Welcome to the latest instalment in my Birth Stories feature. Today Lisa from Mummy Gummie tells the tale of her emergency caesarean section.
I was over my due date by 4 days when we went into delivery suite for reduced foetal movements on Saturday night. Although the heart rate trace (CTG) was fine, as baby still wasn’t moving much, they decided to just get on and induce me that night. After breaking my waters, my contractions were very slow to get going and a hormone (syntocinon) drip was started to help. Unfortunately baby didn’t tolerate the contractions well at all, and kept dropping his heart rate with every contraction. After trying various tactics and monitoring for a few more hours, things had not improved and on examination my cervix wasn’t dilating as expected either. So they made the decision for an emergency Caesarean section.
Being medically trained myself, I have previously assisted in many Caesarean section operations and know exactly what they entail. Having this prior knowledge and experience was both a help and a hinderance. It helped in the sense that I knew what to expect and how many Caesarean sections are carried out everyday making it a very safe operation. But i couldn’t get the thought of being sliced open and my uterus pulled apart to release baby out of my head, I was suddenly really scared. So many thoughts racing through my head, what if something went wrong? What if the spinal anaesthesia wore off and I could feel everything? What would the recovery be like? I felt truly terrified. But I also felt guilty, here I was worrying about myself when I should have only been thinking about the welfare of my baby.
I had a vaginal delivery with my first baby but with a third degree tear with a post partum haemorrhage that was repaired in theatre. The recovery after this tear was horrendous, I was in lots of pain and couldn’t get comfortable in any position for weeks and weeks afterwards. I was so scared of this happening again that in antenatal appointments with consultants I had seriously considered opting for an elective caesarean, but was encouraged to try a vaginal delivery again. Oh the irony!
After speaking to my mum on the phone, I felt calmer. My mum has had 3 Caesarean sections previously, both emergency and elective which helped as she understood but also because sometimes you just want your mum don’t you, no matter how old we are? Afterwards, I saw the anaesthetist and surgeon who talked things through and I signed the consent form. Mind you I was in so much pain at this point, I really don’t remember these conversations at all!
The team involved in the Caesarean were all amazing, and I have to say it makes me proud to work for the NHS. I was wheeled to theatre, whilst screaming out in pain with contractions. Unfortunately there had not been time to put an epidural in prior to theatre, so they were going to put the spinal in once in theatre.
There were so many staff surrounding me, theatre porter and midwives helped me onto the theatre trolley and sat up so the anaesthetist could put the spinal in. Having spinal anaesthesia is a very strange sensation, you can still feel your legs but they are like lead and unable to move them, you can’t feel the cold spray, you can still feel the sensation of being touched/pressure but no pain. My husband mike, sat right beside me, after changing into theatre scrubs. A fabric screen was placed between my chest and abdomen to shield us from seeing the operation and my insides!
Although it was an emergency section, and things happened pretty swiftly, the overall atmosphere felt surprisingly calm and cheery in the operating theatre, which helped keep me calm in turn. The spinal anaesthesia worked perfectly and I felt no pain throughout the operation, just some pulling/pushing sensations which were a bit odd to experience. In seemingly in no time, they lowered the screen to reveal my screaming baby boy being lifted out of my uterus to the world. a surreal thing to witness but such a relief to know he was ok.
After being checked over by the midwife and Mike getting to cut the cord, they brought my baby boy over to me for some skin to skin cuddles. It was really lovely to still be able to do this like after a vaginal delivery but practically it proved quite difficult, so after a brief cuddle Mike held me next to me whilst I was being put back together!
The majority of the time for the operation is actually after baby has been born, its stitching you back up. Although I couldn’t feel any pain whatsoever from my abdomen downwards, I did start to experience a sharp pain in my right shoulder. The anaesthetist informed me that this is a common occurrence, due to nerve irritation from abdomen and nothing to worry about. He gave me a short acting morphine injection and some gas and air to help with this.
At the end of my operation, the surgeon, a lovely locum doctor originally from Africa explained that my baby boy had had the cord wrapped around his neck twice, which was why he kept dropping his heart rate. But that also the position of his head in my pelvis was a brow presentation instead of vertex (i.e. Towards back of head), this meant that he was unlikely to have ever been delivered vaginally and why I hadn’t really progressed with labour. It was good to have someone explain what had happened and why, and really reassuring to me that the right decision was made to opt for the Caesarean.
After the operation, my spinal anaesthesia wore off gradually over the next few hours, and I kept any pain at bay with regularly pain relief from the midwives. By the next day I was up and about, and pain was very manageable (much to my surprise and relief!).
Now 3 weeks later, although not fully healed yet I am doing well. I don’t have any pain from my wound/scar, except the odd niggle if I have overdone it! The wound has healed well, and is neat and tidy, the only downside being the overhanging belly bit! The hardest part for me recovery wise has been no heavy lifting or driving for 6 weeks, as it means I can’t lift my very heavy toddler up, but only 3 more weeks to go now.
Although I didn’t want or plan to have a Caesarean section delivery, it was the best and safest option in the end for my baby boy and ultimately that’s all that matters!
A massive thank you to Lisa for sharing her story. If you have been featured on Birth Stories and would like to display my badge in your sidebar, then please grab the code below