If you have been following this blog for long enough, you would have read about my first C-Section experience. It was not horrific by any means. It was, however, an emergency c-section procedure and therefore totally unexpected for me. Now that I have gone through a planned C-Section, I can say what my view is of an emergency c-section vs. planned C-Section.
What is an emergency C-section?
Healthline describes an emergency c-section as one that takes place “very quickly due to immediate concern for the health of mother and/or baby”.
What is the difference between a planned and unplanned C-section?
The difference between planned and unplanned C-sections are mainly that planned sections are scheduled in advance while unplanned ones occur without prior planning. They usually take place as a matter of urgency.
After experiencing an emergency c-section, I knew that I would elect to have one with my next pregnancy. The reasons for the unscheduled section were likely to happen again and I wanted to be prepared the second time around. The only way to be fully prepared was to be able to plan things out from start to finish. Including my recovery period.
Are planned C-sections safer?
Not necessarily. Planned C-sections are still surgeries at the end of the day. They carry with them the same risks that all surgeries do. However, they do have some benefits which we will look at below.
The way I saw it, based on my first experience with a c-section and the high likelihood of needing one again, a planned c-section was the safer option for my baby. Possibly for myself as well.
I cannot speak for all hospitals in the U.K. but where I would have ended up giving birth, maternal requests for a c-section are not rejected or resisted if there are valid reasons for them. I was not worried about being denied one. As it turned out though, I went private and ended up choosing to go with a specific consultant who is well-known for his c-section expertise. I elected to have a c-section and based on my history, there was no question of whether I should be allowed one or not. Read about my experience with private maternity care in the U.K. here.
Scheduled C-section vs. Emergency C-section recovery: My Experience
Is recovery from elective C-section better than an emergency? Yes, for me, it certainly was. We all have different bodies and therefore, we are all likely to have different experiences. However, I am very happy to say that my recovery from an emergency c-section vs. planned or scheduled has been very different so far. This has been for seven main reasons.
- Less postpartum bleeding. I am not sure why yet but I have not bled anywhere near as much as I did after the emergency c-section.
- Additional support provided in hospital post-surgery. As it was a planned procedure, the aftercare was well-prepared as well. I suppose this could also come down to where I delivered my baby but I believe the care and attention provided was great because the surgery was planned.
- Less general body pain. After my emergency caesarean, my body felt like I had been through war and it felt that way for more than a month. With this elective section, I felt almost the same but only for a couple of weeks.
- More energy. I knew what was coming. I made sure to rest as much as I could in the weeks leading up to the surgery and I think it is partly because of this opportunity to plan that I had a little more energy so soon postpartum than I did with my first section.
- Smaller, better hidden scar. My scar this time around is lower down and therefore also better hidden than the last time.
- Lower levels of postpartum anxiety. I had months and months of preparing myself mentally for the surgery and the immediate weeks following it. This gave me the chance to organize things where possible and also come to terms with those things I had to face and would not be able to change.
- A greater sense of control. Knowing what I would be doing, especially so far in advance, gave me a sense of being more in control. My consultant also explained the process in such great detail to me over the months leading up to the surgery that I was assured there would be no unpleasant surprises and I knew exactly how to prepare.
Of course, the points above were the case for me. Other people who have experienced elective c-section might have a totally different set of experiences throughout their recovery.
3 Benefits of elective C-section
While safety may not be the primary consideration when debating between an emergency c-section vs. planned c-section, it can come up for some mothers depending on pre-existing conditions, for example. In my view, the three biggest benefits of getting an elective c-section are:
- Being able to organize your household accordingly in advance. Knowing you are going to have surgery and exactly when means that you can potentially plan for your family to be taken care of and well-organised so that you do not have much to worry about while you recover.
- No long or traumatic labour with the possibility of facing an emergency c-section anyway
- Lower risk of vaginal trauma and urinary incontinence postpartum.
Are you trying to decide which is less traumatic? An Emergency c-section vs. Planned caesarean?