Why I Opted for a Repeat C-Section

Image via Flickr/ Kelly Sue

My first delivery experience was far from ideal. After a long labor with failure to progress, and heart rate decelerations for both me and my baby, my delivery ended in an emergency c-section. So when baby #2 came along, my thoughts of labor and delivery were far more complicated.

At first, I think I was expecting my doctor to make the decision for me. I wanted to hear from her “You should definitely try a VBAC” or “I don't think you'd be successful.” And while she did lay out both scenarios for me, unfortunately for me, she was willing to try whatever I wanted to do. I left that appointment feeling even more unsure of what I wanted to do.

I came home and discussed our options with my husband, who was just as supportive and open as my doctor was. And while these are usually qualities that I enjoy in my husband, on this occasion, I was wishing for him to be more opinionated!

You have to make the choice that is best for YOU. Not the choice that is best for the majority, or best for your sister or cousin.

I sat down to look at the VBAC waiver that my doctor had given me. She'd talked with me about some possible complications, but the wording on the waiver seemed far scarier to me. (I realize they have to cover their bases for legal reasons, but in my hyper-sensitive pregnant state, the words “uterine rupture” and “fetal and maternal death” were terrifying!) The more research I did, I found that instances of uterine rupture are actually very rare (less than 1%), and most VBAC attempts are actually successful (about 74%).

You may be looking back at the title of this article now, thinking, “Well, what the heck, lady? I thought this was about choosing a repeat c-section. All of this information makes it sound like you made the wrong choice.” And this is why all the doctors will tell you that you have to make the choice that is best for YOU—not the choice that is best for the majority, or best for your sister or cousin. 

{ MORE: 10 Tips for a Family-Centered Cesarean Birth Plan }

My final decision was based ultimately on my experience with my daughter and my first delivery. My first labor was induced at 39 weeks because I was a gestational diabetic, and they didn't want my daughter to be too large for my 5'3″ frame. I was admitted to the hospital in the evening and was given a cervix-ripening medication that I was told would just “do its magic” as I slept.

For me — LIES! I was in full-blown labor by 11:30 p.m. with contractions that the doctors called “camel backing,” meaning they came one after the other with no rest in between. Although I was only two-centimeters dilated, they gave me an epidural for two reasons. First, to help me relax and be able to make it through these hard contractions one after another. Second, to try and help with fetal heart-rate decelerations that the doctors were detecting on the monitors, likely caused from contracting without rest.

The epidural did help with that, but my labor was no longer progressing. They tried to start pitocin to “ramp up” my progress, but that just continued the camel-backing contractions and fetal distress. The thought was that my body just simply does not labor correctly. While contractions are natural and necessary for vaginal delivery, the way my body contracted was not healthy for me or the baby, and actually, it wasn't helping me progress at all.


By 2:00 p.m. the next day, I was only dilated to four centimeters, and all of a sudden, there were a LOT of people in my room. Doctors and nurses were running in and out of my room, checking my contraction sheet, whispering “Is this for real?” to each other, like they couldn't believe this was my actual contraction pattern, turning me on different sides and increasing my oxygen. My OB came in, took one look, and said to prepare an OR immediately—that my baby was in distress, and we would be doing an emergency c-section.

To me, all of that and the chance that I would be putting baby #2 in, quite possibly, the same position as #1 and end up with a c-section anyway, led me to opt to schedule a repeat c-section.

As it turns out, I got to find out that that was the right choice when baby #3 decided to start my labor spontaneously literally right before my scheduled c-section. I was in the hospital, anyway (thank goodness!), and my labor began right there while waiting to be prepped for surgery. When I told the nurses I was in labor, they hooked me up to the monitors to find that lo and behold, there we were again—camel-backing contractions and fetal heart decelerations. Everyone moved a little faster, and my repeat c-section that was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. was bumped to an emergency c-section at noon! 

{ MORE: 5 Unexpected Ways a Doula Can Provide Support }

So, I guess my point is to trust your gut. While statistics and other people's experiences may point one way, you are the only one who will have YOUR experience. Choose what feels right for you.

What was your labor experience? Did you opt for a VBAC? A repeat c-section? Did you feel judged for your decision?

What do you think?

Why I Opted for a Repeat C-Section

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

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  1. tchiko says:

    this is all stressful to me,people have differents opinions and i understand everyone’s point of view which makes it hard for me to decide wether to have a vbac or c section.

  2. mrkahler says:

    Wow, this was like reading my own birthing experience! After being induced and 10 hours of labor with no break in between contractions, I was finally able to receive the epidural. Good thing this happened at 6pm when the doc came in to check my progress before heading home. After staring at the heart rate monitor for a long time, I had a rush of people in my room all at once telling me that an emergency c-section was about to happen. Everything turned out great and Lucy was perfect at just under 6 lbs. Doc told me I just don’t have the right body to push those babies out cause at her small size, I shouldn’t have had those issues. Now with baby girl #2 on the way, my doc was awesome. He gave me a ton of info, his opinion (c-section), but told me it was completely my decision. We will find out what happens in 3 months!

  3. Levi says:

    I really appreciate this article, I have three kids and all of them were c- sections, with my first it was an emergency c-section and my second we had it a c-section scheduled but my water broke two days before, so, we tries to VBAC, I was in labor for 24 hours with failure to progress and I finally said I can’t do it anymore, with my third child, was by far the best experience, there was no guessing game, we went in at 6:30, they prep me and we had her at 8:15 am, I sometimes feel when I’m telling my story that some women just don’t get it and think I should have held for a vaginal birth, because that’s the right way, sometimes it’s not the right way for every women, was I expecting a C- section with my first…no I wasn’t, I don’t think any women plans on having a C- section, anyway thank you for sharing your experience with, I appreciate it.

  4. Sheila says:

    Thank you. I too am going to opt for a repeat C-section with baby #2. My first delivery had many complications and I was very ill after, needing blood transfusions and extended hospitalization. After an extremely easy pregnancy this was quite a shock. My body just did not want to birth my son naturally, and I fear we would face the same issues with #2. At this point I don’t feel it’s right to jeopardize my family, nor does my husband. To the other mothers and posters out there please do not judge, this is just another tough decision a mother faces and you need to do what is right for you and your family. Saying you didn’t need the induction or your doctor is a fear monger is of no help. Lets support each other in these tough situations.

  5. stacey says:

    I find it interesting that when you get induced with things that are going to start things that may not be ready and can and usually do put baby and momma in stress, people wonder why their labor was so horrible. I understand that not every woman has the same pain tolerance and has different ideas of birth and labor but to say that you failed to progress is only because you started something that wasn’t ready to be done. If your first baby was having complications from the first induction process and couldn’t take the pain then maybe it should have been reevaluated on slowing things down. Why can’t we just wait until baby is ready to come if there is no medical reason for them to come when dr’s want them. I truly believe your csection was from way to many interventions cause to much stress. Some people may not know this but a first time vaginal birthing mother can also have a uterine rupture that may not be so devastating that no one would even know that it happened and there are always complications with surgery too and the more csections that one has the higher the risk of complications.

    • Tracy says:

      First of all you shouldn’t try to make someone feel bad or guilty for making a choice that was right for them. As a labor and delivery nurse with years of experience I can not stand people like you who put other women down because they don’t do things the way you would do them, whether it be a c section vs vaginal birth, home birth vs hospital birth, epidural vs natural. Every woman’s body is different and there is a reason that labor and delivery was the number one reason for woman and infant deaths back on the day. Things can go wrong and it’s not their fault. You have no idea why her baby was in distress, there are so many factors and and reasons why a fetus may not tolerate labor. If her baby would’ve been too big from gestational diabetes she could have been as risk for a serious shoulder dystocia that could’ve caused serious long term problems or infant death. And second, get your facts straight before you start trying to act like a know it all. If someone’s uterus ruptures during labor it will not go unnoticed and yes it’s always a big deal. Either the baby would show severe distress and would need to come out immediately to avoid serious health problems and death or the mothers health would start to decline bc she would start bleeding out internally and at that point the baby would really be compromised.

  6. Teresa says:

    I support a women’s right to decide what is right for her body/baby. For me, having a VBAC was a top priority. I understand the risks, did my research, and found a VBAC friendly doctor and hospital. My only advice to women is to do the research. I had a very slow progression of labor and heard decals with my son. This time around my body understood what it was doing and my daughter was born five hours after contractions started. My recovery was quicker and my daughter was more active than my C-section baby. I did it without drugs because statistics say that any intervention decreases your chance of a successful VBAC.

  7. Virginia says:

    I too opted for repeat C-section. My first delivery was a nightmare (“crash c-section”), that almost killed me and my child (I bore a 26 week gestation infant and I went septic and neither of us was expected to survive). I went on to have 13 consecutive miscarriages until I was able to carry to viability (34 weeks with my 2nd). I remember being told that I was given a Classical C-section the first time and since it had been over 7 years since my first delivery, and the hospital had closed and the OB retired my 2nd OB wanted me to try for a VBAC. I begged and begged and on my own found a doctor that had been at my first delivery (but not doctor of record) he was now very old and wrote a letter to my 2nd OB stating that he was fairly sure under the circumstances of my first delivery that I had indeed had a classical C-section. Thankfully the 2nd OB took the cue and was willing to do a repeat c-section. After the delivery, he came to me and said that I was right, and that he was grateful that I went the extra mile to get the note from the other MD, as by the looks of my uterus that I would have never been able to tolerate a VBAC. I went on to have another child (a 30 weeker) and this time I had all my records in hand when I walked into the OB’s office that first time, and delivered again by repeat C-section.

  8. Jessica says:

    I will tell you right now. i had all plans and intentions of giving birth as naturally as possible. I mean, I was going to get an epidural, don’t think I’m THAT brave! haha! But I wanted to push and scream and yell… And then… my blood pressure rose and rose over the last two weeks of my pregnancy. My doctor set me up for an induction – we had the cervical ripening medicine put in, and then i slept. No progress by morning, so Doc broke my water and began pitocin, only got to a 4 over a 14 hour period. Doctor said “we can wait longer, to see if you progress, but we could wait another 12 hours and not have any progress. Or, we can c-section.”
    By this time, I was so exhausted, and I just wanted to see/hold my baby that we agreed for a c-section. within the hour, I was holding my beautiful baby girl. My anesthesiologist was AMAZING. I had never had surgery before, and was FREAKING out. (they strapped my arms down, because i was freaking out.) My nurses were stellar, and my doctor was brilliant.The only thing that hurt was a staple that snagged when I tried walking… and it didn’t snag with every step – but only with every third or fourth step, so it caught me off guard… once they took those out, and i was able to walk around, i was good as gold!
    Talking with some of my girl friends who actually gave birth naturally, I know for a fact i made the right decision. Bless your hearts, those that had a natural births, you are so much braver and tougher than i! The pain, the bleeding, the soreness, the episiotomy, the sickness even after returning home. Wow. My recovery was a breeze, and my doc was a magician because my scar is not even THAT noticeable!

  9. Zahra says:

    So, basically, your first labor was a cascade of interventions brought on by fear-mongering doctors who wanted you to deliver without any proof that your baby was over 11lbs (the official guideline for macrosomia). The result was a very scary experience that may have happened regardless of their haste to deliver you of your baby. While, obviously, your choice is valid because it was what made you feel safe, I wish that doctors had presented you with both a VBAC waiver and a C-Section waiver. Complications from C-Sections can go up to emergency hysterectomia and maternal death. A VBAC is, in general, just as safe as a C-Section, with the added benefit of not adding more chances of complications for the next pregnancy.

  10. joana says:

    Your story is exactly what occurred for my first pregnancy. I also ended up having an emergency c section due to deceleration in my sons heart rate. I’m currently expecting baby #2 and am ready for c section. Although my experience was also terrifying, I chose what I felt best for my unborn baby and my health. At least now I am mentally ready and can better prepare for what’s to come. 🙂

  11. mommy nhoj says:

    I agreeyo trust your gut. I would feel the same as to rely the decison to choose betwen VBAC and repeat c-sec. I believe my husband and I would go for repeat c-sec since I was opted for it due to medical reason. i did not experience the laboring pains or dilation. Above the convenience, I believe CS will both benefit me and my baby.


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