I have had two Caesarean Sections and, particularly with the second, I am glad that that operation is there. However, today I feel is a sad day for birth. Women are now to be told that they have the right to a Caesarean Section, whether medically indicated or not.
Why does this make me sad? Well it's simple really. We were made to birth. We carry our babies throughout their gestation and then we birth them. More and more we are being told that women aren't able to birth their own babies. Our bodies aren't strong enough, clever enough, intuitive enough, big enough, small enough, perfect enough for us to give birth. Who can help save us, the helpless woman, to do the thing that we have done for millennia, since the dawn of time? Doctors. Doctors who train to save our lives and to spot and stop problems. They don't always succeed, but they give it a good go and on the whole are mighty successful. Our lovely midwives that know and recognise normal birth are being sidelined. Why have a midwife when you can have an Obstetric Nurse?
Birth has been slowly, slowly drawn into the medical sphere. Out of the home and into the hospital. We all know or have heard someone say "if I hadn't have been in hospital, my baby would have died!", and there are some of us who wonder, why it got to that point and what happened in the run up to the lifesaving situation. I know that I'm not the only one wondering how the caesarean rate has climbed to 25%. Surely it can't be true that 25% of women are unable to birth their babies vaginally.
My firstborn was born via Caesarean section. He was due mid December and it had never occurred to me that being so close to the Christmas season this would make his birth date inconvenient. I was told that I would be induced on 15th December. Four days past his EDD (Estimated Due Date). I was young and uninformed. So when I woke on the morning of 15th December at 7.15am and felt the beginnings of labour, I high-tailed it into hospital. One brutal VE (Vaginal Exam) later and the Midwife pronounced that I was only half a centimetre and that I had no reason to say I was in pain. She read through my notes and said, "Oh, I see we're inducing you today. I will get the pessary." My young, foolish, 'uneducated in the ways of birth' self simply waited for her to do what needed to be done. I didn't know that I had gone to the hospital far too soon. I didn't know that I was within my rights to refuse an induction. I didn't know the risks or how it might not benefit me and my baby. Another brutal insertion and the pessary was in. I was told to stop making a noise and abandoned in the antenatal ward. Now this isn't about how my first birth experience scarred me etc, but this is about how lack of information led me towards a major, surgical operation. When I finally hit active labour I was told that I would need an epidural. So I agreed, but my baby didn't like it. His heart rate dropped and suddenly I was being wheeled into theatre to have an operation. I lost 2L of blood during that operation. How does that happen? This is a safe operation. I never lost that amount of blood with my vaginal births. I had a blood transfusion and now, almost 20 years later, I am unable to donate blood.
Was I unable to birth my baby vaginally, or had mitigating factors prevented me?
The Wee Weapons (my twins) were born by Caesarean Section. They were a transverse lie which meant that a vaginal birth was off the table.
So I'm grateful that there was the option to birth my babies safely. I truly am, but this doesn't stop this feeling of dread and sadness I have in learning that women can routinely choose a Caesarean Section. My mind can't help but skip back to the doctor who told me that he was going to America to learn how to do a tummy tuck at the same time as a Caesarean. Nor can I forget the risk factor and I hope that these women are being told the risks and making decisions with informed consent.
Ultimately, however we decide to birth our babies, there is no right or wrong way. We make decisions, we forgive ourselves if it doesn't turn out the way that we had hoped, or if we were led 'the wrong way'.