VBAC or Elective Caesarean?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017



I've talked about having a caesarean a few times on my blog. Overall, despite being an emergency, it was a pretty positive experience. Well, the caesarean itself anyway.

To sum it all up as quickly as possible... I was in labour for 3 days, and I was not progressing at all. I was stuck at 4cm for 2 days and then finally got to 6cm for the 3rd day. Oscar was back to back, and absolutely not budging whatsoever. They had given me 4 more hours to progress even 1cm, and when that didn't happen, I was wheeled away to theatre with, to be fair, bugger all choice - although I was bloody knackered anyway and kind of relieved.

You can read about it in more detail here (Labour Story)  and here (What Does A Caesarean Feel Like?).

I always expected my labour to be one of those "breeze" labours. Straight in and straight back out with a new baby, no pain relief and no worries. I blame my mother as it seems all 3 of her births were straight forward, and she insisted on telling me how easy it was beforehand. Ha!

I've come to the conclusion that you're either really lucky and have a good birth or you're unfortunate and don't. You might even have both. It's literally like birth bingo when you step into the hospital. Unfortunately, the first time clearly wasn't my time, and it did upset me a lot. I'm over it now though.

This brings me to the question I keep being asked, over and over again.

Will you have a natural birth this time? 


I feel like when you tell people you've had a caesarean they're instantly like "Oh I bet you felt so lucky!" Lucky? Are you joking. Major surgery, a risk of losing your womb and a risk of being paralysed for life is the lucky option? Let us not also forget that you can't move properly for 12 hours, have to watch someone taking care of your baby because you aren't able to, and are in crippling agony for weeks, but yeah, lucky.

I'm not saying a vaginal birth is the easy option either, but I certainly didn't feel lucky afterwards. In fact, I don't think I've met anyone who has given birth and said "I felt so lucky" afterwards.

I remember two distinctly negative things about the day I gave birth.

The first was that they put Oscar in his glass cot just a little bit out of reach, and they'd left the hand held button I could use to call the nurse still attached to the wall. It was 3am, everyone else on the ward was asleep. Oscar started crying and I couldn't physically lift myself up to get him. I had to wait for someone to come around to check my blood pressure in order to ask them to move him closer. I remember staring at him while he was crying, unable to do anything, just saying "I'm so sorry baby" over and over whilst trying to shush him.

The other thing was that they'd asked me what I wanted for breakfast at about 8am, as well as everyone else, and they'd put it in a room at the bottom of the ward ready to collect, as they do with every meal. I didn't know this though. At about 10 I asked where breakfast was, and they said oh did you not get it? Well no love, I kind of can't feel my legs. She was absolutely mortified when she realised and had to go and get me more toast.

The whole thing was a bit hectic. I didn't get skin to skin and I wasn't the first person to hold him. I constantly felt like my scar was going to burst open. I couldn't roll over in bed. I actually slept with my glasses on for 3 weeks too. I'm so short sighted I had to reach to put my glasses on when he woke up and leaning over hurt so much, so I figured it would be better to sleep with them on, sat up, so I could just see to him straight away if he cried. How horrific. How I actually managed to sleep is beyond me. During the second week, I remember sobbing because I couldn't bend to pick him up and I felt so useless.

Then I think about how hard I tried to have him naturally. I felt like a failure when they told me I had to give up and just let them take over. Mainly because I felt like I had already gone so far. 3 days of labour and nothing. It was exhausting, excruciating and endless. I wanted so much to carry on, but when you feel like you've been doing it forever and you haven't progressed, it is so disheartening.

So let's talk the positives and negatives that I can think of off the top of my head.


Positives of an elective caesarean:


  • You know the actual date you're going to give birth. This will make it so much easier to seek child care for Oscar. 
  • If it's planned, there are less complications.
  • You don't have to risk going through labour again (especially if your labour was anything like mine) to get wheeled into theatre in a panic at the end. 
  • You can prepare yourself beforehand for what is to come, as you will already know what to expect.

Negatives of an elective caesarean:

  • The 6 week recovery process, especially with a toddler. It was hard enough with a singular newborn so I can imagine it would be a nightmare with a toddler too and especially trying to get him to understand that I wouldn't be able to do as much as I can now.
  • The danger of surgery when you already have one child. You have to sign consent forms in the middle of a caesarean about them being able to give you a hysterectomy if things go wrong, and that they basically aren't at fault if you die. It's not the nicest, and not something you want to think about when you have another child at home.
  • The more caesareans you have, the more risky your births are going to be. They don't recommend having more than two, and I would hate to worry about the risks if I happen to fall pregnant with another baby in the future. 

Positives of a VBAC:

  • I can officially say I have given birth naturally as well as having a 'sun roof birth'.
  • You can be back to normal within days, as opposed to weeks, which would make life so much easier.
  • I would get skin to skin immediately after birth.
  • Overall, I think it would just be a better experience and one I will feel more positive about.

Negatives of a VBAC: 

  • You are at a higher risk of something going wrong again.
  • You usually need help giving birth in someway or other, for example being cut or forceps etc.
  • It increases the risk of things like blood transfusions, which is utterly terrifying.

I have been doing my research since the day I got my positive test. It still terrifies me, but I think I have decided that I will opt for a VBAC and go in with the mindset that I will probably be having another caesarean.

Regardless, I don't actually have my appointment with the consultant for another few weeks, so although I am saying that's what I want, I don't even know if I will be allowed to yet. I'm hoping I can though, as there was nothing physically stopping me from being able to give birth naturally, or at least as far as I know.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. 

I'd love to hear your experiences with vaginal births/caesarean if you have had both, or even if you have just had a section and know exactly what you're doing next. Leave me a comment and I will respond as soon as I can!

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4 comments

  1. This was a really interesting read. I had an elective c section as Jack was breech and ended up having a post-Parkrun haemerrage. I would love a VBAC if I have another child. Really missed the initial skin to skin time x

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    1. I agree. There's part of me that wants so desperately to have a natural, and I will be devastated if they make me have another caesarean. The skin to skin is what I was so unhappy about too. I learnt aferwards that you can have skin to skin with a section but I was in such an awkward position when they placed him on me I just wanted them to get him back off incase he fell. I was devastated x

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  2. Oh lovely, I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience. You're right it is birthing bingo when you head into hospital, hopefully you get a more positive experience this time around.

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  3. I think its important to be able to have the opportunity to talk through the negatives and positives. Best of luck.

    ReplyDelete

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