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Cesarean Sections

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Pregnancy & Childbirth > Cesarean Sections



Physical therapy for c-section scar?

Feb 2008

Hi I had a c-section a few months ago and I heard that you can go to a physical therapist who can help w/ the scar. Can anyone recommend a physical who specializes in this and is in the Alta Bates medical group or Hills Physicians medical group? thanks anon


Unless you're having signficant pain or mobility problems, you probably will not be able to get a referral to a PT if you have an HMO. But you can help your C scar with self massage techniques. You can start after your incision has completely healed, about 4 to 6 weeks postpartum.

With massage oil on your fingers/scar, press down on one end and gently stroke the length of your scar. Aim for a slight stretch, no pain. Then stabilize the other side, and stroke in the opposite diection. Due to recent news regarding harmful chemicals in personal care products containing scents, use a scent free oil.

You can also massage across the length of your scar, gently rolling up and down. After your scar has become more elastic, you can lift the scar off you skin a bit, and roll the scar around you fingertips. Scar mobilization techniques help eliminate adhesions, which eases discomfort, and helps to speed healing. Because the skin has been cut, it's normal to feel tenderness around the incision site. As to scar fading creams, they do work, but ask your OBGYN if they are safe for nursing moms. BeFit-Mom, www.befitmom.com


Yes, there are physical therapy services available after C-section. It might be difficult to find someone in the Hills Physican Group that specializes in pre- and postnatal care. You can check with your OB office and see if they can recommend an office that accepts your insurance but often times you are on your own to do the research.

Don't assume that any PT office is capable of addressing your issue. The early postpartum stage is a specialty area and not all PT offices are experienced with this patient population. Ask questions about Women's Health experience and specialty areas when contacting an office.

Postpartum treatment plans for C-section include gentle mobilizations of the abdomen, therapetic exercises to the deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor education. If it is only incisional considerations, you will not need many visits and should be given a detailed home exercise program.

You can also check out www.partummemom.com for details. Suzanne


Yes, Pat Scott at Physical Therapy Associates of San Ramon helped me with min C Section scar....16 years after the fact AND that I never knew was part of my problems. Louise, a happy patient of Pat's

Insurance coverage for elective C-section?

Jan 2007

Hello, I am 35 and trying to get pregnant for the first time. After reading most studies available from reputable institutes, discussing with two ob/gyns and speaking with about 7 different friends that have had babies in the last few years I have decided that my choice for giving birth is by a c-section. After initial counseling my ob/gyn is very willing to do this but my insurance will not cover it which for me pretty much means that the option doesn't exist. Does anyone have any recommendations for health insurance providers what are willing to cover at least the amount they would have spent on a vaginal birth? I hear that this is how it works in Taiwan, if you request a c-section in the absence of a medical complication, you pay the difference in the cost of a c- section and a vaginal birth out of pocket. With all due respect, I am not looking for advice on the method of delivery (vaginal Vs a c-section), just information about health insurance. Particularly, does anyone know which major health insurance provider in California covers the costs, at least partly? Thanks!! Melissa


Hi there, I was also interested in a C-section for my first birth and I had to give up the wish. My ins. companies (mine and my spouse's) said it could only be done if the OB deemed the procedure as, ''medically necessary.'' At any rate, (ironically enough), I ended up HAVING to have a C-section w/ my first - a singleton (over 10 LBS) because I could not get her out after pushing for over 2 hrs. The OB could see her big head but I could not pass it. So, in that case, my ins. company did pay. What you might want to consider doing is asking your OB to write a letter to the ins. company requesting a C-section. I never did think about this but it might work (? ) We did IVF w/ this last pregnancy and I ended up w/ twins. In this case, I could have had a C-section but I decided not to. When it all was said and done - I ended up (for myself, it's all personal preference) deciding that I really prefered a vaginal birth. So, I ended up having a VBAC w/ my twins. However, if you did get pregnant w/ twins your ins. company would very likely pay for a c-section. Hope this helps ! KA

Electing to have a C-section - yea or nay?

March 2004

I am pregnant with my first child and am seriously considering a primary elective c-section for a variety of reasons. I have read the other posts and they all seem to focus on VBACs and mandatory C/S's. I am looking for advice from those who have had only a C/S, those who have had an elective C/S, and those who have had both vag deliveries and C/S's. Would you have the C/S again if given the choice, and what were the pros and cons for you? I am a NICU registered nurse, have attended hundreds of deliveries of both types, and am well aware of the risks of both types of deliveries. Therefore, i'm not looking for statistics or education from laypeople, just for stories and advice. Thanks!
Big fan of western medicine


I work as a postpartum nurse, and the recovery from a c-section is usually SO much harder than that from a vaginal delivery. In my own case, I delivered my baby at home and felt FANTASTIC almost instantly after he was born. Choosing major surgery, its inherent risks (anesthesia, hemorrhage, infection, other complications, not to mention post- op pain), and the risks for the baby (respiratory primarily), etc., when you could have a vaginal delivery which is so much better and easier for you and the baby, easier to initiate breastfeeding and care for the baby afterward . . . I just can't see what an elective primary c-section has going for it. Yes, the labor was painful, but it was also a transformative, once (or twice)-in-a-lifetime experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. Good luck with your decision. Anon
I have had both a c-section and a vaginal delivery (VBAC). The decision you are facing is intensely personal and only you can decide what is right for you. Having said that, I will share my story. My vaginal delivery was the most incredible experience of my life, I would not trade it for anything. Despite having pushed for nearly 2 hours and tearing, my recovery from my vaginal delivery was so much better than it was with my C- section and I didn't have a lot of problems after my C-section. I went home after my C-section without any pain medication feeling really good. Once I was home, getting in and out of bed, the couch etc. was really difficult and within a day I was calling the doctor for Vicadin. After my vaginal delivery I was up moving around the next day and was walking around the zoo with my older daughter a week after my delivery.

You will get a lot of opinions on this subject, but I have gone through both types of deliveries and I know the experience is very different. I felt really disconnected to the birth process with the C-section. I know that I gave birth to my first child, but I never felt like I did. My experience with the vaginal delivery was the exact opposite. It was intense, incredible, empowering and actually bringing a little life in to the world was amazing.

If you are having a healthy, normal pregnancy I would strongly encourage you to seriously consider why you are thinking about an elective C-section. There are risks involved with either delivery and your role as a NICU nurse has given you a unique perspective, I know because I am in health care too and have spent time in the nurseries. It is important to remember that the majority of vaginal deliveries turn out just fine. Good luck with your decision and your new family. Jennifer


I have three children - and three pretty different birth experiences. First and third vaginal delivery - first with minimal drugs, third with none. Middle one was an emergency c-section due to fetal distress.

I had relatively easy pregnancies and births (c-section not withstanding) and generally good recoveries - no horror stories. But I would never have a c-section unless there is a really compelling medical reason to. I found my recovery much slower after a c-section and the fact that both my husband and I had to focus so much energy on my recovery that we would rather be focusing on the new baby.

And it really is an incredible experience to bring your child into the world with as little outside intervention as possible. I was never fanatical about it and had all mine in the hospital. But in many ways - the last one which was completely natural - was the best . It is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. Mom of 3


I have had both a c-section and a natural birth (vbac) and I would never, ever again have a c-section again unless absolutely necessary. The recovery was awful. It was months until I felt like myself again. I was in so much pain, I will never forget it. It was almost a week before I could even walk. Sitting up was unbearable. I am left with a permanent 'pouch' on my belly, with an indent in the middle. I gained 50 lbs very quickly because I was unable to walk easily, let alone do any other kind of exercise. I was practially bedridden for 2 months. I've lost the weight now, but still have a permanent 'pouch' on my belly, with an indent in the middle. And my belly sticks out farther on the right than on the left.

My VBAC on the other hand, was incredible. I actually tore pretty badly but I felt fine in a week. Walking was difficult at first b/c of my stitches, but once they dissolved I was able to function pretty much as usual. I recovered far, far faster. Not to mention the joy I felt at birthing my baby naturally and being well able to take care of him and breastfeed immediately. The benefits of the vbac far outweighed the 'convenience' of c- section, which was not convenient at all. just my experience


I ended up having a C-section after a long labor and it wasn't as bad as I expected. I was extremely worn out after the labor but I don't think I was any worse for the wear than some of my friends who had vaginal deliveries.

My doctor suggested that if we were to have more children, that I should probably elect to have another C-section. I would strongly consider it again because some of the reasons that necessisitated the first C-section would probably present themselves again.

It sounds like you have witnessed lots of births but I wished I had heard more positive C-section stories when I was in labor. Ultimately what matters most is the health of mom and baby. Be well.


I ended up having an emergency c-section with my daughter, who is now 3 1/2. I was induced, dilated fine, but her heart rate was dropping and she was wedged under my pelvic bone. I could've pushed her out eventually, but three hours into pushing, with her heart rate dropping so dramatically and after trying to suction her out, I was rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section. At the time, I was not sad or bummed out at all that I had a c-section. My baby was alive and healthy.

Fast forward two and a half years from her birth and I was pregnant with baby #2. I lost this baby at 14 weeks in which the baby basically just fell out of me. Everyone, including my doctor, told me that it was ''just one of those things,'' but the way my miscarriage happened seemed so different from any other miscarriage I heard about or read about on the web. Mine was painless, no contractions, with the baby just falling out. Finally I read on the web about miscarriage due to incompetent cervixes and the stories were all just like mine. I had an ultra sound to check my cervix and sure enough, my cervix had shrunk (which they call ''incompetent.'') This is REALLY strange and uncommon after having a non-eventful, full term pregnancy. The only thing that could've caused this was the SUCTION devise that they used to try to get my baby out. This can, and did in my case, cause stress to the cervix and the cervix doesn't recover. I WISH I had known about this before they used suction on me. I would've said, forget the suction, let's do the C NOW. Now we're looking at a very tough pregnancy (cerclage and bedrest) if we do decide to have another child. You don't know about most of these things until you go through them and yes, there are, I'm sure, hundreds of women who have assistance from suction and their cervixes recover. I just wasn't one of them.

I think you should do whatever feels right for you. My recovery from the c-section was great and my scar is tiny. I don't regret the c-section at all. I regret the suction hugely.

Good luck... anon


You don't say whether or not a c-section is neccesary for medical reasons. If not, don't do it! I had a non-elective c- section and would not recommend one at all. The recovery was terribly painful and quite long. I didn't get to hold my baby for several hours after his birth because of the drugs I was given to numb my torso. And, nursing was quite difficult. Best of luck.
I have one child who was born by c-section. My pre-eclampsia got bad enough that she had to come out and I was neither effaced or dilated and she wasn't in position yet. We could have tried an induction but I (and the doctors) felt a c-section was safer for both of us.

The c-section was not thus entirely scheduled or elective, but it wasn't an emergency c-section either. I had several hours to wait until the operation, and I think it went as well as a c-section could go. I loved my anesthesiologist and my doctor, they were both very supportive and I felt the c-section was a good birth experience. I got to see my baby soon after she was born and had her with me as soon as they made sure she was allright (as she wasn't yet term).

BUT, if I had had a choice I think I would have liked to try a (medicated) vaginal birth. I'm sorry that I don't know (and probably will never know) what it's like to go into labor. I'm sure I wouldn't have liked the contractions, but I miss not having had the experience.

In all, it doesn't matter much, but I think if I had had the choice (if the baby had been in positioned, for example) I would have opted for the induction. anon


I had an ''involuntary'' c-section that saved my life and that of my baby. Obviously I'm glad that surgical birth was an option for us.

I had planned to give birth at home. My daughter was instead born in a bright room and bathed against my will. After a pregnancy free of medication, caffeine, sugar and alcohol, my body and that of my daughter's was inundated with three very powerful drugs within a matter of an hour (antibiotic, epidural, post-surgical painkiller.) Our placenta was thrown away as medical waste. My uterus was removed from my body, turned inside out, scrubbed, turned right side in and put back inside me, which, while standard, felt like a huge violation. Because it was so early in the morning, regular recovery was not yet open and I was put in ICU recovery instead. I overreacted to the epidural and couldn't wake up. When I did wake up, no one was there. I was hoarse from 14 hours of labor, there was no call button, and I couldn't get anyone's attention. It was three hours after her birth that I was finally able to hold my baby. My scar still aches and to this day, three and half years later, I still don't feel like I gave birth, maybe because I didn't feel myself give birth. Because of the incision carrying my baby like I wanted to (in a sling) was painful for months. If I were to have a 2nd child I'd try for a VBAC, no ifs, ands or buts.

Now, you should of course take all of this with a large handful of salt. Like I said, it saved our lives. And a lot of my anger and pain about her birth is because it isn't what I wanted. But that's my input. Christine


Very recently, a close friend of mine had an elective C-section. (She's not in the mood of typing up emails to advice lines right now.) Her pregnancy was uneventful, no risk factors were present. The surgery went well. The day after, she suddenly went down to the worst physical state she had ever experienced in her life. The hospital stuff and doctors were busy with other emergencies. They wouldn't have further investigated her condition without the persistant intervention of a doctor friend of her's (who happened to be visiting her just then). It was found to be some serious inner bleeding, a condition she could easily have died from. The hospital's OB/GYN on call had suggested to putting off a closer examination to the next day; she associated my friend's miserable condition with her excitement about the baby and, ironically, the presence of visitors.

My friend, as you, works in the hospital. As an anaesthesist, she showed up at hundreds, maybe thousands of birth. However, as staticians figured out during the 20th century, a huge number of observations does not garanty a good estimator. If there is a bias in the first place, a large sample size will only help the wrong picture to come out really sharp. There is the summer visitor in San Francisco who takes photographs of the Golden Gate bridge every single morning of his July/August stay. He'll conclude that no entire bridge exists, only parts ending in clouds. No matter how many pictures of this sort he takes, no matter how many pixels he's got in his camera, he'll never get it to see the whole. He may further be lead to assume that other people's photographs showing the full bridge must have been manipulated.

It may be completely different in your case, but I experienced myself how my professional life shaped my approach to pregnancy and birth in a specific way. For my friend, her profession seems to have made her approach to giving birth harder rather than easier (what I had naively expected). In her job, she'd never witness a normal onset of labor and the typical many hours of moderate pain, but she'd be called in during the hardest moment. She'd simply never seen how women overcome the challenge of active labor in any other ways and with other support than epidurals or C-sections, since in these cases she simply wasn't called into the delivery room. She'd leave the place as soon as the little warm and wet body left the uterus one way or another, still to become ''the parent's baby''. She would certainly not witness how the different physical ways of transitioning into parenthood affect the health and the bond between parents and baby in the first year and beyond.

Instead, shaped by her professional experience, my friend went for what she was familiar to her, rather than ''the unknown'' - the one garantied riskfactor at any birth - which later caught up with her in this terrible way.

Don't get me wrong, I have the deepest respect for many of the outcomes of Western medicine - just as you do, as you hint in your signature. (I am actually working in medical research myself, on the scientific end, both very Western and very high-tech.) However, we are not eating our soup with a fork. The tools of Western medicine are as good as the appropriateness of the cases we choose to apply them to.

Lacking the details of your case I can only guess that the cruel part of your decision is, as it was for some of my friends who agonized over C-sections, that, at the end of the day, you have to choose between a little more risk for you or a little more risk for the baby. There is the sheer impossibility for parents to accept any risk for the baby at all that could have been avoided, whatever sacrifices is takes from the mother's side. It helps to keep in mind that we are talking small risks all together, for which we even lack appropriate words to describe - other than ''1 in 86,311'' or 0.000059 and such figures. Another issue is in which sense we can actually separate the well-being of the mother and the well-being of the baby in the first place. Here I'm hinting at other C-section friends trouble with nursing, bonding, recovery from surgery, feelings of helplessness/incompleteness/lost control, downward spirale of self- esteem and postpartum depression, as well as very recent research on higher miscariage risk in pregnancies following a C-section (as you may have already came across yourself). All of this has an enourmous effect on the health of the entire young family in this period of highest joy as well as highest vulnerability.

My best wishes for your birth and beyond, Julia


I'm sure you'll get quite a few responses on both sides of the fence on this one. I had a C-section for my only birth (of twins) 2.5 years ago. I was very pleased with the experience. I recovered quite well, never took any pain meds stronger than Advil, and was happy to avoid labor. I never had any strong need to do it the ''natural'' way, although I would have labored if a C-section hadn't been indicated (both babies breech.)

My personal opinion is that it depends on how well you recover from surgery. From several minor procedures under general anesthesia I knew that I didn't have much problem recovering. And of course the C-section isn't under a general, but it is surgery. The first two days were very painful, especially getting to the bathroom, but after that it went from manageable to quite easy by the end of seven days. (I do know at least one other woman that took a full six weeks to recover, however. Her C-section was much more complicated than mine, took more than 2 hours, and followed a 24-hour stalled labor. Worst of both worlds!)

The only thing I didn't like about it was not being able to hold the babies for long just after the birth. I was spreadeagled on the table and they just placed them near my face for a minute. My husband and best friend who attended the birth spent much more time with them than I did. We tried breastfeeding within an hour of birth but they didn't latch on right then, so off they went again with my husband and friend until all my numbness wore off.

Good luck on your decision.
Can't see my scar anymore, but the stretch marks are still there!


My son was born by unanticipated, but non-emergency, C-section when it was determined that he was breech after I had labored for many hours with no progress.

Though it wasn't exactly a pleasure, I am glad I have had the experience of labor. My recovery from the section was fairly fast and easy, as C-sections go, and I had a lot of help at home in the first few weeks, but I cannot imagine having a C-section by *choice*. I am now expecting my second and intend to do everything I possibly can to ensure a normal delivery this time around. If I can avoid it, I do not want to feel like a cog in a medical machine rather than like a thinking person caught up in a powerful biological process, I do not want to have to think about what might or could happen if there were surgical complications, I do not want to be separated from my newly born baby for an hour while my body is stapled back together, I do not want to deal with being unable to get out of bed for several days or even just sit up without help for a week, I do not want to be unable to drive or walk a normal distance or change a diaper without abdominal pain for several weeks.

Of course, if I'd had a normal delivery, I suppose I might feel the same way about perineal pain and greater lochia. But the risks *are* greater with C-sections and there is no getting around that fact.

I do have friends who've had a difficult vaginal delivery and an easier C-section. But that's the exception rather than the rule. I'm not exactly a natural-birth fanatic, but here's how I look at it: A good normal delivery is always better and easier than even a good C-section; a bad normal delivery is usually better and easier than a bad C-section. A bad normal delivery may not be better and easier than a good C-section, but in most cases it's impossible to predict that those are your choices. So if you have a choice to make, it's more sensible to choose the normal delivery. Your chances of having a better outcome and easier recovery are considerably higher that way.
Intended VBAC mom


I loved that you signed your name ''Big Fan of Western Medicine'' because that was my feeling when I made the decision to have my second baby by ''somewhat'' elective C-section.

My first was a difficult vaginal birth. No major complications, but long labor and antibiotics due to a high fever. This resulted in baby being in the NICU for 2 days. I had a bad tear that resulted in weekly follow-up visits to my OB and more antibiotics.

When #2 was on the way, she measured very big. Given my history and the risks outlined by my OB, we opted for a scheduled C- section. I couldn't have been more pleased. My recovery was much easier and more ''controlled'' than with my first. I didn't need lots of pain meds. I couldn't drive after #1 either, so that wasn't a big difference.

That said, I was amazed/horrified by the insensitivity of some friends and family members who implied that I was failing or ''giving up before trying'' by scheduling my C-section. One even said, ''How will you feel if the baby is only 9 pounds and you ended up having a C-section?'' For my husband and me the only choice was to minimize risk for both baby and mother.

Good luck with your decision and congratulations!
Another fan


I am also a nurse, and had both a vaginal birth and a c- section. Both were very hard deliveries, but I definitely hated the c-section most. The big differences are: you are not in good shape after the c-section, as in it's MUCH harder to take care of both yourself and the baby, and you are in much more pain (even compared to a fourth degree tear.) I would rather have a vacuum delivery with lots of stitches than a c-section again. Given the knowledge that you have from work, and that you have probably seen the worst case scenarios, I think you need to talk to both your provider and a birth issues counselor to figure out what is bothering you and how to cope with that. I recommend Dr.Gayle Peterson, as she is local and an expert on birth concerns.
another nurse mom
I had a c-section with my first (and only) child at Alta Bates. I ended up having the surgery after 24 LONG hours of labor. In my opinion, the pros would be: you can choose the day you would like to deliver, you aren't exhausted after the birth from going through labor, you don't have to endure the pain of labor, and you don't have to endure the pain of labor. The cons would be: the risks of surgery (which you already know about), and it takes a while to recover from. Also, it took me a good week to get off the pain medication and I was breastfeeding, so I'm sure my baby got some of the drugs both from the surgery and after. Also, I couldn't stand up fully straight for a few days and taking a shower hurt. I wish you lots of luck!!
anonymous
I've had an emergency c/s and then a planned c/s for baby #2. I was very conflicted about whether to do VBAC or c/s for #2. My concerns were: what if c/s seems to interfere with initiating breastfeeding, as seemed to happen with baby #1? what if c/s makes me so exhausted that I can't care for baby #1? how will I handle being away from baby #1 for that long -- can I stay in the hospital by myself? and what about the need for vicodin and other painkillers afterwards? The result of my planned c/s was uniformly positive. A planned c/s is nothing like an emergency c/s. All of my concerns were for nothing. Breastfeeding was a piece of cake compared with baby #1. Procedure did not exhaust me, thanks to 4 nights in the hospital (Alta Bates). To my surprise, I loved being in the hospital with just my baby for some real bonding time. The nurses left me alone and were nice. And, I did not need the painkillers much at all this time around (maybe because I didn't endure 48 hours of labor first). I don't miss the thrill of vaginal delivery. Although I was depressed about my first c/s, I didn't have those feelings the second time around. I feel uniformly positive about my choice and would definitely do it over again.
Fan of planned c/s
I've had 2 c-sections. My first was an emergency, and definitely not in my plans. However, the procedure went fine, and my recovery was really fast. I scheduled my second one, and was even more pleased, mainly because I could relax and not worry about my baby. Again, my recovery was quick, and if I were going to have more children, that is the route I would go again. Good luck to you!
Ellen
My daughter was born by c-section because her head was turned. I would never choose to have a c-section, unless there was a medical reason for it. My philosophy is that women have been delivering babies for thousands of years without medical intervention--god or evolution made a process that works and it must be the way it is for good reasons. Too be honest, I can't even imagine choosing a c-section or that doctors are letting you make that choice, but I hear that it's now becoming an option. Obviously if you're a fan of medical approaches, you may disagree with what I've said so far, but my advice is don't choose a c-section, for medical reasons, too. The rise in c-sections isn't because the medical profession is protecting mothers and babies. Not that I blame them, but doctors are protecting themselves. If you're worried about the pain of delivery, you can do the epidural. Off my soap box--here are my pros and cons, as you put it.

Pros:
- Delivery would be quick and you'd be able to pick the date.
- There would be no labor pain, although there is plenty of other pain involved.
- Your vagina isn't stretched out so much.
- You don't have to worry about a rip episiotomy.

Cons:
- You feel like a train hit you when the epidural wears off. I can't imagine that the pain after a regular delivery is anything like the pain after abdominal surgery. The other moms were walking around the hospital while I was still drugged up.
- Recovery is really difficult--I was still feeling it 10 weeks later.
- Breastfeeding was a challenge--I don't know if the drugs made my milk slow or my daughter less interested, but she was slow to latch.
- You don't get to see what's happening because you're strapped to a table with fabric wall up--I felt disconnected from the birth. It was being done to me, not by me. I hear you can negotiate on this point, but I wouldn't count on it.
- If the epidural doesn't work, you end up with general anesthesia. This happened to me and it was very upsetting. My husband wasn't allowed in the room and NO ONE got to see the birth. I know this is rare, but what an awful feeling. It took me awhile to get over that. I knew it was baby intellectually, but it was weird.
- The baby doesn't get the benefit of the pressure squeezing liquid out of the lungs. My daughter coughs alot and I've often wondered why.
- Intercourse still hurts for awhile after. They don't change the recommended six weeks of waiting. My sister who had a vaginal delivery thought this wouldn't be the case, so I thought I'd mention it. There was really no difference in the after affects down there.
- I still had trouble with leaking bladder. This is often cited as a reason for c-sections, but my experience was that the damage was already done during pregnancy and the c-section made no difference.
- Depending on the hospital, you aren't guaranteed a private room. I wouldn't dare take the chance of a c-section if I had to share a room after.

Good luck. anon


I am a first time mom who had to have a c-section because when I went into labor my baby was breech. So this was not planned or chosen, in fact we had prepared for a natural birth, so it was very much not our choice. The c-section was relatively smooth, we had no complications, and the nurses were helpful about my wishes to see, hold, and nurse my baby as soon as possible. BUT - I would not elect to have a c-section if given the choice, and I hope to not have to do it that way next time. There are many reasons for this: the very painful recovery, not being able to hold my baby immediately, being on painkillers (and I tried to go without, it's pretty bad) and thus so sleepy and tired and just out of it the first days. Most of all, it just didn't feel right to do it that way, such a natural thing done in such a procedural, intrusive, and unpleasant way. I was so thankful and elated to see my baby, but in a way I was powerless to be there for her right in the beginning when that was all I wanted to do. I have a great deal of respect for modern medicine and understand that there is a place for c-sections, but having gone through one, I would only do it again if forced to for medical reasons. Good luck with your choice, in the end it's the outcome that matters. berkeley mom
I've had two elective c-sections now and am glad I did it. The c-setion didn't hurt, I still nursed the baby in bed while recovering while he rested on my stomach. Don't get me wrong, it did hurt when I had to get out of bed that first time, but a few vicodin and I was feeling pretty good. It only took me about 4 days to be up and around including up and down the stairs in our house. I only stayed 2 days in the hospital with the first and 3 days with the second. Everyone's different, but if you've got a good mind set instead of a fearful or negative one, it makes a big difference. I'm not vain but some of the positives are: there was no panic, no labor, my children had no distress, had perfectly round heads, my husband still got to cut the cord, and my bladder will still be in great shape when I get older. By the way my husband is a physician and he totally agreed and supported my decision. anon
HI, I am the mother of two, ages 11 & 12. The first was born by c/section, the second was a VBAC. I am also a Nursing student and have just completed my maternity rotation. I can tell you from experience that vaginal birth was a far more satisfying experience than c/section. And now, having spent the past two months observing (and participating in) many births (normal and high-risk; vaginal and c/section), I would NEVER opt to have a section over a vaginal birth (the key word here is ''opt'' - medical necessities are another story). The physician is in charge, it is an entirely sterile (in more ways than one) and unnatural procedure, and the trauma to the baby and the mother is sad to witness. Please reconsider. susan
I don't fit all of the criteria you specified, but my second child was delivered via scheduled c-section. In comparison to my first child who was delivered via c-section after a long failed labor.

I have to say the second one was FABULOUS!!!! I loved being able to walk into the delivery room. I was much more conscious of what was going on. We had a great time joking with the drs while they were doing all the prep. My husband was more relaxed and able to think of my needs during the surgery. Since no one was in a rush they let my husband and the baby sit next to me during the closing, and I held the baby's hand... plus they let me put my glasses on so I could see him.

BUT...The best part was the super quick recovery. By the time I was to be moved into my postpartum bed I felt mobile enough to scoot myself off the guerney. (The orderly was horrified.) I was up and walking the next day and felt ready to go home by the second day. (After the first c-section I didn't even feel ready when they sent me home on the 5th day!) I am sure that this is all due to the fact that I had a good night's sleep the night before the baby came, and I had far fewer drugs with the scheduled c-section than I had the first time around.

Would I go the vaginal route? Well, I tried the first time around, I really did... but it was not happening for me. I chose not to do VBAC for many different reasons, but did consider it. If we decide to have more kids... well, knowing what I know now about my body, VBAC isn't an option, but even if it were an option, I probably wouldn't bother. I really liked my scheduled c-section. But SHhhh... don't tell... I know that is not PC. where do I sign up?


I have one child, delivered by c-section, non-electively. The only thing I can say, with complete honesty, is that after 26 hours of labor I was VERY glad when they told me I had stopped progressing and it was time for a C-section; I could not have imagined having to push after all of that. I have absolutely no regrets about it, 2.5 years later.
Nice scar, though
I've already posted my c-section experience, but wanted to add a couple more things- in case they are not obvious already...if you are scheduling a c-section out of convenience, it may be convenient before, but it is not convenient for A LONG time after (I'd say at least 2-4 weeks before you can really move around well). Also, if you are choosing a c-section because you stay in-tact down there, also not the case. I know many women (including myself) who have had just as many problems post-partum as moms who delivered vaginally (in terms of everything getting back to ''normal''). GOOD LUCK with your choice...what's most important is a happy, healthy baby and Mama.
Wanted to add a few more thoughts...
I ended up having a scheduled c-section for the birth of my only child. I was terribly disappointed when it had to go that route because I really wanted to try to have a natural labor. Ater having gone through the prep classes, I was really mourning all the things I would not be able to do such as have my baby on my chest or at my breast right after birth, and the drugs that would be in my system, etc.

However, I now feel I had a great childbirth experience and will gladly have another c-section when or if I have a second child. Although I don't have anything else to compare it to, I felt my birth experience was great. I have absoluteley no regrets or disappointments. I ended up feeling very involved in the birth with my husband and the anethesiologist giving me the blow by blow and basically my husband did the initial bonding/caring for our baby right after birth. I was surprised at how quickly I was stiched up and sent to recovery (I think it was only about 15 minutes after he was born) and once there the recovery nurse at Alta Bates put my son to my breast and we got him to start nursing. And we were not separated after that.

I was not tired afterwards since I had a decent night's sleep the night before and my recovery really did not seem that bad. I definitely was uncomfortable when the spinal wore off and I did take pain medication for about a week. And I was really grateful to have the three days in the hospital and all the support I got there so that by the time I went home breast-feeding was going well. I know c-sections are dreaded and get a bad-rap, but that did not end up being my experience. I did lay low for a few weeks on the advice of a friend, to make sure I didn't overdue it, but I felt like I could up and go out before that.

Anyway, just my two-cents that while I was dreading a c-section, I now sing a very different tune. I am certainly now a strong believer that how a baby comes into the world is not what is critical -- it's that the baby and mom come out of it healthy. That is all that really matters in the end. Take whichever route you determine takes you closest to that goal.
Whitney


I read the recent postings and thought I'd add my thoughts and experience. I never went into labor with my daughter. She was 18 days late (didn't know until after that she was basically ''stuck'' in there- yep- too big to get herself out). I was to be induced. I knew walking into the hospital that I was slated for a c-section. I just wish they would have done it then and not hooked me up to pitocen, given me pain meds to sleep, kept me there TRYING to go into labor for 36 hours (never did even after all those meds- but I had some constant, nasty contractions- my uterus was going wild). FINALLY, we chose what they called a ''voluntary'' c-section (though it was HIGHLY suggested). Yeah, it sucked- it hurt- couldn't hold baby, hard to walk, hurt to laugh, cry, move at all, felt like I wasn't me for a while (couple of weeks), felt like I had no idea whose baby they kept trying to put on my boob. I was booted out of the hospital after only 2 days- it freaked me out at the time, but I'm so glad I went home...at home, I felt a billion times better (plus, I didn't have to be so jealous of vaginal birth giving roommate who kept walking the bathroom to shower and re-apply her makeup!!). Looking back on it, I'd say it was the total LACK of sleep the days before the surgery and then the pain medication they kept throwing at me (they asked me to rate my pain on a level of 1-10--puh-lease!) that made me feel so disconnected, not the actual surgery. Ya' know, I think I knew all along during my pregnancy that I would have a c-section (so maybe your mind and body are hinting at something??)- I guess that's because I paid attention to statistics...1 in 4 Moms have c-sections and, in most hospitals, it's 1 in 3 Moms now. So, your chances of having surgery to have your baby are high, whether you elect to do it that way or not. So, would I do it again? I think so (may not even have a choice)...I'll know when Grandma should fly out to watch my daughter, know when to tell Daddy to take days off for new baby, shower about a hundred times the day before surgery (cause showering is tough for quite a while), know to take it a little easy on the pain meds so I don't feel like such a wacko (and I certainly do not have a drug free past!). As for dealing with the emotions of not having a vaginal labor, like my surgeon father told me, had it not been for c-sections, my baby and I would not be alive (did I mention baby's head was too big for me?? yeah, uh, we're indebted to western medicine). So, obviously, I got over that pretty quickly!! PS- My husband wanted me to add- tell whoever will be with you after the surgery that you may just SHAKE LIKE CRAZY...no one ever told him that and it freaked him out!!!
Pretty sure I'll do it again...
I had 2 c-sections, the first was an emergency, the second was elective. It was not much of a problem for me. I couldn't get up & run around for awhile, but didn't want to anyway, because I had a new baby. There are pluses & minuses to both, I didn't read your question- just saw some of the advice given- so I don't know if I'm addressing your specific concerns... but I had taken the Bradley method and was all ready for a natural type delivery and ended up with anything but... However it worked out fine for me, didn't need the episiotomy that i heard so much about, it definitely took longer to recover than friends who had vaginal delivery, but since I didn't know the difference it was fine for me. I wasn't in pain, just soreness... like people say-- it'll work out either way. I guess if you can have a vaginal delivery, I would choose that, but if not, you'll be fine- benefits to both ways. heath

C-section scheduling and spacing sibling birthdays

Oct 2004

I have an unusual dilemma and am looking for input from parents whose kids' birthdays are very close together and/or who have birthdays very close to their own siblings.

I have a son who will turn two on January 20. I am also pregnant with a girl whose due date is January 25. I am going to have a scheduled c-section for this birth and my OB suggested scheduling it a week before the due date or somewhere around January 17. When I expressed some hesitation about the birthdate being so close to my son's birthday (three days apart), my OB offered that he would be comfortable to do the c-section anytime the previous week as well (-- that the baby is considered full- term after thirty-seven weeks and he would not be worried about the baby's health, etc.)

So, I'm kind of confused because I have this option and not sure of the best choice. I feel like it would be preferable (given that we have this choice) to make the kids' birthdays at least a week apart, but then also feel like it is somewhat odd and kind of rude to take my daughter out of her protective womb a week earlier (and two weeks before her due date) just to accomodate birthdates.

So, do parents with kids whose birthdays are only days apart wish they had more space between them? Did you like or dislike having a birthday only days from your siblings? Would nine days apart be much better than three days apart?

Or, should I listen to my father, who has a December birthday, and advises to forget about the closeness of the sibling birhtdays and to just get the birthday as far from Christmas as possible!!

Thanks in advance. Should have thought about this nine months ago


My younger daughter was born the day before her older sister's birthday, and frankly, thinking about it now, life would be simpler if I had just had her ON her sister's birthday. I would say a week apart or three days apart really doesn't make that much difference -- remember when they are in school, parties, etc. will be on the weekends anyway, so you'll either end up doubling up, or having two parties in one day, or using up at least two weekends. Since you have some options, I'd say have the baby AFTER the older child's birthday, as I think the hardest thing for my older daughter is that even though she was here first, her sister's birthday comes first. I also agree that the farther from Christmas, the better! Good luck!
Busy in April
I say listen to your dad. My brother's birthday is 5 days after mine and I don't recall it bothering me at all when we were kids. One year he would get the family member birthday party and I would get the friend birthday party and then we would switch the next year. I think we even had a few joint birthday parties - we're only 1 year apart so we knew all the same kids anyway. My parents certainly didn't apologize (although I think my mom might have appreciated a bit more time between pregnancies!) or make a big deal about our birthdays being so close - that's just the way it was and we didn't know any differently.
Michelle
For what it's worth, my sister and I have our birthdays on January 29th and 18th, respectively. We were born just one year apart. Every other year we had a joint birthday party, and on off years were allowed to have two friends over to spend the night, our mother would make our favorite meal, and we had a small birthday cake. We were both very happy with this. Of course this system broke down when we were about 11 or 12, burgeoning adolescence being what it is. I think that such a system could work well for you until the kids are older, when they will want to do different things anyway. The advice about getting the birthday away from Christmas is good. Actually, we found that our relatives were always fresh out of ideas in January, so we usually got money, which was fine with us. I think in terms of birthday proximity, a week one way or the other won't matter that much. Even if they are only 3 days apart, you can still celebrate one the first weekend and one the second if you want to.
Dianna
I also had to schedule my c-section for my second child but fortunately they were a month apart. What I wouldalso consider is what your son's birthday means to him and how it will be affected by your recovery. If you do it on the 17 you will probably still be in the hospital on his birthday. I was in the hospital both times for 5 days even though I had no complications. Even a week earlier has some effect. Once you get home there is still residual pain as you recover from major surgery. Can you schedule it after his birthday? I had mine a week after her due date (I was hoping it would happen naturally). They can test to make sure there is enough fluid and no stress. Good luck in choosing a birthdate. It was very awkward for me. I randomly picked 2-24-2004 and realized later the relationship between the numbers.
Tammy
I'm surprised your doctor would consider scheduling your C-section before 39 weeks--mine wouldn't, even though my first child arrived before 39 weeks. My children's birthdays are nine days apart. I can't really say yet how it will work out, since my younger is not yet one, but I think it could be fun (if exhausting) to have a ''birthday season'', and perhaps it will reduce jealousy (''How come sibling gets all those presents?'' ''You'll get lots next week!''). I do have a suggestion, though: since your son is too young to know what day it is, you can celebrate his second birthday a little further away from the birth of his baby sister. You could even celebrate it *before* the birth of the baby, which is what I'd recommend doing--right after the baby arrives would be a tough time to have a birthday party. Hold back some of the presents people send your son, and dole them out when people come by with gifts for the baby.
Birthday Season
Hi, I have 2 daughters whose birthdays are Jan. 26 and Jan. 20, and I'm due with a boy on Jan. 14, which also happens to be MY birthday. I don't have to worry about a C-section (that I know of, at least), but I've thought a lot about the birthday issue, and think that for your own sanity, the more days between birthdays the better. I think 9 days would be preferable to 3, and if you're scheduling the birth anyway, that extra week will really pay off as the kids are growing up and you're scheduling back-to-back parties. My daughters are only 4 and 2 now, so we've had combined parties so far, but I know they're soon going to want their own themes, friends, etc. I'm thankful for the 6 days I'll have in between to get everything planned! Just my opinion...
Yikes! 4 Birthdays in 18 days!
I was born on September 7th, the day before my older sister's 2nd birthday. The only thing that's ever bothered us about this was that my mom often held joint birthday parties when we were kids to lessen her workload. However, had my mom made more effort to give us each our own special day, I wouldn't have minded a bit that the spacing was so close. (Think: new toys for both, not just one, sibling to prance around with in front of the other.) Ironically, now that we're adults and birthdays have lost most of their shine -- and are even mildly depressing at times -- we actually REALLY enjoy celebrating them together. This year I had the most pleasant birthday I can remember, and it's precisely because my sister and I were able to celebrate together with our husbands and our parents after living far a part for several years. So my advice is, let your baby enjoy the womb as long as you can. It might actually be a blessing for them to have their birthdays spaced so closely.
Rachel
if they are fairly close in age (maybe 3 years or less) it could be fun and save you money for quite a while to do shared birthday parties with something special for the children on their day. My neices,now 13 & 14 though same sex, (1 year and 3 days apart)have always had shared parties sometimes a dual theme if they were attached to certain themes, each would invite about 6 friends each, and after just a few years of planning our 2 children's unclose birthday parties I am very jealous of the closeness of their birthdays! So I guess I'd lean towards letting the baby stay warm and cozy longer(or she may surprise you and pick her own day anyway)then just do something special for each on their real day and share the bigger festivities as long as you can!
Chris
If it were me, I would definitely schedule it for after your son's birthday so that you can celebrate his birthday with him without having a new baby disuprting everything and stealing the show. Yes, he is only two - so he would never know if you skipped his birthday altogether - but he is old enough to appreciate and enjoy a day focused on HIM. You simply won't have the chance to give him that this year if you do it after the birth of your daughter -- plus, it will be nice for all of you (but especially your son) to have that to look back on once the baby is here. A few days one way or the other won't matter so much down the road -- but this year it will!
Two too close, too

Still not fully healed from C-section

Jan 2005

I had an unexpected c-section 2 1/2 years ago. The operation itself and the healing was very difficult and seemed to take much longer for me than those I spoke with at the time who'd also had one. Even now, when I lean against something (like a changing table) or something presses against my stomach, it hurts. I feel like if I get pregnant again (which I want to) that the ''stretching'' will be very painful-I can't imagine how the uterus wouldn't rupture. I had a checkup recently and the nurse practitioner said that everything ''seemed fine'' to her. Is this feeling normal, or could something be wrong? anon


Over a year ago I had a baby who came out a c-section. I thought it might be taking a long time to heal completely, but just realized that maybe it should be healed by now. So I'm wondering what other women's scars look like a year later? Mine is still pretty thick and red and raised, tender and a little tingly. Is this normal? There are a couple little sections which are flat and smooth, but most of it looks nasty. When they cut me open, the woman who preped me said that in a year I wouldn't be able to tell I'd been opperated on...I can definitely tell. Is there anything I can do to make it go away? What's normal after a year? big red scar
I just had a conversation with my dermatologist about c-section scars last week. Mine is still ugly and itchy after 1 yr and she says this is totally normally. Hers is too, as are most. I also have some pain periodically. I hope this is not the case after 2 1/2 yrs--in that case, I'd get a second opinion. FYI, the New England Journal of Medicine just published a study showing higher than thought complications for uterine rupture during a VBAC labor. It's probably worth doing a search for the article if you're considering one.
I had pelvic surgery 5 years before I got pregnant, then a C-section to deliver my twins. The doctor who performed the C-section told me my original incision was ''a mess'' and that he would give me a much better one. ! At my first exam post delivery, the doctor patted it proudly and said I'd be much happier with the new incision. He was right. Although the original incision was always a little puffy and definitely noticeable, the one I got after my C-section healed much faster and is much less conspicuous than the first one. I had numbness much longer with the first one, too -- indefinitely, in fact. I'm not sure what the difference was between the two or what you can do about it now (apart from more surgery with a doctor who knows what he's doing -- which would be huge trade-off!), but I do know that not all incisions are alike. Barely noticeable
I had two C-sections, most recently in 2001, and healed fairly rapidly. It seems to be that if it's bothering your after a year, you should get it checked out (though there might be nothing you can do. People heal at di! fferent rates.) My scar (Now the combination of two scars, I guess) is flat, skin colored, and not tingly, and has been this way for at least two years. However, it's clearly visible, a perfectly obvious scar line. (They told me it would be unnoticable too. Even at the time, I said ''yeah, yeah.'') C-section veteran
I've had two C-sections, and both times my scar remained tender for quite a while after the surgery. But although my second pregnancy was pretty uncomfortable and I felt like I was going to explode for the last two months, there was nothing actually wrong and my uterus was fine and I delivered a big, healthy, full-term baby. I also bounced back more quickly from the second C-section (probably because of a shorter labor--I lost only one night of sleep instead of two!).

And, to the second person who's worried about her scar, you should ask your doctor about it, but it sounds within the range of normal--some people heal better than others. You may form keloids, which are thickened scars. I think the promise of ''wouldn't be able to tell [you'd] been operated on'' is an exaggeration--everyone ends up with a visible scar, though sometimes it's covered by pubic hair. Scarred but happy


It sounds like you formed a type of scar called a keloid. They are unsightly but not indicative of poor healing. I had a c- section 3 years ago (and am having another in a few weeks) and still have a small area below the incision that is slightly numb. It has gotten a lot better with time. As far as your worry about the stretching with another pregnancy, most c- section scars are so low that they are in an area that doesn't get ! stretched by the next pregnancy. My scar has never bothered me at all during this pregnancy. The same goes for the uterine scar, which is why doctors make it where they do. another c-section mama
My c-section scar looks terrible. It has been 3.5 years since my first and 1 year since my second. I think the nurse who prepped you was totally deluded. Regarding the numbness and tingling, I think that will continue to get better over time but my OB said there will always be some numbness in that area. anon
If you are still feeling pain 2 1/2 years after a ''C'', I'd suspect that you might have internal adhesions. Some people are more prone than others to develop post surgical adhesions. It's scar tissue that forms around damaged tissue. You can think of them like small rubber bands of tissue. Adhesions are also caused by infections, particularly STD's.

If this is the case, adhesions will not case uterine rupture in a subsequent pregnancy. However, if you do become pregnant again, carefully weigh your options with your OBGYN. VBAC's are not risk free. A small number of women do experience uterine rupture when attempting a VBAC and this complication is life threatening. For the ''C'' scar that is still raised after one year, massage and scar mobilization techniques will help a lot. Very often adhesions (again) form between the scar and underlying tissues. Oil your fingers and/or your scar, so that you can massage the area without friction. Start very gently, massaging your scar lengthwise. You can work from the middle out, and then holding one side down, stroke the scar from one end to the other. Then massage in the other direction, across your scar, gently rolling it up and down.

After repeated massage, your scar should begin to feel looser, and then you can begin to pick it up off the underlying tissue and roll it back and forth between your fingers. To get the idea of how to do these techniques, practice the movements on the seam of of a piece of clothing. Don't work to the point of pain. This is a slow and steady process. Also, you could look into some of the post surgical creams that plastic sugeons use on their patients. that might be a good option too. Helene Byrne author, ''Exercise After Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel Your Best''


I also had a difficult, unplanned c-section just over 2 years ago and my scar is still bright red and thick (I think the term is keloid). It is uncomfortable/painful when I touch it or scratch it or if my panties rub against it. And it nearly always feels itchy.

I worry not only that another pregnancy may stretch the scar to the point of pain but also that it may lead to MORE scarring. Ive heard tales told both ways, that a repeat c-section is easier because of the original scar and that it can be more difficult. I dont mind the look of it so much, I just wish it wasnt so uncomfortable. Rebecca


I would get a second opinion about the scar and the pain. From my personal experience, my c-section scar was never painful and at four months was barely noticeable and by a year it had completely blended in with my very pale skin, and is totally smooth. Maybe it depends on the type of stiching on the incision. I had staples which were removed 24 hours after delivery and then used Mederma, an over the counter scar cream, for two months and it worked wonders. A majority of my friends have also had c-sections a! nd there scars are also barely visible after six months or a year. As for getting pregnant, if you have the go ahead from your OB, go for it! My doctor gave me the okay to try and get pregnant after six months, but I waited a year, which seems to be the amount of time your body needs to heal from any type of delivery. Jodi
Well, I don't really have any advice. I just wanted to THANK YOU for asking, since I feel the same way from my C-section 9 months ago. My scar has about a half inch of smooth, the rest is a gnarly red mess. The right side has taken forever to heal, and anything that lightly brushes up against the skin is excrutiating. I went in to see if anything had herniated (it hadn't) and the NP said that I should expect this low-level discomfort, oh, FOREVER. Internal adhesions pulling, etc. All I know is the lev! el and length of pain & discomfort (and I have a HIGH threshold for pain, mind you) is enough to make me dowright fearful of having baby #2. Anyone read the NYT article about women w/ previous C-sections waiting in hospital parking lots until they've dialated too far for the auto 2nd C-section? Hello! anon
I just had to write in on the C-sections that were still painful after a long time. First of all, some of them sound really sound very painful and I really feel for all of you. Secondly, as a physical therapist who loves working with soft tissue especially, I have treated C-section scars and pain has gone away, they have smoothed out, and in one case the numbness disappeared! I am not saying every one can be improved hugely, but having a good manual physical therapist or osteopath, or even a really good chiropractor who does this sort of work (not just the popping and cracking variety) can do wonders! Leia

Keloid scar still hurts after 14 months

Nov 2002

After trying my best to avoid a cesarean to deliver my breech baby, I not only ended up with the c-section, but with an ever- worsening keloid scar as a result. I have so far received three rounds of steroid injections, which haven't helped at all. After 14 months, the scar is huge, bright red, and very, very itchy. I am also still nursing, and my daughter frequently kicks the scar, which is really painful. Has anyone else had a keloid scar from a c-section (or from anything else)? Can you recommend any doctors or treatments? Tawnya


I have several third degree burn scars that would have become keloid had I not used pressure garments on them, to keep them flat (the redness fades with time). See if you can get one for your scar (even a tight girdle might work). The pressure prevents the scar from growing. Otherwise, I rubbed several lotions on them (some very costly and are perscription only). Silvadene is one (I think that is the name). Vitamin E helped, perhaps, but did not work miracles. Your best bet is the pressure garments (formal name for them is Jobst). Mary
I hate to say this...but I never got rid of my keloid until I had another c-section. I'm scheduled for my 4th and surely last c-section in April, and am FREAKING out about getting another keloid. As far as I can tell, it's the luck of the draw. The surgeon who did the most rushed and least careful surgery left me with the best scar. The two better surgeons each left me with keloids. What can you do. Ayelet
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