04 May 2011
I was (and still am) pretty keen on natural birth. I love that birth can be such a natural and beautiful process without medical intervention. But my experience of birth was far from natural.
I was only 1cm dilated when my little girl and I were rushed into theatre for an emergency caesarian. I had barley spent any time labouring and most of that time was spent hooked up to a machine that goes ping.
My biggest fear that came with the thought of having a caesarian and medicated labour was that I would miss out on all of the wonderful hormones produced naturally by the labouring process. That I wouldn't attatch properly to my little one and that breastfeeding would go terribly. I had heard that a woman might not see her baby for a long time after surgery and that the important contact in the first hour would be missed out on.
I guess these fears are pretty valid. While I don't want to make a judgement call on those who choose to use any form of medical intervention in the birth of their babies (each to their own) there is a natural/active birth movement for a reason. I was really looking forward to going through the pain of labour and experiencing that amazing rush I had read about in books like Ina May Gaskins guide to childbirth.
But it didn't happen exactly as I had hoped. In fact it went quite the opposite.
I had a really wonderful midwife named Kelly who was with me all through the c-section. She held my hand as they put the epidural in and let me know what was going on. I had told her I really wanted to have an active birth and she was there all along the way as my active birth options were pushed from my grasp.
Kelly made sure my little girl came over to me as soon as she could after being born. It wasn't immediate as I had hoped but it was pretty soon after. I got to gaze into her eyes, give her kisses and hold her (as best I could) with Myles by my side as they stitched me up.
In the recovery room she brought Lucy over for her first feed. I am so thankful we made it within the first hour. I had been anxiously watching the clock.
I got to have that important skin to skin contact in the recovery room and then in the hospital bed on the way up to the ward. According to my mum lots of hospitals don't do this as they think the baby will fall off the bed. Let me tell you I was holding on pretty tight. There was no chance of that.
I missed out on those natural hormones but still felt an overwhelming bond with my little girl. Myl, Lucy and I spent the next few days creating our new little family and starting it with lots of love and cuddles. I'm not really sure what those hormones are supposed to feel like but I feel as though we did pretty ok without them.
It was really hard in those early days to not be able to move around easily. I didn't change a nappy till the second day and while this may seem to be a lovely idea, I desperately longed to do this simple act for my little one. I felt like a helpless onlooker. I needed Myles to hold Lucy and pass her to me if she was in her crib and I in my bed. I couldn't lean over, bend down to pick things up off the floor or even walk properly. For the first few days I walked with a stoop. I would shuffle down the corridors and need to sit down after only a short walk. Getting out of bed or a chair was a big ordeal. I watched the other women on the ward walking with ease, sitting with ease, caring for their babies with ease and longed to be them.
Before seeing them I thought my helpless state was just a normal part of having a baby till I remembered that I had wanted to go straight home from the hospital only hours after having my little one. How far I had come. I felt scared at the thought of going home. The hospital felt safe, home felt dangerous. I didn't know how I would cope.
But I did want to go home. We went home on the fourth day with the early discharge program that has a midwife come to visit for the next three days. It felt lovely to be home. I could hold my girl in my lounge chair, sleep in my bed, change her on the table I had prepared for her and rest her down in her very own cot.
Yes, I did miss out on the beautiful active birth I wanted. I missed out on the natural hormones and the water birth but in the days and now weeks that have followed I have tried to continue with all the natural parenting ideas I had thought about during pregnancy. My little one and I have created our own natural bond and it's all working out wonderfully.