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Elective C-section versus Emergency C-section

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Yes, I have had the opportunity to undergo both. In the year 2020 I was pregnant for the 1st time and underwent natural labor which eventually resulted in an emergency c-section due to stalled labor for 15 hours.

The same year 5 Months later, I was pregnant again with my 2nd baby and I delivered her through elective c-section.

Before giving birth to my 1st baby, I never had the thought of undergoing an emergency c-section and I was hoping for a natural birth. The very thought of undergoing a major surgery scared me. I had even read stories about spinal anesthesia not working properly during the c-section and women experiencing excruciating pain while the operation was going on. However, that is very rare.

So early morning at 3:30 am in the month of March I started experiencing labor pains and at around 10 am I went in for admission in the hospital. What happened there is another story which you can read here- My Emergency C-section Birth Story

And the next birth was obviously through elective c-section as I was not a good candidate for VBAC. The spacing between my children was less than 18 months.

Coming back to the differences which I experienced are:

I healed early after elective c-section

Now, I do not know what factors lead to this. But after my 1st c-section which was an emergency c-section, I wasn't even able to lie sideways on the bed. And after my elective c-section I was able to lie sideways from the very next day. Maybe it was the trauma to the body from natural labor which led to delayed healing or maybe it was the stress that I underwent after the emergency c-section. But I know for sure that it pained like hell when I tried to lie sideways after the birth of my first child.

I took pain killers like a pro after my elective c-section and it helped.

They say you should stay ahead of the pain when it comes to pain killers. And I did that after my elective c-section. I already had a toddler running around when I came back from the hospital so, I had to make sure that I was emotionally and mentally available to him too.

I was too freaked out after my first c-section as the baby care thing was also new to me. I did not even remember to take post-partum supplements at least for a month after that. And the regret of not being able to go according to my birth plan( which was having able to deliver normally) kept me depressed.

I was more prepared for the hospital stay for Elective c-section.

Normal labor of course has to start at a dramatic time! 3 am I tell you! Haha! I just kept checking the spacing between contractions and quickly cleaned up. And while my hospital bag was already packed in advance, I just kept my focus on my contractions. As soon as the spacing came at 8 minutes, I left for the hospital, only to know that I was already 3cm dilated. But sadly, I got stuck at 4cm, breaking my expectations of having a natural birth.

I opted for an epidural while I was in labor pain, so when the Doctor decided to take me in for a c-section, they just increased the dosage. A catheter was inserted, which was a thing I was not prepared for, however insertion didn't bother me as my lower body was already numb with the epidural. It were the 2 days which I had to spend with it, without being able to get up and going to the washroom. I was not ready for the post operation pains and it made me cry for several days. Not being able to get up without support, not being able to lie sideways or on my back, and just lying there barely managing to take good care of my baby. However things got better after 2 weeks and I felt a lot better with each passing day.

Read about my Emergency C-section Birth story

The second time around, I was already given a time and date for arrival of my baby. So I even had the time to dress up and go to take my baby 😅 . I packed my bag with appropriate things like warm socks, high rise underpants and warm clothes which I did not do the first time. Of course I did not expect to go under the knife that time around.

Pre-surgery anxiety was more the second time for me.

When I was in labor, I was exhausted and just wanted the baby to be out. Also I was rushed to the operation room as my baby's heart rate was becoming unstable, so everything was incomprehensible to me. I had the Epidural already inside me and they just went on with the operation.

But the second time around when I already knew about everything and I was going in my full senses, I was anxious for that 1 hour that I was going to be in the operation room. And the process was really horrible. I was taken on a wheel chair and told to lie on an very narrow operation table. It was so uncomfortable with the belly to lie still on that. The room was ice cold and I was shivering. The Surgeon told me to relax as she had to insert the catheter. I tried my best and they gave me a warm blanket too, which barely helped. The catheter stung little bit but I was a little relaxed after that, because I was anxious about how much it would pain. After that, the anestheologist, told me to lie sideways and bend to hug my knees as much as possible so that they could put the spinal block. I am not much afraid of needles as such so that did not bother me much apart from the fact that the table was really really uncomfortable for a pregnant woman!

Post that procedure they told me to relax, but I suddenly felt panic, as I suddenly felt a rush of intense nausea and mild headache. I told the anestheologist and he told the nurse to inject a medicine at once. It worked too! The operation went on and I did not hear the baby's cry and I dared not say anything and waited intently for it. The surgeon said that my amniotic fluid was myconium stained and I quickly asked about my baby. She said the operation was almost done and the baby would be here soon after cleaning up.

And here she was, my beautiful girl. I was done with all the worries and pains that were bothering me and felt dizzy because of the drugs in my system. I was taken back to the pre-labor room after that and due to the spinal I felt nothing for a few hours.

To conclude

I would say recovery and management of elective c-section was easier as I was mentally prepared, had experience and all the required stuff for post c-section in my hospital bag for maximum comfort. But while talking about the surgery only, the emergency c-section was less traumatic, because I was already under the epidural effect and a 100 percent exhausted, while undergoing it.

Want to know how it was to survive a pregnancy that was just months after the first?

Read my experience here

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