Question from a reader about cesareans (Ashley)

I’m 19 years old and i have and 18 month old daughter named Adrienne. Within the year, me and my husband will probably try to have another baby. I had a difficult birth with Adrienne. She was 9lbs and 5oz. I gave birth vaginally and i tore…bad. I starting losing a lot of blood. I passed out and woke up about 6 hours later. I did wake up before that, but never longer than 2 minutes. When i had finally woken up and didn’t pass back out, i noticed there was an IV in my other arm. I was having a blood transfusion. I had 4 total bags put into my body.

At Adrienne’s 6 month doctors appointment, I asked my doctor about the next time i give birth and if a c-section would be possible. (I had wanted one with Adrienne, but they told me it would only happen in case of an emergency.) I was told that with my next child, i would have a c-section. Now that me and husband are in talks of when we will start trying, i’m getting scared. I’ve been on your site many times. i’ve seen the women who have posted the incisions of their own c-sections. I won’t be able to have another child vaginally.

I would like women to send me stories of their c-sections to kind of calm me down and make me realize that i shouldn’t be as scared as i am. the part that scares me the most is recovery. my body still isn’t fully recovered from having my daughter. i still have pain when it comes to sex and using tampons.

29 thoughts on “Question from a reader about cesareans (Ashley)

  • Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Let me first say, I mean this comment kindly. I have not walked in your exact shoes, I can not know your exact experience.

    I had my first child at just turned 20. She was 9lb 8oz and I am just a slim-average build kinda girl. It took the doctor an hour or more to stitch me up. I also required blood transfusions, though only 2 units.

    3 years later I had my second child – a mere 8lb 1oz, and only a tiny bit of tearing. One contributing factor was not having an epidural for the pushing stage, which meant I could control my pushing much better. You can also reduce the risk of tearing by perineal massage, labouring in different positions, and waterbirthing.

    I don’t know why your doctor said you would “need” a C-section, but I would urge you to seek a second opinion when you have a second child. Caesarean section is major surgery and carries extra risks to you and the baby.

    I am so, so sorry that your birth experience was traumatic, but that does not mean another birth would necessarily go the same way.

    Congratulations on motherhood, I hope it is treating you well despite the difficult start :)


  • Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Please don’t worry. First of all, at 19 years old, you have age on your side! I just delivered a baby 7 months ago by C-section and I am 41 years old. Like you, I was very scared, but pleasently surprised at the recovery process. The nurses made me get up out of bed the next day to start walking and I won’t lie, it really hurt. But…each time you get up to walk, it gets easier and easier. After the bad experience you had delivering naturally, I’m sure you will find the recovery from a c-section less painful! Good luck!

  • Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    I had a C-section at 33 weeks with my twins at age 24. The actual procedure itself was not a big deal at all. I felt a little nauseus from the anesthesia (which was over after a few minutes) and all I felt otherwise was pulling and tugging. It wasn’t really painful at all, and I had two babies to come out. I had no problems with recovery and no problems with my incision, which you can barely even see now. I took some pain medications, but you will be so busy focusing on taking care of a baby and another child that you won’t have time to think of the minimal pain from the c-section. Also, I am having my third child by scheduled c-section on the 29th of this month and I can post again how this experience differs or compares! Good luck in the babymaking!!!

  • Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Ashley- I would like to say that i had a c-section with my Daughter who had turned complete posterior and had her head flexed in an awkward position during my Labour so had an emergency c section after 11 hours, It was the greatest relieve i have ever had. I wished i had given birth Vaginally as i believe that is the only way humanity has ever survived. But unfortunately in todays medical system its not always possible that doctors have faith in what our bodies are designed for. My recovery after was good. Your recovery will all depend on your level of fitness before the Surgery although the day after it feels as though you cant stand up straight- you spend the day hunched over but within a week of my c section i was out walking shopping and successfully breast feeding my daughter. Its all about getting lots of rest and help from your partner and family. Although its not easy, and you will have pain like a vaginal delivery but it will be harder to get comfortable because of the site of the incision. although now 5 months later i feel as though i never had a baby.

  • Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Well I didnt have a C section, but i have had a couple friends who have, and its no big thing now adays, You can barely see the scar, and by the sounds of it, it might be safer to have a C section seeing as what happened last time. If your worried though, maybe wait awhile through your pregnancy, and see if your gaining alot of weight (to see if the baby will be as big this time) if you have ripped the first time, its almost 100% sure that you will rip the 2nd time, due to scar tissue, so there is a good chance it will happen again. Just a few things to think about

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 4:36 am

    With 3 vaginal births that produced 3 large babies and fractured my coccyx 3 times (and herniated 2 discs the 3rd time,) I was pleasantly surprised with the results of a c-section. I could sit, stand and even walk up and down the stairs after my 4th, which was an emergency c-sec and severely premature baby. He’s fine now, but always something to deal with ;)

    I healed quickly (at 39 YO) and my scar is minimal, though it does interrupt my linea negra, which I find an interesting quirk! I like showing it off to my mom-friends who are curious.

    Your hemorrhage/transfusion history is worrisome. Pls find a knowledgeable endocrinologist (the hard part) and get checked out for pituitary infarction.

    Good luck!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 4:47 am

    I don’t have any stories of a C, but I just wanted to say that if you want to prevent tearing there are things you can do to prepare if you wanted to look into it. Also with the second one the way is paved so to speak.
    (It sounded like you wanted the C and the Dr ok-ed it which is the only reason I mention it.)

    Best wishes in whatever you decide! A healthy mom and baby is what is important in the end.

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Heya Ashley, I had a cesarean with my son who’s now 17 months old. He’s my only child and I had to have a cesarean for emergency reasons. I wont lie and tell you it’s not sore in recovery however, the pain does go away quicker than you think. I was bed ridden for two days and on the third day I left hospital with my son. Yes I was still sore but I was away shopping that very day and cleaning my house. I know every woman is different but believe me it wont last long. The incision will take time to heal and has to be looked after very carefully! Honestly, dont stress yourself out about it because it’s actually not as daunting as it first seems. When I found out I needed one I went into shock and my whole body wouldnt stop shaking but when I was in theatre I didnt even know they had started! It’s more the thought that terrifies people but once you have your baby, you’ll be too happy to care. I’m also a young mum. I was 20 when I had my son so it is a lot to take on (for any woman). Dont be scared, you have nothing to be scared of. If you went through what you did with you’re first child you can definately have a cesarean and y’know what? I’m planning my next child and I’m chosing another cesarean. And I cant wait! So it cant be that bad huh? :)

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 7:04 am

    I want to tell you my story of my C-Section and its not pretty. You will run the risk of having a blood transfusion no matter which way you go! I never had one and still had an Emergency C-section only because my induction failed. I went to the hospital two days before I was due and was induced. I got all the way to 9 1/2 CM and the Doctor said we are going to do a C-section. So in 15 minutes I was in the Or and in about 14 more mins my son was born. It took another 45 minutes for them to sew me back shut and everything before I could see my husband or any family. I was given countless numbers of drugs to keep the pain away after surgery and then, the next morning I was weighed very early to see how much fluid I had gained. It was quiet a lot! I was forced to take Pain Medicine even though I didn’t want it. I finally got to where I told nurses off even though I was in so much pain from being cut open. I was even trying to breastfeed and still managed to do it. I went in on a Wednesday night. Joshua was born Thursday night and we didn’t go home until Sunday at noon. I wanted to go home Saturday, but they said I needed to wait. I had to take care of Joshua by myself because my husband wouldn’t and I had Bad PPD because it. I didn’t get any help either. My son was pretty big too. So I kinda know what you are going through. I would have given anything to have had a vaginal delivery. Hopefully next time I can, but also being very young they sometimes won’t let you have a C-Section because of all the scarring it leaves behind. Email me sometime and I can tell you more about what you may go through .
    Jennifer Williamson

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Hi Ashley,
    I had a c-section 10 months ago. In terms of recovery, alot depends on the individual. My dr told me to take three months before doing anything physical (so getting back into shape through excercise would have to wait). My scar healed pretty quickly and isn’t that noticeable.

    I had an emergency c-section so I didn’t have any time to prepare myself mentally and physically. To be honest, I was much more scared of the actual surgery than the recovery.

    It took me awhile to realize that I had undergone major surgery and that I really had to take it easy, even just in terms of the little things such as housekeeping and errands. Looking back, the first couple days in the hospital were the worst, but I only had to take pain killers for about 10 days. That’s probably a good indication of how manageable the pain was.

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Elective C-section is a big deal right now – it is part of the debate as to why our country’s C-section rate is so high. Knowledge is your best weapon. Not personal opinions, or horror stories – knowledge.

    KNOW that every labor and delivery is different because you are carrying a different baby. KNOW what contributed to making your last labor the way it was – were you extremely tired? What positions did you push in? How fast did you baby descend? Were you dehydrated? Were you scared, nervous, anxious? What medications had you been given? How supportive was your environment, etc?

    A C-section is a major abdominal surgery. The risk of maternal death is 4 times higher than that of a vaginal birth. I did a post on this a while back:
    It includes links with hard facts – statistics, not opinions. Toward the bottom, there is a link for a page all about C-sections – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    One of the things I would suggest is healing from your past birth experience. A traumatic birth can drastically alter how you perceive subsequent birth experiences. Look at your daughter’s birth from all angles – again, why did things happen the way they did? What good came out of it? What bad came out of it? What would you have changed? What would you have done the same? You may be able to find a doula who will work with you free of charge to help you process your birth and come to a point where you can view it in a positive light. Even the more traumatic births can yield wonderful results.

    Good luck in your future pregnancy(ies). I wish you a much better, more fulfilling birth the next time around!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I currently have a 10 month old son, and I had him via c-section. I would’ve preferred to have him vaginally, but he was breech the whole pregnancy even after they tried to turn him. So, I was pretty freaked out going into the o.r. but the nurses were great in helping me calm down. The only bad part about it was when they gave me a spinal, that was VERY uncomfortable. After that I didn’t feel any pain, I was just anxious to see my baby. Once he was out I could care less that my stomach was cut open and all that stuff. My recovery was pretty easy too, I was sore but I didn’t take any of the pain meds because I was so determined to breast feed, (and I did successfully for 9 months!). Over all it was not a bad experience. I think it all depends on your doctor and the nurses that take care of you. Good luck with the second one!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I had 2 c-sections and the second was worst than the first. I am not sure what to say to calm you down, because it is major surgery. There are pros and cons to vaginally and c-section births.

    I would advise you talk to your doctor. Ask exactly what will happen and how the procedure will go. I never even stayed in the hospital before I had my daughter and the thought of surgery scared me to death. It wasn’t as bad as I thougt.

    Recovery is different for everyone. With my daughter (5 years old) I had some mild discomfort once I got home, but was able to take care of her without issue. With my son (20 months old) my recovery was more painful and harder to walk around while in the hospital. Again, once I got home I was able to take care of both my kids without much pain. If it helps I was at Target walking around after being discharged from the hospital with number 2.

    I believe it is different for everyone, especially the pain part. I was comfortable with the pain meds given to me, first time through a pump and the second time with pills, while in the hospital.

    The one thing I could do without was the epidural. It is necessary, but I didn’t like the feeling of not feeling my legs. I don’t remember how long it lasted after surgery, but it was more of an annoyance than real discomfort.

    Good luck

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 9:33 am

    I just wanted to address a couple of pieces of incorrect info here.

    First, you cannot tell how large the baby will be by how much weight you gain. Even ultrasounds can be off by 2 pounds either way at the end of pregnancy.

    Second, just because you tore once, does NOT mean you will tear again. My own births worked this way, in fact.

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Hi Ashley
    I had my son at 29. Planned for natural childbirth, he went into distress when I was at 10 cm and ready to push I had to have an emergency c-section. I was out of the hospital in 48 hours. Recovery was not bad at all. I was actually surprised at how quickly it all came back together. I’ve just delivered, via c-section my daughter 4 months ago. I am now 35 so they are 6 years apart. I was anxious to get off the drip (morphine) as soon as possible as that slows your recovery. I had my nurses disconnect the drip less than 18 hours after surgery. I left the hospital at 42 hours in and took only the ibuprofen upon my return home. I don’t like the way I feel with narcotics in my body, especially when you’re trying to breastfeed. But, every body is different and has different thresholds for pain after surgery, so women have to listen to their own bodies, individually. In my case, I took particular care to make my core (abdominal area) strong and to keep up the exercise up to the day of delivery. Regardless, it is still major abdominal suregery. However, they kept me awake through both surgeries and I knew exactly what they were doing as my OB was very mindful of connecting the dots through the process. I started taking very short, slow walks as my body allowed. And from there, I took up my yoga and pilates at the pace my body told me to. Don’t worry, your body will let you know when it’s having too much of anything. My husband and I will plan on having a third child, however, I am very careful to spread my pregnancies so as to not breach the integrity of my uterus. It needs to heal completely before trying to carry another precious bundle. The more help you can have at home, especially with your toddler around the better it will be for you. And not just for a week or two, more like three weeks plus. I have a very dear friend who delivered first via emergency c-section and then by VBAC. She said her recovery after vaginal birth was much more difficult than her c-section. And if she had it to do over, she would have opted for the c-section instead of the wonderful home waterbirth because of the recovery process.
    I hope this helps. I have never been a woman to say that either choice is right or wrong. I had so many people telling me that I should try again for a vaginal birth and it’s the best thing for the baby and myself. And to be honest, the best thing is what your body tells you. Not what everybody else believes, but what your own intuition tells you. It’s a personal choice and no matter what method of delivery you choose as long as you and baby are healthy in the postpartum time – that’s what counts!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

    I’m sorry you had so much trauma with your daughter’s birth. I had an emergency c-section with my son (5) and a scheduled one with my daughter (3). I’m now 26 years old and 34 weeks pregnant and I’m planning a vaginal birth. My experiences are far too much to write in here, but if you are interested I would be happy to share them. For anyone considering a c-section for whatever reason, my best advice is to go to the International Cesaerean Awareness Network They have a wealth of information, look under ‘resources’. Everyone’s experience is different and you will hear stories from both ends of the spectrum. Along with that do lots of research so you can decide what kind of birth you really want and the best ways to help you have that birth. It is ultimately your decision and we all do what we think is best for ourselves and our babies. I hope and pray you get the birth you want. I would be happy to help with resources if you would like, my email is Best wishes to you!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    So many women have sections these days! I had one with my son, which was 20 years ago, but I am glad I had it because it probably saved his and my life. He was really stuck. It took me a bit of time to recover, partly because it was a vertical incision. I would definitely get a second opinion, but if you do have a caesarian, don’t worry. You will recover quickly, with only a short period of discomfort.

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    I had a c-section, nothing to be afraid of! I had a really quick recovery, bounced back like nothing! I’m glad I had my son (9lbs 30z) that way. I hope to have another baby via csection someday!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I have an 8 month old son and I had planned on having him as natural as possible. I had some issues with high blood pressure and growth restriction, meaning he was not growing at the rate he should have been, and had to deliver at 36 weeks. I would have been induced except he was breech, so I ended up having a c-section. Every woman has a different experience but it really was not as bad as I thought it would be. And mind you, I was scared to have a c-section. It was the last thing I wanted. But it helped me to deliver a healthy (although small) baby. I am not going to lie and say that it isn’t painful, because it is. Everyday after my section was better than the previous. The worst of it for me was right after my epidural wore off ,the next day when you have to start moving around, and my first night home. Just use the pain medication they give you and rely on what help you have for the first two weeks and you will be fine. My scar is so minimal, it’s barely there 8 months later. I have had no complications from my section and all in all it gave me a healthy baby which is really what counts.

    Good luck and I hope everything works out wonderfully for you!

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    I won’t go into my birth experiences with you — it’s really not relevant, what I did or did not do, what was planned vs. what actually happened. You are right to question – but the answers are really not to be found in anyone else’s story. I just want to suggest that you get your hands on the book Birthing From Within. It is a guide to better understanding the physical, mental, and emotional journey you’re on.

  • Monday, October 15, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I had a C-section 3 years ago with my first (and so far only) child. I still wound up having a massive, life-threatening hemorrage a week later. I was forced to labor on my back for 46 hours, with no food or water, very little rest, Pitocin-augmented contractions, and directed pushing…any of which can lead to hemorrage and/or ultimately stop labor in its tracks, as was the case with me. My son would not come out of me because the position I was in caused him to bounce off my pelvis. Of course, the nurses didn’t do anything to correct this, and just went for the knife instead. My cervix sustained a small tear from pushing unsuccessfully for four hours, and the scab opened up a week after birth, which put me in the ER. There was so much blood that the doctor said he might have to remove my entire uterus if he couldn’t find the source of the bleeding. Luckily, all I needed was a small stitch in my cervix and two IV bags of blood. The pain of being kept for observation away from my week-old baby while my leaking breasts soaked gown after gown was much worse than the trauma of nearly bleeding to death, though.

    I did not know then all the things that I do now. I trusted the hospital staff to be on my team, and they let me down. I’m having a homebirth with my next child, because I don’t want to go through that again. Eliminating the factors that led to my hemorrage and caused my labor to fail will greatly amplify my chances of having a calm, successful birth next time around.

    I am not trying to discourage you from having a C-section if that is what you truly want, because every woman deserves to give birth however she chooses. But please think long and hard about it, and do LOTS of research. I am very sorry your first birth was so traumatic, but it is very likely that with the proper preventative measures that you can still have a successful, safe vaginal birth. A C-section might seem like the easy answer, but I sincerely encourage you to be sure it is the right choice for you.

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Mama, I know you are scared, and thats okay. We all get scared. I second the suggestion about healing from your past birth experience before you plan ANY other birth for the future. Before you decide on a Cesarean, please do real hard research. There are many many things you are not told about until after the fact. I would hate for you to regret such an important decision. It IS a big deal. It concerns you, your baby, your family, your future health and your future babies health should you have more.

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Honey, dont worry :) I have had 4 babies vaginally and my 5th one (last) was a c-section. Me too, have had complications with all of my vaginal birth, and was told next one would have to be a c-section. I was scared too, just like you. But i have to tell you that the c section was 1)so much easier than the vaginal birth 2)the scar was totlaly invisible less than a year later.

    It was not harder to loose the weight… having a baby stretch your belly for 9 months, c section or not, will give you a pouch (most of us anyway) and i havent find that it was worse with a section, so dont worry about that either.

    Do what is best for your baby and yourself. Healthy mommy is what he/she needs most! :)

    Take care and dont worry!

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I have never had a c section, but I did find this site I would like to share with everyone!!!

    There are reasons why babies are born vaginally. Some woman have had to have one, but I know that I would do everything I could to have a normal birth (within safety). I would get a second opinion before scheduling a non necissary one!

  • Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    I had a c-section and had no problems. You don’t feel a thing other than some slight movement of your body when the doctor pulls the baby out. No pain, just tugging. My incision is about 4 inches long, and is below my bikini line. After 3 years it is barely visible. I was prescribed some pain meds, but really didn’t need them. I would suggest some kind of abdominal support (like a good girdle) during your recuperation. It made it easier and more comfortable for me to move around during the 2-4 weeks afterwards. The unknown is always scary, but after reading your story I think you’ll find a c-section a virtual walk in the park in comparison. Persoanlly, I will definitely have another c-section, and have no worries about it at all. Best wishes to you… you’ll be just fine. :)

  • Friday, October 19, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Just wanted to say if you did end up having a section it is completely possible to have a vaginal birth after. I have had one section and now 2 VBAC’s. The recovery from the section was VERY hard and I got PPD severely (which is a common problem). My first VBAC I tore badly and it was still 10 times better recovery. 2nd VBAC I tore but not too bad. I would also question your DR about doing a section as if you have hemmoraging problems I don’t think a section would be the wisest choice. You might not tear next time. But with a section you will be getting cut. That alone would concern me if I was you…

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 8:35 am

    I am 21 years old i was 19
    the first time i got pregnant i had a miscariage
    Then i got pregnant with my
    daughter who is now 9 month
    old. i developed preclampsia and had to have
    a c-section. it was not that bad or scary. it was painful for a while but i healed and i am fine. c section is major surgery but they’re doctors they opperate on longer more difficult surgery’s everyday. im sure a c-section for them is simple surgery. complactions may arise but the risk of that is very small.

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I have 3 kids and have had 3 c’s. The first was induction, intervention, cesarean. The 2nd was an attempted vbac, followed by a c. For my third, I scheduled the c, as this was insisted by doc, and I was ok with that.
    For all three, I was up/walking within about 6 hours, by my own determination, to keep my babies close. I had pain, yes, but you have been through alot already, and it was absolutely bearable with my little babes in arms. My scar is there, part of me now.
    If I were you, I would get a 2nd opinion about needing a c, but with your previous experience, I can understand your concern.
    All the best…

  • Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I had a c-section last november. It was my first pregnancy. My baby was breech and the ob said i “needed” a section at 39 weeks. I believed him.

    They couldn’t get my spinal to work so i had to have a general anaesthetic. When i woke up 24 hours had passed. Apparently i began to bleed dangerously after they took my son out. They had to remove my uterus. When they brought me my son he had eleven stitches on his face from the surgeon’s knife – after all that you see, he’d turned head down after all.

    I am suffering PPD and the menopause right now. I am 22. I will never carry another child, my son has a permanent scar on his brow.

    But we’re both alive right? That’s what people keep telling me. “Oh you’re so lucky you got a healthy baby”.

    If someone would swap me what i’m going through now for a perineal tear right through to my SPINE i’d take it in a heartbeat. Just my thoughts.

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