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I have tokophobia (fear of childbirth) and had two ELCS. AMA

27 replies

FullMoony · 14/10/2019 14:19

I've nc'd for this as want to be able to answer all questions fully, in order to help anyone going through something similar.

So I had primary tokophobia (the tokophobia was there before ever becoming pregnant as opposed to secondary tokophobia, which can occur after a traumatic delivery) and was able to have two elective sections on the NHS. This was at two different hospitals in different parts of the country (England). My DC1 is 7 and my DC2 is 4.

Happy to share my experiences to those interested.

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Aunaturalmama · 15/10/2019 04:00

I had two elective csections for the same reason! I didn’t know this was a thing!!! I was paralyzed coming through the birthing canal and I have panic attack disorder and anxiety.... I was getting g panic attacks after finding out I was pregnant thinking about giving birth until I scheduled!

FullMoony · 15/10/2019 08:53

Aunatural 💐 it's a tough thing to go through. I didn't even feel better when the sections were booked. I was terrified, literally until I was the operating table. I was so scared of going into labour beforehand.

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WWLoss · 15/10/2019 08:55

Did you get pregnant on purpose?

FullMoony · 15/10/2019 09:00

WWLoss I did. Sounds mad when I was so scared but both DC were very much planned and wanted.

I just hoped they would allow me to have a CS. I got pregnant not very long after the NICE guidelines changed regarding maternal request CS in 2011.

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TheKitchenWitch · 15/10/2019 09:03

That’s really interesting, I didn’t know it was a thing. How did you get diagnosed?
I had 2 ECs because I didn’t want a natural birth, I thought it sounded like a horrendous thing to go through (too many friends have had awful labour). Luckily I live somewhere where I could request this.

Lemonsqueasy · 15/10/2019 09:04

How did they go? I just had a traumatic birth and was v pleased to find out ELCs are possible.

gubbsywubbsy · 15/10/2019 09:15

I didn't label it but I didn't want children because of childbirth.. my birth control failed though so I had a child ( which I'm grateful for now ) and child birth was every bit as terrifying and painful as I expected it to be .. I have no idea why women aren't more scared to be honest .

FullMoony · 15/10/2019 09:15

TheKitchenWitch i had found the idea of natural birth horrendous probably since a teenager. Couldn't stand seeing childbirth scenes on tv, would make me really upset. Things like that. It got worse over the years. From my own research I found out that 'tokophobia' was a thing.

I nearly walked out of the dr's surgery when it came to my first midwife appointment. She came into the waiting room and seemed a bit brusque, no nonsense type. I was expecting her to not understand. Luckily for me, she was fabulous. Respected and understood immediately and referred me to a particular consultant who she thought would be sympathetic. He described me as 'the worst case of tokophobia I have seen in 20 years of obstetrics'.

Lemons sorry to hear you had a traumatic birth. I hope you're doing ok now. The CS went very well both times and I made excellent recoveries, very quickly. My oldest was 2 when I had the youngest and it was fine.

I do understand it's not like this for everyone though.

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FullMoony · 15/10/2019 09:28

Gubbsy that must have been very scary for you. I hope you recovered ok.

I remember when the guidelines were changed in 2011, NICE actually said they didn't anticipate the number of women requesting CS would increase by very much at all. I'm surprised myself that it isn't requested more.

I'd like to make my views on childbirth clear- just because I have tokophobia myself it's not like I'm anti natural birth or pro caesarean- it's about choice. I honestly believe that every woman should have the choice of the birth they want and their views respected. I know sometimes things can't go like that because of medical reasons but that should be the starting point.

And all the risks of both natural birth and caesarean should be equally and honestly laid out for women to make an informed choice.

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BeanBag7 · 15/10/2019 09:30

As you had an elective caesarean, were you concerned about going into spontaneous labour before your CS date? What would you have done in this situation?

FullMoony · 15/10/2019 09:35

Beanbag I was absolutely terrified of this. I had my CS booked at about 24 weeks, my consultant was fantastic. But despite everything being agreed, I was petrified of going into early labour. It was agreed that if it happened, I would go in and they would do the CS. But both my mum and my gran had quick labours and I was scared there wouldn't be time. Was also scared that the theatres would all be busy, things like that. It was very scary.

From 37 weeks onwards it was really frightening especially. I had both CS at exactly 39 weeks.

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FullMoony · 15/10/2019 10:14

I also wanted to post these here- the NICE guidelines on CS and a link to birthrights who support women's right to make their own choices and decisions in pregnancy and childbirth. They may be helpful to someone.

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Willow4987 · 22/10/2019 16:05

Thanks for the links OP. I had a very traumatic first Labour which has left some lasting damage both mentally and physically. I’m currently expecting again, trying to weigh up my options and go armed with as much research as I can for when I see the consultant so they’re both really helpful to me

Tableclothing · 22/10/2019 16:15

Thanks for starting this thread OP.

I'm currently going through the process of requesting ELCS, mainly due to fear of the alternative. (Already working with the psychologist my Trust makes you meet with, meeting with consultant booked for next week).

I guess it was a few years ago now, but can you recall anything about the whole period of time really, from entering hospital for the section to leaving with your baby, that surprised you?

What was the recovery process like? When were you able to say, get out of bed without help, carry shopping, get a wet load of laundry out of the machine, etc? When did you get back to exercise (if applicable)?

Any advice for prospective ELCSers?

gubbsywubbsy · 22/10/2019 17:29

@Tableclothing ... the recovery is really really hard . I've had both and although the fear was much less with the section, the recovery was way worse . Don't expect to be able to do anything much for a long time ... 😬

GrumpyHoonMain · 22/10/2019 17:34

Elective c-sections don’t always have tough recoveries. Everyone I know who had one was up and running again in 2-3 weeks with those with vaginal deliveries taking longer to recover. Having said that, however, a few years down the line and for some reason it’s my friends who had 2-3 elective c-sections who are having pelvic floor problems.

FullMoony · 22/10/2019 20:45

Willow I'm glad the links are helpful to you- I'm also happy to answer pm's from anyone. I'm mainly on here on the app and don't think can access pm's on it so if anyone messages me, post on here and I will check.

Tableclothing I hope you've been finding meetings with the psychologist ok. I was offered the chance to meet with the perinatal mental health team but I didn't want to and they didn't force me to either. I only saw my midwife and I think I only had one appointment with the consultant.

I can remember the whole day (from both times) very clearly and there was nothing that surprised me either time. Everything went very much to plan and as I was expecting things to be. I chose to have GA so wasn't aware of what happened during the c-sections. But other than having a slight temperature after my first DC was born, which was nothing sinister, everything was textbook.

I had excellent recoveries. I had a morphine drip for several hours and then managed fine on paracetamol and ibuprofen. The catheter was removed the following day and I was encouraged to get up and moving which was hard but manageable. Getting in and out of bed was weird and tricky- I think they advise you to kind of roll? But it was fine. It was easier second time round because I knew what to expect. I was feeling ok in the week afterwards and probably quite back to normal at about 10 days or two weeks. But you still have to go careful not to do too much as you feel quite achey and sore if you do, even if you think you're ready too. I walked about 3 miles pushing a double buggy when second DC was about 3 weeks old and I felt quite achey all over my scar and lower body after. But all ok. I don't know if I can remember exactly for things like carrying shopping etc- oh I do actually- my health visitor told me off at the two week check for DC2 because my online food shop arrived and she caught me lifting the shopping bags but I felt fine!

Oh for other reference- I was mid twenties when I had both c-sections- and there was around two years between each. I stayed 2 nights in hospital after DC1 and 1 night after DC2.

I also had no problems with breastfeeding- apart from getting latch right and sore nipples but that's not c-section related! Milk came in fine, it wasn't too much of an issue feeding and causing discomfort on the scar. I had a breastfeeding support pillow which helped keep weight off the incision.

My advice would be- research thoroughly the benefits and risks of both types of birth. Ask for the morphine drip! Keep the paracetamol and ibuprofen topped up after that. Oh and if you have a GA, don't be shocked if you end up feeling a bit breathless or sick a few days after- apparently this is common.

I personally found a baby changing table afterward quite helpful and more comfortable. Even better, get someone else to do the nappies til you're feeling a bit better 😂

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FullMoony · 22/10/2019 20:56

With regards to recoveries- it is a lottery. I honestly don't believe you can expect a better recovery dependent on whether you give birth by c-section or vaginally. You need to be aware of what either could potentially be like.

It's possible to have an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with a quick recovery and no long lasting health issues at all. Or you could have a third or fourth degree tear, horrible pain from this, stitches done incorrectly and ongoing continence issues that need surgery to correct.

You could have an ELCS that goes to plan like mine did, quick recoveries and no lasting health problems (nearly 5 years on from the last section and there have been no issues at all as of yet and felt myself again very quickly). Or you could have an infection, a painful and slow recovery, internal adhesions etc.

The point is you just don't know what recovery you will get until it happens. But my personal experience is that recoveries from c-sections can be straightforward, quick and not that painful.

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TheKitchenWitch · 24/10/2019 12:33

I'll also add that I had very quick and easy recovery from both my ELCS, and I was way older than the OP (34 and 42). Up on the same day, moving about slowly, taking pain killers, home within the week and basically pretty much back to normal within a couple of weeks or so - obviously taking it a bit easy around the scar area. Also breastfed both babies with no problems.

ReturnofSaturn · 24/10/2019 13:25

I had an emergency section (failed induction) and was feeling fine physically after days!!
I don't get this with people saying you can't do anything for weeks and weeks Confused

Valand123 · 06/11/2019 19:23

Can I ask how you were able to choose to have GA as I have always being told they wouldn't do this unless it was a medical emergency as it can affect the baby and particularly its breathing? I would so much rather have GA as I have a severe needle phobia.

How did you also find the blood thinning injections after surgery?

FullMoony · 07/11/2019 12:41

Valand123 with my first baby, after my midwife had referred me to the consultant, I literally wrote everything down, everything about my tokophobia, why I was scared, why I wanted a GA etc. I was scared I would freeze completely and wouldn't be able to speak.

I gave this to my consultant, who read it all at length. Immediately he just agreed to it all. I didn't have to fight, not for anything. He wrote all over my notes ELCS with GA and that was it. On the day of the op, the anaesthetist was a bit put out that I hadn't been referred to him for an appointment, told me that he'd rather me have the epidural, but ultimately accepted what had been agreed. The truth is, I was only allowed exactly what I wanted because of one particular consultant who understood me and used his position to actually help me. I wrote to him after I had my baby to tell him how grateful to him I was. I can tell you where this was if you PM me, post on here if you do as I'm on the app and can't see PM on here I don't think.

As for the blood thinning injections, I wasn't given these after DC1 (2012). I was given them in 2015 after DC2 and managed a few but didn't finish them all, pathetic but I couldn't handle the stinging or having to do it myself. Needles don't bother me but they really sting.

OP posts:
Valand123 · 07/11/2019 20:18

@FullMoony I will send you a message x

puppymouse · 07/11/2019 21:28

Good to read this thread. I had an ELCS with DD. Literally can't even get my head around how women give birth naturally. I started panicking about this at age 7 and used to bug my DM about it saying I just couldn't ever go through it. She told me I'd be fine nearer the time and to pipe down.

I was absolutely unequivocal with DH that if I fell pregnant I would only go through with it if I had an ELCS. Again he laughed this off and said millions of women go through it all the time, it's fine.

Luckily he started to see the effect this was having on me early on. And my midwife was totally supportive. With past sexual abuse as well she was positive it was the best option for me. I was referred to the consultant and for CBT. They assessed me for CBT and told me I wasn't a suitable candidate.

DH came with me for the consultant appointment and I'm so glad he did. I prepped my talking points beforehand but the consultant didn't listen to any of it and blithely handed me a leaflet on VBAC to read and sent me away. I was so horrified I had a panic attack just outside her office and had to be whisked away by one of the midwives as I couldn't breathe. I've never been so scared or felt more out of control.

The doctor seemed to visibly panic DH said when she came out to get her next patient and basically said she'd agree to a section on the spot. It still makes me Hmm now and how the fuck is it ok to induce physical fear symptoms in a pregnant woman who tried to explain to you that she couldn't manage to have a natural birth. Utterly ridiculous.

Anyway I had DD at the exact time she was booked in for, a room to ourselves and it was perfect. Recovery also fine. I couldn't be happier. Women must must have the choice to do what's right for them.

FullMoony · 07/11/2019 22:05

Puppymouse can I ask, how did you feel when you were pregnant? I really struggled, especially with my first. Even after the section was agreed I was terrified of going into early labour.

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