For most women having PGP is not a reason to need a caesarean section, although there may be other factors that make it necessary, such as the position of the baby or if you have other medical problems. Some women with PGP wish to opt for one based on their pain levels, mobility and previous birth experiences, to name but a few issues. It is important to gather as much information as you can before making any decisions.
You will have pain from the abdominal wound in addition to your PGP pain, and your recovery time may be longer overall than a woman who has no symptoms of PGP. There is also a limit on how many caesarean sections you can have – so if you are planning to have lots of babies this may not be the right option for you. There are also acknowledged risks associated with a caesarean section and NICE guidelines clarify these. As with vaginal birth, make sure your consultant knows you have PGP and is aware of your pain-free gap and the positions you can and cannot manage. You also have to remain aware of the masking effects of pain relief during and after surgery.
Some hospitals promote caesarean section as the only option with PGP, but the experience of our members indicates that this is not necessarily the case. There is no research evidence to show that it is the best option, so doctors rely on their experiences and individual circumstances when helping you to make a decision. If you wish to talk to one of our members with personal experience of either caesarean or vaginal birth, please contact us.
Tips from women with PGP who have had a caesarean section:
Food and drink
- When in hospital (before or after birth) make friends with the housekeeping staff. They were really helpful once they realised I couldn’t walk and delivered all my meals!
- Ask to have a cot that is bolted on to the side of the bed – you can lift the baby out to feed etc without getting out of bed. You may also need a normal mobile cot to move your baby around and change nappies, or
- Ask for a hydraulic (electric) cot that moves up and down to a comfortable level for you at the touch of a button. These tend to be in short supply, so tell staff that you will need one as early as possible (preferably antenatally).
- Ask for an en-suite room so that you can rest as much as possible after the birth. If this is not possible, ask to be taken to the toilet in a wheelchair.
- As with vaginal birth, it is recommended that you have bed rest until the acute pain subsides. Beware of the masking effect of painkillers at this stage and don't over-do things. This helps your joints to start to recover.
- Ask for your epidural top-ups in the recovery ward in plenty of time – don’t wait, like me, until the tube has fallen out!
- A caesarean is a major operation, and you may find you feel strange as a result of the pain relief etc. However, keep the pain under control and always ask when you need some more, don’t wait for it to be offered.
- There is an element of control – you hope not to cause further damage.
- It can be very helpful to know the planned birth date – you know exactly how much longer you have to cope.
- Breastfeeding can sometimes be slower to get going after a caesarean. Don’t get down or frustrated with yourself – keep asking for help and guidance, and the milk will flow eventually.
"The atmosphere in the theatre was lovely and it was a very special time. Even my husband, who is very squeamish and quite concerned about how he would cope, said it was just amazing. He even stood up to see our son lifted out of me. It was, for us, a once in a lifetime moment and the theatre team around us was excellent. The baby was laid on my chest whilst the surgeons worked on the other side of the screen and he was given to my husband when they needed to move me."
Other pages in this section:
- Pregnancy and birth with PGP
- Birth plans
- Vaginal birth
- Home birth
- Water birth
- Hospital and midwifery-led units
- Twins (and more)
Content reviewed and updated in 2017.