Advanced search

NICE consultation on draft quality standards for Caesarean section - what are your thoughts/experiences?

(87 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Jan-13 12:29:55


We've been asked by The Quality Standards Team to contribute to a National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) consultation on the draft quality standard for Caesarean section (CS). The draft standard is made up of a set of measurable statements and the consultation asks for your thoughts on these statements.

The background information provided by the consultation states:
"Caesarean section (CS) rates have increased significantly in recent years. In the UK 20-25% of births are by CS, up from 9% in 1980. The draft standard focuses on improving the information available to women who may request or need a CS. The draft standard also focuses on reducing potential risks or complications for the woman and the baby."

The consultation is interested in hearing your views on nine draft quality statements, listed in the consultation document (pages 3 & 4). These range from ensuring pregnant women who request a CS discuss their choice with their maternity team, to involving a consultant obstetrician in the decision-making process, and to exploring procedural options when there complications arise during labour.

The questions asked by the consultation are:
1.Can you suggest any appropriate healthcare outcomes for each individual quality statement?
2.What important areas of care, if any, are not covered by the quality standard?
3.What, in your opinion, are the most important quality statements and why?
4.Are any of the proposed quality measures inappropriate and, if so, can you identify suitable alternatives?

Please post your thoughts on these questions and, of course, anything else you want to say on this thread. The consultation closes on 24 January 2013 at 5pm.


Pandasandmonkeys Sat 02-Feb-13 18:09:35

The after care following my cs was awful. I had a very difficult section - baby was stuck, retained placenta, I had some horrible brushing from being pulled and pushed around to get baby out. Once back on the ward I was given minimal pain relief, dh was constantly having to go and get help as I was in so much pain. Eventually, I was given morphine, dh we sent home and I was left to cope alone with a newborn. The morphine worked for the pain but made me feel very light headed and wobbly. No one came to check on me or help me with the baby. While desperately trying to breastfeed I blacked out/fainted and baby ended up on the floor. Had I been cared for properly this wouldn't have happened. Also, the policy of sending partners home is ridiculous. It's a time when you need 24hour support and the staff are unable to provide it.

Pandasandmonkeys Sat 02-Feb-13 17:57:32

The after care following my cs was awful. I had a very difficult section - baby was stuck, retained placenta, I had some horrible brushing from being pulled and pushed around to get baby out. Once back on the ward I was given minimal pain relief, dh was constantly having to go and get help as I was in so much pain. Eventually, I was given morphine, dh we sent home and I was left to cope alone with a newborn. The morphine worked for the pain but made me feel very light headed and wobbly. No one came to check on me or help me with the baby. While desperately trying to breastfeed I blacked out/fainted and baby ended up on the floor. Had I been cared for properly this wouldn't have happened. Also, the policy of sending partners home is ridiculous. It's a time when you need 24hour support and the staff are unable to provide it.

Gatorade Thu 31-Jan-13 18:00:04

Rosduck I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. The lack of support from your GP is completely unacceptable.

I lost a baby around 20 weeks (which I appreciate is no where near as terrible as what you have experienced) and I found the best support I received was via my NHS trusts counselling midwife service, I was referred by a midwife.

If possible I would try to contact your local midwife team and ask for a referral. You basically see a midwife who is trained in bereavement counselling (my understanding is that all trusts should have at least one) and she will discuss your fears in relation to future pregnancy and refer you for appointments with any specialists (be it obstetrics or geneticists or similar) who you should see before you get pregnant again, or just to help to reassure you.

Good luck with everything and take care of yourself.

Rosduk Sun 27-Jan-13 08:01:27

I had an emcs 8 weeks ago. My little boy was born at 27 weeks and sadly we lost him 2 hours after he was born.
The experience I had of the hospital and staff at Hastings Conquest was fantastic. I had gone into hospital with reduced movements when I was 2 hours from Home visiting family. I had forgotten my pregnancy notes.
Within an hour of stepping into the hospital my son was born. Although the reason he needed to come out wasn't explained fully they did explain the urgency of the situation. As my partner was 2 hours away he wasnt there but the midwives etc in the theatre looked after me and made sure i was supported throughout until my mum arrived. I received a full debrief a few days later and a doctor went through our post mortum and funeral choices.

My recovery was difficult dealing with the grief and pain but every midwife was fantastic, drugs offered regularly - I didn't have to wait and I was constantly kept informed of where my son was even after he had died. The only thing I would say was for the first night I was kept (in a private room) on the labour ward so I could be checked regularly but I could hear other labouring mothers and their newborns, but was moved to the bereavement room on the 2nd day.

My aftercare was offered through either Hastings hospital or my local Royal Berks in Reading. They did their normal checks aswell as asking how we were doing emotionally.

I am now fighting with my local GP for councilling and the nerves regarding my next pregnancy (hopefully!) have kicked in. My partner and I want to try again ASAP and would like to know what support is in place, will I be monitored more and my birthing options next time round. My GP would not discuss this until we get pregnant. No risks have been discussed with me for future pregnancies and having being fobbed off by my GP (who congratulated me on my baby and asked where he was at my 6 week check!) I'm now not sure of my options. I am now changing surgeries.

MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Jan-13 16:50:08


Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and your thoughts on the consultation. It's clearly an issue of importance to mums and soon-to-be mums, and we're sure the people over at NICE will value all your contributions.
We've pooled your responses and sent over our response. We'll be sure to post the published findings from the consultation, so watch this space!

Thanks again

growyourown77 Thu 24-Jan-13 16:08:47

I absolutely echo the comments made by redtoothbrush and PMHull and would each that measuring by numbers of CS as outcomes is just arbitrary and has nothing to do with offering what women need.

Stats about CS need to be separated between EMCS and ELCS. And I'd go further to show, especially for first time mothers, where EMCS followed attempts at assisted delivery as this can be a big part of people's fear.

I'd also add how critical it is that any guidance, standards and midwife AND consultant training to be around equal importance on mental or physical reasons for ELCS and stipulate this in the wording of these documents with definitions that go beyond a simple 'tokophobia' as there are often complex sets of mental, emotional or physical factors affecting birth choices or fears.

The standards as currently written talk about timeframes for 'discussing' fears with members of the maternity team without specifying a timeframe for making a decision - which is just as crucial as when the discussion starts - it shouldn't be a long, drawn out process as this is likely to add to anxiety.

The working 'patient satisfaction with involvement in decision making - does not demonstrate actual shared decision making nor respects that it's ultimately the woman's body and bay - for the medics is just a job in the end...its not their life that's affected.

Patients and medics need to both be clearer on whether the 'offer' of mental health support is an offer or is obligatory and what effect/input it has (or not) to any ELCS request decision.

Steps shoud be taken to make sure that women having ELCSs are not viewed or treated negatively by staff and that wording on notes for ELCS is handled sensitively and in agreement with the women.

And care and understanding (the soft, communication skills) of the medica, especially consultant, should be an integral part of the ir re-training and these standards.

poppy283 Thu 24-Jan-13 08:11:47

Andcake, how offensive. 'wrong reasons' indeed.

JumpHerWho Wed 23-Jan-13 20:12:09

Eliza I struggled to breastfeed after my section and ultimately failed. Nothing to do with milk production and everything to do with the pain I was in, and when DS latched on my uterus contracted (as its meant to) which having been cut open hours earlier meant it hurt quite a bit... I received no help with positioning which would have helped - I was told to do it whilst slightly raised and I was in so much pain. It's disingenuous to say it doesn't affect bf, it clearly does. My milk came in on day 4 fwiw but I know this is similar to vaginal births. I was released after 2 nights having failed to establish bf, this is something I will always be upset about. The bf counsellor just didn't believe I was in pain, she kept saying 'what's wrong' when I was flinching and crying out, when I said it hurt, she didn't accept how much and that it might just make me unable to focus on the 10 pound weight lying on my open wound! All I wanted was for him to be taken off me! It was nothing to do with nipple pain, no problems with latch, and that's all she wanted to talk about. And I wanted constant skin to skin, which they wouldn't allow as I kept falling asleep and DH was kicked out at 9pm til the morning so I couldn't bf unless I rung the buzzer for a crappy hca to come and stand arms folded while I tried to hold DS comfortably.

elizaregina Wed 23-Jan-13 19:42:24

Its the removal of the placenta that stimulates milk, I too do not understand people saying the section affected milk.

Its only personal to me and my friends - but I had elc and my milk came in normally and Bf was all fine, and between friends its a total mix of who BF and who didnt it was all personal and not down to mode of delivery.

"Andcake I think it's important that you clarify precisely what you mean about your "women who have CS for the wrong reasons" comment. It's this attitude that we are desperately trying to move away from in order to make CS another birth choice."

Absoluty its no one else business what people want or chose quite frankly, I cant belive the arrogqance of telling some one else to do with thier very own body! angry

JumpHerWho Wed 23-Jan-13 19:23:12

SaF - my ELCS was amazing and perfect, so calm and lovely. Peaceful, lovely caring anaesthetist and assistant, professional but sting atmosphere.

It's the post-natal bit that is awful.

swallowedAfly Wed 23-Jan-13 17:21:28

my future prognosis btw was that, 'it might be alright, or it might not' hmm most helpful.

also i had a totally bodged episiotomy repair and ended up back in hospital for a secondary repair that i was extremely lucky worked or it would have meant plastic surgery.

i honestly don't think i'd risk a vaginal birth again due to the ineptitude of my care and treatment with a VB.

swallowedAfly Wed 23-Jan-13 17:18:22

sorry i'm returning to this to contextualise why i went on about my VB - it is relevant because it was the circumstances of my labour, treatment and care that meant that if i ever did have another child i would want to have an elected caesarean. if first VBs were more often untraumatic and included good care during and after the birth less people would be wanting to avoid them the second time around.

also want to second the point that a VB doesn't necessarily mean easy BF established -if as i was you end up with a spinal block in theatre to repair the damage done to you in the process and you are then left on a delivery ward for hours and hours unable to breastfeed because you are paralysed but receiving no help whatsoever you are worse off than if you had a cs and were prioritised a place in HD or went straight to a maternity ward.

VB and CS are not disconnected because the realities women go through with the former can lead to electing the latter for their next birth or for some women even hearing about the the way you're treated for the former (being abandoned on labour wards, being sent home only to go into full on labour ten minutes later, having your legs stuffed in stirrups when you have spd and have specifically arranged that this should be done under no circumstances, etc etc etc) can lead women to want the controlled birth of an elective cs.

also having a bad vb experience with complications and then having no info as to why things went wrong, what the prognosis is for your future births etc can lead to a better safe than sorry attitude.

also realistically what the hell is wrong with a woman wanting a cs? this isn't a moral issue.

coldinthesun Wed 23-Jan-13 17:13:49

Molotov, those stats are right but also don't quite reveal the whole picture.

Technically you can only plan to have a VB or plan to have a ELCS. Therefore the risks associated with an assisted VB delivery and an EMCS are relevant to planning an unassisted planned vaginal delivery.

At which point, the differences in risk between the two are much closer together.

Of course, this is also influenced by other risks factors too. So if are over 35 you would be statistically significantly more likely to end up with an assisted birth or CS than an unassisted VB.

This illustrated just how flawed and how badly understood a lot of data that is out there actually is. Its useful to know that EMCS and assisted births are more dangerous, but it also needs to be put into the correct context.

There are far too many people out there, even in the profession, who are not properly grasping these concepts as it suits them to believe what they want to believe.

I personally would love to know the figures about ELCS done for mental health reasons, but I do not believe the data actually exists. It certainly isn't freely available in the public domain and what little there is still seems very, very limited indeed in my experience.

In fact in looking for this information, I've found it interesting that a couple of people have used the FOI Act to try and get this information.
This one for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
And this one for Greater Glasgow NHS Board

Both are from the last twelve months. North Cumbria did provide figures, however Glasgow did not as they did not have the data themselves.

North Cumbria's response is interesting - there is no category (as far as I understand it, but its in medical terms so I could be wrong) for mental health. There are 14 deliveries that are simply labelled as "Delivery by elective caesarean section" which works out as about 4% of the total number of deliveries for the period. Its a very vague phrase and certainly isn't clear what it is referring to.

Back in 2003 The Select Committee on Health Fourth Report reported that:

86. According to the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, the RCOG and many others who provided written evidence for our inquiry, pregnant women want more information on the risks and benefits of caesarean section and wish to be involved in the decision-making process. A survey carried out between 1999 and 2002 by the Centre for Family Research at the University found that that maternal requests for caesareans were made mainly because of fears about the health of mother or baby. In their most extreme form, these fears constituted a phobia of giving birth (tokophobia), and a small number of seriously traumatised women may need surgery in order to avoid severe psychological problems.

So if Andcake, knows difference, I'd really like to know. Her views are just a mirror image of whats in the press and I personally find it an attitude that is very difficult to deal with.

If I felt I would be able to discuss this with friends, family or HCPs without judgment or feeling like I would be instantly dismissed as "Too Push to Push" I think I would feel very much more supported and it would be one less hurdle and anxiety to have to deal with.

This is getting slightly off the purpose of this thread, which is technically more about clinical practice, but I do think it is relevant to my earlier post and the way in which policy and care needs to go. I just find the whole thing very, very frustrating and I don't see any way to change this without making sure that more of the relevant data is firstly collected and secondly freely available to challenge these views.

MolotovCocktail Wed 23-Jan-13 16:00:50

Also, in correction of Andcake's post: an unassisted, planned vaginal delivery is the safest mode of delivery for baby, followed by an uncomplicated ELCS. Assisted deliveries (ventouse then forceps) are 3rd and 4th safest, then EMCS.

I'm being served by memory alone here. These statistics are available from either NICE or Caesarean Birth: a positive approach to preparation and recovery by Leigh East.

MolotovCocktail Wed 23-Jan-13 15:48:12

For the record, from what I have learned, mode of delivery doesn't necessarily have an impact upon BF. That is, BF isn't necessarily easier if you've had a VB and it isn't necessarily more difficult if you've had a CS.

A traumatic VB might mean difficulties with BF whereas an uncomplicated CS (so I guess I'm talking ELCS here) can lead to instant, uncomplicated BF.

Andcake I think it's important that you clarify precisely what you mean about your "women who have CS for the wrong reasons" comment. It's this attitude that we are desperately trying to move away from in order to make CS another birth choice.

coldinthesun Wed 23-Jan-13 15:43:45

Andcake, attitudes like that are EXACTLY the ones that I was referring to in my post, when I said that there are HUGE misconceptions and myths about why women are having ELCS.

Thank you for illustrating the point, quite so well.

NellyBluth Wed 23-Jan-13 14:11:55

Andcare - and what would constitute a 'wrong' reason?!

JumpHerWho Wed 23-Jan-13 12:52:25

Andcake - what do you mean, aftercare would be better if women didn't have a CS 'for the wrong reasons' ? hmm even if you are judgy, isn't it reasonable to expect NHS staff and planning not to make judgements?! Doesn't every birthing mother deserve to be treated with respect?

Fwiw when it became apparent I would need a ELCS, the midwives became noticeably less helpful and friendly - I had been planning a midwife led type birth, and didn't realise how little midwife help I would get if I had a CS. I barely saw one before during or crucially afterwards, whereas people I know who had a vaginal birth could expect to have a midwife with them for those first crucial hours.

Not blaming the overstretched midwives, but it needs to be recognised that they are a crucial part of the process regardless of birth type. In my case it went consultant - surgeon and anaesthetist - health care assistants. And the HCAs were beyond useless, lovely as some of them were.

JumpHerWho Wed 23-Jan-13 12:44:45

Can I add another thing - not sure if this applies to vaginal births too though. Regarding communication between HCPs and pregnancy/birth notes.

I had a problem during pregnancy - it transpired I have a uterine septum, which meant my baby had limited space to turn. This resulted in my eventual ELCS.

I was advised during pregnancy by Kings (where I'd been referred to by antenatal team at my local hospital) to have another scan 3 months after giving birth to check the septum and its likelihood of affecting future fertility and pregnancies and whether I would need an operation to remove it. It needed to be at Kings as they have excellent specialised scanning equipment to get a proper look. (It was lucky I got a referral there during pregnancy as it goes, as I was twice misdiagnosed with something else during pregnancy, they only picked up on the septum at week 36 hmm )

So 3 months after giving birth, I went to GP and explained this. No notes. None. Nowhere. I had to have about six useless scans and appointments with local consultants before they re-diagnosed it and sent me to Kings to get a proper scan and assessment, which took a couple more months. Every person I saw, I had to explain the condition to, and all the scan pics from my pregnancy seemed to have vanished!

Surely pregnancy and birth notes are a pretty fundamental part of a woman's physical health record, why are they not combined with notes at GP? It was such a waste of my time and NHS resources.

I understand my notes are kept at the hospital I have birth at - I was so shocked and traumatised in the first few weeks after having DS that I couldn't look at them, and the midwife who was to take them on the final home visit said it was best not to read them. I have no doubt there will be stuff about 'over-emotional' 'nervous first-timer' and stuff in there... I wish giving birth by CS was seen as the massive thing it is. Just because women do it and survive it doesn't make it pretty much the biggest physical deal you'll ever have to go through. It's like being hit by a bus, then immediately having to get up and drive the bus with no training or help.

I had something happen during the op too that I don't understand - the placenta I think got stuck to the septum I have in my uterus and they had to yank it pretty hard to get it out. The surgeon came up to my head end grin afterwards and explained what they had done, but I had been sick and was all over the place so can't remember a thing of what she said to me. I lost a lot of blood at that point, just under the amount for a transfusion to be necessary. I was sent home after two nights. Two! The most hellish two ever.

Andcake Wed 23-Jan-13 12:42:34

I had a cs due to my ds being breech. I hate being shoved into the elcs group as I would have preferred a vbac as I think in the majority of cases it is better for the baby. This was my view before the cs and i believe it more so now. Emergencies are different.

The cs itself was fine but as a planned cs we had problems with a sleepy baby and my milk coming. I had asked about possible bf problems at my pre assessment and got the usual no bf will be easy talk. Ds ended up loosing too much weight after birth and ended up having a prolonged stay in hospital fed through a tube. Bf then never really worked despite Attempts to exclusively pump.if it wasn't for my cs I believe I would not have had to give ds formula. Early in my pregnancy I had been offered an elcs as he was a bit of a miracle after years of infertility and mc. Can you imagine how awful I would feel now if I had made that choice and that had led to the ff!

To return more to the guidelines I think mw should be trained better in cs aftercare particularly bf, looking after ds when I couldn't move on the first night was horrendous and I felt v guilty calling the mw frequently. I wished DP could have been there to help pass me the baby etc. ds was the loudest on the ward taken into the mw bay as me buzzing and his crying was keeping everyone awake. I think my pain relief was good, I wanted to be up and about early to help me mend and to care for my longed for baby.

If it wasn't for women having cs for the wrong reasons maybe the attitude towards them and aftercare would be better!

LikeSilver Wed 23-Jan-13 11:22:38

I had my dd (now 10 months old) by emcs. I would like to agree with the numerous posts highlighting post-natal care as hugely important.

I have never been offered a debrief, nor had I any idea that this was even an option until coming across the Birth Trauma website. I don't feel quite ready to do so - truth is I'm terrified that to do it I'll have to return to the hospital where I had my dd and I doubt I could even get myself through the door.

My emcs occurred after 74 hours of labour. I started out feeling all-powerful in the birthing pool at the midwifery centre. We were then blue-lighted to the hospital and my dignity and control were stripped away bit by bit. I was begging for an emcs by the end of it. In four days (five midwives, numerous other medical staff) nobody once asked to look at my birth plan. I spent my emcs vomiting as they failed to manage my blood pressure properly. I saw my dd for approximately two seconds before they whipped her away, my DH went with her but the midwife (the same one who had shouted at him for using the 'wrong' toilet on the delivery ward and for 'looking at confidential notes' - he had happened to sit down on a chair next to where she had been writing the notes - MY notes and he is my DH) would not allow him to dress her. It took an hour for me to be stitched up as I had lost a lot of blood (although I had no idea of this before my midwife home visit the week later) and my dd was an hour old before I got to hold her.

I asked the midwife for help to get dd to latch on - she is my first. The midwife told me that she needed to type up my notes and that would take priority, and she would help me afterwards. I tried by myself but couldn't get it right. My dd screamed for hours until finally at five hours old the midwife came over to help her latch. It is almost a year later and I am furious that my dd was left like this.

I was then transferred to the maternity ward - a nine bed ward of screaming babies. There was one midwifery assistant on the night shift who stands out in my mind purely for her kindness, and that's ridiculous, because there were plenty of staff on that ward who could have smiled at me or offered help. I saw no evidence of my particular ward being understaffed - the midwifery assistants were milling about quite often but the midwives seemed to all sit in the room behind the front desk unless called for anything which was then treated as an inconvenience.

Like a previous poster I was made to get out of bed within a few hours and had not had sanitary protection attached correctly so I bled on the floor and was looked at like something on a shoe. I was told where my buzzer was but couldn't reach it. It was extremely painful to stand and pick my dd up out of her cot but there was no help. I too wasn't told that my CS may have an effect on my milk production - my milk did not come in until day 5 and on day 4 I made the decision to top up my dd with formula as she as screaming and screaming in hunger and I couldn't help any other way. I was then made to feel like an idiot by a bf-ing 'counsellor' (nazi) for doing so. I'm pleased to say we continued to have a successful bf-ing relationship but this woman did not help in any way towards that.

A previous post struck me when it was commented that with any other major abdominal surgery people would be cared for and treated with kindness, expected to rest and so on. It's so true. Yes of course there is a baby who needs care but what is so wrong with helping new mums?

MolotovCocktail Wed 23-Jan-13 11:02:56

And it is incredibly important to distinguish between ELCS and EMCS.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Wed 23-Jan-13 10:35:12

Got a cup of tea and read the document.
From what I can gather not really applicable for me as I was an emergency.
What I can comment is the appalling after care. Was put in a ward with lots of other women and their babies including three sets of twins. All night the babies would wake (as they do) each other up so literally no one got any sleep. When I tried to find somewhere to change my son outside the ward (so i didnt wake the others) got shouted back to do it in the ward and basically 'sod the others'. There was also no way of getting a bath or shower, as there was no one to look after baby. Consequently I discharged myself (to an empty house!) just to get some sleep for me and ds!! And a well needed shower!
There was one midwife the rest were hca's, no breast feeding help or even conversation at all. One hca was amazing though and really helped practically with the baby.
No debrief about why I needed the cs, to this day I don't know if the cause is a problem with me or just this birth. No idea if I'd need one again. But it would be very useful to know to make an informed decision.

Subsequently I had two midwife visits and then absolutely no contact from health visitors. I also had problems to do with the epidural, and 1 operation to correct problems with the original c section- which hasn't worked. But I had to fight with three gp's to get anyone to take it seriously.

PMHull Wed 23-Jan-13 09:54:41

I would like to second many of the excellent comments made above by RedToothBrush, especially in relation to the current problem of discussing CS as a 'general' birth type. Different CS types have different risks associated with them, and it is often not properly recognised that most emergency CS are in fact an outcome of a planned VD and should therefore be factored into the risks of planning a VD. The NICE guideline update in 2011 began to address this, but more organisations and documents throughout the NHS urgently need to do the same (i.e. focus on comparing birth PLANS, not simply the eventual outcomes).

I also agree with what RedToothBrush says about women who have anxiety about birth prior to becoming pregnant; they should be offered support too.

Finally, I would add the comment that we need to move away from measuring outcomes in terms of mode of delivery rates. The WHO says there is no known optimum CS rate (planned or emergency) and the Dept. of Health says that it does not set targets for CS, and yet we know for a fact that many hospitals are delivering maternity care under pressure of reducing or maintaining their current CS rates. Health outcomes and patient satisfaction matter far more than percentage rates.

MolotovCocktail Wed 23-Jan-13 09:36:09

Yes, agree a debrief is necessary. I had a relatively uncomplicated ELCS but the OB mentioned during the CS a couple of things that could impact upon future births or other situations. He said my blood was slow to clot: I haven't had this explained to me, so I don't know how significant this may or may not be relating to my general health.

I had a huge swelling for weeks after the CS as I'd had a haematoma where I'd been tilted to the right during the birth, and it's where the blood had pooled. I've had experiences of haematomas in the past, too, so - yep, a debrief would have been good.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now