A question and answer session with Elizabeth McGee of the Worry Free C-Section
Q: Elizabeth, what motivated you to write the worry free C-Section?
Because my first C-Section was scary and I was caught completely off guard, I didn’t want to see other women go through the fear and the pain that I did.
After I had my C-sections I would often talk to other women who were pregnant telling them about my C-Section experiences. Many women were interested and I often got a lot of questions about my experiences.
I really liked sharing my story and telling others what my C-sections were like but what bothered me was that I couldn’t really answer any of the more technical questions, things like, how do you know if you’ll need a c-section? How can you avoid having one? What’s the best anesthesia? Can it be a problem your baby? Etc.
That’s when I began to really research C-Sections. I kind of took the topic on as a pet project to get answers to these questions. I talked to other women, chatted with medical professionals and found out so many interesting things that I had no clue about.
That’s when I decided to write about it. I had accumulated so much information and learned so much that I put it all into a comprehensive guide and called it the Worry Free C-Section.
Because my biggest problems with having C-sections were fear, pain and fatigue, I address those more heavily in the book.
Of course my birth experiences are long gone but perhaps I could help other women avoid some of the problems I had helping make their overall experience as positive as possible.
Q: Why did you have your C-Sections?
My first C-section was a failure to progress. I went for hours never dilating past 6 cm. I remained strong though and was determined to wait it out trying to reach 10, but it wasn’t meant to be as my baby started monitoring fetal distress, which is a very common reason for C-Sections.
My second C-Section was a recommended by my doctor, which is a common recommendation if your last birth was a C-Section.
The alternative is to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) but most doctors don’t want to risk uterine rupture which is a big VBAC risk.
At the time of my second C-Section, I didn’t even know that a VBAC was possible.
Today most women are aware of the VBAC option but even today most doctors are still hesitant to do a VBAC because of the risk. But what most doctors don’t tell you is that the risk of uterine rupture is small, only about 1%.
If I had known that a VBAC was possible and that the risk was low, would I have opted to do it? I don’t really know, but at least I could have discussed it with my doctor instead of blindly following his suggestion.
My goal is not to sway your mind or make judgments on having a C-Section, my goal is to help give you the facts so you can know and understand your options which can help you arrive at decisions that both you and your doctor can agree upon.
I think that’s important for women. Being part of the decision making process helps us deal with our situations bette
Q: What complications, if any, did you experience with your c-sections?
I was super lucky and didn’t have any complications from the surgery. Actually most women don’t as C-Sections are relatively safe surgeries. If you’re in reasonably good health, you eat right and take care of yourself, complications are minimal.
Many of the complications come afterwards with things like infection, breastfeeding problems, extreme fatigue, depression, adhesions, heavy bleeding, blood clots and others.
My belief is that most of these complications can be avoided with proper planning and understanding of the process and what it takes to recovery well.
Of course there are always complications that can’t be avoided but taking every care and precaution can help.
Q: What scared you the most about your C-Sections?
With my first C-Section the words “We’ll have to do a C-Section” scared me to death.
I actually thought that either I or my baby was dying. I had no idea. I was ready for a vaginal birth and anything else just never entered my mind. Talk about being clueless, that was me.
No woman should have to feel such terror when having their baby, and the truth is, most women probably don’t, but what about those that do? They’re the women I want to reach and help before it ever comes to that.
With my second C-Section I wasn’t as scared because we had planned it. In fact it was a little bit of a relief since I knew I wouldn’t have to go through labor which was so long and hard with my first before having the C-Section.
However, today knowing the risks involved for both mom and baby when it comes to C-sections, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to face having another one.
It scares me a little bit to see women have 3, 4, 5 or more C-Sections. I’ve read about women that have had as many as 6 C-Sections, so it does happen.
The issues with so many surgeries are adhesions and scar tissue that accumulates for each surgery you have. For most women adhesions never become an issue, but for many it does, and that’s not something women are aware of.
Adhesions are just what their name implies, it’s scar tissue that adheres to other organs and tissues in your body.
Complications from adhesions can include bowel obstruction, bladder and uterine complications. Also, each time you have another c-section the doctor has to cut through the existing adhesions making the c-section surgery that much longer and tougher for the doctor and the baby.
The one thing women come to me a lot about is pain they experience years later after having a C-Section and are wondering if the pain could be a result of adhesions. I always encourage women to have any pain thoroughly checked out, but if there is nothing obviously wrong, adhesions could be the culprit.
If you do have extensive adhesions they can pull on certain tissues, making it painful to bend, stretch or move. The only way to truly get rid of adhesions is through a laparoscopic procedure which is basically another surgery but a lot less invasive.
One modern remedy for adhesions is massage therapy. In fact it has made great strides in relieving the pain and discomfort of adhesions. The Wurn Technique is one of the more popular techniques. This type of massage therapy works by helping unravel the bonds between the fibers that make up the adhesions.
I think this type of massage therapy is definitely where women having adhesion pain should start before considering even the less invasive laparoscopic procedure.
For women that want big families but have had one or two c-sections already it’s important to consider how adhesions could affect your health and future births.
Q: Would you recommend a VBAC to C-Section Moms?
VBAC’s or vaginal birth after C-Section aren’t the taboo they were several years ago. As mentioned earlier, there’s only about a 1% risk for moms that have had only one C-Section; however the risk does rise the more C-sections you have. .
For moms that have had 2 c-sections or more I personally wouldn’t recommend a VBAC. The uterine incision area becomes weaker with each c-section making a VBAC that much more risky. In fact, some of the more conservative hospitals won’t allow them.
Q: How can the worry free c-section guide help women?
My intention with the guide is to help women understand why C-sections are necessary, what risks you are up against and to also help you recover faster and with less pain.
I also share my experiences and some of the things that helped me with both my physical and emotional recovery.
If a C-section is necessary I want you to feel at ease but I also want you to have some control as well.
Also many women today are choosing to have C-Sections when there is no medical reason. I discuss the pros and cons of that as well.
One thing to note is that there are several things that happen during the course of having a c-section that you have choices on. You might be approached about the choices you have but you may not. Part of the goal of the guide is to enlighten you about discusses the choices you have and encourage you to make the decisions beforehand and not have them made for you.
This is your baby’s birth and it’s important for you to understand your options, understand the consequences of doing something or not doing something so you can effectively decide with your doctor what the best course of action is.
Q: What advice would you give C-Section moms today?
Prepare for the unexpected. It doesn’t matter how healthy you are or how great your pregnancy went, it’s possible a C-Section could occur.
When I had my first C-section the statistics for first time moms having a c-section was about 1 in 4. Today it’s risen to about 1 in 3. There are varying reasons for this but the unfortunate thing is that for many first time moms needing a c-section, they will be totally unprepared for what will happen to them. They’ll have no idea of how to recover and take care of a baby at the same time. Heck, just taking care of a new baby can be challenge in itself.
This is why I feel women need to be prepared. I always hope a woman never needs a C-section but the fact is, they are a necessary medical procedure, so if you should need one you’ll do so much better to be prepared.
Plan for your recovery. You may not have a C-section but it’s good to plan for it just in case.
Have a birth plan that includes the possibility of having a c-section. In fact, my guide includes a birth plan that includes the things you have choices on. This will give you time to discuss the options with your doctor and make the choices that suit you.
I can’t guarantee you won’t need a C-Section but you’ll certainly be better prepared for the process and the recovery with this kind of planning and forethought and that can make a big difference for both your physical and mental recovery.
The things I remember most about the birth of my first child were that I was sore, I was super tired and I was cranky. I also had trouble breastfeeding, I was unorganized and I just overall felt like I lost my grip on life. I felt all the joy was taken from the whole birth experience.
But looking back, I see how things could have been so much better for me. I’ve learned from experience and I’ve learned from other moms what it takes to have a great c-section birth and that’s what I want to help other moms do.
Having a c-section is no walk in the park, but with some planning and a few useful tips, it can be a positive experience that you’ll remember fondly, and that’s what it should be.
Elizabeth McGee is the author of the Worry Free C-Section Recovery guide, a comprehensive C-Section Recovery and preparation guide. Having had struggles with her own C-Section surgeries and painful recoveries, Elizabeth has dedicated the last ten years to researching and finding ways to help other women have a positive C-Section experience and recover quicker with less pain and anxiety.