Alexander

Women have C-sections for all kinds of reasons, be it emergencies or electives to help ensure mother and baby are safe and of course by choice. We are lucky that in the UK we now have the choice to request a section if we so wish. It is our right.

I underwent a traumatic crash (emergency) section with my first child Oliver (now 5) after developing the pregnancy liver condition ICP. When you suffer with ICP, less bile flows into your intestines meaning bile acids can build up in your body and there is a risk to your baby.

My bile acid levels were monitored regularly once the main symptom of itching began at 31 weeks but at 3 weeks and 1 day before my son’s due date, they became dangerously high and an induction was required.

What followed was a distressed baby and an emergency section (of course not all OC sufferers’ births lead to C-sections but it is often recommended that babies are born before 38 weeks so many mothers are induced and with induction comes a greater chance of c-sections.

Oliver was born safely and within 20 minutes, with a good birth weight but it took me many months to recover physically and emotionally from such a traumatic birth.

I had carpal tunnel in my right hand which was not ideal with a new baby to look after and my husband and I seemed to be in shock for quite a while.

10 sessions with an osteopath later, my hand improved and making a film about my liver condition ICP along with crucial support when we moved closer to home, meant I was ready to get pregnant again when Oliver turned 2.

My second pregnancy was much easier than my first. This time, despite the high odds of having ICP in a subsequent pregnancy (60-90%), I didn’t get it and I had great care under a consultant, who had advised limiting trauma by undergoing an elective.

Not only in my case did he feel it was safer (and it turned out to be as the cord was wrapped around my son’s neck) but he wanted to minimise trauma.

Yes many women have successful VBAC’s but he didn’t want the possibility of an emergency again. It was absolutely the right decision. I had a beautiful, calm birth, everything I’d hoped for with my first.

My consultant even operated which is rare unless you have major complications or multiple births but he said he wanted to. Thank you the NHS.

The surgical team were mostly wearing Sponge Bob hats, Michael Jackson’s ‘You are Not Alone’ (how ironic) played in the theatre and it was simply perfect. There was no rush. No panic. The anaesthetist held one hand, my husband the other.

The minute Alexander was handed to me, I fell in love. I left theatre feeling incredible. Almost as if I hadn’t even had a baby. (Drugs are good). What I did feel was STRONG. In control. Content. Everything about the experience was different to my emergency.

I finally felt like I’d got the birth I deserved. I’ve included a few tips below-things that helped me prepare for the section with the hope it helps women out there. I’m not a Dr and can only write from my own experience so please ask yours for more information and simply use this as a guide.

1. Electives can still be worrying, especially if you’ve previously had an emergency and don’t know what to expect.

The night before, I made sure I had a healthy, filling meal (I was told to go nil by mouth from midnight the night before) so decided wholemeal spaghetti (slow releasing) with lots of lean mince bolognese
(protein) and seasonal vegetables followed by fruit and yoghurt (eaten at about 11pm) would keep me going until the surgery the next day… and it did.

2. Keep yourself distracted and happy the night before. I watched my favourite programmes from Dallas which was on at the time to comedy chat shows to keep me entertained. In bed, I read sections from lots of comedy books from Little Britain sketches to the Royle Family scripts. Keep things light.

I also kept calm with a large cup of chamomile tea. I slept through and my husband actually had to wake me up the next day.

3. Once I arrived at hospital, I had a positive mental attitude. Today I was going to meet my baby. I was asked to come in the week before for a C section and was sent home to return at 39 weeks (there had been an error when I was booked in) so this time I was having my baby and I was READY!

4. Just think once you’re prepped, it could be 20 mins, 40 max (probably) in theatre and you’ll have your beautiful baby in your arms. That’s no time at all. Keep that thought at the front of your mind.

4. You can usually communicate in theatre. The team are there to ensure you and your baby are safe but they want to make you feel comfortable too. If I felt pressure anywhere I simply informed the anaesthetist who modified the drugs I was being given. Talking to him, and my husband was reassuring throughout and normalised the experience.

5. Most Dr’s ask what music you would like in theatre or you can bring your own. This keeps the op upbeat so write your playlist before your C-section date!

6. Post section, it will take time to recover. Mentally I felt brilliant, totally myself literally from the second I was wheeled out of theatre but physically even walking was a struggle at first. I’m not great with morphine and codeine so I was only on paracetamol for pain relief but it was bearable.

Day 3 felt like the first major turnaround in terms of pain. And then 3 weeks, at which point I was driving again (and even gave a guest lecture at a University). Recovery felt very different to an emergency and despite the fact the pain was a greater, because I felt so calm and happy, it made all the difference.

7. Take help when it is offered. Rest when you can. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Ask your midwife for support when she visits and your GP if you want advice about you or your baby, or you have any concerns. That’s what they are there for. Eat well so you feel nourished and full. You need your energy.

8. Don’t be hard on yourself (still working on this everyday). Your tummy will take time to resemble what it was pre-baby and it might never look the same. That’s OK. You created life. Your womb did good. Give yourself a standing ovation (once you can, post-op). An incision has been made through 5 layers of skin, tissue and muscle so your body will take much longer to heal than most non C-section mums, try and remember that.

Scars tend to be small and very low down so if you want to rock a bikini in the future, you can. You need time and your Dr’s approval to exercise. I was told to start slowly with power walks after 7 weeks and jogging when my child was 4 months.

Everyone is different but take your time. You need to heal.

9. Never ever feel you have failed if you needed or chose a C-section. You have done what was right for you and all that matters is a safe mother and baby. Always.

10. When you’re ready and can, have a day out to treat yourself celebrating your birth experience. You are amazing.

Good luck and safe delivery.

Send photo by Kate Krivanec on Unsplash

Like what you've read? Then why not follow Vicki on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram

Never Miss A Post!

Subscribe to HonestMum for my weekly email newsletter where I share my new blog posts, blogging tips, event invitations, competitions and news about my new book. I never share your personal data with third parties.


50 Responses

  1. Hazel Rea

    So lovely to read such a positive view of c-sections – which match my own views so well! I was induced when having my son but his heartbeat kept dipping – crash c-section which discovered he had the cord twice round his neck saved him from brain damage or worse. His apgar score was 5 and a midwife who had been in theatre when he was born told me she was in tears at his condition when he was lifted out (she had recently had a baby herself and was just back to work). After a night in SCBU he was absolutely fine – and I remain incredibly grateful to the NHS. My daughter was born by elective c-section – as you say electives are wonderfully relaxed. It does annoy me when people (like my mother-in-law!) say it was a shame I didn’t have a natural birth because in my book any birth which ends up with a well mother and baby is as it should be regardless of the method needed to get there!

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks so much for your comment Hazel, and how scary about your son, thank goodness he was OK and like you I agree, all that matters is the baby is healthy not how it was birthed. Every birth counts xx

      Reply
  2. Eleanor Ainsworth

    So nice to read a positive article about c-sections. I have two children 1 born naturally after a speedy delivery the second by c-section after baby turned breech at 41 weeks. I feel vey lucky to have been able to benefit from the advice of my sister who had previously had both an emergency and elective. We need more women like you to speak about their experiences, thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks Eleanor, I love that thanks to blogging many women can speak honestly of their birth experiences. Thank you for your comment x

      Reply
  3. Notmyyearoff

    Ahhh I want to HUG you!!! This is so reassuring, thank you so much for writing it. I am nervous about having an elective, but with all the information presented so far I am almost certain thats what I’ll choose. x
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Silent Sunday & Project 52 – Week 15My Profile

    Reply
    • honestmum

      My absolute pleasure hun, it really was an amazing, calm, beautiful experience. I felt empowered and strong. Give me a shout if you need anything won’t you x

      Reply
  4. Oana

    Well done on writing this!
    I am a doctor and gave birth recently through elective C section as I felt it was the best option for my baby and I. I support women’s choice, as long as it is an informed decision they can do whatever they want. C sections are not the ultimate evil 🙂

    Reply
  5. Richmond Mummy

    This is a brilliant post and really helpful to read, particularly for me given my circumstances right now, which you know… I ended up 2 weeks overdue with my first, was induced, spent 34 hours in labour, only got to 3cms, my waters had broken 24 hrs previously, and so I ended up having an emergency c-section – which was actually a really positive experience (the c-section not the preceding 34 hours!!) and more than anything I was just glad that Allegra had been brought safe and sound into the world. This time around, I had wanted to try for VBAC, but today is my due date and so far no sign of baby. I’ve been advised by the consultant that I should go for an elective c-section in a week, because they don’t advise I go more than a week overdue given my previous circumstances, so I am booked in for next Thursday and if nothing happens between now and then I’ll be off to theatre. But I feel ok about it, I think the important thing is doing what’s best for baby. It’s been really good to read your post and I’ll no doubt read it again on Weds night if I haven’t had my baby by then!! xxx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Richmondmummy thank you and glad your first experience was positive. Good luck, whichever way you go-like you say all that matters is you and baby are well. Good luck lovely xx

      Reply
  6. TheBoyandMe

    Thank you so much for writing this, I have so many questions about my future potential elective that I don’t know where to start. Knowing this post is here, and that I can ask you questions as well, is a great comfort!

    Reply
  7. Zehra

    Thank you so much for writing this. When I found out that having a c-section was the safest option for me (breech baby)I was terrified and went crying to Alice Harold who pointed me in your direction and I feel so much better now! I can’t believe it’s all happening next week! It was the recovery that I was most scared of and the thought that I would feel too detached from the whole birthing experience.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Zehra thank you. So pleased Alice directed you here and you’ve found it reassuring. I found my elective a pure joy and didn’t feel detached. My baby was in my arms in no time and it was the most perfect feeling in the world x

      Reply
  8. Babes about Town

    Fantastic post, Vicki, so glad you wrote this and it will be such a help to others. For my part, i planned to have a VBAC but I was also realistic enough to realise that my 2nd experience was likely to wind up in a C-section. So i scheduled one for if I went overdue, and I was glad as Jed weighed slightly more than Ezra (was told he was much smaller) and I’m certain we would have had same problems.

    My elective was a much more pleasant experience than the emergency naturally, although mine did take longer than usual because I had scar tissue so that was my only cause for concern. I do remember music in the theatre (can’t recall what songs now!) and how quickly my baby seemed to be in my arms. I don’t begrudge any mum how they have their baby, from free birthing to so-called ‘too posh to push’ (ha), so long as you feel informed, confident and baby comes out safely.

    Brilliant final tips too!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Babesabouttown thank you. Totally agree with you there. No prejudice. Healthy baby and mama is all that matters to me. I feel so happy to have had such a wonderful birth with Alexander x

      Reply
  9. Mirka Moore @Kahanka

    Lovely post. I have to be honest and say, that I don’t agree with the right to choose a c-section. I absolutely agree that when there are health issues in pregnancy, and your consultant thinks that c-section is the best option, then it should be done. I was the opposite and was very scared of having a c-section, and luckily had two amazing water births. Comming from a different cultural background I think I still look at certain things like an outsider, not being British, as that isn’t common in the Czech Republic, at least I think so. I was very scared of giving birth the first time, but that is natural. The second time round I knew what was coming, and wasn’t scared at all. It was very painful, but once you hold your tiny baba in your arms, you just forget it. I think people start to think about many things too much… On the other hand, I don’t judge anyone, and if you choose to go for it even without any medical reasons, it’s your decision. I think that’s like breastfeeding…but that’s just another story 😉

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Mirka thank you for your honesty. I’m so glad I had an elective. My consultant wanted to elimintate the chance of trauma and advised it would be best but I believe women, whatever their reason should have the choice be it first or second time or tenth baby (do people even have 10 babies these days!). Some women are paralysed with the fear of birth. I love the fact we now have the choice. Thanks for your comment x

      Reply
  10. HPMcQ

    great post. all through our antenatal classes it was drummed in hard natural birth is best, must have a birth plan blah blah however sometimes natural birth really isn’t the best and planning for something you know not of what is going to happen is pretty impossible, the safety of the baby and the mother is foremost not “I must have a natural birth” nothing is worth that risk to the baby or you. the most annoying response to having a c section is “oh that’s a shame” why? why is it a shame? Is it a shame that my baby came into the world safe and without any harm? Is it shame that other than a couple of week discomfort I’m ok? No shame in that I’m afraid no shame at all. As I said great post x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @HPMcQ thank you so much and yes, yes, yes, there is no shame in a Csection. More women need to realise this, the media and ante natal groups need to support this and inform women and take the stigma away. I am so proud of how my boys came into the world. x

      Reply
  11. SAHMlovingit

    You know I am soooooo pro c-sections and it’s something I’ve blogged about a lot. I hate the way the ‘natural birth brigade’ can make woman who have to have or choose to have sections inferior. Another great post lovely.

    This:
    “Never ever feel you have failed if you needed or chose a C section. You have done what was right for you and all that matters is a safe mother and baby. Always.”
    Is what is SO important.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @SAHMlovingit thank you so much. Got tears in my eyes reading your comment. So, so true. It is so sad that women who need or choose a section I made to feel lacking or like they failed. It’s utter baloney. I am so proud of how my babies were born and so thankful they arrived safe and sound.

      Reply
  12. John Adams

    Delighted to see someone writing a positive article about c sections and explaining that sometimes it is just the correct thing to do. Rather like formula feeding, there’s a huge amount of guilt associated with this subject and there shouldn’t be. Great post.

    Reply
  13. julesey10

    Lovely post hon and as I’ve said before you’re amazing! 🙂 I believe ur PMA helped a lot pre section. Xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @julesy10 thanks honey, I think it really helped too and I’d created an emotional first aid kit around me with lots of support and love and I was ready and in control. Have the amazing meds to thank for that too x

      Reply
  14. Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer

    What an excellent post. I was due to be induced for my second and was going to refuse and insist on an elective c section, considering how many times being induced ends up in an emergency one, but my little man came just before. I think everything you have said is crucially important X

    Reply
  15. Jo Burrows

    Really good tips there Vicki. I had a feeling when I had Milo it would end in a C section so whilst I felt OK and before Milo came along I did so much batch cooking of healthy, energy fuled meals so all Adam had to do was reheat them. It gave us more time with a new born and still time to rest when we could as well as eat (Adam is a terrible cook) I honestly think that it help to give me the energy I need to recover from quite a traumatic birth. It’s great you recognise that its still an amazing experience meeting little one for the first time and that women shouldn’t feel like a failure by having/opting for a C section. It’s not an easier way out by any means and the recovery is longer but every minute is worth it. Xxx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Jo Burrows thank you and well done you on being so organised. I totally agree and found the elective was from here to the moon in terms of how different it was to an emergency xx

      Reply
  16. Katie @mummydaddyme

    Thank you for a lovely post, as someone who is going to go through another elective c section in a few weeks, it’s refreshing to hear of others who found the experience positive, especially as nerves are starting to kick in.

    I had a c-section with my first baby because she was a footling breech as the hospital wouldn’t let me deliver naturally because of a danger with her cord. This was classed as an elective section, mainly cause it wasn’t an emergency, however to me it wasn’t an elective- I didn’t choose to have it, I had too. However the experience was brilliant, I felt really with it and in control, it was Christmas Eve and there were Christmas songs on the radio and the theatre staff were singing. It was as positive as it could have been. Yes the recovery hurt especially for the first few days but it was overall a lovely experience.

    This time, my whole pregnancy I have been nervous about what to do, for a while I felt like I should be trying for a vbac, if others can do it why can’t I? But after being kept awake at night worrying about it, I decided to do what I think is best for me, and I am now booked in for an elective section. I just hope that I have a similar experience to last time, with the added extra of knowing a little of what to expect.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Katie so good you made the right decision for you. I found it such a wonderful experience (sounds like your first). Looking forward to hearing your baby news x

      Reply
  17. Caroline

    Gosh, reading this (having a planned section on Thursday) has really touched me. My last was an emergency, followed weeks later by life saving surgery and when you spoke about the anaesthetist holding your hand moved me to tears. My last one stroked my head as I kept confirming my name and dob instead of letting the surgical team answer, and said “it’s ok your going to sleep now” they then saved my life and the next time I saw him his comment was “well I’ve never seen anyone walk out of there before” (HDU/ICU). I had completely forgotten about that support and am so glad this post reminded me of it x

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Caroline thank you so much for your comment. It’s brought me to tears too. I am so sorry to hear about what you have been through and so glad you are OK. I am sending you strength for thursday and wishing everything goes really well. Please let me know x

      Reply
  18. Claire

    Great blog. I had an elective section for medical reasons. I have to say it took me longer to recover than you did. Impressive. I found it to be a very calm and controlled experience. Apart from difficulty with the spinal anaesthetic. I felt very confident that I and our baby were in very safe hands. I have no regrets whatsoever and do not feel that I have missed out by not having an SVD.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Claire thank you Claire, really glad to hear you also found it calm and controlled. I feel the same as you, all that matters is a safe mother and child.

      Reply
  19. Susanne@babyhuddle

    What an awesome post. I couldn’t agree more. My recovery with Bella has been SO different and I am SO glad I had an elective. So please it went well for you too
    xxx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Susanne thank you lovely and for all your support and advice before the elective, meant the world to me. So pleased you got the experience you deserved too xxx

      Reply
  20. Alexander Residence

    I am so glad you wrote this. I am so glad you got such a positive birth experience. I really believe in birth plans for C sections as it is just as important to state what you want and to own the experience and feel in control. Really important post xxx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @Alexanderresidence thank you lovely and for your advice pre elective too, meant so much to me. I totally agree with you-electives help you feel in control and calm xx

      Reply
  21. Potty Mummy

    Good post. I’ve given birth both ways too, first with a natural but assisted birth, and then a c-section – crash, not elective – and have to say I felt no worse afterwards with the section than with my previous experience. (What can I say – both my boys had big heads). I never felt that the c-section meant I had failed; to be honest, I was just grateful to be able sit down afterwards! (Not so easy after a natural birth , in my experience).

    Of course, not being able to pick up my older son (2 at the time) for 6 weeks after the c-section was challenging, but it did mean I felt able to ask for help in a way I hadn’t the first time around.

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @PottyMummy interesting to hear that. Thank you for your comment. I could pick my eldest O up relatively quickly (suprised me)within a few weeks and could hug him etc very early on but different for everyone.

      Reply
  22. older mum in a muddle

    Great post – I had an emergency c-section which left me traumatised for a long time. The difference between an emergency and an elective is enormous. And because the trauma was so horrid, if I was to have another one, I think I would be tempted by and elective to avoid trauma through a VBAC and the fear of being back in the same situation of the first birth!

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @oldermuminamuddle I found the elective to be incredible as you’ve read. It’s wonderful you now have the choice so you can decide what is right for you x

      Reply
  23. Aimee

    Such an important post – I agree with everything you said, and people shouldn’t be scared to chose an option that’s best for them.

    Glad it was so calm for you x

    Reply
  24. Susan Mann

    What an amazing and wonderful post. One I needed to read. I’ve told you how much I envy you & your birth with the totally gorgeous A. It sounds perfect & the fact you feel so amazing fills me with joy. I have my planned c-section what will technically be tomorrow since I can’t sleep. After 2 traumatic births one resulting in an emergency section I’m terrified it all goes wrong again. However, reading this gives me the hope and positive attitude it will hopefully go to plan. Thank you honey for writing this and I’ve saved it on my phone for tomorrow. Xx

    Reply
    • honestmum

      @SusanMann I am so pleased. I thought of you when writing this. Everything will be great this time. I’m here for you so any questions or worries you know where I am, lots of love xx

      Reply
  25. Notmyyearoff

    Love this post. Your second experience sounds amazing and something is love to have (I had an emergency one with z and it felt like it took me forever to recover). Your tips are excellent too, i think they’ll really help others in or about to be in the same boat!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.