Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: My C Section Story

Monday, 24 March 2014

My C Section Story

Although I did share my birth story not long after it happened, I wanted to talk in more detail about my experience of c section birth as I so often see nothing but negative experiences and as mine was far from that, I thought it worth talking about.

When I shared my birth story, I was only 2 weeks post partum and as I'm sure most people know...c-section recovery takes a lot longer than that.

In fact, it can take up to 2 YEARS to fully recover from a c-section - it is, after all, major surgery.

As most people know, I chose to have an elective c-section.

Within the UK, women do have the right to a c-section if they choose to but this is a little known-fact and certainly not something that is made an easy option - the NHS usually like to state that a medical reason is required and will try to make it quite difficult for a woman to elect a cesarean birth.

However, having suffered with extreme anxiety for most of my life and knowing that natural birth was likely to be a huge trigger for me - I knew from the outset that a c-section would be my preferred choice.

Many people feel that a woman shouldn't have the right to choose and that birth should always be natural where possible - well I beg to differ.

I think that birth should be about the well being of the mother and child first and foremost, and I can't think of a worse birth experience for a child than to come into this world with a screaming and hyperventilating mother suffering an enormous panic attack, too far gone in anxiety to cuddle them and enjoy the moment - because I am quite sure that is how I would have ended up.

I know my anxiety and I know my limits, and natural birth is certainly beyond them.

So how was the C-Section itself?

A lot of the day itself was spent waiting.

We arrived at 7.30 am, were taken to a ward, and we waited until our slot came up. It was just over a 3 hour wait in total....I remember unpacking my things and looking at the empty little cot, thinking how strange it was that there'd soon be a baby in it.

I was taken down to theatre with Jon....he put his scrubs on while I put my sexy socks on, and I was then told that I had to go into theatre on my own initially as Jon wasn't allowed in until the spinal block had been done.

I was very nervous about this, but there was nothing I could do....the midwife, Jan, was very nice and she knew how nervous I was...I told her I was worried that I was going to die, and she was so sympathetic.

The spinal block being fitted was the worst part of the procedure for me - I'm not scared of needles so I hadn't given it much thought, but it hurt much more than I expected.

This may have been because I had a student anesthetist fitting it under the supervision of a senior - she initially had it in the wrong place and the whole thing was making me very nervous...I had to sit hunched over waiting for her to find the right place. 

It seemed to take about 10 minutes but was probably much quicker.

Once it was in and my canula was fitted (this doesn't bother me, I'm used to those) I was told to lay down and wait for the numbness to take effect.

It threw me a little that the bed was slanted, I hadn't expected that and it felt unsecure - then the tingling started and I became worried. Jon wasn't here yet, nobody was really paying any attention to me - there were people everywhere but they were all milling around doing their own thing, getting instruments ready etc.

I started to cry, and the senior anesthetist comforted me and asked what was wrong...I explained I didnt like the numb feeling and he reassured me that it does feel very weird but its normal. Thank god for him, he was so nice.

Then they sprayed me with the cold spray, which I couldn't feel at all - and the curtain went up. 

Next thing I knew, Jon was next to me...I was so glad to see him! We chatted about silly things to pass the time and distract me...I remember the surgeon telling me they'd started and being shocked because I couldn't feel a thing.

People had told me it would feel like people doing the dishes in my tummy, but I couldn't feel anything at all.

Then I felt a bit of a tug...and I heard the midwife say "Hello gorgeous!"...Jon and I looked at each other in surprise, and then we heard the baby cry!

He was brought around to us....I remember thinking he looked huge!!

He was cleaned up and weighed (6lbs 14 oz, not huge at all! Teeny in fact!) and we held him while they stitched me up.

After about 10 minutes, Jon was told to take the baby into the recovery room while they transferred me to a bed. The curtain came down and I was so surprised that there was no sign of the operation they'd just blood stains anywhere, no goo in looked like nothing had happened!!!

They moved me onto a bed, and I was wheeled into recovery.

Over the next few hours, nurses came and helped themselves to my lady bits as they liked! Quite an odd experience, but as I couldnt move they would just come along and open my legs for me...check my "loss" and make notes!

The feeling started to come back to me quite quickly...I could wiggle my toes within the hour, and by the evening I could walk.

I had a large blood loss in the night, which was quite scary but no clotting.

The next morning, I was up and walking around - I felt a bit stiff if I tried to straighten up so I was walking hunched over a bit, but otherwise I felt absolutely fine.

I remember getting a slight pain in the wound if I coughed (and I did get a cough, typically!) but I had expected to experience awful pain....I honestly didn't.

I waited and waited for this awful pain I had been hearing about to kick never did.

Yes I felt stiff, and yes the wound was sore to touch - but I never experienced anything over a 4 on the pain scale (10 being the highest).

It was more slight discomfort than pain.

The recovery process was quick for me...I was never unable to walk around, or lift the baby...the hardest part for me was dealing with the heavy blood loss which lasted about 3 weeks, and the extreme trapped wind that happened about 10 days after surgery.

I thought I had gotten away with it, but it hit on day 10 and was unlike any other pain I've experienced...THAT was a 9 on the pain scale for sure, but it only lasted a day thankfully and peppermint tea helped massively.

I think a lot of the negative experiences people have with c sections causing a lot of pain and long recovery times tend to be after EMERGENCY c sections - I think an emergency section is a completely different experience, as obviously the mother isn't prepared for it and there's a situation that means the surgeons need to get in quickly...I imagine there to be more pulling and tugging, and just more urgency involved.

I can honestly say that my elective c-section birth experience was amazing - it was almost painless, with a very fast and easy recovery and I was able to remain calm the whole time.

I also think it helped that my stitches were dissolvable ones, as I've heard that having stitches or staples removed can be an unpleasant experience. 

Have you experienced a c-section? What was your experience?

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  1. I think negative views about elective c-sections stem from 'too posh to push' celebrities but ultimately it's what's best for the mother and baby that counts. The 'not knowing' about when labour is going to start or what to expect is daunting. I was terrified of having an epidural or spinal block so it wouldn't have been for me but in an emergency you don't have a choice. My mum had an emergency c-sec with me and she did say it was painful and a long recovery process but i think that's expected when they have to get baby out quickly. Glad it worked for you and kept your anxiety at bay, it's nice to hear a positive account of a c-sec! Xx

  2. Great post, I had an emergency c-section with Daisy, she had her hand on her head and labour wasn't progressing, it was a little bit shocking to go from being in labour to facing an operation but it all went well, I did have a lot of pain afterwards and it took me a long time to recover. I've elected to have a c-section with my little man who is due soon and I know what you mean about having a fight on your hands I've had one consultant being totally horrible about it and another saying it's my call and my right. Nobody should be made to feel bad about having a c-section it's your choice and your body at the end of the day you know what's right for you.

  3. It's so lovely that you had a positive birth story. I agree with Lucinda above I think media like most things turn things into negatives.

    You looked so well too and he really was tiny! The twins each weighed 6lbs each and they were so teeny and cute!

  4. Thank you Hayley for posting a positive post on c-sections. I chose to give birth by c-section for pretty much the same reason as you and was very fortunate to have two wonderful births. I also have have two draft posts on c-sections that have been sitting in blogger for weeks which I haven't been brave enough to post, you may just have motivated me. Been catching up on your blog this morning lovely and have just read your 'is anybody out there' post and just wanted to say how much I love reading sparkles and stretchmarks and I hope we've all convinced you to keep blogging, Becca xx

  5. I had an emergency section with my first and I didn't think it was that bad to be honest. I think if you are prepared for it having chosen one, it really wouldn't be that bad. Yes longer recovery, but the whole process is a lot less stressful (I was lucky that I wasn't in labour when they decided I needed one). Having to now decide between vbac and elective section for my second child - it seems there is such a mixture of information and divide of opinion even between medical professionals! Not the most helpful! x

  6. Great to read such a positive c section story! It sounds like you got the calm, controlled birth you wanted. I had an unplanned section with my daughter as she was undiagnosed breech - in my notes it's described as an emergency section but it never felt like an emergency, I was never panicked and I didn't feel as though anyone else was either. The strongest pain relief I had afterwards was paracetemol and ibuprofen and I was amazed at how quickly I recovered. I went on to have a successful VBAC with my wee boy last year, but it was a very close call between going down that route and having an elective section!

  7. I have had two c sections and they definitely were not planned, but after all whatever happens you have to have the baby one way or another. I am glad your experience was so positive.

  8. I think it's up to the individual and that every woman should have the right to choose what's best for her and her baby. I had no idea we all had the right to a C-section though, very interesting.

  9. What a good post, I'm glad yours went well. Mine was an emergency caesarian and I developed a post-operative infection which went undiagnosed but I survived after a longish convalescence.

  10. I'm pleased you had a positive experience. I had an emergency c-section but was fortunate enough to heal really quickly. I was back to normal doing in less than 2 weeks and never experienced more than a bit of discomfort. It's a shame the NCT and it's like give them such a bad press because they can be the best solution for mother and baby.

  11. C-Sections get such a bad press so it is refreshing to read about a positive experience x

  12. Ahh i always hear bad things about c sections but it nice to see someone have a good outlook on it! x

  13. Well done for sharing this, sometimes people who have elective sections feel to judged to share. You were right to do what was best for you and your little one :)

  14. It good to hear someones real life experience.

  15. Its good to hear someones real life experience, i'm glad it went well for you

  16. I really dislike it when people are judged because they choose to have elective c sections, it's their body, leave them be! Glad you have a quick recovery, you only really hear the horrific stories of them so it's nice to hear something that went pretty smoothly! You now have a gorgeous little boy to thank for it :) x

  17. I agree that women should be given a choice. I had a natural birth with Ava but as I couldn't deliver the placenta I had to have an epidural. That was even worse than giving birth. It actually makes me feel a bit queasy thinking about it! I'm glad that you had a positive experience. xx

  18. I had an emergency c-section and I was pretty scared. I was lay on my own for a while as they had 'lost' my OH! When they found him in the room they had left him, we just spoke about the garden and what plans we had for it to distract me. I remember the surgical team being so calm and it was really interesting listening in a bit. No idea what will happen next time, if that should come about. I'd be worried about VBAC after my son getting stuck. Afterwards I can remember having a horrid cough and being in pain everytime, clutching a pillow to my scar. Ouch!

  19. This was really interesting to read. I think it's easy for people to say birth should be 'natural' but I can't see what is natural about a huge person coming out of what's supposed to be a tiny hole!! And if it's something that would cause you a lot of emotional and/or psychological distress, it is your body, and you should be able to choose what happens to it. And it is surely much safer for the baby?

    Thank you for your honesty :)

  20. Although i'm not a mum or pregnant, I think if I am lucky enough to be blessed with a child I'll probably have a c-section because I'm quite little. I'd heard a lot of bad things about mother's having c-sections in terms of 'taking the easy way out' or not being able to have a great bond with your child etc which is pretty ridiculous really. So it's such a change hearing such positivity from you :) Your baby is gorgeous and the main thing is he's healthy and with you in your arms :) xxx


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