Later this week I have an appointment at something called a VBAC Clinic; Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. The purpose is to discuss with me my options for my second birth, and the possibility of having a natural labour.
I’m going to be upfront from the offset; it isn’t going to happen. I am 100% opting for a Cesarean Section. Of course I am going to listen to the midwife, I value their opinions and at the end of the day they are the experts. But for my own sake, I am undoubtedly going to go for an elective C Section.
My labour with Josh was pretty traumatic. Throughout my whole pregnancy with him I was being scanned regularly due to a low lying placenta that they suspected could mean I’d need a C Section to avoid a dangerous labour. At 36 weeks pregnant I was told it had moved and I could go for a natural birth. Those of you who have read my birth story will know it was by no means plain sailing and after more than one failed epidural, 40 hours of labour and failed forceps (Oh the flashbacks… never looked at salad tongs the same way since) I ended up having an emergency C Section. Oh the irony.
So yes, that is the main reason for opting for an elective. Because, selfish as it may sound, I am not going through that again! I don’t know why Josh got so stuck; I can only putting it down to the combination of his massive head and my tiny pelvis. I appear to have a birth canal as narrow as certain world leaders minds; it was physically never going to happen! I tried so hard at labour; I got to 6cm at home without any pain relief other than having baths, and I did push with all the energy left in my body for the two hours before surgery became an option. I am proud of those accomplishments alone. After that experience though, I remember thinking I didn’t ever want to go through that again. I know so many women who have had sections for various reasons, and feel cheated because they didn’t get to experience natural labour. I didn’t feel like that at all; I didn’t feel cheated. I didn’t feel I’d want a second try at it. Quite frankly I felt like saying never again. So even when Sam and I were just discussing the idea of the little baby that is now kicking away inside me as I type this, I knew then I’d go for the elective option every time.
One thing I am prepared for this time is the judgement. A lot of people may read this and wonder why; why on earth is she not going to give it a try. Or perhaps you may wonder why am I going to put myself through major abdominal surgery again, rather than pushing out baby as “nature intended”. I can assure it’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly. I am aware of risks, I can remember the pain of the recovery and the restrictions placed on you. But I also remember the upset I felt after going through that traumatic labour only for it to result in surgery I could have elected to have in the first place.
One thing that is for sure, everyone has an opinion on C Sections; family, friends, midwives, the checkout lady you get chatting to. You get so many opinions it can be a head spin. Of course there is the judgement; “go for it naturally, your body is made for this, you have the option”. Yes, yes I do have the option, and I have made my choice. Women have so many choices when it comes to labour; go natural, use pain relief, use hypno-birthing, have a home birth, try a midwife led unit and so on, and from my experience all of these choices are generally supported. Thank goodness, because us women deserve that support and encouragement. But then why is there not the same support for those of us who make the decision to have a section? Why the judgement. Let’s celebrate that as women we have so many different options now and what is right for one person may not be right for another. Like so many things, it is an individual choice. And bear in mind, that individual is a pregnant woman; a force to be reckoned with. Now is not the time to judge. Sure, your preference may be natural birth, but mine is the kind that gets the baby on the outside in the healthiest way for both of us, so surely we have the same objective.
Having a C Section makes me no less of a woman and no less of a mother. I am not “too posh to push”, a phrase that undoubtedly drives many women who have a section insane. I am just as much of a warrior, a hero, a woman as my beautiful Mum friends who have given birth naturally with no drugs or assistance. OK, in this situation I am making the choice to have a C Section; it’s not like the birth with Josh where I had no choice. But I am making this decision because I know my body; I am small, I have a teeny tiny pelvis and hips and both I and the midwives know that it is highly unlikely I will be unable to push out another mammoth baby. And then there is mental health to take into consideration; it is so important to me to be in the best possible place mentally after I give birth. I had the blues with Josh and this time I want to do all I can to avoid that because I am going to have two of them to look after and I don’t want to put myself through another traumatic birth that I know will leave me emotionally distressed just so I look like a “hero” to those who pass judgement on those who elect to have a section.
I have done my research on this too; it’s not a knee jerk reaction or a rashly thought decision. Bear in mind I’ve been through this once before, with little warning, so I know what to expect to an extent. And believe me, there are quite a few things about C-Sections no one tells you about before they happen:
- There are so many people in the room with you it’s quite hard to get your head around; midwives, consultants, anaesthetists, an obstetrician, various theatre assistants. I took this as a reassurance; the more people that want to look after me and my baby the better in my opinion.
- The injections. Bitching things – this was the biggest surprise to me. After a C Section you will need to self administer daily injections to prevent blood clots. Most people only have to do this for a week. I had to do it for six weeks after Josh but I had an unusual birth so to have to do them for this long is rare. It’s not pleasant but mind over matter; it’s important.
- You will be in constant fear for about six weeks that you’re basically going to rip open and your insides will fall out. This won’t happen. I didn’t know until afterwards but you have SEVEN layers stitched back up after a section; time consuming, but VERY reassuring!
- You won’t lose less blood and grim bodily fluids after a section; unfortunately it’s natures way and despite what you may hope, you’ll still have to wear a maternity brick in your knickers for some weeks after delivery.
- You can have skin to skin with baba once they arrive! Make sure you emphasise to your midwife and delivery team how important this is to you so you can be with baby as soon as possible after the delivery; it is a bit awkward but these little munchkins, with the help of your birth partner, can snuggle on your chest.
That’s just some of the things to take into consideration when a C Section is on the cards. Hopefully it will help you see it’s not a decision I’ve taken without much consideration; I am dreading the injections and I am beyond dreading the cannula I will have to have as part of theatre prep (last time I chugged on so much gas and air whilst they administered it I may as well have downed a bottle of prosecco and was suddenly prepared to take on the world)!
So what is my point here; what is the point in me writing this post. We all know I don’t have to justify myself or this massive decision to anyone. But I can take the opportunity to explain to others why I am doing this, so that if ever they are in this situation they can make the choice that is right for them without being judged. I am not lazy, I am not taking the easy way out, and I am not choosing to have an operation for any other reason than to do what is right for me, the baby and my family who will need me after I’ve had this little baby.
However you choose to bring a baby into the world, the end result should simply be a healthy Mama and a healthy baby; physically, mentally and emotionally. Those of us having a C Section don’t need to have the judgement, or the pity from people when they say how bad they feel for you for having a section; don’t feel bad for us. We just need your warmth, your support, your understanding.
Those that say surgery isn’t birth are wrong. A C Section may be one of the most common operations on the planet but unlike other operations where rest and recoup is a given afterwards, you get a newborn to take care of out of your operation. So be kind to us C Section Mums; we’re warriors too.