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C-Section thoughts and advice

January 6, 2010


I do believe I ended up with a c-section because of my decision to get an epidural. As I said in my first birth story post, I don’t regret the epidural. I can’t. The pain was unbearable. So in that sense, I guess I should be ok with the ending c-section. But I also strongly feel that I was talked into it. I was worn down. And… after sitting in the hospital for 24 hours, I was exhausted.

For some women, an epidural helps labor progress because it takes away pain/tension and allows contractions to do their job. For probably the majority of women, an epidural slows labor down, and that’s where I fall. This led to breaking my water… then pitocin… then c-section. Why did I agree to pitocin? I’d rather have that work than end up in a c-section. Sadly, for me, it didn’t work.

A few months ago I was reading a story about how hospital nurses were starting to come forward and talk about how doctors were administering pitocin in high doses to purposely cause distress in the baby (“pit to distress”). Yes, I wonder about my OB… she had no idea who I was, we had no connection, she had no emotion. Plus, she upped my pitocin to a level of 24 when the max is supposed to be 20. Luckily, our baby never went into distress. His heart rate did rise from around 140 to around 160, but they never said anything about it.

What do I wish? I wish I had denied the c-section, at least at that time. I wish we had waited to see if I could get to 10cm and if I could have pushed this baby out. Too big to fit? Please, have you seen him?! 7 lb, 9 oz. I don’t think your body makes a baby it can’t fit.

But… no woulda, shoulda, coulda games. Right? It is very hard when people tell me that I got a healthy and happy baby and that’s all that matters. Of course it matters. And of course I’m deeply in love with Ryan. But it’s not the ONLY thing that matters… it doesn’t change the fact that I missed out on giving birth… one of the most incredible, natural, amazing experiences of life. I missed it. And when they were prepping me for the c-section and I asked the nurse what my chances were of ever having a vaginal birth, she said I most likely never would.

I know that’s not true. But I’m pretty terrified of it. Just a few weeks ago I overheard the receptionist at my clinic say a woman had just died when her uterus ruptured during a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and that my clinic doesn’t even take VBAC patients (no loss there, I hate my clinic).

Yes, I’ve heard of ICAN and I’ve visited their site. They have no chapters where I live… I need to look into it more, just haven’t had time.

Yes, I’m disappointed in myself. And my advice for others??? If you’re completely serious about having an all natural birth, I’d look at a birthing center (or homebirth).

But, if you’re planning on getting an epidural and going to the hospital… I’d recommend a doula. I feel like if we had one there, she would have been able to remember for me what we originally wanted. She would have been able to stand ground for us when we were exhausted and confused. Who knows, I could have denied the c-section and still ended up  needing one later. But at least I would have tried. I was at 8cm.. so close.. and I didn’t try.

Also.. just know what to expect. Know how things work these days and that it’s very possible you end up in a c-section or end up trying to be talked into one. Know what pitocin is and what it does. Know what you want and write it down to have it by your side–in the heat of the moment, I basically forgot what I wanted or why. Have an open mind.

I researched so much.. I knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t want… and this is how it turned out. Anything can happen. I wish I had known that.

Some of you mentioned you had questions for me… I’d love for you to ask. Anything, really. It will help me to help you. If you’d prefer to ask privately, email me erdickey(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks again for all the wonderful support, it’s greatly appreciated and extremely helpful.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2010 7:15 pm

    (BirthBabiesBlog from twitter) ICAN’s e-mail lists and message boards are also VERY helpful. After my first c-section I felt like you and when I went looking for a chapter, there wasn’t one in my whole state!!
    I started getting support through their email group and website, and eventually, barely 5 months after my first c-section, I started my own chapter. It has helped so much in my recovery, and I have also had the option of being able to help others in my local area. It is something to think about.

    You may also want to check out and maybe submitting your story will help in your healing.

  2. January 6, 2010 7:18 pm

    The way you ended up with your cesarean is the way most of us end up with ours: not enough education about the risks of those obstetrical interventions. In fact, I’d bet money that the majority of our 31.8% national cesarean rate is epidural and pitocin induced. Marsden Wagner wrote a book on it.

    If you want a story from a mother who got her VBAC, despite everyone’s insistence that it was impossible, you can read my story here:

    Take care of yourself.

  3. January 6, 2010 7:20 pm

    Hi Emily,

    I too had a c-section after laboring with my eldest. She was face up and i was having the worst back labour, contraction upon contraction so I begged for the epidural. i don’t think I would have been able to labour at all without it I was in agony. Unlike you though I progressed extremely quickly. I went from 1 to 10 cms in about 4 hours but as Ainsley was face up she was not progressing into the birth canal at all and attempts at turning her did not work. I pushed for 2 hours and finally I chose to have a section (the only thing I didn’t want to have). When they pulled Ainsley out, the doctor had to climb on the table as she was so wedged because of the pushing that they needed the leverage.

    I wanted to say that it was a traumatic experience and I mourned my loss of a natural birthing experience for awhile. Just know that you have a right to grieve what you wish your birthing experience had been. I am now at peace with the fact that I will not have a VBAC. With my second I debated up until the last week about whether to try but in the end I opted for c-section. This is my personal choice and I did a ton of research and in the end I made the decision that I was most comfortable.

  4. Kayce permalink
    January 6, 2010 7:21 pm

    I just want you to know you could have birthed him vaginally. +1 means that the biggest part of his head and fit through the smallest part of your pelvis. If he had truly been stuck, he never would have made it past 0 station.

    VBAC has a rupture rate of less than 1 percent in spontaneous labor where the woman can move and is not inhibited at all. Did they tell you why she ruptured? Most times it is because they used to induce VBAC with pitocin and cytotec. It is very dangerous to do this and many babies died and many women had uterine ruptures.

    You truly are an amazing woman. Stronger than I ever was. Your son is so lucky to have you as a mother and I know that you will be able to have the birth you want someday.

    You are amazing, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

  5. January 6, 2010 7:27 pm

    Thank you for an honest, reflective post that will surely be helpful to some other moms. Please don’t beat yourself up about this! And I completely agree with Danielle – I was seriously going to suggest starting your own chapter myself, she just beat me to it! *shakes fist*

    Please, again, be gentle with yourself. I have all the faith in the world that you will be able to have a VBAC next time. Finding the right doula could definitely make a big difference, and/or looking into various midwifery options.

    Big hugs!

  6. daniellebrigance permalink
    January 6, 2010 7:34 pm

    Always remember that you did nothing wrong! You ended up in a c-section by no choice of your own. When you’re ready to try again, find you a clinic that believes in VBAC!

  7. January 6, 2010 7:54 pm

    I am SO sorry that you didn’t get to have the birthing experience that you so wanted. I have been following your blog for a while now and am expecting my first in early March, so I’m right behind you. I too hope to have a natural birth, but reading stories like yours are really good for me. They help prepare me for what could happen. So thank you for sharing your story!! I am so happy that you are healthy and baby Ryan is doing well too. I know that doesn’t make up for the disappointment of your birthing experience though. So take the time to grieve and then enjoy your precious blessing!

  8. January 6, 2010 8:16 pm

    I found this post via Twitter and wanted to say that your birth experience sounds very similar to mine… except I ended up being put under general anesthesia for my C-section. (I’m not sure if you were put under, as I haven’t read your birth story.) The things that people say (“you should be grateful”, blah blah blah) are said because they don’t know what else to say, and I truly don’t think that most of them know how invalidating and hurtful they are being when they say that. Nevertheless, it is so tough to hear that because you feel like you should be more positive, but you can’t help the fact that you feel broken and devastated. I am so sorry for what you have gone through.

    This is a great website; read the essays!

    Take care of yourself. I feel like sending you an email…

  9. January 6, 2010 8:47 pm

    I’m sorry things didn’t go the way you had planned… and reading your story makes me feel very lucky with how easy my labor was.

    I look forward to hearing more about your new life as a mama (how have these first few weeks been?!) and seeing pictures of Ryan!

  10. emjaybee permalink
    January 6, 2010 8:53 pm

    I’m so sorry it turned out that way. It is hard to know what all the would’ve/could’ve beens are. And it’s possible you would have had one even w/out an epidural (that’s what sucks about life, we never do get to find out if things would’ve been better another way).

    I can tell you, don’t be hard on yourself for not beating the system. The system is tough, and they hold almost all the cards. I can look back on my c/sec now and see what I would do, even how I would have a better c/sec if necessary, but when I was going through it, there was no clarity (I did have a doula, too; she was likewise overwhelmed). I know a LOT more now, but there was no way for me to have this knowledge when it happened, so I have let my past self off the hook. I was scared and I was confused and I didn’t understand what my rights were or what the research said. I wanted to believe in the system and let my doctor take care of me. Fear got me, and an exploitative system. That’s not my fault; it’s theirs.

    There was no ICAN group where I lived after my son’s birth, but I did get on the national ICAN email list, and it kept me sane. Also going to therapy, eventually :(, and time.

    It’s through Yahoo groups, so you have to get a Yahoo sign in, but, here’s the link:

  11. January 6, 2010 9:07 pm

    This is pretty much the exact same thing I went through when I had Peanut in March. I hated my FORMER OB and don’t trust him so god only knows if everything happened the way it’s supposed to in order for me to have a VBAC. I may be stuck with a c-section for #2. It is very disappointing.

  12. theadventuresoflactatinggirl permalink
    January 6, 2010 9:12 pm

    I recently listened to a podcast that was going over VBACs and the OB there said that you’re actually at more risk with multiple c-sections than VBACs. Her reasoning was that every time you have a c-section you create more scar tissue. Sometimes in later pregnancies the placenta can kind of fuse to the scar tissue and when this happens it’s either fatal or you have to have a hysterectomy. Obviously it’s more likely to happen the more scar tissue you have.

    Don’t forget that you can be so incredibly happy to have your baby and at the same time so incredibly sad that you didn’t get the birth you wanted. I didn’t even have a c-section, but it took me time to accept my birth not being the way I had planned (accidental home birth). I also believe that with the correct support, you could probably have a natural childbirth. I am a HUGE wuss and had horrific back labor for 33.5 hours and I still did it because my husband was there to coach me all the way through (Bradley Method). Good luck mama!

  13. January 6, 2010 9:21 pm

    I’m so sorry you had to go thru this! I second everything written in the comments. I also agree that a healthy baby is important, but your feelings about what happened are also important. Go thru the grieving process. Start an ICAN chapter, start researching how a doula can help you. Make plans for the next birth.

    For anyone who would like a doula, but thinks she cant afford it, contact your local doulas and an if she knows of a doula in training or some one who is low-cost. Some doulas will barter or trade with clients so that you get the help you need!

  14. January 6, 2010 9:22 pm

    *big hugs* Like I said on twitter, Have compassion with yourself, and anger on your doctors/nurses. Yes, they didn’t do differently than most doctors, but that is EXACTLY the problem. Our maternity system is sicksicksick but women are passive and don’t stand up. Heck, i had my membranes ruptured without my permission and i’m still furious AND petrified of cervical checks (which is what she went in there for) and all this.. and i still haven’t filed a formal complaint yet. If only i wasn’t scared of confrontation 😦 But i know i have to because they should NOT believe they can do whatever they want to women’s bodies, or stretch the truth or whatever. It’s absolutely unacceptable.

    But it is not your fault! It is theres. You did what you could. You have ever right to be upset, but do not let yourself (even though it’s hard, my little incident i still have self-blame (I SHOULD have known better what she was doing when she began to hurt me, i’ve talked to many other women who had the same thing happen to them! etc) let alone in yours) blame yourself or be angry with yourself. Just compassion!

  15. January 6, 2010 10:59 pm

    Wow I’m so sorry you had this forced on you. I am right behind you, due at the end of March, and I’m worried about this potentially happening to me too. Please know that your post has prompted me to do some research and to talk to my OB about c sections. He has assured me that he will NOT do a c section unless it is absolutely necessary. I really like him and trust him and feel that he is in tune with my wishes. I have no idea how my birth is gonna go down but I hope I don’t get forced into doing things against my wishes like you were. I have created a birth plan which should hopefully help.
    Best of luck to you and your cute new babeh!

  16. January 6, 2010 11:25 pm

    Thanks for your the idea to always have your birth plan with you. I really like that. It would be a reminder from yourself at a more level headed and calm time. I am admittedly impressionable and extremely forgetful. Your journey is inspiring to me.

  17. Blue Moon Girl permalink
    January 6, 2010 11:48 pm

    I will have to reread this and comment further when I’m more awake, but I wanted to say a couple things first.

    I equate your situation to a bully in school. A bully catches you at a time when you are at your most vulnerable and they beat you down until you give them your lunch money. The doctors and nurses caught you when you had been laboring for 24+ hours, you were tired, worn down, and worried about your baby and they bullied you into a c-section.

    Your strength comes in that not only did you labor for 24+ hours,but you gave birth to a gorgeous baby! You’re also strong in telling your story and getting the word out so that this hopefully won’t happen to others. You beat the bullies by standing up to them and stopping them from bullying others.

    Thinking of you!

  18. January 7, 2010 2:49 am

    Oh sweety, this must be so hard. I think it’s good you’re talking about it here, but I also think it would be good to talk about this with a professional or something? You don’t have to, but it actually altogether sounds like a pretty traumatic experience and it’s important to work through the frustration & helplessness you felt/feel.

    It’s pretty typical of us women to blame ourselves for things we can take no blame for: you gave off plenty of signals you didn’t want these interventions and any human being would have noticed them. They just decided to ignore your wishes and I suppose presume that you were too ignorant/unknowing in the medical department (as you’re not a doctor yourself) to make decisions they’d respect. Also, even if they did feel like this was not going to happen naturally, there is always the more NORMAL and human way of talking to a patient (a woman giving birth, darnit! Show some respect! Argh, it just gets me so mad…) and explaining exactly why things are going the way they are. So you’d know that they were hearing you and not just brushing your wishes aside.

    So, please don’t be mad with yourself. Get mad at the doctors and the night nurse who was such a robot.

  19. January 7, 2010 12:50 pm

    I really hope I didn’t online slap you in the face re: healthy baby and that is all that matters. I meant to write that healthy baby and healthy mom (who is recovering) is what is priority right now. Do get upset/sad and deal with this, it was traumatic, but get better and stronger first. I really hope you and your husband have been there for each other in the aftermath if Ryan has given you any down time to talk about what happened. You are essentially mourning not having the birth experience you wanted and being sliced open.

    Watching your tweets in the aftermath have been nice. I am so glad breastfeeding is going well and every time you post pics of your little boy he looks great.

  20. January 7, 2010 10:19 pm

    I am so sorry you were manipulated like this, it is my worst fear as well: to be manipulated when I am at my weakest. I am due in March, and I have had this conversation with my OB; luckily, I think he understands and respects my wishes. I am sorry your OB didn’t respect yours. Take care of yourself, and thanks for sharing!

  21. January 8, 2010 12:54 am

    Was good to read your story & advice. I had BabyCute (Dominic) in June, my first, with a C-section; was past due date, & he hadn’t even dropped, & was over 9lbs already, lol.

    I was told a VBAC should be fine for next time because there wasn’t any stress or emergency in getting D. out, just a quick, clean C-section. The whole process, from the needle in my spine, to the pulling my little one out, took about 17minutes…
    Besides having the staples pulled out, which was the worst pain I’d ever had in my life!!–I didn’t mind getting a C-section at all. I’d like to give birth naturally, but was perfectly fine with getting him out, getting it done with, & seeing my son 🙂
    I would def. start to worry, though, if I kept having to have C-section, or rather, that they were “strongly suggested”. My Mother had 8 (yes eight!) of them, & it’s not a good idea…
    I’d be really angry if I was taken advantage of like that, but I’m glad that your son is great & it’s all over now. Live & learn & now you can be ok for next time. Good luck–& Ryan is beautiful!

  22. January 8, 2010 8:22 pm

    Although I was never fully convinced I WANTED a natural birth, after several hours of labor at home I got to the hospital at only 2 cm and knew I was too much of a wuss to make it to 10 without pain medication. Getting the epidural felt like the right decision – it still feels like the right decision – but just like in your case the next two steps were having my water broken and pitocin. I was lucky enough to be one of those women who fall into the “epidural helps them relax” category and a low level of pit helped me progress enough to have the vaginal birth I had imagined, but I could just have easily ended up with a c-section. It’s scary how quickly birth interventions seem to follow each other.

    There’s something about being a patient in a hospital bed that makes you feel helpless and awkward and submissive (maybe it’s the gowns) and even very strong willed women can lose their voices. Your advice to find a doula is spot on and I know several women who have had successful VBACs with the support of a good birthing center, but don’t focus too much energy on a not-even-conceived-yet child’s birth when you have a beautiful baby to love on.

  23. January 9, 2010 10:01 am

    I followed your #twitterbirth and was very moved at your generosity of sharing one of the most pivotal moments of your life. I am very happy that you and Ryan are healthy and I want you to know that as a Doula, I know that successful VBAC is possible. It takes commitment, perseverance and a very, very supportive circle of people on your birth team.

    As a massage therapist, I can tell you that when labor begins with a VBAC, you will most likely feel contractions in your scar area first because the tissue is more fibrotic than the surrounding area, take it slow and have faith. Since muscle has memory and the uterus is one big muscle, it may rest at the point when the section took place (for you that was 8cm). Be patient, if baby’s heart tones remain good you have plenty of time and your uterus will realize it still has work to do and will begin contracting again. Try different positions and believe in your body. You can do it when you are ready.

    In the meantime, enjoy your beautiful boy and allow yourself forgiveness and healing. You did the best you could with what you had at the time. And that is all any of us can do.

  24. January 9, 2010 1:45 pm

    Please be gentle with yourself. It takes a while to recover from a csection, even longer from an unwanted one.

    There are too many similar stories. I have one too. I had been progressing some over 24 hours no epi no pit. Transfer to hospital from birth center for meconium. Friday night at 6 o’clock, suddenly everyone wants me to have an epi and pit, then all of a sudden non reassuring fetal heart tones. Argh. They speed me into the OR leaving my DH behind wondering wtf?

    It takes a little while to leave it behind for you too. All the research on VBAC and ICAN and such can wait. Heal yourself, body and soul and enjoy your babymoon. Then go kick some csection ass 🙂

  25. January 9, 2010 7:35 pm


    Thanks so much for sharing. I think your experience really opened my eyes some more. I want to tell myself my experience will be better because I have different views of childbirth (I’m not as into it for the experience as some others) but at the same time I don’t want to be taken advantage of… Who does?

    My husband and I watched The Business of Being Born together, and we sorta get the whole “business” side of labor and delivery but at the same time I think we’re going into it hoping for the best and expecting the worse.

    It’s hard cause I want to get into the whole “natural” mindset but I know I will most likely ask for the epidural at some point, and that kinda kicks the rest of the plan out the door. I also think a doula would be great but I’m wondering if coughing up that expense is worth it to me… Or if I’m ok going into it with my husband… Which I kind of like the idea of more.

    The one thing I think I have going for me is that I like my OB, and her staff. I’m so sorry you don’t like your clinic. I also get that a c-section may happen for me… and I’m already ok with that. I think I worry more about feeling mad at myself after labor than the expereince of labor… So that’s why I’m a little afraid of setting goals that may change.

    I don’t know how to go into it now! lol. It’s good to set goal but what if I’m sad for months after cause I didn’t accomplish them? I’d rather just expect the worse, but I don’t want that either. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place!

    I appreciate so much you sharing your story, it really opens my eyes to what can happen to ANYONE! But what makes me feel so sad is you being sad 😦 I hate that they made you feel bad about yourself. This is suppose to be a happy time and they took part of that from you.

    Ok my question: What would you suggest I specifically ask my OB about c-section rates, pitocin, etc? And when is a good time to do this and talk about a birth plan? Did you do this? I’m guessing it’s better earlier than later so you can switch OBs if necessary, but at the same time I don’t want it to seem too premature.

    • January 9, 2010 11:26 pm

      Jenn, thanks for your comment… I’m so glad to know that I’m helping others who have yet to give birth. And yes, it is hard sometimes to be hurt and upset over my birth, but at the same time- so happy and so in love with Ryan! Don’t worry about me too much, Ryan takes the majority of my time (and my thoughts) and I have much less time to dwell on my labor. And Ryan makes me happy 🙂

      I answered your questions in a new blog post because I got some questions from people by email too… so check that out.

      If you’re already accepting of a c-section and are a little bit less concerned over the “how” of your labor, I think you have much less to worry about. You may end up with an unnecessary c-section though, and that’s what you really need to be ok with. I would have been (more) okay with a c-section if it had been an emergency and absolutely necessary, you know?

      You may be able to find a doula that will do it for free (or very cheap) just by asking. Someone on twitter actually offered to come to my birth to help us basically for free, but we said no thanks. For some reason I feel like a doula is more important to have if you want the natural route, but I’m sure they’re helpful anyway. Some people say they’re great to have around so your husband can get some rest or leave and get some food. But.. my mom was there most of the time and she filled in for Steve when he wanted a break (happened twice in 24 hours–for food). So… it depends I guess on who you have around you and what support you’ll have.

      Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions! I hope I’ve helped and not confused 😉

  26. January 9, 2010 11:31 pm

    Everyone –
    I just don’t have time to reply to each of you (my most recent post took me 3 hours to write, thanks to a crying baby :)), but I want all of you to know that I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to write. Your thoughts and stories are very helpful to me and I am especially happy to know that I am helping many who have yet to give birth. So.. thanks to all of you!!!

    (Kia- you absolutely did not slap me in the face on twitter. I love support from everyone and although it may be hard for me hear something like “a healthy baby is all that matters”, I know everyone only means well and is trying to help. Besides, it is true! It’s just hard to hear because it makes me feel like I shouldn’t be upset about my birth… but I know I have every right to be and I completely know that’s not what you (or anyone else) meant. No worries!!! and thank you!)

  27. July 29, 2011 5:21 pm

    I just discovered your blog and I’m kind of hooked…. I’m so sorry you had to go through that! I’m currently pregnant and thinking about my own birth plan and you’re writing about some of my concerns. Thank you for being so straightforward and honest with your posts…. I shared them with my husband and asked him to really help me stick to my convictions. I too am moving in the second trimester (moving next week from MA to NV) so this reaffirmed for me how important it’ll be to find an OB and a practice that I’m comfortable with!
    Congrats on your baby boy!

    • July 29, 2011 5:32 pm

      Thank you Mary!! Best of luck to you and if you ever have questions for me or want to chat, I’m here! Also, I’m wondering how you found my blog??? Because this is my OLD website address and I didn’t even know it was still up! My new blog (with all the same posts) is at – this post is there, with a bunch of new comments too. This web address hasn’t been posted on in over a year 😉 I’m pregnant with baby #2 now (11 weeks along) and planning a VBAC! 🙂


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