April being C-section awareness month is particularly important to me. I am almost 8 months pregnant with my second child and I have been advised by my consultant to have an elective caesarean section because my first child had a complicated shoulder dystocia from which he suffered a brachial plexus injury. He is fine now but it could have been so much worse.
If I am honest I was really upset for about a week after this consultation. Not because I disagreed, my consultant is fabulous and presented me with all the information for me to make an informed decision, but because I felt sad that I wouldn’t have a natural birth. I always pictured myself having a natural birth and since I started teaching PregnancyBliss I have felt even more capable of doing so. I knew what techniques from the class I would use in various stages of labour, I knew how my breathing techniques would get me through the pain and I visualised an overall positive experience.
My cousin is a doula and when I spoke to her shortly after the consultation and she gave me some great advice which was to grieve for the birth experience I now knew I wouldn’t have. This might sound strange to people who haven’t yet experienced pregnancy as they must think surely having a healthy baby is all that matters. Having a healthy baby is the most important thing I agree, but giving birth is a right of passage, a milestone moment in a woman’s life. I guess it’s like dreaming of your perfect wedding day just for someone else to organise your day in a completely different way to what you wanted.
So, I grieved for my natural birth and then my cousin gave me a second brilliant piece of advice. This was to “own” the birth I am going to have. She is a strong believer in a woman’s right to make her own decisions about the way she births her baby, she encouraged me to feel empowered to make my birth experience how I wanted it to be and to take control of my new situation.
This led me to consider a gentle C-section where I am hoping to have my own music in theatre, no unnecessary chat during the procedure (my husband is not allowed to talk to the anaesthetist about the previous night’s football scores for example) and to have delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin. This will hopefully make my child’s entrance to the world as calm and beautiful as I can make it. With my son even though it was a vaginal birth (with forceps and episiotomy), I actually didn’t hold him for what felt like a lifetime as he was taken away to another room for resuscitation. There was nothing gentle about it. The doctors and midwives struggled to free him and when he was eventually yanked into the world there was no time for delayed cord clamping or skin to skin as he needed medical attention. So, I am now embracing the control I have over this delivery.
I still plan to use a lot of my PregnancyBliss techniques in pregnancy to keep the aches and pains at bay and to help me stay calm and relaxed during the c-section but I have adapted to the new situation too.
It might not be the birth I always imagined but I am confident it will still be a wonderful experience.