C-Section: Likely *should* have one, but spooked. Care to share experiences? Comfort? Sanity?

AUGH. I know what I likely should do, but, well…AUGH. Every option gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I am 4 months pregnant with my second child. During my first pregnancy, a previously herniated disc herniated further when I was about 7mos along, then was essentially ripped apart during childbirth. (I knew I was in trouble when the MRI lab tech paled after my MRI and her demeanor with me completely changed, and when I asked why, said “I can’t really say anything about what I saw, but…well, your pain is warranted.”) I wound up having back surgery (microdiscectomy/laminotomy/foraminotomy) 4 months after giving birth. Then, following a cross-country flight in November 2007, what was left of the disc reherniated and kinked my sacral nerve root like a garden hose (can we say OUCH?). The microdisc was repeated five days before Christmas.

I’m well healed and got the green light to get pregnant again by my neurologist, neurosurgeon, and OB before trying for #2. I also got an MRI last summer to make sure everything is healing well; it is.

That all said–I’ve been told conflicting things about my delivery options. My OB originally said I could have a vaginal birth–that people who’ve had back surgeries are able to all the time. But, when he got a clearer picture of my history, he said that since my back problems were exacerbated by the pregnancy and childbirth process, I might want to consider a C-section. I’ve felt all along that’s what I should do, but… :eek:

The idea of a baby being cut out of me fuh-REAKS me out. The idea of having a spinal injection–assuming they will give me one; sometimes they won’t when a patient has had back surgery–wigs me out, because it means being paralyzed from the chest down (eep) and awake and alert while the baby is cut out of me. But, the idea of being put under general anesthesia makes me nervous as well, since I won’t be a conscious part of the delivery of my child, and it takes my body about a week to process out the anesthesia so I’ll be groggy and drunk as well as sore and hormonal after the baby is born. I also want to be able to meet and hold my baby as soon as possible…I don’t want to be waiting in a recovery room and wondering where the little one is.

Of course, vaginal delivery spooks me, too, since if my back fails again, it will mean a fusion–and that’s a 6-12mo recovery period. But–recovery from a vaginal birth is so much faster, and I am there for the birth. sigh FTR–my first baby had a fairly easy labor. In fact, things went so fast–from water breaking to birth in 2.5 hours–I was warned I may not know I’m in labor with a second until practically the little one is crowning. Add to that we cook our babies big n’ fast in my family (my son was nearly 8lbs 3wks early; my nephew was nearly 9lbs 3 weeks early; my niece was 8lbs 2wks early), and this decision might be made for me.

I’m looking for experiences, comfort, guidance, ideas…I know there are plenty of nightmare stories (gah), but I’d like to rationalize my :eek: as best I can.

I’ve never had a C-section but, as a practical matter, I think the C-section is a much better option for you. I would hate to see you injure your back further.

How about some preparation classes for C-section? Any of those at the hospital? Support groups for other moms who’ve had it done?

Can you find out more about your anesthesia options before you decide? I certainly understand your reluctance to have general for a C-section.

I’ve had two C-sections. I desperately wanted a VBAC for the second, but the little turd decided to implant right over my cervix (placenta previa). Not only did I have to have an early C-section, but I spent 10 weeks on hospital bed rest. Nevertheless, I will say that a planned C-section beats the hell out of an unplanned one. I got to see the baby being lifted out of my belly, and I got to hold him right away. He was never away from me at all - I got to hold him as they wheeled me back up to my room for recovery.

You may want to check out a local chapter of ICAN, but some people there will be intensely anti-Caesarean, so be prepared for that. They will give you good information, nevertheless.

I’ll see if I can dig out my birth plan from the planned Caesarean - it may give you some ideas about what to ask for if you decide to do that.

Check with your local prepared childbirth organization, the people who conduct the Lamaze or Bradley classes (or whatever). They should have a class on c-sections.

I knew at the five-month mark that I had to have one because like ENugent, I had placenta previa. The classes really help you know what will happen and what to expect.

I had an unplanned C-section, my darling daughter was 23 3/4 inches long and presenting OP. After 36 hours she was firmly stuck and I was starting to run a fever.

It was not a big deal, although there was a pang of “I wanted a natural birth”. Since then, I have decided that any birth that results in a healthy baby is a natural birth.

I had an epidural first, then a spinal block, it was no big deal and kind of a relief after the long labour. It wore off pretty quickly and I was up and around in no time. My baby was handed to me right away (after the check and sewing) and I help her for hours.

My scar is slight, very low and thin on my abdomen (I can easily wear a bikini and it won’t show).

If you have any other concerns, let me know, I will do my best to answer them.

Oh, I soooo know how you feel! I slipped a disc (slightly herniated - if there can be such a thing as “slightly”) at four months. I had to have a c-section, not just because of my back, but also Celtling was quite stubbornly in the breach position, with her little butt firmly planted in the cervical canal.

Even knowing all this, the thought of them cutting me “there” was horrendous. The womb is such a tender place, the idea of them slicing into it just about drove me nuts.

But I don’t think there’s anything that would tempt me to risk hurting my back again. I’m surprised you can even consider it!

A c-section hurts for a week or so, and heals pretty reliably. A herniated disc is the gift that keeps on giving.

I’ve had a natural birth with no meds, an emergency c-section after epidural, and a VBAC so I’ve pretty much gotten to enjoy the whole spectrum of possibilities. Lucky me, right?

Anyway–go for the C-section. They cranked up my meds before cutting, so while I was awake, I wasn’t really thinking at all about the doctors. It was *still *all about the baby–was he all right, how much longer? It felt a bit odd, them rummaging around down there, but it was over soon.

The recovery period is a valid worry. You’re talking weeks instead of days, with not insignificant pain. Weighed against the possibility of wrecking your back again though, I think it’s the better choice. Will you have family to help you out for the first week or two until you’re more mobile?

My friend just had an emergency c-section (6 weeks ago) and she was out of the hospital after 3 days. She’s still limited in how much she can lift (but aren’t you also limited after a vaginal birth too?), and still wears maternity pants because of the incision, but otherwise she seems fine. I haven’t heard a peep about the c-section from her other than my initial inquiries. She’s just happy to have a healthy baby.

She did say she was totally awake for the procedure and remembers the moment he came out. Also, Dad was allowed in the room too … which is something that my mom says they didn’t allow 30 years ago when she had me by c-section. My SIL says that in her birthing classes (due Sept 17) that they have said Dad can also cut the cord.

I’ve never had a C-section (it would be… odd if I had: I’m male), but my sister had an unplanned one, after 36 hours of labor left her at 7 inches with no signs of further progression. She came out of it just fine.

As for the spinal, I have had one of those, and I remember nothing of the surgery even though I was technically not knocked out. They pumped me so full of sedatives before hand that I pretty much remember nothing between the surgeon saying “hi” and being wheeled to recovery.

I was born via c-section, and I’m just fine.

Uh-huh. Suuuuuuure you are.


I am male but I put on the scrubs and went into the operating room with my now ex-wife for all three girls. C-sections are FAST. We are talking 15 minutes to page the medical team until the baby is out. They put a curtain to block her view of the actual procedure because it is pretty graphic for some mothers but I could see everything. They major downside for the mother is that the father is often the first person besides the nurses to get to hold the baby and she may not be able to see it much at all for a few minutes while the doctors are stitching her back up. I had to call descriptions of our daughters to her for a little while. She was functional within an hour in the hospital bed and never complained about the recovery period.

I’ve had two, and the second one was planned. It was a huge improvement over the first one–I walked into the hospital, and 45 minutes later I had a healthy baby. The healing was also much easier and quicker with the planned c-section–it didn’t hurt that much.

Yes, it is kind of squicky to think about them cutting you open right there. However, with your history it does sounds like you’d be better off. I got the paralysis-from-the-chest-down version, and while it wasn’t a ton of fun, I certainly preferred it to complete sedation. Be warned that the paralysis lasts a lot longer than the surgery–it’s hours before you can really move again. Quite comfortable hours, physically speaking.

I was in labor for exactly 12 hours but it only got really painful the last few, and when they told me labor wasn’t ‘progressing as fast as it should’ and they wanted to do a C-section - I was all for it!!! I got the block and felt paralyzed (not a good feeling at all), tried and tried to move my toes. Husband was allowed to come in (with strict orders to stand by my head and not try to cop a peek behind the drape - as if!). There was the weirdest tugging sensation, not at all painful, of course, but weird, while they operated. We heard the baby’s cries and heard them mention the Apgar score, and we cried ourselves - tears of joy! I went to recovery after a peek at the baby, was later put in a room with another new mom. I was in bed a day or so, hooked up to a catheter and I think an IV, but they had me up and walking soon after. They monitored my urine output and I had to cough, holding a pillow to my belly, to keep my lungs clear. No major pain thanks to Demerol. Husband and I walked up and down the corridors and they brought the baby in for feedings. I was in the hospital for not quite a week, went home and can honestly say I felt just fine, no major pain or problems. I did have some soreness with the incision and had some major staples in there like teeth of a giant zipper, but I must have real peasant heartiness because I went about cooking, laundry, etc. after a few days of lolling around. (There is post-birth vaginal bleeding, which surprised me for some reason, and it lasted longer than it should have because I was too active. But I felt fine, really!) You and your doctor have to decide what is best for your particular situation. I figured the medical people at the hospital had lots of experience doing C-sections and knew what they were doing. I not only didn’t want to suffer through hours and hours of labor, but I didn’t want to stress the baby by keeping her in there not progressing. The scar was cut very low, was smaller than I thought it would be, and is just about invisible years later. Good luck to you, I wish you and baby well.

That would be 7 centimeters, not inches.

I’ve had two – the first done for failure to progress after 14 hours of labor, and the second planned weeks ahead of time. I had NO problems with either one, and like dangermom
I thought that the second was especially easy. the worst part of that one was having the epidural put in, because I was more nervous about it with no contractions to distract me.

It seems like people always want to tell horror stories about C-sections, but both my recoveries were really easy. Very little pain, minimal scarring, no problems with infection or anything like that. Easy peasy.

While I have not experienced childbirth of any sort myself, I have plenty of friends and relatives who have. Remember, one reason why medical science got so proficient at C-sections was because they were preferable to the alternative. Perhaps they are done too often these days. I don’t have the knowledge to judge. But remember - the best outcome is mother and baby both healthy, however you arrive at that destination.

By all means, research your alternatives. Understandably, you don’t want to be cut open. But you’re far better off with a C-section that spares your back further damage than a vaginal birth that risks years of chronic pain and further surgeries. The decision is ultimately up to you and your doctor, but consider that actual birth is only a day or two out of your and your child’s life and how well/healthy you are all the rest of your days is more important that whether your child comes out of a vagina or an incision. It sounds like in your case there are definite risks and benefits to either alternative - I hope which ever you choose (or wind up with) has a good outcome.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of c-sections performed at about 25% of births the last time I checked. After you have one, you are generally advised to have any subsequent children that way as well. OBGYNs really like them because they are safer than vaginal births and their legal exposure is extremely high if they don’t make the right decision. My first daughter went into mild distress during labor. I pulled the doctor out in the hall and asked her what was going to happen. She replied that if her heart rate fluctuated one more time then that was the end of it and there was going to be a c-section.

Five minutes later, the doctor said “You are going to be a father in fifteen minutes. A nurse is bringing you your scrubs. Hurry up and get dressed because this won’t take long.” I wasn’t allowed in the operating room until the anesthesiologist did his thing. They incision and baby removal took 7 minutes max. I had my first child in my arms a few minutes later only after the nurses cleaned her and weighed her but I could still watch. The doctors did the stitches while I admired her and called out the description to my wife.

I am, in fact, aware of that statistic.

However, in the OP’s case, we aren’t talking about a woman with a prior C-section, we are talking about a woman with a prior history of back issues severe enough to require surgery where natural childbirth (apparently) poses risks above that of the average mother. It’s not being considered for convenience or because of a prior C-section.

The whole C-section question is more complicated than simply stating “we have too many”. I have yet to see a study that addresses the question of what percentage of births as C-sections is “optimal” from the standpoint of best outcomes for both mother and child. If there are high odds of a C-section then planning one is likely to be less hazardous than waiting until its an emergency.

I would like to think she could have a normal, vaginal birth with no complications. On the other hand, I would much rather she have a C-section than a back injury. This is something she needs to decide based on her current situation, without people going on about how there are too many C-sections in the US.

You should do whatever keeps you and your baby in one piece. Don’t risk your long term health for a vaginal birth - seriously, I can’t even imagine caring for a newborn while my back was screwed up.

Speaking as a mom with two sections under her belt (heh), I didn’t find them to be a huge deal.