The Reality of C-Sections

Prelude- 9/5/2008

In the seven months since I first wrote this, I have received a lot of comments from readers.  I have received even more private e-mails; the majority from women who just wanted to say thanks for sharing my experience with my C-section, and they too, had a similar experience.

Not all comments have been positive, and I didn’t expect them to be.  It seems the biggest “complaints” from the comments about this post, is that C-sections are not really like what I wrote about, and I am trying to scare women.  Since there are a lot of comments, and I am sure not everyone reads all the comments and my replies before leaving a comment of their own, I wanted to clarify my viewpoint about this post, hopefully BEFORE the post is read.

This is a realistic account of MY C-section. There are certain aspects to a C-section that EVERY woman will experience, such as scaring, and increased chances of uterine rupture with future pregnancies.  There are other aspects to this account which I experienced. These may or may not be experienced by every woman who has a C-section.  Just like no two vaginal births are the same, no two C-sections are the same.

I agree and support emergency C-sections 100%, and they do save lives.   However, as you will read, I believe that the medical community is over-using C-sections in non-medical emergency situations (such as breech births).  I feel I need to clarify this point as well, because when I originally wrote the post, my goal was to inform women who may be facing a planned or elective C-section (not an emergency one), and to offer my viewpoint from my perspective, on what a C-section is like, since my experience with my C-section was not a emergency C-section. 

I wrote this post to inform women who suspect there might be more to a C-section than what she is being told, like I was.  That is the spirit of the post-to inform.  Like the famous quote, “knowledge is power.”  The more you know, the more informed decision you can make.

To the readers who feel I am scaring women, I am sorry my account of my C-section is scary.  Honestly, it was pretty scary.  There are countless TV shows, websites, books, magazines, Hollywood celebrities, and doctors who will tell you C-sections are not scary, are not painful, and they are nothing to worry about.  That was not the reality I found at all.  I do not want to sugar coat, or tone down my experience.  If I were to do that, there wouldn’t be much point it writing about it.

So having said this, before you read the post, please be forewarned that this post could be scary.  I am attempting to share what a real C-section was like.  If that has the potential to scare you, then please think twice before reading it.  If you are searching for information on what happens during a C-section, possible complications that could arise, pictures of the procedure, the recovery period, possible impact on the family, and general information on C-sections, and how the medical community using them, and feel this information would not scare you, than this may be something you would be interested in reading.

If you have a comment after the post, please feel free to comment.  I read every comment, and try to respond when appropriate.  Please know I will delete any overly disrespectful comment.  You don’t have to agree with me, but please keep it civil.

Thank you.

Heather- A Mama’s Blog

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ORIGINAL POST

This post has been several months in the making.  I have been thinking about what I wanted to convey in writing a post about Cesarean sections, better known as C-sections, or even as a “C.” 

As I thought about it, there were so many different angles to take.  I thought about writing a very detailed researched post, but you can find a lot of those by doing a Google search on C-sections.  I decided in the end, I was going to write what comes naturally from my personal research and experience of having a C-section.

My intent for writing this post is to convey the reality, which is not often mentioned, of women, their new babies, and families, endure from C-sections.  It is not meant to judge or make any mother feel bad who has had a C-section.  I write a lot of the things that I wished I had known before hand about C-sections, which I was not told.  This post is only meant to inform, and bring to light, issues involved with C-sections, that as a woman, and a mother I seldom hear anyone (doctors included) talk about in our society. 

  •  My C-Section

I had a C-section with my first birth, with Ryan, only because he was a breech baby, and refused to turn.  I wasn’t very informed on other alternatives for turning breech babies at the time, other than the external version, and accepted having a C-section was the only way to give birth to my baby.

  • Lack of Options

Unfortunately, it pretty much WAS my only alternative.  I did not feel comfortable having a home birth being a first time mother, with a breech baby.  Not to mention, there were zero doctors in my area who would attend the birth of a breech baby.  This is despite living in a college area, with a number of top rated medical facilities.  So we agreed to the C-section, but really what choice did we have?

It has always bothered me more alternatives are not available for birthing breech babies. I did not want a C-section, but it was my only option.  Even a home birth isn’t always an option- in several states (mine included), it is actually against the law for a midwife to attend a breech birth!  This isn’t to say it isn’t done, but if you know ahead of time your baby is breech, this could be problematic in finding a midwife who is comfortable attending a breech birth, and possibly be in violation of the law, and thus be putting her certifications and her practice in jeopardy. 

Finding an OB these days, who will deliver a breech baby, is a joke at best- even though as I found out later, delivering breech babies vaginally is very safe, in the majority of situations.   In my opinion, this is a HUGE failure in the medical community to have only one option for a mother facing a breech birth- an automatic C-section. 

  • Major Surgery

C-sections are MAJOR abdominal surgery.  The pain is agonizing.  I never experienced greater pain in my life, than after my surgical C-section.  Even going through natural labor and contractions with a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) birth of my second child for eleven hours, the pain was not as bad as it had been with the C-section. 

The best way I can describe it is imagine your most painful, intense, contraction, and multiply it by at least 50 to 100%, depending on your pain tolerance.  Now, realize the pain does not go away, after 30 seconds or a minute like the pain during contractions does.  It is constant and never-ending.  That level of pain is with you for DAYS (not seconds or minutes).  Imagine your insides feeling like they are going to split open for several weeks, after the surgery, every time you laugh, cry, sneeze, get out of bed, stand up, or move too fast. 

  • Media Portrayal of C-Sections

It is also very disturbing to me how some avenues of the media, and celebrities portray C-sections.  I have seen on numerous TV shows- including a prime time, number one show, (named Grey’s Anatomy, to be specific), where women who refuse a C-section, because they desire to have a NORMAL, vaginal birth, are portrayed as fanatic, and ridiculous.  There is another show, The Baby Story, which shows many elective C-section births.

As a new mother-to-be, and even before I was pregnant, I watched The Baby Story.  In my case, seeing so many C-section births, almost made it seem like it was a normal, healthy, alternative to giving actual birth.  I NEVER saw the downside: pain, infections, and inability to get back to regular life after a C-section, shown on The Baby Story

It is almost glamorized by the media when a famous celebrity has a C-section.  “Too posh to push,” is how they sum it up.  Whether that is the case or not, it is misleading to millions of women, who are faced with the same decision.  What is NEVER mentioned is even if a celebrity chooses to have an elective C-section; she has resources available to her, which a normal woman does not.  The celebrity can hire nurses, nannies, chefs, and cleaning services to take over for her while she recovers from surgery, when an average woman cannot. The strain and time it takes to recover from a C-section puts the average family under enormous stress. 

Yet, the media continues to glorify and glamorize C-sections.  It even seems like they make a special point to say, “Actress A had her baby (or gave birth), born by Cesarean section.” I have yet to see, hear, or read, “Actress A had her baby, born by normal, vaginal birth.” 

I certainly never gave much thought to what really was involved with a C-section.  I honestly thought, since I had seen so many women on The Baby Story, give birth by C-section, and they seemed fine, and never mentioned any drawbacks, certainly I could handle it. 

  • What A C-Section Is Really Like

Naive?  Absolutely.  C-sections are NOT as they are portrayed on “reality” TV shows, prime time TV shows, or by the media when reporting a famous woman had a C-section.  Maybe if I hadn’t been bombarded by all these positive messages about C-sections, I would have thought twice about it.  Maybe if I had, had someone actually tell me what a C-section really was like, I could have prepared better.   Maybe if I could have found in a mainstream pregnancy book, the truth about C-sections, I would have known what I was getting into.  But I didn’t, and at the time, all the information I had, said C-sections were no big deal. 

C-sections ARE a big deal.  So big, your life will never be the same.  Here are some of the REAL outcomes from C-sections:

You may lose precious time with your newborn baby.  Time that you will NEVER get back, because you are doped up on strong narcotic pain medications for at least 24 hours- usually longer- after the birth.  Your baby might be groggy after birth in most cases, because the epidural and or spinal tap medication used to numb you, is in their system too. 

Instead of spending the first few moments after birth holding, nursing, and bonding, with your baby, your hands may be tied down.  Because of this, you probably won’t be able to hold your baby during this time, while you are being stitched back up. 

Your baby may be taken out the operating room from you, while your uterus and incision site are being stitched.  In my case, my hands were still restrained.  You will probably have to wait at least 30 minutes after the birth (usually longer), before you can really hold your baby for the first time.   

If you are lucky, your baby will want to breastfeed, even though he/she could still be groggy from the birth.  If not, then starting breastfeeding becomes a much bigger challenge. As any new mother will tell you, breastfeeding a brand new baby can be hard at first.  Now imagine trying to position your baby to nurse, but you can’t have your new baby’s feet, or body anywhere near your incision because you can’t risk having them push, or kick you in that area.  You can use a pillow to block the site, but it becomes another aspect to figure out. 

By having a C-section, your chances for hemorrhage, post-partum infection, internal injuries, post-partum depression, breastfeeding problems, reproductive problems, and maternal death, are increased than if you gave birth vaginally. 

By having an elective C-section your baby’s chances for neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), physician caused prematurity (since they can only guess, what the correct due date is), persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH), are cut by the surgeon’s scalpel two to six percent of the time, and are less likely to be breastfed, are increased than babies who are born vaginally. 

In most cases, you will have metal staples in your incision for several days after the surgery.  I thought my tummy looked liked Frankenstein’s forehead.  It was so awful I couldn’t even look at it. 

Your uterus will have permanent scar tissue, which is at a higher risk for rupture with future pregnancies. 

You will have an scar just above your pubic bone for the rest of your life.  Your stomach will more than likely hang over your scar, known as “belly flap,” for the rest of your life.  Your incision / scar area will probably be numb for several months, several years, or even for the rest of your life. 

Your birthing options with future pregnancies are SEVERELY limited, after you have a C-section.  There is a saying, “once a C-section, always a C-section.” VBAC is a very safe choice for the majority of women, but VBAC’sare discouraged and you will be lucky to find a doctor and a hospital that supports this choice.  In some states, it is against the law for midwives to attend VBAC births.  In all actuality, you will be pressured to have a repeat C-section with future pregnancies, even though with every subsequent C-section, the uterine rupture rate increases, especially during pregnancy as the uterus expands.  Usually another C-section is the only choice offered to you, even if that isn’t the best choice for you, and your baby.

You will probably have a longer recovery, after a C-section than if you had given birth vaginally.  You can’t drive for usually 10 days.  You are sore, and it can be a struggle to just get up and move, let alone walk, sit-up, sit, and lie down.  It is recommended that you don’t climb any stairs for two weeks-too bad if your house has stairs- it can be very painful, every time you have to go up or down your stairs.  You don’t dare laugh or cough for several days, because it just hurts too much.  You may only have a limited amount of pain medication, because most doctors want to “wean” you off the strong pain narcotics a few days after the C-section.  Keep in mind, this is all while you have a brand new baby to take care of as well. 

(Many of these facts in the above blue boxes can be found on Childbirth Connection’s page on C-sections.)  

  • Recovery Time and Complications

Being a new mother is one of the most challenging life experiences.  We rise to the task, but when you are trying to recover from a MAJOR surgery, YOU need to rest, and be taken care of.  That does not happen after a C-section, for the majority of women.  Maternal instincts take over, and we need to be with our babies.  We push our pain, and  discomforts to the background, in order to take care of our baby, and family.

This only adds to the recovery time, and often results in women “overdoing it,” which leads to ruptured scars, which leads to infected scars, which leads to another hospital stay, which leads back to square one, all over again.  It can be a vicious cycle.  

The general thought is it usually takes about 3 weeks, to recover from vaginal birth, and 6 weeks to recover from a C-section, IF everything goes well.

That was not true for me at all.  It took me about 12 weeks to feel almost 100% again- meaning I didn’t have pain that kept me from doing daily activities. That is 3 months!  If I were to count the time that it took for my scar to heal, and to not feel any pain whatsoever- I would say NEVER.  Even now, four years later, if I move at an odd angle, I will get a weird pain in my abdomen, that I never had before having a C-section.

After the VBAC birth I had with my second baby, I felt back to normal, after about a month.  Yes, there was pain, discomfort, and stitches involved with a vaginal birth, but it was SO, SO, SO much more manageable and less painful than a C-section.  Having given birth both by a C-section and vaginally, I would pick a vaginal birth every time- without hesitation.  As one of my friends who also had a C-section, and a vaginal birth said, “The worse vaginal birth, beats the best C-section anytime.”   No wonder we were made to give birth vaginally, not surgically!

  •  Risks Outweigh The Benefits

C-sections are a medical tool, and should only be performed when absolutely necessary.  C-sections DO have a place in obstetrics, and I have a friend who would have died, if she had not gotten an emergency C-section. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says anytime a country’s C-section rate rises above 15%, then the risks outweigh the benefits the surgery could provide.  In the US, the C-section rate is 30.2% of all births.  Just 100 years ago in the US, almost every baby born, was born at home!  What has happened?  Clearly, something is very wrong, and thousands of women are receiving unnecessary surgical C-sections, where the risks are outweighing the benefits.

  • The “Hidden” High Costs of C-Sections

Another aspect that is hardly ever mentioned is the financial aspect and costs to a family.  Obviously a C-section is more expensive than a vaginal birth. My C-section in 2004 cost 50% more than my vaginal hospital birth in 2006. That was with no complications- just a “by-the-book C-section”.  Even with insurance, a family pays substantially more for a C-section, and that is just for the procedure! Most women have to stay in the hospital for a minimum of three days after a C-section, compared to anywhere from  12-48 hours with a vaginal birth.  I had to stay for five days.  Not only do you get charged for your care, but you get charged for the care your baby gets too. 

If you factor in the extra long recovery time, the costs of hiring some household help, extra doctor and or hospital visits due to infection, pain medication, extra time the father may take off of work, to name a few- it is astounding how expensive a C-section is, and how fast it all adds up. 

For a woman who has to return to work, 6, 8, or 12 weeks after giving birth, she may not even be fully recovered from surgery, before she has to take on the demands from a job as well. 

  • Ignorance Is Not Bliss

I believe that every woman who is faced with the possibility of having a C-section (emergency situation aside) should be given ALL of the information on the surgical procedure including the emotional and financial aspects beforehand.  Ignorance is NOT bliss- it just keeps you from having to face the reality of this surgical procedure until you are in the thick of it, with nothing left to do, but see it and its consequences through.

During my recovery, I was in so much pain, and realized that I didn’t even know why, until my husband (who had watched the surgery) said, “If you had seen what they did, you would know why you are in pain.”

Then it hit me that I had no idea, what they even did during the C-section.  They never show that on The Baby Story either. I have decided to include several REAL pictures from actual C-sections that I found by doing Google and Yahoo searches.  Believe it or not, pictures like this were very hard to find. There just aren’t that many pictures of actual C-sections out there.  I spent a lot of time trying to find pictures with the goal of  showing  what really happens during a C-section. 

The pictures are graphic in nature- that is the reality of a C-section.  I have provided the link to the site where you can view the pictures as well.  There will be descriptions of what the picture is of. 

Since some will prefer not to look at the pictures, I will include my closing comments now, instead of at the end of the pictures. 

  • Conclusion

Despite what we are told in the media, C-sections are NOT glamorous, or posh.  If you choose to view the pictures below, you will see what it really is.   

The emotional and financial toll it can take on you and your family is massive.  Ironically, a lot of women choose C-sections, because they think it is a lot less painful than vaginal birth.  You will have no pain during the C-section itself, because you are numb from usually the chest down.  But, a surgical C-section birth is not a way to avoid pain during birth.  Ironically, in most cases, it will cause you substantial amounts of more pain in the long run.

The end result of a C-section is beautiful- a new, hopefully healthy baby and mother.  For me, that was my goal.  But I never realized beforehand, as I wrote, you lose a lot of time with your newborn when recovering from the surgery.  Time that you only get one chance at.  If you have to return to work, as you know, your time is not endless with your baby, and that time goes by in a blink of an eye. 

No mother I know, would willingly give up her precious time with her new baby, to attend to surgical dressings, be “out of it” due to pain medication, maybe miss out on breastfeeding, if they choose to do so, raise their risk of post-partum infection, and depression, and pain.  Yet, that is what happens to one degree or another, with EVERY C-section. 

If you prefer not to look at the pictures, I hope some of this post will help you, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, or anyone, who needed more information and truth on what is involved in a C-section. 

I know first hand that sometimes a C-section is your only option.  In these cases, I hope some of what I wrote may help in giving you more information on what to expect, so you can prepare better than I did. If you are considering a C-section that is not medically necessary, or you have other options, I hope if you have read this far, that maybe you are reconsidering having a c-section. 

While writingthis post, I decided to write another post in the near future with ideas for mothers who are preparing for a C-section.  I plan to include information on things she  can do to prepare for it before hand.  I also will include ideas and tips she can do post-partrum, to help with the healing process, pain, and the overall transition back to family life.   E-mail me  if you have any tips or suggestions, you would like to share.

Every woman deserves to know ALL of the facts, before facing a major surgery, especially one with the goal of bringing a new life into the world.  Doctors should take into account ALL the factors, pre-AND post-surgery, on how C-sections can affect their patients and their families.  The entire medical community (doctors, hospitals, etc.), should start offering vaginal breech baby birth options.  Finally, C-sections should stop being glamorized by the media as a healthy alternative to vaginal birth. It is very dishonest and misleading.

I sincerely hope by sharing my experience, and facts that usually aren’t disclosed about C-sections, it can help women who are facing  C-sections, to make an informed decision.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback. 

  • Additional Information

I urge anyone facing a C-section to read the article, “Cesearean Birth in a Culture of Fear.”  It is written by Wendy Ponte, and it appeared in the September/October 2007 issue of Mothering magazine, and is the best article I have read on the subject to date.    If you can get the actual magazine, there were some very good illustrations, showing the C-section procedure.  I tried to find these illustrations on-line, but was unsuccessful.  I was able to find something along the same lines, in a slide show presentation, with ten drawings from The New York Times, showing the C-section procedure. (These drawings are not graphic- they are what you would see in a newspaper.)

************************WARNING!!!!! ******************************** 

************DO NOT READ OR SCROLL ANY FARTHER IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO VIEW C-SECTION PICTURES- GRAPHIC IN NATURE************

Removing the staples from a C-section incision. 

 There is also a picture of a new C-section scar held together with staples, and more post-partum C-section scars, including verticle ones, in this gallery at About.com .

Mother 1: C-section scar 2 days after the surgery, 20 year-old mother

Mother 1: (The same mother as in picutre above), her C-section scar, 11 weeks after the surgery

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Mother 2: The C-section overhang (“belly flap”)- this is after the first c-section (third pregnancy), this 28-year old mother had, one year after the surgery

Picture from Terra, (a mother who read this post and sent me some of her C-section pictures) of her C-section incision

 

Picture 1 of Terra’s Infection at Incision Site

Picture 2 of Terra’s Infection at Incision Site

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Mother 2: (picture 2) Same mother as the above picture; side view

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Mother 3: Picture of scar, more than 3 years after C-section (it is the second line, towards the bottom-not the thin red line)

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Mother 4: Pictures of infected C-section scar, 3 to 4 months after the surgery, during this 38 year-old mother’s

fifth round of antibiotic treatments for the infection

Above pictures from http://www.caesarean.org.uk/ScarPictures.html#group1. There are several more pictures of C-section scars at this site, in various stages of healing.

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My scar- 4 years after C-section.

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Another picture of my scar.  On the right end of the scar, you can see how it looks indented.  A few of my staples became loose, while I was in the hospital, so the skin there was open, while healing.  It left a lot larger scar on that end of the incision, and tends to “cave in.”  I doubt this will ever go away.  The marks higher up on my stomach, are the marks from my pants.   :-) 

(All of these photos, the ones of myself included, are unedited.  They have been reduced in size, however so they could fit on the site. )

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Comments

  1. Hi.
    I read your post, and I really wondered by some of the practice in your country.
    I am from Norway, an many of the thongs you mention is very alien an totaly absurd from my point of view.

    I have allways wondered about this, about how it seems that “everybody” in the USA (read: celebrities) are ahving C-sections.
    In all movies and tv-series I have wathched, it allways seem like it i a normal thing to have planned the day og birth by C-section, like there is NO alternative, at all.. Like give birth vaginaly is totaly unormal an reaaly nothing a nraml woman should attempt under any cicumstances.

    When I red what you wrote here, I se that C-section is really a thing. I don’t know if it is like this today, snoce this post is 6years old, but it still pretty weired to me.

    I have 3 children, all of them born normal, an by normal I mine a vaginal birth.
    I have also worked in a big hospital in Norway, with woman giving birth, nomal birthes and I have atended several C-sections as well.

    I know for a fact that in Norway doctors seldom recomand a C-section, you can nearly never wish or ask for a C-section, You can be granted a C-section, if you have severe fear for childbirth (like HUGE, can’t sleep, stops eating, cries all the time, panickes an so on..) or you are traumatized from previouse chidbirth (not everybody in this category gets a C-section..), if you have a rear condition that makes it difficult to have a vaginal birth, og a medical condition where you shouldn’t give birth, or MAYBE if you have a breec-child…

    And by maybe I mean that they will of couce allways try to turn the baby first, always, you ca not have C-section if they have not tried to turn the baby and it failed.

    And what I think is really strange is what you mention about the doctors that don’t want to attend a breech-birth, here that is no opption, the doctors attend and the midwives assists the doctor. The midwife is not allowed to be alone, all the midwives has learned how too deliver a breecbaby if it should be nececery.

    If you carry a breech-baby, the midwife (whom you will forstly talk to thru your prengnacy) and later on the doctor, will in most cases allways recoment a vaginal birth, even with a breech-baby, since it is, in most cases the best thing for both bother and chld.
    The pregnant woman will get all the infomation she needs about what to expect wth a C-section or a vaginal birth. She will be told pretty bluntly that vaginal birth is the best for them both, and she will be told bout the danger with both.
    And it is allways more risky with a C-section because of the danger of infection.
    I think you get all the information, and they will as I sad, in most cases tell the mother to be, that c-section is not easy, pain free and absolutly not with out danger.

    One thing I winder about is, don’t give birth in hosptals? Since you wrote about homebirth the way you did.
    Here just like maybe % gives birth at home, an seldom woman who have not given birth before.

  2. I had an emergency c-section after trying to have an all natural birth. I’m so sorry to hear that your experience was so terrible. Your story makes me grateful for my doctors bc I know other women who have been sore for weeks (one visited me one week after my c-section and couldn’t believe I was sitting cross legged and pain free on my deck). I had stitches instead of staples, and felt great the next day. Days 2-4 I was sore and I did take 4 oxycodone over those days, but that was it. The place I went has a high rate of c-sections, but I think that was in my favor bc they are so well versed that they have perfected them. If you have to have a c-section I think maybe finding a practice with a high rate might help…. It’s not ideal, but if it’s necessary then the experienced doctors might be better… Practice makes perfect. Once again, so sorry for your story but thank you for sharing!

  3. I had three vaginal health deliveries before, then in 2008 I had my first C-section delivery, the baby was over 10lbs and was breeched. I got pregnant again after 6years and I’m having my fifty baby in few days according to the Ultrasound my due date is 6/21/14, but the hospital is forcing me to have repeated C-section again although my baby and I are both very healthy. just last week I gave up and decided to have planned C-section on 6/17/14 just 4days before my original due date. my first C-section was 2008 and I had my first son, after section my son refused to be breast feed, in few short months after birth he developed a breathing issues till this day anytime he gets a common cold he suffers from breathing issues. when he was just 18months he was diagnosed with Absent Dr with the short time that was given to me. I honestly thought they were doing this to me and women of different countries especially those from Somalia because of language barriers and the inabilities to advocate on our behalf. But reading your page had assured me today that this isn’t something just confined or unique to minorities for that I thanked you so much. Again I thanked you so much for posting both your personally story and facts about non-medical C-sections alone with the pictures.
    Thank you!

  4. Keya Chowdhury says:

    I wish I had read this before my delivery. I ended up having a C-section due to complications with induction. Our decision to move forward with the C-section up being the right one because it turned out the cord was wrapped around my baby’s neck twice causing his heart rate to drop in response to contractions. I wish I had known what to expect post C-section as well because no one, not even the doctors, inform you of the various struggles you covered in your account. Mine was very similar. It would have been good to know to expect.

  5. Maggie g says:

    Thanks for sharing h was 20 when gave birth to my son I was in labor for 36 hrs and they told me I had to have an emergency c section cuz my baby was looking up not down I now wish I read this before I believe they told me this just so they won’t struggle no more I would have gone for more I wanted a natural birth so bad it brings me to tears still thinking about cuz I can’t remember the fisrt two days I was in to much pain medicine.. And two yrs later my scar tissue heeled outside of me instead of inside I still have stabing pain in my scar now it’s still bright pink and my doctor said he has to go back in there to fix it but I’m not doing it i wish I had seen this post before I had my baby thank you for sharing!!

  6. Megan uk says:

    I’m from the uk and it is getting very similar to the us with the view on csections.
    In 2006 I had a 40hr labour and was pushing when I was told they needed to take me to theatre to assist my giving birth. Within an hour of this I had ended up with an emergency section. All because I had laboured too long and I had got a temp from the drugs. It was the most terrifying, lonely & painful time of my life! And because I was not prepared in anyway the most shocking!
    This still makes me sad 7 1/2 years later that these emotions out weighed the feelings of love and joy for my baby.
    The pain is as you said the worse pain of your life and when you stand up that first time you want to die it’s that excruciating. But the doctors don’t tell you that, they say you will feel discomfort, what a joke!
    I wish someone had told me so I could have been more mentally prepared.
    I think your post is honest and brave.
    I was traumatised by my whole experience as my baby was in an incubator for three days having unnecessary blood test and lumber puncture .
    9 months later still not sleeping due to depression, I met with a head midwife from the hospital who went through my notes with me. She admitted the doctors where at fault and I could of given birth naturally if left longer.
    With my second daughter I was trying to have a VBAC birth but at 36weeks they discovered she was breech and no doc would turn her incase my scar ruptured. So it was a planed section. I was distraught, and so worked up about the pain of standing up after that when it came to it, I fainted walking to the toilet and was caught by a midwife .
    I love both my girls dearly and equally. But I resent that the first moments with my eldest where tarnished because of unnecessary surgery.
    Thank you for posting your experience it helps to hear your not alone in how you feel.

  7. I am so sorry you had such a rough time post c section. I have had 3 boys. First vaginally with a full episiotomy. That pain was horrible. Second an emergency c due to his head being larger than my birth canal and would not physically fit. Third a planned c due to him being a larger baby as well. First was 6.13 second 9.6 third 8.3 with all of that being said, y’all posted your babies being sick after a c. My only vaginal birth my son died 6 weeks later due to sids. And my other two boys are as healthy as can be. My second son is so smart and active. My third is only 12 weeks today. My recovery between the three were different, I would say the episotomy was way worse than either of my c sections. My emergency one I was sore for the first two weeks pretty bad but after that I was fine. My planned c was great. I didn’t like being awake during the operation as I was sedated during the emergency one. But the recovery was fine. First 2 days were tough after that not really. I had dissolving stitches and my cut is very small to me. Now I do have the belly flap that I didn’t with my first. I had no problems with the healing nor after. No two women are the same, no two doctors are the same therefore no two recoveries are the same. But just because one person has a bad experience don’t mean the next one will.

  8. anna dingley says:

    Hello,

    I had a section with twins eight and a half years ago – my scar still becomes inflamed, gunky, smelly and irritated at the drop of the hat due to the disproportionate amount of overhang which prevents the scar getting air (I am not overweight). Clothes rub on the scar or fall down and ‘sit’ on this creating further aggravation. I would be happy to share pics with you.

  9. sarah harding says:

    hello

    I had an emergency c section in March this year due to my baby being distressed and stuck and also because my induction had not worked I was hoping for a normal birth they said my daughter had her leg in an awkward position and her heart rate was dropping they never explained the procedure to me or what to expect afterwards ,after delivery of my daughter they did let me see her and placed her on my chest I had to get my partner to help support her as I could not feel my arms and had the shakes really badly next thing I knew partner and baby were took to recovery room ad I had a bad bleed even the lovely trainee male midwife passed out while being worked on I had really bad pain on left side and when I told the doc beside me he told surgeons who said I shouldn’t. Feel anything which I could after being stitched up I was finally allowed into recovery where I had thirty minutes in room before being moved back on delivery ward after an hour and a first long awaited hot drink the midwifes started bed bathing ne they came to clean me up down below where they noticed I was having another heavy bleed and passing big clots they got surgeons back in who literally scooped me out (sorry tmi) after a bit bleeding stopped they left me on a drip for pain meds overnight they had not explained that I would not feel my legs which was awkward and the pains were horrendous at first all they gave ne for pain relief was paracetamol and ibuprofen in the end I had to ask for something stronger.
    Once I got feeling back in legs they told me I could walk around which I did only to find I had another heavy bleed with clots my clothes were saturated as was my wound dressing midwife came into bathroom to help clean me up but never replaced dressing I sat for two days with nothing on wound until I was discharged they checked site daily and said there was a hematoma and it would go away I finally sentence home on the Wednesday and on the Thursday had excruciating pain that had me doubled over I had bled heavier and passed a fist sized grey clot midwife said it looked like left over placenta she checked wound said it was healing apart from one little bit she covers it over andsaid she would be out two days later .
    I was sat overnight in bad pain and wondering what a nasty smell was I felt dressing and it was saturated I called midwife and she came out and said I was infected she cleaned it and got me antibiotics this did not clear infection and the lump that hospital said was a clot had got bigger and spread across full wound she said it was hard and should go down a week later another midwife came out and checked scar the infection had spread a few stitches had come out and she referred to a community nurse who come out every fay until I was able to get over to docs surgery she had said lump was getting bigger I had infection for nearly three months before a swab was took and results came back there was a bug that was immune to antibiotics I was first prescribed it finally healed my scar was not straight doc said it looked like a botched job u still have the lump you can feel and just see it, it feels like a jagged edge and still a bit painful this is now August. They have told me if I fall pregnant again I can have a natural delivery but I am scared incase I have to have another c section and to go through it all again especially when I could not hold my daughter properly for the first three months of her life due to infection and pain and only wanting to sleep

  10. I’m from switzerland and I had a c-section last february. I wanted to have a vaginal birth. We tried everything but nothing happened :( then they decided to make a c-section because he was very heavy and tall and I didn’t have any amniotic fluid left. As they took him out they said that his head wasn’t in the right direction, his arms and legs already were blue and he has pooped in my belly. So I guess it was the right decision but for me it was horrible :( the first two days they gave me morphine because my bowel didn’t work right and that was very painful. Well, I’m happy that everything turned out good and we’re both healthy :) but I still have this feeling I failed. Whatever…what I don’t understand is why you all couldn’t have your baby with you after the section. I had my son lying on my breast the whole time <3

  11. I am having a baby with a big guy and if my stomach looks like that I would NOT want to live! I am so scared now!!! His mom said he was 9 f’n pounds! I am a model and it would ruin my life!!!

  12. Anyone upset by this account is being ridiculous. A Cesarean is a major surgery and is by no means a walk in the park, although many people like to portray it as one. Women need stories such as these in order to make informed decisions regarding their health. Be grateful that their are women, such as Heather, who aren’t afraid of brutal honesty.

  13. A Mama's Blog says:

    Thank you all for the comments- I don’t moderate this like I used to, but I haven’t closed comments because I think it’s important women can discuss and share their experiences here. <3

    Heather

  14. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.

  15. christine says:

    I have four children. All from c-section. The first one was an emergency. I didn’t have any complications. I was able to move from the operating table to the recovery bed on my own. I went grocery shopping when I got home from the hospital. The women in my family told me I wasn’t a real woman because I hadn’t pushed out a baby. I couldn’t. It wasn’t an option. I didn’t have a an epidural with the second one. I starting feeling pain while in surgery. I had some terrible nurses and some wonderful nurses. Great hospitals and one that had me in tears. This also contributed to my healing. Everyone heals and handles things differently. Whatever your choice or situation is, it is yours. You have the right to be informed. Everyone who is pregnant knows that they will eventually deliver a baby. We have tons of information available to us. If we can spend hours finding the right name we can spend the time to be informed on how we bring our child into the world. Just because you want a natural birth or a home birth or whatever it is you desire doesn’t mean we shouldnt prepare for emergencies. I think above all, respect what others have gone through. We don’t know all the details and we don’t want others to judge us.

  16. Hi Heather, I read your article on c-section and myself had similar experience when i had my c-section back in 2011, it was my first pregnancy. In my own case, i didn’t fall into labour even at 40weeks plus, ultrasound showed my son’s head wasn’t engaged into my pelvis, therefore i could be pregnant forever, besides that ultrasound also showed unstable lie as for the baby’s position in my uterus. So therefore inducing me to trigger labour will be too dangerous. The only option for me was c-section. It was 3days of agonizing pain, then subsequently it subcided. I felt my cesarean like shit! It gave me protruding tummy, slacked tummy wall, it took chunks of my energy as I don’t feel as energetic like i used to. Even though it was the only way-out for me. I’m 6weeks pregnant now and my tummy look as if am 16weeks gone! This makes me afraid as i always wonder what the tummy will look like in 7months time,then the chances of me having virginal birth this time. I’m very afraid as i don’t know if my body can still GO through that again. Regards to your boys dear.

  17. Lucinda Rodriguez says:

    Hi,

    On October 27, 2014 I had my third C-section. I would’ve loved to had my baby girl naturally. But unfortunately since it was my third child, and The 2 prior children were C-sections, I had to have this one a C-section as well, as I was told by my doctor due to risks involved for having to prior C-sections. It is now one week and three days after my C-section, and I am experiencing an infection. The day of my C-section I was throwing up due to medication that was given to me during the procedure. I felt my incision open and I told the nurse about it. She said that it can feel like it opened but it wouldn’t open. The incision was glued. This is the first time that I am experiencing the dermablend. The next day when I took off my bandage I noticed that on the left side of the bandage was full of blood. I then told the nurse that day again that I feel like it opened and that the bandage was full of blood on the left side. She took a look at the incision and said that it was perfect in that it did not open. The day that I was leaving from the hospital the doctor and the nurse took a look at it again because I was feeling like it opened, well they said it was healing beautifully. Here I am 1 week and 3 days later with an opened incision, 1 inch opened on each side and infected on 1 side. I went to the hospital last night to have it checked out and since I didn’t have a fever I was released and was told to keep taking my antibiotics that I was given when discharged from the hospital when I had my baby, I was also told to go to my ob the next day to have it checked out. Well I went to the doctor today and was put some solution on it and she put the strips to close it back up. I’m a little worried because the doctor that was on call yesterday had mentioned to air it out and that he was not going to close it because it was infected and it need to be healed before anyone could close it. I’ll keep y’all posted on this. Hopefully everything turns out ok. My mother keeps telling me that i should take care of myself the first 40 days after delivery because it’s like having one foot here and one foot in the grave. I am really scared. That is why doctors don’t want you to have a fever after labor within the 8 weeks because it could be fatal. Well like I said I will keep y’all posted.

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  19. This is totally awesome.Although variety of article on this topic,this article contains some of the precious points which can never be read in other articles.

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  21. I had an “emergency” c section 20 yrs ago. The emergency was that my OB was ovulating and needed to get home to get pregnant. Several nurses on the floor told me this post op. I was induced due to sciatica (never suggested that I see a neurosurgeon til after, when he said why didn’t you come to me when you pregnant? I could have fixed it!,). However the pitocin was never hooked up to the IV. At noon she decided to break my water, telling me it would get things going. At 4:00 she said she might need to do a c section because I wasn’t going fast enough (pitocin was started at 3). At 5 she took my husband into the hall and told him my blood pressure was too high and she needed to do the c section. Because he knew I was against it he said no. But when he went to go get some dinner she told me the baby’s heart rate was dropping and not coming back up and it was an absolute emergency to do it immediately.
    That my baby would die if it wasn’t done now. I scribbled on the consent and they took me away before I could ever see my husband. Tried an epidural which didn’t work and I was put under with general anesthesia. After 21 yrs I finally got the courage to read my medical chart at the hospital. Reason for section? FAILURE TO PROGRESS! Not one word about high blood pressure or fetal distress. I lost so much with that experience. I did not give birth. My child was surgically removed from my body. I was alone, afraid, Nd devastated. Not one word was said about a birth. Just that I didn’t go fast enough for her. This was my 3rd baby. Both of the others were bigger and I had such beautiful completely unmediated births. With the first I stayed for about 24 hrs after and the second was born at 3 am and we left after the pediatrician checked her out at 7:30 am. Best day of my life.

    If you Are considering a c section, or if your dr suggests one and you are not 100 0/0 sure it is absolutely neccessary please think of all you will lose. I have lived a never ending nightmare because of this woman’s selfishness. 21 yrs and counting.

  22. I had an elective c-section.

    My baby needed to come out early. His head was measuring too big for his body. Although, after arrival we found him to be perfectly healthy, and he’s always had a large head. Anyway, 1 week prior I was given a choice…induction or c-section. I choose c-section. Although, my vaginal canal is narrow and talk of c-section had been happening my whole pregnancy.

    So mine was scheduled. And it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as your story. The worst part was the urinary catheter. It was so painful, randomly because for othe ppl they aren’t, and I couldn’t wait for the epideral. My hands weren’t tied. My husband was at my side the whole time. Then the baby came. I was able to give him a kiss before they cleaned him and weighted him. I watched all this happen as they sewed me up. Then baby and daddy went to the nursery while I went to the recovery room. My parents took turns sitting with me. At this point I was in no pain. Later, I was reunited with baby. And I breastfeed. I struggled a little but a lactation specialist was there to help.

    So for 3 days I was in the hospital. The nurses were wonderful and helped me do everything. Pain was minimal. I did have some airbubbles pushing on my diaphram which manfests as pain in your shoulders. You’d have to ask for more painkillers when you needed them. I wasn’t superman…I asked for the painkillers. Right before leaving my stiches were taken out (not staples)…that hurt some but not much.

    All and all the worst part of my experience as a whole was the fear before it happened. I remember shaking so bad before the epideral. I expected the worst. When it wasn’t nearly as bad as my brain made it out to be.

    The first weeks at home were stressful because I had a new baby with horrible juandice. Not because of the way he was delivered. My scar looks the same today (3 years later) as it did 6 months after the operation. It’s pink, raised, and reminds me of a worm. When I touch it, it is still numb. My belly doesn’t hang over the scar. I can still wear a bikini.

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