C-sections aren't always a choice

Well I have to admit I never thought I would see the day where I was agreeing with Kirstie Allsopp I have to admit! However over the weekend through RT’s I got wind of a debate going on with Kirstie Allsopp at the heart of it relating to C-sections and the lack of information the NCT provides based upon C-sections.

Anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time will already be aware that I had an emergency c-section with my son and will be having a (hopefully) planned c-section with this pregnancy, presuming I don’t go into labour early and then this will require an emergency c-section.

Being pregnant second time around and trying to find information about planned c-sections is next to impossible. Which is extremely frustrating and puts me off paying extortionate prices for magazines when they are filled with labour techniques and no mention of what can happen with a c-section. I know obviously we need to all be prepared for labour, but what about Mums that are not able to push. Who have to have a c-section. We should be getting articles about our recovery, ways to cope, how long scars take to heal etc.

What bugs me the most about the whole stigma surrounding them is the phrase “Too posh to push”. Every time i read that my blood boils. Not all c-sections are a lazy womans answer. For some of us we are unable to birth naturally for any number of reasons such as heart problems, underlying health issues, position of the baby, size of the baby etc. Many of these women, like myself in my first pregnancy, have spent a good 30 weeks sometimes the whole 40 thinking they are going to be able to birth naturally and have their own ideal birth only to get a last minute shock when that doesn’t happen and they end up having what ultimately is serious surgery.

For me my first pregnancy consisted of me reading everything about how to birth, positions, techniques, breathing, aids such as balls and tens machines and I maybe read one or two small articles on what a c-section involved. It was only after 24 hours of labour that an emergency c-section occurred and that was not a choice that I made, it was in the hands of the consultants who knew that my sons heart rate was dropping and they had no other option but to get him out the quickest way possible, through the sunroof!!

This time around I saw my consultant at 7 weeks and we immediately discussed the fact that there was no other option but a c-section for me. I cant birth naturally due to my lovely two uterus’ so rather than putting mine and my baby’s life at risk by even trying we have agreed on a much  calmer (I hope) planned c-section at 36-38 weeks. BUT unlike with natural births where you attend antenatal classes at the hospital or with the NCT my midwife told me immediately that it probably wouldnt be worth it as they never mention c-sections. It’s like women having planned c-sections weather choice or through necessity are outkast, adding to the stigma that there is.

The NCT’s Chief exec argues that they don’t have the time to cover c-sections. But what about offering a course for mums who will be having planned c-sections, they offer courses for mums to multiples, so why not those with c-sections. What upset me the most though was to read that a couple who had an emergency section were not invited back to share their experience with other expectant parents when all the others in their group were. Again a discrimination against c-section parents.

Mrs Phipps is quoted as saying “Our view on Caesareans is we would want to make sure women don’t have a procedure if it could have been prevented” – however in my experience NO amount of preparation can get over the fact that sometimes health issues mean a c-section is required! Kirstie was completely on the ball when she tweeted “Not talking C-sections during a childbirth course is like not talking Shakespeare during an English literature course”. The fact of the matter is c-sections are a big part of childbirth, emergency c-sections happen, and often women have absolutely no idea what is happening to them because there has been no mention of it. Maybe the PND that alot of mums who have had c-sections suffer would be alleviated if through sources such as the NCT educating parents about the possibility of them better would help them feel less of a failure.

Did you have a c-section? Will you be? Did you find enough information?

Kirstie Allsopp Twitter :: Mrs Phipps Twitter (NCT CEO) :: Birth Trauma Association :: NCT ::


24 thoughts on “C-sections aren't always a choice

  1. “however in my experience NO amount of preparation can get over the fact that sometimes health issues mean a c-section is required! Kirstie was completely on the ball when she tweeted “Not talking C-sections during a childbirth course is like not talking Shakespeare during an English literature course”.

    I think you are contradicting yourself. Either there is no amount of preparation can help or we need to talk about it?

    The point is and I try to get this message across, you like Kirstie are confusing two issues and not helping either.

    Stigma around c sections is abhorrent and needs to be stamped out. This is not done through more classes about it. This is done through changing terminology and attitude. We need to remove words like Natural, Normal and delivery as the opposites of those words have such negative .

    Attacking the NCT is not the answer, it need root and branch change. The NHS, midwives NCT private antenatal teachers. The whole institution needs change

    1. I agree that it is the whole institution that needs to change, its society as well, the media the lot. But the bigger picture wont change unless the key players change, such as the NHS and NCT. I’m sorry if you feel its an attack of the NCT, its not meant to be, its an attack on the whole system, NHS classes as well dont cover c-sections, the fact of the matter is not one organisation, website etc covers enough information about them.

      1. Let me be clear, Im not against attacks on the NCT I have no affiliation with them, my only point is that in this instance the attack on the NCT has polarised the discussion. I really wanted to see this get to be discussed in the way I have tried in past but alas nope. I will soon be publishing my piece on this, but having published the open letter response to Kirstie Allsopp I dont want to let the two issues become mixed again.

        I would welcome you comments when I do put the piece up but will wait for dust to settle on this one.

  2. I had what would be termed a semi-elective caesarean. It was planned to happen a week later but D had other ideas. He was breech and after the lack of continuity of care I had received during my pregnancy when I was given the choice of a “trial of labour” or the slice ‘n’ dice I went with the latter as I had no trust in the so called experts.

    The most important thing for me apart from the happy and healthy bit was feeling safe. Psychologically with all the tests, monitoring, the attitudes of the staff (consultants slagging off midwives and vice versa) and every appointment being treble booked how could I have faith in these people? If a woman doesn’t feel safe while giving birth then just like an animal in the wild her body will stop co-operating and hold on until she has found somewhere safe.

    FFS these ‘experts’ couldn’t even be bothered to tell me that it was normal for breech babies to end up with merconium in the waters. I was panicking when my waters broke yet it was dimissed as “Oh that’s perfectly fine. Don’t worry about it.” Yeah thanks for that little pearl of wisdom now while I’m in full panic mode.

    I think there are two issues here. The first is yes the caesarean rate in this country is very high but I suspect that fear of birth and the over medicalised process it has become could play a huge part in this figure. Caesareans are rarely talked about during in pregnancy and the fear created by making the subject such a taboo probably contribute to the high rate. The treatment of women and even the language used during pregnancy do not help either.

    My second point is that woman should not be made to feel like failures for undergoing major surgery necessary to save lives. They should be supported both mentally and physically as required. I think that educating them about sections prior to birth would also reduce the risk of PND as lets face it, it’s not the end of the world to have a caesarean but the results of not having one when needed could certainly feel like it. If all women knew that it was not an easy option then maybe the stigma would not exist.

    Our scars are not a sign of weakness or failure.

  3. Really interesting post 🙂

    I attended NCT antenatal courses and they covered c-sections very briefly but, to be honest, they made you feel horrified at the prospect.

    Can you imagine my horror as time progressed late in my pregnancy that my baby wasn’t turning? Endless scans and trying all different methods to get the baby to turn resulted in leaving me no alternative but to have an elective section. I was given 3-4 weeks to take it all in desperately hoping that the baby would turn at the very last minute. I was distraught – heartbroken infact – my plans for a water birth slipped from my fingers and the money I’d spent on a birthing ball, hypnotherapy CDs for relaxation etc. was wasted. I turned to forums to try and glean as much information as I could. Then I stumbled across this – funnily enough from the NCT:


    It helped me understand everything there was to know and I went into the process with a level head and I had an AMAZING c-section birth story. If you want me to share it, I will gladly send you a link to it from a baby forum (I haven’t blogged about it – yet). I was driving within 2 weeks and actually in better physical shape than my friend who’d given birth naturally 2 days before me.

    I feel that c-sections should be part of childbirth preparation at all classes. I spent good money on NCT classes and, in the end, gained very little from them because of the path nature chose for me.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! Its great to hear you had a good c-section! Would love to read your birth story, I’m trying to hold onto the hope that maybe this time it will be better than the last emergency one!
      I had thought of joining the NCT this time around, I didnt last time as being 16 I knew I would stick out like a sore thumb, but as I’m having a c-section as you have mentioned, i dont think I wil get a great deal out of signing up with them!

      1. I’d highly recommend the book in my post. I gleaned a lot from it.

        Also, I can recommend the c-section group on the babycentre.co.uk website.

        Here’s my birth story:

        Unfortunately since I posted it (back in March 2009) it seems to have gone off the margin 😦 Not sure if it’s just my computer though.

        Just incase, here is my original draft I kept on my computer…

        My baby was well and truly breech so we were booked in for a section Wed 11th March. I didn’t sleep much the night before and was actually sick twice through worry/heartburn! I was okay until I got to the hospital and the anesthetist came to talk to me and I turned into a a little bit of blubbering wreck – but then I’ve been like that any time I’ve had an op.
        Matt (DH) managed to calm me down then it was time. Matt had changed into his scrubs and I walked across the hall to theatre. Once in theatre I couldn’t believe how relaxed it all was. All the staff were lovely. In total, with Matt I think there were 8 people. I had the spinal block put in which was really strange…. then about 10-15 minutes later once I’d been laid out on the table the anesthetist asked if I could feel her pinching me really hard which I couldn’t. The screen was up and Matt was holding my hand sat right next to me.
        About 5 or so minutes later the MW announced that the baby was about to come out, at which point I got quite emotional and so did Matt. It was a yellow bump so we were just so excited to know what ‘it’ was lol. Then Matt said to me “listen to the radio” and we heard this early 90’s song which we both knew and loved being played:

        Next thing, the obstetrician just lifted the baby up over the screen without saying a word so we could both see for ourselves she was a gorgeous little girl! She was absolutely beautiful and perfect, and a perfect shaped head as she was a section baby 🙂
        Matt was allowed to cut the cord and then she was put on me immediately for skin-to-skin. Matt and I spent time kissing eachother and being all teary with our beautiful daughter laid out across my chest. Then she was taken by the MW and Matt to be weighed (8oz exactly) and checked over. She was then passed to Matt who took her back across the corridor to my room to spend 5 mins alone with her whilst I was cleaned up and wheeled back to be with them.
        Then we phoned our parents. They were all so shocked as we hadn’t told them about the planned section. I asked my Mum what she was doing that evening and asked her if she wanted to come and meet her Granddaughter and she almost dropped the phone lol. My Dad was on the golf course when I rang him and he burst out crying.
        The whole section experience was absolutely wonderful for me. It was calm, relaxing and so serene. Now when I look back at how upset I was that I couldn’t have the natural waterbirth I wanted I have to laugh.

  4. I had an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic the first time. I was so scared but dr. suggested a VBAC and while I was getting closer to due date i was so scared so I asked for a section and I am so glad I did. I had a total stress free delivery day and recovery was much quicker

  5. Lots of NCT members have c-sections (myself included) – despite popular rumour you wouldn’t be the odd one out!

    There are lots of different bits to the charity which are often muddled…

    Antenatal classes (if you are lucky you might find a c-section class locally but that would depend on demand / teachers – you could almost certainly have a 1:1 session with an antenatal teacher (or call the pregnancy and birth helpline 0300 330 0772) to discuss how to make your c-section a good birth experience,

    Membership – which is basically a financial donation to the charity to help it continue its work

    And Branches. All branch activities are open to anyone whether they are a member or not so don’t miss out on the baby groups, walks, meet ups at soft play etc just because you have had a c-section. Do find out what your local branch are up to, do volunteer (you could even volunteer for the shared experience helpline to help others in a similar situation as you) and do feel that you can send your birth story to the newsletter every person’s experience is worth sharing.

    Hope it all goes well for you

  6. I had an emergency c section after 27 hours of labour. My NCT course did cover c sections in a reasonable amount of detail and I felt I knew quite a lot about op itself. Would have been nice to know more about recovery period, etc. I didn’t find recovery too bad, but would liked more info while in hospital post birth – had to wait till home and online to get info I needed.
    Think we need to be careful about attacking NCT as they are a charity providing valuable services. Like all charities times are tough and fundraising doesn’t need to be made more difficult. I’m sure they (NCT)can do things better, but it might be better if people raised their concerns to NCT themselves first and in detail. It can be difficult to respond properly to 1 line twitter comments or similar.

    1. Yeah I agree about not using twitter and I think as the debate went on between the CEO and Kirstie it got a bit out of hand and bitchy which happens when you cant explain yourself enough like on twitter.
      For me the recovery period was something that knocked me off my feet as I had no idea what to expect nd how long it would take and I really struggled with PND because of that. Had I known I think it would have made a huge difference.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  7. I agree there needs to be more information available on C-births. I have had 2 planned C-Births due to serious medical reasons, and Yes I call them “Births”. I am still giving birth, I am still a mum and still experiencing the miracle of childbirth whichever way my babies arrived.

    The first birth was a shock, but I felt much better informed for the second birth, BUT only because I’d been through it before.

    It would be great if any birthing class or even hospital midwives, consultants came and explained more about the birth, what you could make a decision on etc.. Sometimes even websites are too factual, emotional aspects to a C-Birth also need to be talked about more.

    1. I guess thats where I am struggling with the 2nd time round aspect because I have zero memory of my sons birth pretty much so I dont really feel I know what is coming sadly. I think the emotional side of things definately need to be discussed more and mums need to be prepared for how they may feel afterwards as it is a complete rollercoaster!

  8. We only had a brief chat about C-Sections in my NCT class and I think it gets put into the same bracket as bottle feeding by them. I had a very interesting email from them on that subject and would be happy to send it to you.

    1. Oooo yes! It kind of does sit in the same boat doesnt it! My mums an ex breastfeeding counsellor for them but we were discussing today how things were “back then” and she said even though it was against practice etc she used to help educate parents on bottle too! Would love to hear the email! My email is info@simplyhayley.co.uk 🙂 x

  9. Would your midwife and consultant not give you more information if you ask? I know that this does not get over the fact that you are not in a group situation, so forming friendships / support network with other parents due at the same time won’t happen, but at least you will get accurate information aboutyour personal circumstances and procedure at your hospital, ascwell as what to expect postnatally. If you are a first time mum, emergency section situation this isn’t so helpful, as you wouldn’t necessarily be thinking this could happen to me. I tried running classes for women expecting a csection, or wanting to be prepared if csection happened. I stopped as there was no interest. Perhaps in light of all the attention subject is now getting I should start running them again.

    1. I guess it depends on the area and how frequent women are having sections in the area as to weather the demand is there. Maybe offering 1-2-1 for Mums interested would be more effective? or on an ad-hoc basis when the interest is there? x

  10. I attended NCT classes and had an emergency c-section. In fact 2 out of the 6 in our class did. Both my sisters in law also had emergency c-sections.

    There is a lot of stigma attached. The procedure was briefly covered in oour classes, but along with epidurals it was presented as a ‘you DONT want this to happen’ scenario.

    I begged for a c-section after having contractions for 4 days. Even after being induced I never got beyond 5 cm, I was exhausted, drained, vomiting, hallucinating and there was no way I could have given birth naturally.

    Lack of info really hindered me and I do blame NCT to for that and other problems I suffered. sorry NCT fans!

  11. I have four children, all very different, my pregnancies and births perfectly text book all except No 4 that is!
    I knew from the start this one was trouble as I had a bleed early on and became a bit over protective during my pregnancy, my instincts kept telling me something was not right, unfortunately the midwives didn’t listen to this 4th time Mum. My due date came and I’d had intermittent contractions, they went everytime I stood up and then disappeared for a week. I wasn’t feeling to good and went for a check at the clinic and on for a scan as the intermittent contractions were back, again I knew something wasn’t right. Once I had a scan and the doctor said I was fine for a normal birth I magically started regular contractions and went on my merry way to pop my baby out (No 3 was 10 mins!) I just went with Tens machine which was great and I was handling it all well, once I had the urge to push nothing was happening…I’m not gona say anymore because nothing should put you off having the most wonderful experience of having a baby so ill jump to the most excellent ‘epidural’ and very un expected c-section definately unplanned! If I hadn’t had it well I wouldn’t be telling you this. I had never bothered. To find out about them but I’d advise everyone to just so they are fully prepared for the getting better, I was quite poorly but this was due to me pushing uncontrlably . Women need support and advice during pregnancy and birth and after nothing should be taboo frowned upon or other we are. Not in the dark ages I hope everyone gets to read this blog and retweets it too.

  12. My first delivery was via emergency c-section after 9 hours of pushing – my son was good and stuck in the birth canal, and they couldn’t move him at all. My doc literally had to tug him out of the birth canal when they delivered him. He was 9lbs 2oz and 22in long….
    so when I was due with my daughter, my normal OB gave me the option of VBAC or scheduled c-section – but his partner actually advised for the section, as he thought it was doubtful my 2nd baby would be smaller than the first, and the recovery for a c-section after pushing is the most difficult.

    Obviously, I went with the c-section.

    However — I was living in the US at the time, so the mentality is a bit different than over here. I’m quite appalled at the lack of information provided to women over here and the stigma assigned to c-sections. Sometimes, you really don’t have a choice. (Sometimes you do, but with enough information, you can make a proper choice.)

    (Prenatal) Yoga really helped me physically (after delivery) and mentally (before delivery) as I was off my antidepressants. Can’t say enough about it, and you don’t need a prenatal yoga class, just a good yoga instructor who can give you alternative moves.

    Found you via British Mummy Bloggers. Best of luck to you in your pregnancy!

    Recovery wasn’t much different from the first section (easier, to be honest) however I WISH I had worn the tummy wrap for support as religiously as I had with my first.

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