one and was not bad at all.

My complicated one was the only one I couldn't hold right away as we were both very ill. The other 2 I fed/skin to skin in recovery and breastfed them all, although found this more painful after a section due to postioning.

I found recovery very painful and it took far longer to recover than after my normal births.

My DD2 had shoulder dystocia too and I did have a normal birth after her which went well but DS was abit smaller. I really did not want a section (having already been through it with DD1) but can understand your worries totally. Good luck.

ilovesprouts Wed 08-Jul-09 09:06:14

i had cs dec 06 i was ok no sickness ,had skin-skin contact ,spinal was ok ,just felt like i was going to fall off the table ,no problems at all ,whent home after 2 days you will be fine smile

Ladyem Wed 08-Jul-09 09:30:35

Ladies, thank you so much for your responses!! People think I'm mad not jumping at the chance of a c/s, but I don't think either way is the easy option!!

It sounds like that eveyone has a different experience, just like in natural childbirth, so I'll make sure I take a list of the points you've all made and discuss it with my midwife and consultant.

Thank you so much, you've made me feel so much calmer!! smile

fishie Wed 08-Jul-09 09:34:46

i had ecs after failed induction. it was a blessed relief after being tortured by mws for 85 hours.

1. no. eating a contraband tuna sandwich in the recovery room did make me heave a little but i was too hungry to care
2. no it was cold and weird
3. i was completely fucked by then so didn't insist on this. a mistake that you won't make ladyem smile

Schulte Wed 08-Jul-09 09:42:05

Hi Ladyem

Do you really have to have a CS? How likely is it that the same thing will happen again?

If you do, at least you'll be prepared. I wasn't at all because I never expected to have an emergency CS so it was all a big shock.

1. I did shake but not too much. Wasn't too bothered to be honest because the whole experience was so surreal anyway and it was just interesting to watch what would happen next. After the CS they gave me a drug which did make me feel sick and dizzy instantly, but as soon as I said so I was given another drug which stopped the sickness straight away.

2. I can't even remember the needle going in. I was in labour so was much more scared that I'd have a contraction while the spinal was being administered. What did freak me out a bit was the cold sensation in my feet and legs as soon as the spinal had gone in - I thought something had gone wrong but no, that's exactly what's supposed to happen, your legs go cold, then they go numb, from the bottom up.

3. I was given dd2 to hold as soon as they had checked her over, then I bf her as soon as I was in recovery. It was fine honest, with dd1 she was put on my tummy after a natural delivery and I remember thinking I wanted someone to take her off me, she was so slippery and I was so exhausted. grin

Things I totally wasn't prepared for either - don't know if they have been mentioned to you:

- Apparently it's quite common to get horrible wind 24 hours or so after the CS. I had such a tummy ache and didn't understand why until I read about it afterwards.

- For the first 2-3 days, the scar does hurt. A lot. Keep taking your painkillers.

- It's difficult to get yourself into a good position for bfing without help, because of the pain. Use the bars at the head end of your bed to pull yourself up, and always call the MW to help, that's what they're there for.

- They expect you to get up and have a shower before you think you're ready. But you can do it, honest.

Don't know if this is helpful - I certainly wish I had been better prepared for mine. Good luck!

Schulte Wed 08-Jul-09 09:45:37

Ladyem, I had a 17 hour natural labour and birth without pain relief, and an emergency CS (undiagnosed breech). IMO a natural birth is a billion times better. But if the CS is the safer option for the baby, then that's what I'd choose.

Prosecco Wed 08-Jul-09 09:56:56

HI ladyem. I have had 2 emergency c sections and 1 elective.

1. I did shake violently after my 1st but it was at the sewing up stage. I didn't know what was happening and my dh was shitting himself while I reassured him hmm. I have never had it since.

2.Administering the spinal is more fiddly than painful. In my experience, it is best to have this administered electively rather than when you are being wracked by contractions and cannot actually sit at peace for a second.

3. My expereince of this has been that yes, you have to wait until you are well into recovery but others have different experiences. I was too much in shock after no.1 to think about it but was really keen after other 2, and kept getting gently fobbed off. I do not, however, think it hampered bonding in any way.


Sunshinemummy Wed 08-Jul-09 09:59:43

I've also had an EMCS after a failed induction and 55 hour labour, plus an elective CS.

The drugs didn't make me shake and throw up and neither was administration of the spinal at all painful. It's a little uncomfortable as you have to hunch over and not move while they get it in but not painful at all.

I didn't have skin to skin with DS (EMCS) until we were back in the delivery room as he'd had meconium so they took him to the other side of the room to make sure he was OK. DP then got to hold him for a while.

With DD (Elective) I was offered the change to hold her really quickly but was a bit freaked out by how little she was so DP held her until she was given me to take back to recovery.

I never breast fed DS but fed DD pretty quickly afterwards.

As some have mentioned the elective CS was wonderful. Lovely and calm. Lots of people telling me what was going on. We got the curtain lowered when she came out and DP got a fab pitcure of her being lifted up still attached to me.

As for recovery, I've recovered from both sections really quickly, although I know that's not everyone's experience.

Good luck whatever you decide.

mumofoliver Wed 08-Jul-09 13:02:45


I've had 2 - the first was an EMCS and the second elective. First time round was with an epidural - was in labour when I had it and was just relieved for pain relief at the time! Second time was a spinal - was uncomfortable but nothing more. NO issues with throwing up or shakes.

Both of them I was feeding once they had sewn me up - both of them fed really well almost immediately. with DD1 she was laid on me when I was being sewn up, DS1 wasn't but my DH had him.

Both of them I was up and about within days - sore the first day but gradually better and didn't need painkillers for long at all. I recovered really well from both (second was only 4 weeks ago and I forget I had the section at all).

Good luck - if you have my experiences you will be fine but appreciate not everyone is so lucky.

phdlife Wed 08-Jul-09 13:09:40

I had two emcs's.

No problems with any of the drugs, I was really fine with that.

Administering the spinal hurts - 1st one, no probs. Second one was more of an issue, but I was having massive second-stage cotnractions so not exactly sitting still as ordered.

1st time I got immediate skin-to-skin and was bfing in recovery. 2nd time no, they said it was too cold in theatre for lo to be unwrapped and there were complications with the surgery so we were there for a long time. Plus dd was having breathing issues (this is quite common). But I bfed her as soon as I could and she is fine.

I found 2nd time round much harder but that was down to complications (caused by precipitate labour - nothing for you to worry about!). Plus my lo's are big and I'm not.

Good luck

I found 2nd time round

JemL Wed 08-Jul-09 13:26:38

I didn't have any shaking or sickness, I'd already had an epidural so this was just topped up (administering it wasn't particularly painful, but I was in labour at the time and desperate for pain releif. The anaesthatist had a coughing fit everytime he came near me with the needle, which had everyone laughing, even me...! I had skin to skin in recovery, but DS was placed with me almost immediately after birth, I was happy with this.

I did have horrendous trapped wind (the nurses normally give you peppermint tea, or at least they do here) my scar was not at all painful, I was up and walking about the next morning - section was at 6pm and I didn't come back from recovery until 10pm to the ward.

Re: feeding - I found feeding in the rugby ball position was most comfortable - so instead of cradling the baby you reverse them so their legs are round your back, IYSWIM - not explaining it well!

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