Delivery After C-Section: My thoughts so far

I’m three month pregnant right now and just into my 2nd trimester. Baby #2 is on the way!

Two weeks ago I was scheduled for a routine prenatal visit but had to cancel because Baby H woke up with a cold. After that I took my sweet time rescheduling since a) who likes doctor visits in the first place when there are no ultra sounds involved, and b) everything was going fine with this pregnancy just like the last so I wasn’t in a rush just to be told that everything is OK when I already “knew” it was.

And you know what? Everything is fine. But still, I didn’t leave the hospital feeling very reassured about delivering this baby. It stemmed from my doctor asking me if I am going to have another C-section or try for a VBAC this time. Of course this question was expected and has been on my mind since before day 1, but I really didn’t expect it to come up so soon. It’s a huge decision and one that has very passionate people on either side of the fence. So where do I stand?

Well first of all, let’s back up a bit…

 

When I was pregnant with Baby H, the number one thing that I was going to make sure of at my delivery was that it would NOT be a C-section.

As I imagine every new mom does, I read tons of articles and blogs all about what to expect during the delivery experience. The whole thing was so foreign thing to me… I  absolutely couldn’t fathom the feeling of labor and what it would be like pushing a baby out, so I wanted to soak up everyone else’s thoughts and experiences.

Many of the articles I read (maybe because I subconsciously gravitated towards a certain type) liked to really highlight the negatives of having a C-section. Even the ones that did so more subtly, would still say something like, “I do such-and-such while pregnant because it does such-and-such which lowers the chance of a C-section.” This kind of thing, mentioned over and over, of course reinforced in my mindset that C-sections were a worst case scenario and something to be avoided at almost all costs.

 

There were a few main things that I read repeatedly in different places that shaped my mindset about delivery and also affected my birth plan:

  • Having an epidural increases the chance of a needing a C-section
  • Being induced with Pitocin increases the chance of needing a C-section
  • Being induced specifically before your due date increases the chance of a C-section

So are these statements scientifically proven to be true? Honestly, I have not read enough science based articles to say for sure either way. (If you would like to read more about the science behind the claims, I’ve recently found this site and this site to be insightful). Either way, here’s what I do know… I went without an epidural, I waited util I was 8 days overdue, and I went into labor naturally. But I STILL ENDED UP HAVING A C-SECTION. And so I think even if the chance of having a C-section isn’t increased based on certain factors, there are plenty more at play.

For me specifically, it was the size of my baby that determined my delivery. Baby H was a BIG baby and it turned out that his head was bigger than the space in my pelvis that he needed to pass through. I mean mathematically, it was just never going to happen.

And it took thirty-some hours for the doctors and myself to realize that this was the case…

I remember being absolutely exhausted. It was early Wednesday morning, I had been in labor since Monday night, and my contractions and back labor had become so intense by now. But each time I was checked for dilation, the doctor said the same thing: You’ve barely progressed. And this time, I was told that the baby’s heart rate was starting to show signs of stress.

 

It was time to seriously consider a C-section, even though I was still determined that this would not be the way my baby was going to enter the world.

At this point, the doctor advised me to get an epidural so that I could get some sleep and and allow my body to stop fighting the contractions. Or more realistically, so that I would have at least a little rest before surgery. The doctor told me she would check back in two hours and if I had not dilated a certain amount, a C-section would be necessary.

So there we were, Pat and I both exhausted from the past two sleepless nights, but I clung to the hope that all my body needed was some rest and a break from the pain, and then when I would wake up things would all of a sudden start progressing and the doctor would say, “You’re 10 centimeters!”

But one epidural and two hours later, I woke up to the doctor walking into the room. She checked me one last time, checked the baby’s heart rate and told me the exact words I did not want to hear: You’re still the same and the baby’s safety is starting to be at risk. Are you ready for a C-section?

Pat’s face was in such shock and horror. He was so afraid for me. But I held back the tears and said with half a smile, “Babe, it’s time to finally meet our baby”.

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Several hospital staff came in and out of our room, Pat was handed some kind of hospital garb to put on, I texted my parents the news, and everything else for the next minute or two was a blur. And then I was rushed off to surgery. I almost laughed to myself as a handful of people on all sides of my bed rushed me down the hallway – So fast that my hair actually blew in the wind. Maybe it was the meds, but it was kind of funny to me to have been waiting in agony all that time, and NOW it was suddenly urgent.

 

But either way, I was excited that this was it, time to meet my baby!

I surprisingly felt at ease in the surgery room. It was actually really incredible to me how many doctors were in the room, and all attending to me! That was so reassuring. Also, I had Pat right over my shoulder, and the anesthesiologist on my other side, calmly explaining every step that the doctors were making. It’s typical practice to put a sheet that is suspended over your body, including your face (this is for the blood splatter) so you can’t see what’s going on. But I don’t know who would want to!

The rest of what went on during the operation just felt like a bit of tugging. There was no pain. Then, in a matter of minutes, my big red baby was held up by his feet over the sheet so I could see him for the first time. Pat looked at me and said, “Becca he looks like you!” It was awesome. I didn’t get to hold Baby H right away since I was being sewed up, but I was OK with that. I think that was the first real sacrifice I had to make as a mother; I did what needed to be done, and now my baby was alive and safe and everything was going to be alright.

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So that was my delivery experience. Very different from my actual goals and expectations!

 

But am I devastated things turned out the way they did?

No. Absolutely not. I look at C-sections completely differently now. It saved my life. It saved my baby’s life! Seriously, it was so incredible to find out from the doctor later on that Baby H’s head had made it’s way into the birth canal after all but it had gotten stuck and all those contraction never would have made a difference… There was literally no way out.  I am so thankful that a C-section was possible and am wholeheartedly grateful for my surgery. Honestly!

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The experience had change my mindset on C-sections so much so that it was really surprising to me to hear my family’s reactions to the news. My sister even told me later that she cried when she had found out about me needing a C-section.

But I am going to be very real for a second… I am actually now more fearful of having a vaginal birth than a C-section! Is that weird? Of course I would be grateful for a successful birth either way, but gosh, I do have to say I’m happy that my lady parts were left unaffected the last time around.

 

So now back to my doctor’s appointment today and the discussion we had.

My doctor is a huge believer of VBAC’s, but of course we had to talk about the risks of both kind of deliveries.

My Main Takeaways from the Conversation with My Doctor:
  • With a VBAC there is a small risk of rupturing my uterus where the scar tissue is located.
  • VBAC’s before 19 months postpartum have a higher (but still low) risk of rupturing (My due date is 10 days before this benchmark)
  • My doctor does not recommend have a large family if I continue to have C-sections. (Her definition of large is 6 kids and she said that personally she’s had a patient go through a total of five C-sections and heal successfully.)
  • My last scar did not heal as well as it could have (it’s thick and slightly raised i.e. hypertrophic), and my doctor told me she could remedy that next time if I was to have another C-section so that it would heal better.

Some of My Personal Concerns:

  • C-sections are not “natural” and the healing process is very different.
  • C-sections keep the baby from going through the birth canal which has beneficial bacteria that they would otherwise pick up on their way out.
  • A VBAC would be my first choice but if baby # 2 is even close to the same size as the last (9.3lb!) I will need a C-section regardless
  • The probability of baby #2 being smaller than Baby H is slim – Especially since it’s more common for the second child to actually be larger. *gulp*

My doctor is wonderful and she is supportive of either choice for delivery. But more importantly than that, as someone who has delivered babies for years and years, she told me that she is a huge believer in a mother’s own intuition. Whatever scientific beliefs she holds as a doctor, a mom’s intuition trumps all.

 

So to answer the questions about where I stand….

At this point, I’m not sure yet what delivery method I will end up committing to. I’m definitely leaning one way more than the other, but I’m also open to taking my doctor’s advice and trusting my motherly intuition. Here’s to hoping that kicks in sooner rather than later! Stay tuned… 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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