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Thread: Traumatic 1st birth - preg again, trying to decide to have VB or c-section

  1. #1

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    Default Traumatic 1st birth - preg again, trying to decide to have VB or c-section

    I gave birth to my son 14 months ago, it was a very long and traumatic birth. When I fell pregnant again my doctor said I could have a c-section. Up until a week ago I would not have even considered a having a vb ever again. After doing lots of reading I am very confused over what to do. I have read lots of C-section experiences on bb and it seem c-section can be just as painful and traumatic as vb sometimes more so. I know I could never go though what I went though with ds. Has anyone here had both, how did the pain compare? Does anyone else have any input to help me decide? A wonderful bb member is lending me New Active birth to read. I just don't know what to do. Thank you for any replies.


  2. #2

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    My first birth was long and horrendous. I started having regular painful contractions 4am 18th, by 3am 19th (24hrs later) went to hospital who said I was 3cm go home which I did, 7am 19th back to hospital 3cm go home. Back 2am (46hrs later) 20th was 7cm dilated finally enough to be allowed to stay. By 1030am was fully dialated (8hrs to go the last 3cm) and pushed for almost 3hrs ( I now work at that hospital and the policy is 1hr active pushing if no progress assessment by Obstetrician or if progress can push for 2hrs longest to have bub out) well I was never seen by a Dr and eventually I pushed her out after 2hrs 50mins she was direct OP (posterior) now I know not many 1st time mother push out an OP baby without some assistance. Well as soon as she was born the heamorraging started and I was in theatre for hrs whilst they try stop the bleeding. My second baby 6yrs later was 6hrs from the first pain to her birth. I lost the plot 10mins before she was born but that was it. Completely text book which I put it down to the fact that my body was a "trialed passage". Most woman who have difficult first births go on to have very "text book" births second time around as your body often labours and births easier (due to having done it before). I found the pain was not any less but could feel the progress and see the end which I couldn't with my first.
    You need to decide what is best for you and see how accomodation the place you intent to birth is. Recently I assisted a lady to birth who had a bad first birth. She had an epidural inserted before her induction was commenced (due to her level of anxiety which was why she was induced at 39weeks) then a few hrs later she was ready to push and the dr actually got her to cough the baby out. She had one initial push and then coughed the rest of the baby out. It was completely amazing and completely pain free. Completely medicalized but she was very happy with her birth and was able to go home hrs later. I would talk to you Obstetrician about the likelyhood of another difficult birth. Was it for a reason like bad position of the baby, large baby, took too long etc and is that likely to happen again! GL your after a healthy mum and bub at the end of it doesn't matter which way they come.

  3. #3

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    Normally I would say go for the VB and spend the time between now and then working through your feelings from your first birth and doing some serious debriefing about it to get yourself in the right frame of mind so you can move forward and give birth with confidence this time round, but it's not always as simple as that. For some women they will only be 'healed' from a previous traumatic birth by having another vaginal birth and for others they need to have a c/s to be able to move on. Either way it comes down to giving birth on your own terms in a way that makes you feel empowered about the birth and if that happens to be a c/s then that's fine and if its another vb then thats fine too.

    I have a dear friend who had to make the exact decision you are now and I will ask her if she wouldn't mind popping in and sharing her story with you.

  4. #4

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    Mum2 - sorry to hear you had such a bad experience.

    I had a horrid first delivery also - in short I was induced and had severe hemorraging also. It took months for me to physically recover, bubs had a few issues and looking back I was quite tramatised by the whole experience.

    I too considered a CS with DD2 - I was quite concerned how I would cope with an active 2yo and newborn as I thought my experience was the norm... This was further complicated by a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes and lots of talk of BIG babies and induction.

    I was lucky enough to have a fabulous midwife who really debriefed me on my last experience. She was so encouraging about the possibility of a good VB and assisted me in avoiding induction (commonly used with GD). I approached things quite differently and sought information about active birthing.

    DD2 arrived after 4hours in labour - from first niggle to delivery and she was posterior also so took ~45mins pushing. It was an amazing experience and nothing like the first - I was up and about almost straight away. My family were shocked at how great I looked and felt (after seeing a vey sick girl last time). The hospital was prepared for haemorrage this time via injection - but I didn't need it.

    Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to let you know that things can be different - also too arm yourself with the most info you can and be happy with your choice! You will know what is best for you - and that is the most important thing.

    I also found an old thread here about pain in labour which gave me some interesting things to think about.

    Hope you can enjoy the rest of your pg - take care.

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    I noticed you said you were reading about traumatic CS experiences here on BB...
    FWIW I would say 95% of those are emergency CS, not elective and planned deliveries.
    If you are trying to make a decision between VB and elective CS those CS stories may not be the best for you to read (not that I am encouraging a CS, but if you want to make an informed decision other literature is necessary)...
    I know of a couple of books, but I can't remember any of them right now.
    Last edited by The[cookie]Doctor; April 22nd, 2009 at 09:37 AM.

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    Hi Mum2 - I'm the friend Trill was talking about.

    I have a jam-packed day ahead of me but I will try to get on again tonight and post about my positive and empowered healing caesarean experience - I think you will find it is exactly what you need to hear at this time.

    BBL

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    Hi there!

    I aggree with what Trillian has said.

    Aim for a VB and if towards the end of the prenancy you are still feeling nervous, go with what your heart is telling you to do.

    Have you debriefed from your first birth?

    I thinking debriefing from any birth is important whether it was traumatic or not or if you are the birthing woman, midwife or doula. A traumatic birth can leave so much stigma.

    I would highly reccommend a Doula aswell. Doula's can help you work through any trauma from previous births. She can also help you prepare a calm, safe environment for you to birth into.

    Have you considered a homebirth? With a lot of women the trauma from birth is associated to the hospital. Giving birth in the safety of your home is a powerful experience. It may be the healing that you need.

    Also, go and visit the girls in the traumatic birth forums. Its great to have a rally of support from women who have been through the same thing as you.

    I wish you all the best and really hope you find the love and support you deserve.

    You have made the first step, reaching out for help. It can only get easier from here on!

    Good luck!
    xxoo

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    I wouldn't be making a decision without birth trauma counselling so you can work through it and make a more settled decision - it's crazy trying to make a decision now with your mind all over the place and still dealing with the trauma. There are some wonderful birth trauma counsellors out there, will see if I can track down the name of the person in NSW I have heard of, might not be local but will see how I go for you!
    Kelly xx

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    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
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    Mum2 - I'm in such a similar place to you! My first DD was posterior too (ouch - can you ever describe the pain of it...) - eventually forceps delivery but it was touch and go...

    I am due in Sept too with Bub2 and had a traumatic birth 16 months ago with DD. My obs is willing to support whatever decision I want but I can tell he's keen for a CC given the difficulty of the last birth.

    I keep putting off my decision but realise September is not that far away....eek...sometimes I think the predictability of a CC would be such a relief but then I think I should try for a vaginal birth again in the hope it will be a better experience. As this will probably be our last baby I would like it to be a reasonably positive experience either way if possible.

    Also would like to hear others stories and what you are thinking given the new information.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by BellyBelly View Post
    I wouldn't be making a decision without birth trauma counselling so you can work through it and make a more settled decision - it's crazy trying to make a decision now with your mind all over the place and still dealing with the trauma. There are some wonderful birth trauma counsellors out there, will see if I can track down the name of the person in NSW I have heard of, might not be local but will see how I go for you!
    :yeahthat: too!

  11. #11

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    It is a scary thought having a VB after a traumatic birth.... I know first hand!

    My DD's active labour was over 2 day's - I was in pre-labour which is just as painful and exhausting, for 1.5 week's before the active labour started. So by the time i got to pushing i was beyond exhausted. The active labour started on the Monday night, didnt start pushing until Tuesday night 8pmish and she finally came out 3 hour's later. I was one push away from "going up stair's" So much happened within her birth, i nearly died twice, she nearly died once, they thought they had torn the soft skin covering her brain at one point, ahhhh i could go on. It was that bad, by the time she was born there was over 13 people in the room, couple of DR's, midwives, complete NICU team with all the machine to work on her and bring her back to life or whatever the machines do....

    I was in severe shock after her birth for a good hour or two. So for me, because of how traumatic the birth was, when i fell pregnant with DS, i was exceptionally scared and was seriously considering my ability to successfully birth him naturally. However, i did not have another option, my dr's didnt offer me to have a CS.

    BUT, with being pro-active, identifying where we could maybe improve, different techniques etc his birth was just amazing. It was so beautiful, it wasn't quick but it wasn't long either like DD's, but i remember it just being so beautiful....

    DS and i together did a fantastic job and i am actually looking forward to my next birth. (if and when i get to that is)

    Actually i was so proud of myself, DF and our DS... the three of us did so well on our own, all we had in the room was 1 midwife and another midwife would check in and out to just support the midwife with us! Totally contrasting to DD's which was like giving birth at flinder's st station lol

    So, i think what you need to work out is, what do you want?? and if you would like to have a VB, then go for it. Just plan, and prepare and ensure the best you can......



    hope this has helped somehow...

    ETA: i just read there is such a thing as traumatic birth counseling?! wow, i never knew. If you feel that would help i would do that too.... i just read book's, researched and asked a lot of question's. I also talked with DS all the time in the last 4 months of pregnancy, explaining to him what we need to do, how i would like it to go etc etc and i dunno if i am crazy but i think that made a huge difference. I guess maybe he knew what was expected, i had a bit more knowledge and together we executed the birth beautifully!!!!!
    Last edited by Papillon; April 22nd, 2009 at 12:03 PM.

  12. #12

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    Hi again. I had a long and traumatic labour with my first DD. You can read about it here.

    I was so dissociated and numb for a long time after the birth, and believed myself to be a really bad mother. I finally started remembering the birth (I had blacked out chunks of it) and processing the pain when my DD was nearly a year old. For a long time I avoided getting pregnant again, because I just couldn't face the thought of going there again (even after I had debriefed). A good friend very gently suggested to me that I could successfully birth my baby via a planned CS and after talking it through with my dr, that was my 'safety net' for falling pregnant again.

    So, 9 years later, I was finally 'ready'. After falling pregnant, I requested a C/Section via the public hospital. I fell apart at the booking interview at the hospital, because the midwife was asking detailed questions about the circumstances around my first birth. She was HORRIFIED at the details of how the first labour was managed, and arranged for me to see the consultant obstetrician who she thought would be most sympathetic to my request. He was happy to approve it, but I had to tell the story in full to a second OB to get it approved.

    From then on, the hospital was nothing but respectful and caring. I wrote a one-page birth plan, and at the top I noted that I'd had a traumatic experience and was hoping to heal that by having a respectful and caring birth environment this time. They put my birth plan at the very front of the folder so it was the first thing that the staff saw when they opened my notes. I kept it brief and focussed on the things that were most important to me: skin to skin contact in theatre, attempt to breast feed in theatre or in recovery if that was not possible, my baby to stay with me the whole time, even if that meant they needed to find an extra midwife to make it happen. I also wanted DH to stay with.

    In the end, on the day, the staff were rushed off their feet, they had two lots of twins being born in other theatres, but I kept asking as nicely as I could. The darling theatre midwife chose to come up to recovery and stay with me until I had breastfeed DD2, even tho they were paging her to go back down to theatre LOL. I cannot tell you the happy daze I was in, it lasted for about 5 days afterwards. I even asked the anaesthetist if they'd put some happy drugs in my spinal LOL.

    The actual physical experience was really good too. I had read a lot about CSs and knew that some women have unpleasant physical sensations/vomit/shake, but the anaesthetists knew how terrified I was and did a superb job of giving me probably the best spinal ever! In fact I had been in a lot of pain from SPD and it was the first time in months that I was completely pain-free. They were very reassuring and talked to me throughout the time in theatre. After my bub was born, I don't think I noticed anything. I had her on my chest and there she stayed and the whole world was suddenly right again.

    Afterwards, I had patient-controlled analgesia, I found the first night afterwards to be fairly painful but I just kept clicking the button until I felt better. I would take all that pain again because it was far more bearable (and lasted a lot less time) than the labour pain. I was pretty itchy from the morphine but otherwise felt ok. My recovery afterwards was fairly slow, I developed a wound infection, but I was glowing with happiness so the visiting midwife didn't really take it seriously until a few days later...on the down side I had to go back into hospy for some IV antibiotics, and several more courses of ABs after that before it was finally completely better around the 10 week mark. They never did find any bacteria in the swabs they took, and over time I have come to believe that it was not an 'infection' caused by an external agent, but rather my body's way of processing out the last of the pain that I felt around the first birth and the guilt and pain I had around not being present to DD1 because of that trauma. It forced me to stay at home and be loved and nurtured and looked after, which did not happen after DD1's birth. It was part of the healing process.

    For all of that, I was completely happy with the CS birth. The care and respect and calmness that my baby entered the world in meant that I was emotionally stable, grounded, present from her very first moments. The whole experience of motherhood was completely different this time. DD2's APGARs were soooo much better than DD1, and she is calmer and more grounded, and I think this is a result of her experience of entering the world. I cannot tell you how whole and healed I feel now.

    I know CS is not right for everyone, especially women who have experienced it in an emergency situation or after a long labour. However, in my case it was exactly the empowered and healing birth that I needed it to be. At each stage of the way I asked for what I needed in clear terms and the people around me responded. I consider myself very lucky.

    I suggest you grab a copy of the excellent book "Delivery by Appointment". It has a very balanced account of what you can expect - from the best to the worst experiences. Then you can decide what feels right for you. I wish you all the best for a safe and empowered birthing experience - whether that be by VB or by CS.

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    Birth trauma is massive, and needs to be validated. No one can know what it was really like for you, and what you went through. I second the idea to seek out some empathetic counselling. Like war trauma, PTSD following birth trauma is only just barely starting to get recognised and understood.

    Getting some support for your personal healing journey is a great place to start.

    Like many crises in our lives, although it has a huge impact on us, the potential is there for great healing and strength you never knew you had. We're known by our scars. (Yep the invisible ones too).

    Just wanted to share a couple of good news stories about recovering from a traumatic birth. The last birth I supported was with a lovely couple who had a c/s the first time. After labouring at home beautifully, they were shocked at the treatment they experienced in hospital. They were scorned for wanting a 'natural' birth, in fact the mother felt as if they wanted to 'punish' her. This was her subjective experience of the attitude and treatment she received. They ended up having a c/s, but they didn't really know why. The mother requested the notes, and what they'd told her and her husband during labour was not the same as what was written in the notes. The first time she received the notes, significant pages were missing! She inquired about the missing pages, and finally got them posted to her. They confirmed her suspicions - that she'd not been dealt with truthfully during her labour.

    The first time I met this mama, as she told me her story, she cried and cried for about an hour. She suffered intense PND after this birth, and was suicidal at times. This is consistent with PTSD following a traumatic birth. It's also consistent with the observation that it is the words, attitude and behaviour of staff that can contribute most to a woman's experience of birth trauma, the feeling of being rushed, pressured, not heard, or feeling out of control. Women who experienced very arduous or painful labours, with complications, actually deal with these intense and challenging experiences amazingly well - as long as they are treated with respect and patience, and feel in control of all decisions.

    This mama was so traumatised that all she wanted to do was have a freebirth, in the dark, by herself with only her husband there. Even having me in her space was a huge leap of faith, so shattered was her trust in maternity services.

    Much healing took place during her pregnancy. As she took up responsibility again, and even allowed herself to *feel * anger, she seemed to emerge from a dark place of helplessness like a butterfly from a cocoon.

    Late in her pregnancy, she started to move away from what she *didn't want* towards what she *did want*, and found a homebirth midwife that she connected with. This midwife was so in tune and sensitive that she understood my client's desire to simply have her in the other room in case she needed her - but not with her all the time. It speaks volumes of this midwife's trust in my client that she was willing to attend this birth on my client's terms. She also had a back-up midwife attending too, according to her policies for safe practice, and my client was agreeable to this.

    Two weeks ago, my client gave birth to her second baby at home, in her birth pool in her loungeroom, embraced by her husband, supported by two midwives and two doulas. She caught her baby with her own hands. I'll never forget the look on her face.

    The midwife later said, "Her pelvis is so roomy. It makes a complete mockery of what they told her last time."

    I'm not sharing this story to hint, "you should have a homebirth." I completely understand that an elective c/s is a way by which some women avoid further birth trauma. I really get that, and empathise. I thought I would share this story just to illustrate how one mother battled her demons and overcame them.

    Also here is a montage (scroll down to 'Here Comes the Sun') by an amazing woman who had a traumatic first birth - then an elective c/s in order to avoid further birth trauma .... and eventually, had a homebirth for her third baby. So she has experienced both ways of avoiding birth trauma.

    Every woman's journey is unique and sacred, I really believe that. Only you can choose the right path for you - then you will have peace with your decision. To start with some support and counselling to work through what happened next time, is a great start to planning your course for next time.

    I wish you all the best in your healing journey, and for a joyful, empowered, and safe birth next time.
    Last edited by Julie Doula; April 24th, 2009 at 06:39 PM.

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    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories and advice. Sorry I have taken so long to reply. I haven't wanted to think about it. Everytime I think about it I just want to curl up in the corner and cry. I'm scared of both ways. I see my doctor on Monday, I'm going to ask her if there is anyone who does birth trauma counselling in our area. I do blame alot of the trauma on the hospital, I believe if the hospital had dealt with things differently, my ds birth would have been alot different. We can't afford a Doula, midwife or homebirth as dh has loss his job due to cutbacks. I feel terrible for dreading my daughters birth and thinking of my sons bith as a traumatic advent . I'm so sorry so many of you have had hard and traumatic births . Thank you for your support.

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    Huge hugs to you, brave woman.


  16. #16

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    What about a student doula, they are free? I doubt a doctor will know a birth trauma counsellor, its a relatively new profession, and might just refer you to a psych who is a generalist.... if you contact some doula orgs they might be able to refer you... or independent midwives could help too.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

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    Thanks Julie I don't feel at all brave right now.

    Thanks Kelly I will start looking into it.

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