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A question about second births and elective c-sections

(21 Posts)
blueskydrinking Sun 18-Sep-11 00:05:49

After having DS I swore that I wouldn't be doing it again. It wasn't a good birth.

I read a comment somewhere from somebody who'd had a difficult birth but wrote that they would do it all again and worse in order to end up with their baby girl, and I knew that was true for me too - sorry to use the expression but it did give me a degree of closure. A little over two years on, I've just found out that I'm pregnant again - it's very very early but the thought of the birth is already keeping me up at night!

Despite everything, 2 days after I came out of hospital (a week after giving birth), I was desperate for fresh air and we went for a huge walk around our local nature reserve - I remember being tender (and tanked up on soluble panadol...) but I was completely mobile.

Can anybody tell me their experience of taking care of a new baby and toddler having had a c-section? I'm not sure whether an elective c-section is an option I should consider.


CBear6 Sun 18-Sep-11 09:52:07

I have a DS who turned 2yo last month, he was a vaginal birth. I had DD on Wednesday at 40+3 by urgent caesarean because she was found to be breech.

So far it's been a bit of a mixed bag. My plan was a vaginal birth, overnight in hospital, and then home. As it was I was in hospital two nights/three days and I've come home with painkillers and blood thinning injections. It's only been four days since the surgery, I'm still in a lot of pain at the incision site and the bruising around it. It's not blinding agony but if I don't keep on top of the painkillers then I know about it . I can't move easily because of it, pottering around the house is the extent of my mobility.

DS doesn't understand it other than "mama has a poorly tummy" but he forgets and he doesn't fathom that statement fully anyway. I feel bad that it's been hard on him, usually he and I are very cuddly and we play lots of games together, etc. He wants me to pick him up for hugs and I can't. DH has been lifting him onto my lap or onto the seat next to me for hugs but then he gets excited and an excited 2yo tends to jump, last night he accidentally knee'd me in the incision wound so hard that I actually screamed which terrified him and left me crying and shaking.

I can see to small things like feeding/dressing DD, getting DS drinks and singing nursery rhymes with him, etc but I can't bath either of them, I can't lift DS in/out of his cot so can't tuck him in for bed. I'm relying so much on DH and thankfully have him at home for three weeks by which time I'll be more my old self again (hopefully). DH has been brilliant but I'm used to doing things for myself so it's hard for me to have to ask him for things like a helping hand getting in and out of the bath or help putting the surgical stockings back on afterwards. I know we vowed in sickness and in health but I feel like he's not getting to enjoy these early days because he's so busy looking after me, two kids, and the house - virtually all I've done for four days is sit with feet up and feed DD.

By this point with DS I was taking short walks with the buggy along the street and back, I was able to fully see to all of his needs, I could sleep properly at night in any position I liked, and while I was tender from a second degree tear I felt like myself. Right now I feel like crap, I feel like I'm letting DS down and I'm putting too much onto DH and that I'm letting other people down and myself too because all I get from some of the people around me are stories about how so-and-so was out shopping three days after their section but I'm still in my PJs.

I had no choice really in getting the caesarean, an ECV wasn't an option and while a vaginal breech delivery was an option it was risky because DD had low amniotic fluid and the cord between her feet. A section was the safest delivery option and I'd do it again in a heartbeat to have her safy delivered but if there had been a choice between caesarean and vaginal birth I'd have chosen a vaginal delivery. I'm hoping for at least one more DC at some point and I'll be pushing for a VBAC rather than another caesarean.

blueskydrinking Sun 18-Sep-11 12:04:44

Thanks for replying CBear6 .

It sounds really difficult for you at the moment, the bit about the knee in your wound made my insides curl up sad I really feel for you.

What you've described is essentially exactly what I'm worried about. It's helped to hear your perspective on it and I'll be keeping it in mind! I really hope the pain eases and things get a bit easier for you very soon.

Minus273 Sun 18-Sep-11 12:44:53

I had an EMCS after labouring for 4 days (pushing for over 12hrs). I couldn't b

Minus273 Sun 18-Sep-11 12:51:04

oops sorry, incomplete. What I was saying was I couldn't bath her properly for weeks because I couldn't bend properly, had difficulty walking. Had to walk to the health centre when dd was a couple of weeks old because buses had gone past full, I ended up sitting by the side of the road for a good few minutes because of the pain around my wound after trying to manouvre the pram around walkers and joggers.

This time I am having a EMCS because the consultant says the problems I had during labour are likely to recur because of a medical condition I have, i.e. the chance of me giving birth vaginally is almost nil. I am hoping it being planned rather than suddenly after days of zero sleep and painful contractions will make my recovery easier. TBH if I could give birth vaginally I would go for a VBAC.

ssmile Sun 18-Sep-11 14:11:56

I had emerg c-sec with DD1 and elec C-sec with babe who is 24days now. The elec c-sec been much easier to recover from than first birth as I hadn't spent 3days in hospital first and wasn't 42+1preg! It was hard looking after DD1 in first 2wks my DH done most of childcare with DD1, and my mum helped have her for 2sleepovers &dayout. By wk3 I have a lot more energy, not taking painkillers and been doing DD1 bathtime last wk but she is 4.5yrs old so can do lots for herself. My SIL recently had vbac with her 2nd said recovery was a lot quicker and she pleased she didn't push for c-sec as she had originally planned. Both her labours were 24hrs+ think you just got to weigh pros &cons. If I could have guaranteed successful vbac I'd have had one with my 2nd.

Imnotaslimjim Sun 18-Sep-11 14:30:33

I had a vaginal birth in 2006, and a ELCS in 2008. For me, the recovery from the CS wasn't too bad at all. But the ELCS was because I had SPD, so the pain from the ELCS was actually less than the pain I was in before DD was born. Its all relative really isn't it? For me, apart from coughing and sneezing I was in no more pain than I was after the vaginal birth. HTH

TooImmature2BDumbledore Sun 18-Sep-11 15:43:37

I'm another one trying to decide between ELCS and VB this time around after my first DD died during labour. Part of me thinks yay, just skip the labour part and get the baby here safely - everything else is secondary to that. The other part thinks that I should swallow my fears and go for the VB (which would be induction at 38 weeks) because of the impact on future pregnancies. I'll always need to be delivered at 38 weeks and it's pretty unlikely I'll go into labour spontaneously by then as with DD it was 41+2, so it will probably always have to be induction if it's to be a VB. If I have a CS this time I'm probably ruling out any future VBs, because of the risks associated with induction after a previous CS.

I'm worried about the recovery time, but more in the future than this time - this time I won't have a toddler to look after as well as a newborn.

I also have SPD starting up (I'm only 11 weeks!) so that might well be a factor by the end of this pregnancy.

I don't know what to do!

Catsycat Sun 18-Sep-11 19:53:42

I spent 3 days / 2 nights in hospital after EMCS with both my DCs. I was out and about (albeit a bit delicate and on painkillers, and for a short time) 5 or 6 days after each birth. Most of my friends thought I was a bit mad, but I'd been in hospital before each birth too and felt completely stir crazy, and just so much better for going out for a coffee / to get one or two things from Tesco / a bit of fresh air! Walking for very long was quite tiring / sore.

I could bath the babies in the raised bath on the changing table pretty much straight away, could change nappies etc, though DH helped and carried the water. I wasn't doing cooking / housework / Tesco shopping for a couple of weeks. I held a pillow on my lap if DD1 wanted a cuddle, just to protect my scar. It is horrible if the scar gets knocked, or if you sneeze without having time to brace, or even early on when you have to push to have a BM (sorry!).

I was signed back on to drive after about 4 weeks each time (and felt genuinely safe doing this). Folding and lifting our double buggy into the car wasn't much fun when I first started driving.

The first week I really knew about it when I was getting close to the time for my painkillers (pale, sweaty, grumpy, tearful, watch-checking pain). Turning in bed or getting up / down into bed or a chair was a bit painful. After that it wasn't so bad, just a bit sore, unless it was pulled, knocked etc... However, over 18 months since the CS (with both DC), I still have a loss of sensation in my abdomen (can't tell if I'm leaning against something or bumping something with my belly!), coupled with occasional minor pain and tenderness in my scar (after a particularly violent sneeze, or twisting awkwardly for example). I also have a saggy skin apron which I doubt any amount of crunches will pull back. My CS friends are the same. One is booked in for a tummy tuck.

Of my friends who had CSs, most have also been OK. A good friend who has had 3 CS had a bad infection with one, which ended up in her having an open wound for 3 months. Another close friend had an infection with her first CS. Both had to be readmitted to hospital for a few days.

I just got my BFP today after a mmc and cp, but hoping this will go the distance, and planning an ELCS. It is a matter of pros and cons. It is major surgery and there are risks from the spinal / epidural, the scalpel (cutting the baby or bits of you, like bowel or bladder, infections etc... Personally, I know that my cervix is a bit of a one-way street, and don't see why it would dilate this time when it hasn't before! With DD2, she had major declerations in her heart rate during my protacted weak labour. I think for me that there is less risk of a planned op where the surgeon can take her time, than an emergency procedure, but this might not be the case for you. Good luck deciding.

CBear, I'm so sorry you are doing it tough right now. I hope it will get easier for you soon. I found 4 or 5 days after the CS emotionally worst, so I do feel for you.

blueskydrinking Sun 18-Sep-11 20:06:57

Thank you so much for your replies, it's given me a lot to think about.

After reading your responses, so far I feel that it's probably...almost...better to go for a VB and I need to find a way of making that a less panic-inducing prospect.

I've never quite recovered 'down there', maybe I should try and find out a bit more about that beforehand as well.

blueskydrinking Sun 18-Sep-11 20:13:13

Sorry, also meant to say...

catsycat congratulations on the BFP grin

but tooimmaturetobedumbledore I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. It puts my experience into perspective.

It's really interesting to read the positives as well.

It's so difficult trying to make choices about something that ultimately you have so little control over anyway!

hubbahubster Sun 18-Sep-11 20:26:09

Bluesky and Tooimmature I think ELCS are very different to emergencies. I had my DS by elective nine weeks ago for medical reasons and it was fine. Calm, quick, two days in hospital, healed nicely. Two days after getting out I was walking round Tesco with four day old DS over my shoulder! There's always the option of a VBAC for subsequent pregnancies, but tbh I've heard nothing but horror stories from my friends who've had VBs and my CS was so straightforward, I'd do it again. It's by no means the easy option that celebs make it appear, but it's not awful either. Good luck whatever you decide - and Tooimmature, so sorry to hear about your DD.

Catsycat Sun 18-Sep-11 20:31:33

Thanks blue.

Meant to say also, a couple of my friends had nasty births first time for one reason and another, but went on to have totally different and better experiences second time around. One had a hellish induction with DC1, then gave birth only 18 minutes after getting to hospital with DD2, having not realised how far along she was in her labour!

I had a pretty nasty time with DD1, but found it so much better with DD2 even though the end result was the same. I had wanted a VBAC with DD2, and we employed a Doula (she was a trainee and it cost us less than £50 for the birth, antenatal and postnatal visits - about 6 visits in all), and I found her support really helpful (even though DH is great - she was also there when he had to go to the loo, and so he could take his time going for something to eat etc). I also had hypnotherapy before DD1, as I have a phobia regarding medical procedures, and found it really helped me manage my fears.

bibbitybobbityhat Sun 18-Sep-11 20:34:10

I had an elective c-section for my second child and my eldest was 2 years 8 months at the time. I stayed in hospital 4 days. Dh took 2 weeks off work from the d.o.b. (having an elective is handy re. planning paternity leave in advance!) - and from that point I was on my own and it was ok. We managed fine. If I went out dd went in the buggy and newborn ds in the sling. Dd was at nursery 2 days a week 10am - 4pm at the time, which I have no doubt helped a lot grin.

blueskydrinking Sun 18-Sep-11 20:54:48

I've been wondering about a doula. Part of the problem last time was that I felt very isolated, nobody listened to what I said when I asked for pain relief or paid the slightest attention to the birth plan, I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing and in the end I was too far gone with the pain and in a complete panic so in no fit state to be bolshy. I knew things weren't right but it took everyone else a few hours to catch up.

I don't think DH would be keen on the idea but I'm mulling it over. How did you find yours, catsy ?

It's good to read positive experiences as often people are very anti-electives (see other thread!). I thought that I agreed until the point at which they took me to theatre, they managed with forceps but hadn't expected to, by which time the thought that there might be an end in sight made me something resembling happy and I didn't give a shit about anything else hmm

Catsycat Sun 18-Sep-11 22:34:36

Our doula was lovely, blue. She was actually our NCT antenatal teacher when we had DD1, and alongside her NCT work had started training as a doula by the time we had DD2. So we did already know her, and DH liked her and trusted her as much as I did.

She was great at reminding us (and everyone else) what was on the birth plan. If medical staff were not listening, or trying to push us to make certain decisions, she had no qualms about very politely and calmly asking how urgent those decisions were, and explaining what was on the birth plan and why. It didn't make her particularly popular with a couple of staff, though they were fine with me, but then she didn't care because she was there professionally, not to be treated (or liked), but to support and represent us! This was really good, as I wasn't really in a fit state to effectively fight my corner for much of the time. From what you've said, it sounds like you would have benefitted from someone to act as an advocate for you like this. DH benefitted too, as some of the pressure was taken off him as being my sole support, he didn't have to take on the staff for me, and he could (as I said before) leave the room to use the toilet or have food without worrying I'd be alone.

I was very pro-natural birth, and was desperate for a VBAC with DD2, but I have accepted it isn't likely to happen. After a 3 day failed induction with DD1, and a prolonged but very painful early labour which failed to progress for over 2 days, I too was relieved to have it all over. And I was exhausted before I even had the baby to care for. For me it is just a matter of weighing up all the factors involved, good and bad, and making the best decision for myself and my family. It isn't anyone's business really to be pro- or anti- ELCS, if that does work out to be the best option, IMO.

We are near to the cotswolds - if you are anywhere round here, I could try to put you in touch with our doula if you PM me. Otherwise, I believe she was training with Doula UK who have a list of doula's in each area.

Catsycat Sun 18-Sep-11 22:36:02

"and a prolonged but very painful early labour which failed to progress for over 2 days" with DD2 I should have said there.

mybrainsthinkingfuckyou Sun 18-Sep-11 23:02:38

Hello there

Tooimmature - very sorry to hear about your DD, wishing you all the best for this and future pregnancies.

blue - i hope you have a better birth experience this time around whatever decision you come to.

I had my first DD nine years ago - ventouse (vacuum) episotomy and epidural wearing off. I said never ever again.

Nine years later...DD2 and I really didn't know what to do. I wanted an elective c-section but am abroad and was made to feel as if it wasn't really an option and 2nd birth quicker etc. A friend I trusted said she had a very bad time healing after c-section, abdominal surgery, scar tissue, after pains with only ibruprofen as pain relief (they don't give stronger pain meds where we are).

So I decided to brave it. I ended up with ventouse again and for me personally it was just as grim. But that said I was sharing a room with a lady who had had a c-section and I was recovering far better...she was in pain the whole 3 nights I was there albeit I left on the 4th day and she left on the 5th.

I think it's a case of do you want a kick in the arse or a kick in the fanny - either way it's going to hurt at some point. I am utterly crap with pain.
In some respects I really wish I had gone for the elective. I will never know if I could have coped post-operatively with pain but I do know the 2nd birth was traumatic. But I did survive and I did recover. And you will too blue - I can appreciate how you feel, i really can and if you do want to see if a section is better for you - mentally even if not physically - then you should try and find a sympathetic consultant.

Physical scars can usually heal eventually. Mental scars can sometimes take a lot longer.

blueskydrinking Mon 19-Sep-11 09:03:07

"I think it's a case of do you want a kick in the arse or a kick in the fanny"

mybrain you actually made me snort with that one... yep, I reckon you're probably right! Actually, if I could just have one of each instead I'd take it hmm Sorry that you had such a rubbish time - twice - it does make me very very nervous.

Thanks for the link, catsy . She does sound like exactly what I needed last time. We're not close to the Cotswolds unfortunately but I'll check the link.

ShowOfHands Mon 19-Sep-11 09:13:06

I had ds 2 weeks ago by emcs 38hrs post waters breaking. I had dd 4 years ago by emcs 31hrs post waters breaking.

CS recovery is different for every woman. I am very fortunate to find it very straightforward. I don't need painkillers afterwards and am pretty much back to normal straight away. The only difference this time round was that I perhaps did a little bit too much too quickly in terms of looking after dd who is 4 and has just started school as my wound started to reopen. Otherwise, it's been fine and this is after an emergency cs and a prolonged labour each time. I think you just can't know and if you're one of the people who has a slower and more painful recovery then family support and lots and lots of help is what makes the difference.

I swore I'd never have a 2nd after my experience with dd but I've found it quite a healing experience, even though I ended up with another emcs. I was much better prepared this time round and having found out that I can't give birth vaginally, I feel almost vindicated if that makes sense.

Anyway, it's 2 weeks post emcs, dh has been back at work for a week, I do the school run, housework, shopping etc and apart from the slight problem of the wound opening up a bit (I slowed down for a few days) and the joy of the blood thinning injections on a daily basis, it's been perfectly okay.

NorthLondonDoulas Tue 20-Sep-11 17:40:26

Hi blue As you can probably tell by my name i am a Doula... your first experience with the hospital staff and lack of their knowledge of your birth plan and history was exactly the same experience i had with my first and that was the reason why i became a Birth Doula myself! So i can definitly see where you are coming from!

From the sounds of it i think you may find having a Doula with you, supporting you at all times benificial - i have no idea where you are based but if you have any questions at all about Doulas or where to find one locally to you PM me and i would be more than happy to help you out.

Good luck and huge congratulations.


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