When we think of birth, we think of babies coming out of vaginas – right!? My obstetrician told me that the ideal kind of birth is a straight-forward vaginal birth. And I agree.
But what happens when there’s complications? There are many options here – and caesarean section births are one of them. My obstetrician labelled c-sections as the second most favourable birth (with the most difficult births being a traumatic vaginal delivery and a long labour trying for a vaginal delivery that ends up with a caesarean – meaning the mother needs to recover from both labour and major surgery).
(Image credit above: @destinbirthphotog)
Many women are opting for an elective caesarean. The reasons are multitude – from their first birth being an emergency c-section and not wanting to try for a VBAC, to a variety of medical reasons including, but not limited to, mental illness and high risk pregnancies.
I fall into the elective caesarean category. A decision that has mostly been supported by those I've told. A lot of "why" questions - which is just human nature, I suppose. We question things we don't understand. The only real negativity I've had about electing to have a c-section was when I was told that because I'm into women's rights, I should be having a natural birth. I hope everyone reading this blog rolled their eyes then. I rolled them again even as I typed.
But, this blog isn't about me and my experience, so I'll stop right there!
3 wonderful women share their stories with us. Hold onto your knickers (I was going to say hats, but knickers seem soooo much more appropriate!), and have a read.
It was a Sunday morning when labour began. Due to concerns during pregnancy regarding my baby's small size, my husband and I headed to the hospital for assessment. On the way to the hospital my mother’s heart knew something was off as I was losing enough blood to soak a towel that I'd brought with. We arrived and within a very short time I had a CTG and heard bub's heart beat loud and strong and thought we were all doing ok. But the blood did not stop. My contractions were strong and long at that point as labour was progressing quickly. Within a very short while I was seen by midwives and obstetricians and being prepped for a caesarean with a spinal that would take from 5-15minutes to kick in. My husband was given scrubs and went to get changed.
And even quicker than that - bub's heart rate dropped, and she did not have 5-15 minutes! I was then prepped for a Category 1 (priority 1) caesarean under general anaesthetic. I was wheeled from the labour ward into surgery where I was transferred onto another bed. My husband was not allowed into the operating room. I was given an IV drip and had an airway mask placed over my face where I very quickly lost conciseness. My baby was out within a few minutes.
I woke up in a recovery bay with my husband and baby by my side. I felt very groggy, experienced shivering and nausea.
Whilst I was in recovery I was told by midwives and specialists that women who lose that much blood don't usually leave the hospital with their babies - which makes my eyes fill at the very thought. Of what they could measure, I lost 1.2L of blood in total. The cause, a placental abruption. For no particular reason my placenta came away from the wall of the uterus. They also found the amniotic fluid to be full of meconium which if inhaled into the lungs it has the potential to be fatal and was symptomatic of her distress. And with the amount of trauma and blood loss, there was every medical reason for my husband to be walking out the hospital that day empty handed.
This time was different, I had a planned c section (Sarah Jane’s previous birth was a long labour with minimal dilation, and ended up with an emergency caesarean). My waters didn’t break early, and my pregnancy was just as smooth as my first. I had one beautiful midwife and one beautiful doctor for every appointment. It was magical not having to explain my story at every appointment I had.
At 38+6 days I went in for my planned c section with my son. It was amazing. We got admitted to the hospital (public) at 7am, checked in, and taken to our very own private room. No sharing of bathrooms and showers, no worrying about babies crying or watching tv late at night or even having a room filled with visitors. After a cruisy morning waiting around to go in for the c section, we got taken down at about 11am.
They prepped hubby and my midwife and took me in for my spinal. Yes, it hurts a little bit, but my midwife held me and my hand so tight through it all. Hubby was allowed into theatre once I was on the bed and spinal was done. Up went the sheet so we couldn’t see, he was holding one hand and my midwife the other, and we were talking about what he was going to look like.
My body started being pulled around a bit, which meant they had started, and within a few mins out came our sweet boy, they dropped the sheet so we could see him! After they did the delayed cord clamping, they cut the cord I got to have the skin to skin contact with him, and it was amazing!
Soon enough they took him and my hubby to do obs, and stitched me up before I ended up there in recovery with them too! He latched straight onto the boob and all was well, he weighed in at 7lb8oz. Little bundle of perfection.
Recovery in hospital was more then I could have ever have asked for!
I actually never wanted to leave, it was fantastic.
Jack is now 18 months old. And if I’m promised an experience like I had when I had Jack, I’d have 50 more babies that way!
My second birth was a planned c section, as I was carrying identical twins. Throughout my pregnancy we were told they were in separate sacs, however they were sharing a placenta, which can be quite dangerous. So, I was having fortnightly scans to monitor their growth etc. I had some decreased movement when I was 35 weeks and admitted to hospital for observation. Very early the next morning, my OB decided that it was safer for them to come out now than remain inside any longer, so first thing in the morning I was taken down for a c section. This time the spinal worked (thank goodness! Mel’s previous birth they had given her an epidural and it only numbed one side of her body), and my 2 healthy baby girls were delivered 1 minute apart.
Although, my OB was quite shocked that they were in fact in the same sac (which is the most dangerous type of twin pregnancy). I remember laying there, cut open, waiting for someone to get a camera so my OB could take a photo of my placenta, and the way the umbilical cords were knotted together.
He said if we had of waited any longer, it probably would have been a very different outcome.
The girls spent 6 days in the special care nursery, for monitoring, and had to be tube fed until they could tolerate the bottle.
I hope that these stories amazed you, like they amazed me. Hopefully you were able to gain more of an insight into why people may opt to have a caesarean, or why they might need to have one. Next time you think of a c-section, remember these women and know that there is no right or wrong way to birth.