So due to little lady soon to be lifted from what has been her home for the past nine months, I thought it best to touch on the whole c-section subject and some of the anxieties surrounding it.
As we all know there are many mums who categorically refuse to face the prospect of going into labour naturally and have their c-section booked at the earliest opportunity as well as some mums who chose a planned c-section because of previous complications or they’ve been advised to by their healthcare professional. There are also lots of mums who cannot think of anything worse than a c-section. Personally I believe there is no right or wrong, your baby will enter the world in a way you deem suits you best, however sometimes our preferences can be taken away from us, either because our baby is not playing ball and therefore some kind of intervention is necessary or you find yourself in labour at your local supermarket the day before your c-section is due! As long as we focus on the fact our babies are here and in the best possible hands we should all be happy right?
When I read or hear anything about c-sections, the general language used is ‘major surgery’, ‘internal bleed’, ‘wound’, ‘scar tissue’, ‘increased risk’ and ‘recovery’. Now I don’t know about you, but those words hardly evoke pure delight or enthusiasm when I imagine what’s involved. However, what I must remember is that even natural deliveries come with an array of risks and no one really knows what’s going to happen? Right? I would say “there is no crystal ball”, if I believed in that stuff but the reality is we can write a birth plan as long as the umbilical cord and still find ourselves giving birth in the downstairs toilet or desiring every type of pain relief possible after previously declaring that we could do it without even the hint of a pain killer in the room.
I have decided to stay open minded regarding the birth of this baby and try not to focus too much on a list of preferences i.e birth plan. After detailing that I would try without pain relief on the birthing plan with my first born, by day two I was practically administering my own epidural and sucking on the gas and air as if I’d been waiting 29 years just to get the hit. Does that mean I failed? No. It simply means I wanted to numb the pain in order to get more from the experience as well as some well needed sleep.
Before giving birth to my son and in order to manage my thinking as best as possible I had worked on maintaining a high sense of self esteem which in turn helped to make me feel far more powerful over the experience. This exercises also helped to ensure that I had a strong belief in my coping skills. Consequently, when things became challenging I was able to keep the best level of perspective that I could (admittedly this wasnt quite as easy when sleep deprivation kicked in).
When I was told we were off for an emergency section I would have run into theatre (if I could) just to speed up the process. Quite frankly my baby was not coming (being 10lb may have also had a part to play), I was two weeks overdue, had been induced 3 times just to kick start labour and consequently that labour didnt seem to have an end. To be honest, the entire process is a bit of a blur however what I do know is that when I was in recovery, my baby boy was passed to me and other than some minor issues he was healthy and HUGE! At that moment, did it matter how he got there? No.So why is it that so many women today feel anxious about their impending sections? Probably because we are bombarded with a list of risks as long as our arms and then asked if we are “still happy to go ahead?”. Going back to the use of language, if I were to focus on the negative (through my desire for control) I’m only going to imagine the worst case scenarios and inadvertently create those scenes in my head. Subsequently, by imagining all the ways in which the process could go wrong my anxiety levels would be so high it would taint the experience even if it were to go smoothly! My best option is to always imagine what I WANT to happen, that way I am far more likely to get the very best from the experience and have more scope to stay calm in the event that any issues did arise.
Statistics suggest an ‘increased risk’ of a number of complications/side effects during and following a c-section as opposed to a natural birth however there is a huge difference between ‘increased’ and ‘high’. In some cases increased means 0.05% so with this in mind we decided to weigh up the small print (as the risks do vary) and made our decision for this baby based on fact as opposed to fear or being pulled by our previous experience or the opinions of others.
Personally, I am comforted in that I will be in a controlled environment which ensures the safest possible delivery of my baby (I’m at risk of scar rupture during a natural labour as I caught an infection in the womb after my sons birth). Coupled with that, I’m capped on how many hours they will allow me to labour naturally and therefore I could result in having a c-section anyway so I’ve decided to cut out the in-between and just have the c-section. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sat here writing my blog, still holding onto the thought of going into labour naturally and in a timely manner but I’m also very much content with the decision to have a section, why? Because I know whichever way she comes it is just how it is and I/we will cope. I have the NHS, I am in the best possible hands, many women today have nothing but themselves and are told to ‘crack on with it’.It came to my attention after having my son last year that some women do feel as though they haven’t given birth after having a c-section which in turn can make them feel pretty down about themselves and the experience. In my ignorance, I honestly had absolutely no idea that this was even an issue or that people were actually carrying around those thoughts. I can quite happily reiterate what I’m sure many have said in that it really does not matter how your baby comes into this world, it is fact that you have given birth. No one gets a medal for soldiering on for hours/days and pushing a baby through a rather small space. Yes it’s a bloody challenge but it doesn’t go on the wall of achievement, your just given the ‘all clear’, packed up and sent home with your little bundle just as you are with a section. Yes there are many pro’s to having a natural labour which is why I am a huge advocate for it however I’m also fortunate enough to be living in a country in which we are given options and we can all determine what is best for us individually based on our own needs and circumstances. Personally, I would much rather go home to my son and be able to lift him and reassure him that mummy now has two little bundles but also twice as much love however I appreciate that the reality is I wont be lifting anything for the first few days. Do I feel bad? Yes. Do I lose sleep over it and wonder if I’m doing the right thing? No. Why? Because there is a far bigger picture than those first few days/weeks and essentially all my little boy needs is a healthy mummy in recovery and a healthy sister to bond with. If I imagine my son getting upset because I can’t hold him I’m only going to create anticipationary anxiety surrounding the event of which is inevitable anyway so we are all best off making the most of what we have anxiety free and staying positive. I must reiterate that when it comes to childbirth I truly believe there is no right or wrong, it’s about weighing up the options and making an informed decision based on fact and your own preferences. I can completely understand why so many women chose electives as I can a natural birth. Every woman who has delivered a baby has given birth and in no way are either options a walk in the park for varying reasons.
To address those like myself who in the past had hoped for a natural birth which resulted in a c-section, it does not mean you have ‘failed’, it means you put the wellbeing of your child first which is essentially all you will being doing for the rest of their lives anyway. This is just the start :).
I feel nothing but gratitude that my son could be delivered safely and that we were given that opportunity and the truth of the matter is I’m far to busy watching him grow than worry about the way in which he was brought into the world…..
Amy Smith -Thrive Consultant
If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at http://www.thriveprogramme.org or http://www.thrivewithamy.org
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