Last week one of my NCT friends was going to hospital to have an Elective C-Section. I saw her the Friday before and by the following Wednesday she was going to have another little boy. That blew my mind! It also made me realise that I don’t have any Elective C-Section Birth Stories in the Giving Birth Directory. When I put a call out on Twitter for Elective C-Section Birth Stories, Lauren, from Belle du Brighton, kindly said she would send me over her story.
Here it is! I love the detail; it is totally fascinating, completely different from my own experience but no less amazing. I won’t lie, I had tears! Enjoy (and look out for the camp looking student doctor – made me giggle anyway!) xx
Elective C-Section – Belle du Brighton, Lauren’s Birth Story
My reasoning for an elective C section was due to a history of large babies on my husband’s side (he was almost 12lbs and is 6’6 now). This was coupled with his brother being born with a brain defect and having a hugely diminished quality of life (with the brain functions of a 6 month old) and sadly passing away at 18.
I am fairly small, and my mum had difficulty in my delivery even though I was a fairly small baby. All these things played on my mind until I eventually spoke to my midwife about it, after listing the pros and cons and reading a book about Elective C-Section. She got me a referral to the local NHS counselling service but it took so long to arrange I cancelled it as I had already been allowed to have an Elective C-Section by the time the letter arrived. She also made an appointment with a consultant at the hospital, who basically poo pooed the idea, did a growth scan (she showed 2 weeks ahead at that point, 32 weeks) and sent me on my way.
Looking back I should have stood up for myself more and stood my ground but I didn’t. I had a midwife appointment a few days later and she could tell I still wasn’t mentally alright about the idea of a natural labour so she called and made an appointment with a 2nd consultant. Long story short, the consultant didn’t turn up for work that day, so we got a locum, who agreed fairly quickly after I explained the back story, but he said it needed a 2nd sign off. He shot upstairs to the labour floor, and came back in 10 minutes with a signature. We didn’t even meet that doctor but she was shown our notes.
This all happened in week 37 of my pregnancy, and the Elective C-Section was scheduled for the day before my due date, with a pre-op meeting the day before. I was weighed, given some anti-sickness tablets to take before coming to the hospital, and told to fast from 1pm the night before, my husband was advised to ‘shave the top of the lady garden’. We were also told that it was likely I would be kept in for 3 to 5 days. The next day (after even less sleep than normal) we headed to the hospital bright and early, then sent home (after fasting for 12 hours and not drinking for 3!) due to a high volume of emergencies. We came back two days later, the day after my due date. I was assured that if I did go into labour naturally, that they would still perform an Elective C-Section as it had been pre agreed, which was a relief seeing as the next day was my due day!
When we arrived at the hospital at 8am we were put into a room and told we were first that day, due to being sent home 2 days before, hurrah! I was given a gown that opened at the back to put on, and Sam some scrubs. I was asked if I had taken the pills that they had given me to minimise stomach acid, and when I last ate or drank anything (no food after midnight and no water after 6am!). Various people then came in to introduce themselves. First came the head surgeon with about 5 students. He had a feel of my bump and looked through my notes then said the head still hadn’t engaged (so lord knows how much longer I would’ve waited if I’d not had my section that day!). Secondly, came the anaesthesiologist, with a student and someone observing from another hospital. He explained how the spinal block would work, and gave me the opportunity to ask any questions. Then along came Pauline to say hi, she would be looking after me after the Elective C-Section, checking blood pressure and giving painkillers etc. The midwife stuck a cannula in my hand (after being reminded she should give me a local anaesthetic first!) for the various things that needed to be dripped in to me, and taped over my wedding rings as I couldn’t get them over my swollen sausage fingers by that point!
At about 9.25am they came to get us, and just as we walked into the theatre I decided I needed a pee, so toddled back out again. Then Sam decided he needed one so he went out too… Then, with relieved bladders, we were ready to go! The spinal wasn’t half as bad as I expected. I was asked to hunch over with a curved spine and push backwards against the anaesthesiologists thumb, which is no mean feat when you’ve got a large bump in the way! Sam watched all this from the front so he didn’t have to see anything sharp. Apparently husbands often faint so they don’t give the option anymore!
At this point that I could see out of the window to the Brighton Marina, and watched a boat slowly work its way out to sea. It helped that it was gloriously sunny! Once that needle was in and had done its business, I was spun onto my back and laid flat, my gown whipped up to form the screen so I couldn’t see my lower half, and then a catheter was put in so I didn’t piddle all over the operating table.
Some cold spray was used to determine if I was numb in the right places, then it was all systems go! Sam was seated next to my head on the left, Marc the anaesthesiologist just behind me and his assistant next to him. They did a role call (12 people including us!) and then got to it! Sam and I chatted to Marc about amusing stories from working in hotels, which kept my mind off the strange tugging sensation I could feel…
Then before we knew it the surgeons assistant said ‘Okay, we’re almost there. Do you want us to hold baby up so you can see?’
YES obviously I’d been waiting 40 weeks and a day to know what gender this baby was! We heard a sucking noise, which at first I thought was the baby crying but was them suctioning blood/amniotic fluid out, THEN the unmistakable cry of a new-born who’d been dramatically whipped out into the real world! A few seconds later they lowered the screen a little and showed us this waxy baby, a girl with a full head of dark hair! (I may have got watery eyed at this point!) She looked pretty angry to be out of her comfy space to be honest! She was taken to be wrapped up, and Sam went round to cut the cord and take a look at her!
About 3 minutes before she arrived, judging my the clock! (Plus 8 of the 12 people in the theatre!)
Less than two minutes later Sam was back with her all wrapped in a towel, and, oh my god, she was amazing! Thick dark hair and long legs! After a minute or two the midwife asked if I wanted her on my chest, so she was carefully placed there so I could hold her (not skin to skin as I was still in a gown and she was in a towel) but we literally just stared at her and got a bit teary with each other! I seem to remember saying, ‘Its a girl, a GIRL!’ 95% of people had predicted that she would be a he! We were asked what we were going to call her, and everyone said what a lovely name, and made predictions for her future (an investigative journalist!?). It seems like they do this for all the babies they deliver, bit odd!
After about 25 minutes (of stitching up time, using dissolvable stitches) someone apparently shoved a painkiller up my behind (I have no recollection of this, and didn’t feel it obviously) and then we were wheeled into recovery. The next hour is a bit of a blur of cuddles, skin to skin contact and attaching Athena to start to feed, which was painful, but so worth it!
I was allowed to try and eat some bread and tea after a little bit, which I promptly brought back up, and the same thing happened when I tried again, only this time there was nobody with me to give me the sick bowl (I was napping), and I spectacularly vomited fountain style whilst lying on my back, so it went all over me, the pillows, the floor… LUCKILY I wasn’t holding Athena, she was safely in her crib out of harms way! Sam and the nurse arrived back at the same time to find me covered and looking very sorry for myself! The nurse helped to change me and I was given an anti sickness something or other in my cannula as well as the drip, and a liquid oral painkiller as by this point I’d brought up 4 paracetomol!
We were told we would be taken downstairs to the post-natal wards once a bed was ready, so by 3pm we were downstairs in a bed on a ward of 4 other new mothers. Every so often someone came to check out my blood pressure and temperature, and changed my catheter bag. It was SO AMAZING not to feel like I needed to pee every 12 minutes, as I had for the last 4 months of my pregnancy due to her head being practically IN my bladder for so long. Sam went to find some hot food as he was starving, and I napped a little with Athena on my chest… when he came back we took lots of pictures to send to various relatives and friends, and just sat and gawped at her/each other with complete shock!
That night was spent with her mainly on my chest, alternating between feeding and sleeping, but I really didn’t get much rest because of all the various noises. The lady next door had a baby that spent most of the night crying, and the other two women snored. I was ‘released’ at about 7pm the next day, so only spend 36 hours in hospital. They just wanted to know that I was passing urine okay once my catheter was out and that I was mobile (I had a shower and stood up straight the moment I felt I could, as my stitches didn’t really hurt much at all!). They gave me a load of painkillers to take home, along with 7 little needles with something in to inject in my belly to help prevent blood clots, which wasn’t an issue for me as I’m fine with needles. Sam had headed off home with most of my bags (obviously I had packed as if I would be in for 3+ days as I was told 3 is about average after an Elective C-Section) and had comeback with the car seat. Once I was dressed (I wore the clothes I had worn in the day before for ease) we called a taxi and headed home! Sitting in our living room, only the day after but with a brand new baby was surreal, I’ll tell you that for nothing!
The recovery was not as painful as I had expected, although I was religious about taking the painkillers they had supplied and injecting myself with the anti clotting medication. We went for a fairly long (but slow) walk 4 days after she was born to both of our work places and out for lunch. My husband did all the lifting for a week before he returned to work, and then I just did things slowly and carefully, or left them for him. About 3 weeks later my scar opened slightly at one side, but didn’t require stitches luckily as it healed on its own. We moved 6 weeks after the birth, so I was driving and lifting light things then and had no trouble. My post partum bleeding lasted for about 11 weeks, although the last 5 were really light. In the early days I knew when I’d over done it as I bled more. Now, 7 months later I get the occasional twinge in that area, and have got almost all the feeling back along the centre of my belly, as it had been fairly numb for a few months. The scar is now a dark pink colour and is around 8 inches in length.
Thank you so much Lauren!!