As the proud owner of 'childbearing hips', I'd never considered the possibility of an assisted birth...surely my baby would just glide out, right? I made a point not to obsess over a birth plan, telling myself I would go with the flow so as not to be disappointed. Though to be honest in my head it was a water birth in a midwife led unit, hypnobirthing and pretty twinkly lights over the pool all the way. I didn't factor in a stubborn breech baby, or what turned out to be a 'slightly heart shaped uterus.'
Mine is a story of a planned c-section. A story which people often don't care to hear, purely because many women (myself included) prefer not to think that they will have to go down the section route. This is a story of how assisted birth doesn't have to be scary and how it can be a positive and fulfilling experience too.
It all started when at 34 weeks we went for a scan to see if the placenta had moved up (it had) and were told that baby was breech. The section word was bandied about a bit. I wasn't too worried, it wasn't going to happen to me...I'd got childbearing hips! We booked for an ECV and went home to try a host of things to help baby to turn. I spent a lot of time doing shoulder stands, sat with frozen foods on the top of my bump, tried burning those Chinese candles next to my toes and attempted a variety of other positions...one of which involved an ironing board!?
Two failed ECVs later and baby was not for turning! These weren't the most comfortable of procedures but on the whole were bearable for me without gas and air [ECV tip: I found it much more comfortable when they used olive oil when trying to manipulate baby, ultrasound jelly not so good] I was glad we'd tried everything but after the last ECV we were told a section was the safest way forward. We were presented with the theatre diary and asked to pick a birthday…well that felt odd!
If I’m honest coming away from the second ECV, I probably did feel a little disappointed. I wondered if I should feel annoyed that I wouldn’t get to experience something which is so much a part of being a woman. I remember saying to my husband that if anyone dared suggest I was too posh to push I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions…I was desperate for the chance to push and thought I’d be really good at it! After a bit of a google on options and vaginal breech births I decided to adopt my usual outlook and just go with the flow. However much I trusted my body I also trusted that the consultants and midwives (and let’s face it they had much more experience in this department than first timer me) knew what they were on about and knew that a section was the safest way to welcome my baby into the world.
So I embraced it as a different experience and went out to buy some full briefs for the hospital bag (ugly but sooo comfortable) The day before our son was born I enjoyed a lovely pub lunch with my best friend and in the evening my husband and I went for dinner…our last dinner as just a twosome. It was perfect.
On the day I felt calm and excited. Everyone was lovely and the atmosphere in theatre was great. I chatted with the anaesthetist about work (as I work at the Trust) and laughed at my husband who had been dressed in medium scrubs which were vastly too small and verging on indecent! I didn’t enjoy the sensation of rummaging about inside of me and do remember telling my husband I would like to go home! In all honesty though, this was over so quickly. Ten minutes into surgery our baby was out, after that we enjoyed some skin to skin time and I really didn’t care what was happening down there.
I was nervous about recovery post section but have to say it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Although a large part of that probably has to do with the fact that I went into surgery fresh and hadn’t laboured for hours before. I remember reading somewhere to make the effort to walk tall and stand up straight post section. This little tip really helped me. As soon as my catheter was out I also made a point of going to the bathroom and freshening up with some baby wipes…it sounds silly but it did make me feel better. Then the following morning I made sure to shower and dress in my own clothes, little psychological things that really do make a difference to how you feel. I was discharged the day after my section and we returned home to begin muddling through with a newborn.
Ultimately I don’t know why I worried about having a planned section. If anything I’d even go so far as to recommend it, as I had a lovely time and a very positive experience. In the end the method of delivery and what anyone else thinks regarding that really doesn’t matter, all that matters is the safe arrival of your baby. I’m a very easygoing and relaxed person anyway but this experience (although not necessarily what I would have planned) was an important lesson in surrendering and going with the flow, and it’s an experience which I wouldn’t change for the world.
So where are we now? Our wonderful son Noah is now 3 (how time flies!) and we are expecting a daughter to complete the family in December. I’m going to try for a VBAC if I can…because a twisted part of me is curious to know what labour feels like. However, if baby is breech and a VBAC isn’t a viable option, I certainly won’t get hung up over it. It doesn’t matter how our daughter chooses to enter the world, only that she is guided in safely and is healthy.