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For those who have had an elective c-section previously

25 replies

handlemecarefully · 17/11/2003 12:18

What was it like for you? How quickly did you recover and did the practical issues (like not being able to drive) really get you down? Did you get any post-op infection?

Would be grateful to hear about your experiences because my consultant has given me the option of a c-section (due to nightmare delivery last time and pyschological trauma).

I don't want anyone to try and talk me either in to our out of having an elective c-section..(I know all the risks etc) but I am interested in hearing of your c-section experiences good and bad , warts and all....and particularly interested in experiences of elective c-section since that is often a different kettle of fish to emergency c-sections.

Would be grateful for your comments. Thanks all

OP posts:
Spod · 17/11/2003 12:30

had elective 4 weeks ago.... it bloody hurts.... scar tissue and bruising takes aawhile to calm down.... after about a week it felt better than i hoped. I was out of hospital in 48 hours (thats unusual though) as I've had plenty of major surgery previously and was aware of what to do to recover... plus excellent help at home. takes over a week to be able to get up, shift positions, bend etc without pulliing on scar... even now it can pull... thats the scar tissue. take all pain releif offered, you'll need it. Try and be active afterwards... tak yourself to the loo the next day (slowly) erm.... what else... you'll feel sick from anaesthetic.... really tired... i had a spinal.... is a strange process of going numb etc but felt fine... perfectly awake. TBH i started to just get on and do normal thiongs.... after 2 weeks as I'm a firm believer that activity helps recovery... but be sensible. All in all.. its a major op... bt scary... but if you have a need for elective (my was spinal probs) then it isnt necessarily as bad as it seems.... i'm surprised how well I'm doing! hth

Norma · 17/11/2003 12:33

Hello, mine was 2 yrs ago and it was an inbetweeny c-section. Not an emergency, but not elective either. I had an epidural when nothing happened after my waters broke and then baby's heartbeat started to rise.
Actual operation was relatively quick and painless. Got taken into the racovery room for about 30 mins post operatively which is apparently quite normal. Feeling starts to come back gradually over the next few hours and the pain levels start to increase. Just be advised to take all the pain killers you are offered as they help a lot and don't do you any harm. You'll be encouraged to get up and showered with assistance asap and it will hurt, but it helps to really try to relax when you walk instead of instinctively tensing up to avoid the pain.
I was unlucky (here comes a wart), because I developed an infection which led to high fluctuating temps. 3-4 days post operatively. I needed lots of iv anti biotics which was quite unpleasant. It is not usual to get an infection, but it can and does happen, so pay lots of attention to personal hygiene when in hosp. and keep your slippers on at all times. My hosp. wasn't particularly clean and I ended up using my free baby wipes etc to clean my bed and locker.
Hope all goes fine for you. Enjoy the experience, it's not so bad as it is made out to be.To be honest, I was so busy with my baby that it was a relief to be able to say 'no, I can't pop to the shops, I can't drive or carry the shopping'. If you are on your own then order stuff via the net.
Take care xx

twiglett · 17/11/2003 12:34

message withdrawn

Spod · 17/11/2003 12:39

forgot to say that baby was bonny... 8lb 9oz... delivered at 39 weeks....scored 10 on apgar... so no guilt on my part that i couldnt do a 'normal' delivery... oh and if i am preggers again... another elective. theres a few good threads on hear about what its like to have a cs... i read them and they really help prepare me for what was gonna happen.... when are you due?

Dickers · 17/11/2003 12:39

I had an elective C section because DS was breech and refused to turn around (Interesting that he remains a subborn toddler!)
I arrived at the hospital at 8.00 and DS was born at 10.00. The whole preparation process was very relaxed, so I was relatively () relaxed! I didn't experience any discomfort during the operation and was surprised when DS popped out from behind the screen, as I hadn't felt any of the "washing up in my stomach" feelings. I don't really remember the whole being stitched up process, I think they gave me something!
My pain releif was well managed and I don't think I experienced any more post op discomfort than some of my bedfellows who had experienced a tear down there.
The worst bit was being told to take off my own dressing in the shower!
Once I got home, I recovered quite quickly, probably almost normal after 2 weeks.
I didn't drive for 6 weeks, due to my insurance company, but would have been able to drive at about 4 weeks.
14 months later my scar is almost invisable.
I recovered much more quickly than my other friends who had emergency c sections, I guess because I didn't have 20 hours labour first.
I'm no spring chicken at 37 and an averagely fit person.
Hope this helps

janh · 17/11/2003 13:05

Hi, hmc. I've had 4 electives and no labour (sounds like a result on Mastermind!) so can't compare the two.

Three were spinals (though were called epidurals then???) and one was a GA, didn't like that much, but then getting the last 2 spinals in was a bit iffy; but maybe I have a funny spine.

Getting up for the first time was always excruciating, after that it got easier, and remembering to support wound when sneezing/laughing/coughing became fairly automatic (if lying down, turning on side and pulling knees up works well).

I was lucky and had no infections, but I generally heal well which might be connected. My cousin's wife had a terrible infection with hers. I don't know if different hospitals have different rates of post-CS infection - you might be able to find out?

Not being able to drive wasn't an issue because shops etc are within walking distance and so was primary school for the older children. I think it might have been a nuisance otherwise - you'd have to organise alternatives for a few weeks.

Breastfeeding didn't go well with any of them, the last 2 were delivered at 38 weeks and 37 weeks and apparently elective-CS babies are often weak suckers - not really ready to be born and very sleepy. However I also had a poor milk supply, whatever I tried, it isn't hopeless for everybody.


aloha · 17/11/2003 13:11

Very similar experience with my elective. Have posted on it exhaustively on other c-section threads, including a detailed post on what the whole experience was like from arriving at hospital. The procedure is very, very quick and completely painless (major surgery is relative term - the op takes minutes so it's not like heart surgery!). I also had no sensation at all during the procedure. I never felt sick either though obviously some people do. I felt perfectly well and myself throughout. It was very calm and serene and agree that once the baby is in your (or your dp's) arms, the rest of the time with stitches and in recovery room just flies! I held my ds right away and put him to the breast but couldn't sit up enough immediately to get a really good look at him to gave him to dh so he could hold him and I could stroke him and count his fingers and toes etc - 20 mins or so later I was able to sit up and hold him normally. Your milk may take a couple of days longer to come in if you have your section early-ish. Mine was at 37 weeks and a couple of days, due to placenta probs, but ds was 8lb 8oz and very healthy and chubby with a huge placenta and massive cord (meaning he was being well nourished, which I felt absurdly proud of!). I stayed in five days. If I have another child I will have another section but aim to be home in 2, like my friend did with her second section. I was much happier and more comfy at home. Agree with others, take the painkillers. It was a bit sore afterwards, mostly the 2 days after. After two weeks I was fine. I drove after two weeks - there was certainly nothing at all on my insurance documents about c-sections and I suspect it's a bit of myth. My consultant and midwives never mentioned it either. Driving didn't hurt and I liked getting out and about. I had no infections but was lucky in that my work health insurance paid for it all so I had my own room in a private wing so less chance of catching something from the NHS filth (was in NHS ward and room for month or so prior to op so do know what I'm talking about!). I had no probs carrying or holding or breastfeeding ds once my milk arrived. You can do a search for other threads on cs which have lots of experiences on then.

zippy539 · 17/11/2003 13:23

I had an elective section with dd (4 months ago) because I had a horrific time with ds's birth (which ended in a crash section). I begged for an elective this time but as it turned out I would have got one anyway as I went a bit pre-eclampsic and dd had to be delivered early anyway.

The section itself was fine - though I definitely felt more pulling and pushing this time which made it a bit uncomfortable at times. I felt great afterwards but six hours later I had HUGE hemorrage (sp) and lost 3 litres of blood which meant a major transfusion and about three hours when I thought I was a gonner. It was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to be but to be fair it wasn't directly related to the section - my uterus failed to contract which could have happened with any other kind of birth. Unfortunately I also developed an infection a week after I was discharged and ended up being re-admitted for eight days which was horrible as I was too sick to have dd with me and because I was so full of iv drips I didn't want ds to visit so I felt completely miserable. Having said all that if I ever got pg again I would have a section - because of all my probs I've been promised someone very senior (which worried me a bit - I would have hoped that ALL the surgeons would know what they are doing..). There are lots of things to consider - I don't know if you can get hold of infection rates for the hospital you are using - several midwives told me later that there had been a spate of mysterious infections following sections at my hospital (which is BRAND new and supposed to be a flag-ship hospital!). I wouldn't wish what happened to me on my worst enemy, but dd was absolutely fine and I don't regret my decision. Good luck in making yours!

Grommit · 17/11/2003 13:37

Not sure if I should be reading this or not! I am booked for a c-sec next Thursday due to low placenta. Dd1 was a natural birth so I am very nervous at the thought of being cut open and possible complications such as bleeds and infections...

LucieB · 17/11/2003 13:50

I am 26 weeks and also have a low-lying placenta. Have to be rescanned at 34 weeks to see if its shifted. Is this what happened to you? I feel apprehensive like you as ds1 was a natural birth too although I have a few months left yet. Hope all goes well for you

Grommit · 17/11/2003 13:53

Lucie B - yes this is what has happened to me. Luckily I have had no bleeds or other side effects (touch wood!). Usually the placenta does move up as the womb grows - in 90% of all cases so hopefully you will be OK!

aloha · 17/11/2003 14:00

Grommit, I had the most severe form of placenta praevia - ie right over the os completely covering it, and I was totally fine. Apparently I did lose a reasonable amount of blood (!) but I didn't feel ill and didn't see any of it either. don't worry, I'm sure you will be fine.

Zerub · 17/11/2003 14:10

Haven't time to read whole thread so sorry if I'm repeating anything here. My experience of cs itself was great but the aftermath is not so good.

Had "elective" cs cos dd was coming feet first - went for a scan at 38 weeks "to confirm that its not breech" and got asked to stay in and have cs next morning - they didn't even want me to go home for my stuff - worried about cord prolapse.

Anyway - birth was very calm and peaceful, with dh holding my hand, classical music playing (take your own cd in!).. Also painfree (worst bit was the butcher nurse who tried to take a blood sample). Dh held dd while I was being stitched up, as I was falling asleep . BF'd in recovery room. Threw up in elevator on way to ward (me not dd). Drip and catheter removed that pm, was getting up in night and picking dd up. Very fast recovery (pain and movement-wise). Although there were other women on the ward who seemed to be having a v. hard time of it.

BUT - here are the BUTs:

  1. dd wasn't ready to be born. She was very tiny and didn't feed for ages (so we were in hospital for 7 days). I am convinced that another couple of weeks in the womb would have made a lot of difference to her eating and sleeping. Doctors like to schedule cs for 38 weeks or so but there is no reason why you can't wait until the first sign of labour and then dash into hospital and say "I'm here for my cs". Also having some contractions is better for the baby (something to do with breathing I think, and also your milk coming in???? have to look that up!)

  2. Cs is a major op and recovery is slow. I felt physically drained for about 3 months. Not pain, just exhaustion - much more so than friends who had vaginal births.

    Stop reading now if you've GOT to have a cs..

  3. I'm thinking now about the next baby and have been reading stats - and now I'm scared! If you've had a cs your chances of having things like ectopic pregnancy or placental problems are a lot higher. Also a cs is just a lot riskier than a v. birth (much higher risk of infection, hemorrhage, hysterectomy, dying... )
zippy539 · 17/11/2003 14:19

Grommit - I'm sorry, I didn't mean to alarm you (or anyone else about to have a section!). I only posted because handlemecarefully specifically asked for bad, as well as good, experiences. I really want to stress that what happened to me is VERY VERY rare. My first section was brilliant, even though it was an emergency - I recovered very quickly (I was 35), had no probs at all and it saved my sons life . Like I said in the post, I would do it all again tomorrow if I had to . Don't worry - just lie back and enjoy it !!!! (Aloha's post on the other thread is really worth checking out for loads of detail on what to expect).

Ailsa · 17/11/2003 14:29

My c-section was an inbetweeny, 11 weeks ago, it was put down on my records as an emergency, but I was given the choice at the time due to complications in a previous delivery (which I didn't know about until I was in labour this time!) Definately echo the advice given about taking ALL pain relief offered, I didn't to start with because I felt fine, but once the pain relief started to wear of I obviously wasn't and it takes a while to build the pain relief back up again. Went home after 4 days, dd1 and ds stayed at MIL's for a couple of weeks, came home at weekends and after school (she only lives at the end of the road). After 9 days took a very slow walk to school, with MIL, the journey took about 40mins instead of the usual 15. My community midwife told me to do as much or as little as I felt able to, that if I felt a dull ache in the area of the wound I'd done enough. I did get an infection which was cleared up by antibiotics prescribed by GP - I didn't have to go and see him, Midwife rang the surgery, explained and all I had to do was collect the prescription. 11 weeks on I am back to normal - clearing all the junk out of the cellar and chucking bin liners full of rubbish on the tip.

aloha · 17/11/2003 15:05

Zerub, the statistics do show increased risks of complications, but you have to remember that the increase is from a very, very low starting number (eg twice as likely to die sounds very high, but if the chances are one in a million, they rise to two in a million, iyswim).

fio2 · 17/11/2003 18:11

handlemecarefully I had an elective section with my second after a nightmare labour/delivery with my first (she was emergency section). I can honestly say, hand on heart - for me an elective section was SOOOOOOO much easier than the emergency one before. I was up and about the same day and oout of hospital within 2 days. I think it is also easier knowing what pain and releif available first hand iykwim. I had psychological reasons for my 2nd section down too!

Marina · 17/11/2003 22:58

handlemecarefully, you said you wanted all experiences of electives. Mine was that (although generally an elective is less risky for the baby) my term, 9lb, dd went into post-operative shock and ended up in Special Care for two days. At no point was she seriously ill, but she was quite distressed for about half an hour shortly after birth, and I was too ill to see her for all of that 48 hours, and that upsets me with hindsight. She is ABSOLUTELY FINE now.
Not much is written or said about babies who really don't like being born by c-section and react like she did. But it does happen, even in a well-managed elective.

On the plus side, it was my second elective and despite a monster stomach upset I recovered from it tremendously well. As Aloha says, lots of us have written extensively on our experiences of what helped us get better quickly, a quick search should uncover the previous threads...

Your consultant sounds caring and approachable. I would suggest finding out WHO will do the op and who will be on anaesthetics that day. I felt much more in control of my dreaded second section once I had some info on these individuals. Best of luck!

handlemecarefully · 18/11/2003 08:25


I hadn't heard of this sort of post op shock in babies born by c-section before...however my dd who was eventually born vaginally after ventouse, forceps and episiotomy (I delivered in labour theatre as they thought they may have to progress to section) has a sort of post labour shock - she suffered breathing difficulties and had a short spell in SCBU. There was no sign of infection and it was just the distress of labour....

Thanks all for sharing these experiences - good and bad. I will do exactly what some of you suggest and search for past threads on this subject to help with the decision making.

There are a few things that worry me clinically, but the biggest concern non clinically is post operative recovery and how quickly I will be able to drive, lift my toddler (who weighs 28lbs currently and will weight a bit more still by then - April 2004)etc. I live out in the country so I am dependent upon the car to go just about anywhere. Still - I guess my parents could stay with me for a while.....

Thanks again

OP posts:
aloha · 18/11/2003 08:33

If your parents can come and stay with you and you like the idea I think that could be a very good idea, however you have a baby. They can help you entertain your dd etc and get your shopping. However, I was in hospital for five days and don't remember being particularly restricted after that. I would say do things when you feel ready. As I said I drove as soon as I was organised to get out of the house with a baby - about a week after I got home. Good luck.

Grommit · 18/11/2003 09:32

Handlemecarefully - as I said earlier in the post my c-sec is next Thursday. My Mum is coming to stay for 4 weeks to help out, especially with dd1. I will let you know how I get on. I am not going to worry about the negative information given in some of these posts as vaginal births can have just as many problems - I personally had a nightmare birth with dd1 and it took me a long time to recover. Watch this space...

handlemecarefully · 18/11/2003 09:52


All the very best of luck for next Thursday - I hope it goes fantastically well. I'd love to hear about how you got on, when you find a moment to post after the arrival of new dd / ds

OP posts:
pupuce · 18/11/2003 10:12

I think that's the "thing" if you go for an elective BE prepared for the post op.... get support for driving and toddler! You will know when things happen so you can plan ahead.
Interestingly (and NOT scientifically) I have just finished working as a postnatal doula with 2 families, one AM and the other PM. The AM one had a vaginal birth (VBAC actually) and the PM one was an elective. They had their babies on 4 and 6 Oct. so very similar age (same sex). To me the difference in babies and mums was quite striking as the VBAC mum was in much better condition on day 7 when I turned up! The elective mum was very pleased with her section but could not drive (she had me insured on her car), she could not lift her toddler and was in some pain after she carried a pile of sheets in a laundry basket! She was given AB by GP as she thought she might be getting an infection.
The VBAC mum was "sore" for a week but nothing that meant she had to take painkillers - unlike the elective mum who was on them for at least 1 week.
As for babies, the elective mum thought her baby had been born too early (39 weeks) and I have to say it did appear like that to me too. He did have trouble sucking, extremly sleepy so fed little and lost a lot of weight (all OK now).... but it is added stress to be told that your baby is still loosing weight,... especially if you are not keen on giving a bottle.

Handlemecarefully - I presume you have been informed that 2nd labour are much easier.... especially if you have had a vaginal birth.... I wonder if mumsnetter could confirm.... let me start a thread !

bobsmum · 18/11/2003 14:12

Grommit - just saw your news! Will be thinking about you next week! All the best! If you need anything remember I'm just down the road

Grommit · 18/11/2003 14:38

Thanks Bobsmum!!! Hopefully we can meet up soon

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