JO'S BIRTH STORY
An unplanned, positive c-section
As a new mother you are constantly questioning your decisions and whether you have done the right thing for your baby and for me this started even before he was born. Most babies are miracles but in particular for us, this pregnancy was extra special as I had been diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 7 years ago and we didn’t know if having a healthy pregnancy and baby was something that was ever going to be possible for us although it was something that we both wanted more than anything.
Having attended the hypobirthing course with May and Jan, we felt equipped with many techniques that would help during labour. One of the first things that May and Jan asked us was how we were feeling about labour and all along, I said ‘open minded’. I knew that I wanted the birth to be as natural as possible and wants to try and avoid medical intervention (something I had no choice about during cancer treatment!), but remained realistic that things don’t always go according to plan, and they certainly didn’t in our case.
I was a week overdue when our consultant suggested we have an induction. At the time there was nothing to suggest that anything was medically wrong with me or the baby so I was very apprehensive about this decision and after talking through my options with the fabulous midwifes, decided to go in for an initial examination but not to be induced. I was so set on this that we didn’t even take our bags with us! However, after the initial stage it soon became clear that our baby had other ideas as his heart rate kept on going down when I was having a contraction and because we didn’t know why this was, we were advised to stay in hospital and start the induction process. Although not what we wanted, keeping an open mind, we agreed to this as it felt like it was the best decision for our baby. Once this process started, my contractions got stronger but not really any more regular but using the techniques we had learnt, we carried on for over 30 hours with no pain relief while my contractions got much stronger. By the end of the second day of labour, with lack of sleep and probably not having eaten much (one of the toolkit I forgot to use!), I was just so exhausted that I felt I could go any further without some pain relief so decided to have an epidural. This was not an easy decision, but again felt like the right one at the time. However, our son still seemed unhappy with his heart rate consistently going down with every contraction and as I had only got to 4cm dilated, we were advised that the best option would be to have a c-section.
This was one of the hardest decisions to make as it was at the ‘bottom’ of the list of birth preferences but when faced with the facts that it may harm your unborn miracle baby if you decide not to have the procedure, it’s a no brainer really. Regardless of this, we had still written some preferences if we were to have a C-section and although I was tired and somewhat ‘out of it’ as I had figured out how the gas and air worked, I still managed to make everyone aware of these preferences and ensured that everyone was supportive. I recall repeating myself about 10 times in theatre that the medical team must have thought I was crazy!! The screen was lowered so we were able to see and record our son being born, there was a delay in clapping the cord so it went white before my husband cut it and we managed some pretty instance skin to skin contact. The skin to skin was so successful that our son did one of his first wee’s and poo on me in the main theatre. He then proceeded to do another poo on me in the recovery room, I think that was a sign that he was comfortable! He also took to the boob (due to my mastectomy, I only have one to offer him) really quickly and we have been exclusively breastfeeding since he was born and hope to be able to continue to do so for longer.
Overall, the birth of our son was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but on reflection I remain positive about the experience as I felt like I made informed decisions all the way through and was not ‘forced’ to do anything I didn’t feel was the right thing to do for me and our son. The advise that we were given during the course by May and Jan was invaluable and we can’t thank them enough for sharing their knowledge and experience with us which helped us throughout.