Friday, 25 November 2011

Not natural

There has been a lot of talk on the radio this week about the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines regarding caesarian sections. Apparently the number of instances of women having this major abdominal surgery continues to rise. There was discussion about emergency operations, but it was those opting for elective surgery that was causing the most debate. It would appear that much focus is on whether the guidelines will change anything or whether, actually, this is what happens any way: if you have been given the facts about both forms of delivery, and still ask for a Caesar, you will be given one – even if it is not thought you need one for a medical reason and despite the fact that they are more expensive than a vaginal delivery. Much comment included the view that such surgery might be ‘easier’.

This is the moment to declare an interest: Eldest’s birth was a complete nightmare resulting in me, no longer compos mentis, being knocked out and cut open to get out the baby who was also in difficulty. The doctors never did seem to know why it hadn’t happened naturally, and it frightened the life out of me. When Youngest was due I went into panic mode and the kind doctors said I should have a planned C-section. I felt less of a drama queen when they announced that if Eldest had been in the same place as Youngest there was no way she was ever going to be born without interference. Since I didn’t actually give birth naturally I don’t really know what my recovery would have been like, but it didn't feel 'easy'. I can only add that a planned Caesar is a great deal better than an emergency!

When news of yet another celebrity birth was announced followed by pictures of the slender after-baby figure out shopping I got to wondering about caesarians in a different way… It had never even crossed my mind that ‘too posh to push’ wasn’t really about not pushing, it was about having a tummy tuck without having to admit you’d had surgery.
At no point did anyone mention giving my stomach a helping hand in recovering by nipping out a bit of the excess. I’m assuming it’s not something you could have done on the NHS. I’ve always presumed it was just my complete failure to do any sufficient exercise that means there is a roll of stomach that never flattens out even when lying down. I’m working on forgiving myself for failure in this area as a result of this new insight.

I have never yet discussed birth with another woman without a frank exchange of experiences. So, at the risk of inviting a deluge, how was it for you?


projectforty said...

I'll start us off....two, two-week late 9lb+ plus babies, one induced in hospital, one at home at the 11th hour. Fantastic midwives, four canisters of gas and air (between them) and a bit of pethidine (lovely), lots of wailing, quite a bit of muttered blasphemication, deep, deep, eye-boggling pain. That's me!

I think caesareans are offered more because they're more controllable in hospital. They know how long they're going to take, when they're going to happen, who has to be there. Birth as I'm sure we'll see in your comments is as unpredictable as the baby and the mother. We don't like uncertainty and chance any more and hospitals don't have the time nor the resources to manage potential complications. I felt lucky to have two healthy babies and was supported fantastically but that was over a decade ago. Think things may have got more tricky.

Sarah said...

I've written about giving birth too.

Here's one of mine:

Funnily enough I haven't written about giving birth to my eldest on my blog so I'll have to rectify that as it was not without excitement.

Suffice it to say, both mine were born naturally and through either hospital incompetence or too swift a passage through the birth canal, I had to do it with only a bit of gas/air to relieve the pain.

A Time for Stitching said...

My daughter was born 25 (nearly 26) years ago weighing 8 lb 5 oz with gas and air (for me) and forceps (for her). Result: A few stitches and a few stretch marks! She was in baby care for one night.
My son was born 23 years ago weighing in at 11 lb with gas and air again (for me) and ventuse suction (for him)!! Result: Many stitches and hundreds of stretch marks. He was fine. I was very sore for weeks and even the visiting health visitor recoiled at my 'injury' (sorry if that's too much information!). I would still choose a 'natural' birth(not that I'm planning to do it again!!) over Caesarian. A friend of mine had a C and during the following post-natal depression committed suicide, one of the reasons being that she felt a failure at not being able to give birth naturally. Nobody knows the future, whichever is chosen, I think it's safest to be in hospital.
Teresa x

Curry Queen said...

My son should have been a Caesarian and wasn't due to the incompetence of the Consultant who failed to recognise that he had the cord wrapped twice round his neck!! Luckily all was fine but not without deep physical and mental trauma to moi and a few heart-stopping moments when he wouldn't breathe.

My daughter was a really easy natural birth with a bit of gas and air because, second time round, I knew what to expect and nobody was going to tell me what to do!!

hausfrau said...

Countrymummy, you could be right: risk aversion may well be directing the trend.
Sarah, 'natural' isn't particularly useful as a description is it? Giving birth is tough!
Teresa, I too think hospital the (relatively) safe option. Wow! 11lbs! I think a round of applause for managing that at all! Having an emergency section, with all the knockout drugs that that involved, did make me revoltingly weepy, but I never thought of it as 'my fault'; shocking that your friend took such action.
Curry Queen, I'm glad to hear the first one worked out so well in the end and that the second one was a better experience with you in charge!
What all your comments do is prove my theory that giving birth is something we bury because it was not only life changing but frightening, however the experience remains very near the surface and surprisingly raw. And as Countrymummy said: birth is as unpredictable as we are.

Young at Heart said...

having experienced a text book.....'natural'.....birth and an undiagnosed emergency-no-time-for-a-C-section breech birth (9lbs 10oz as it happens!!) I was just very very glad to be in hospital......!!

hausfrau said...

Gosh Young at Heart: so was I!

libby said...

Mmmmmm...I struggle with this issue....I have only had two 'natural' births - big babies, no drugs, LOTS of stitches, and always thought that a C-section should only be for emergencies of some description, (and I must admit, WAG types who were 'too posh to push',) and that a natural birth was how birth was meant to be and you just had to get on with it.......................but maybe......maybe I am wrong.....I am not sure.

hausfrau said...

Libby I hear you and quite understand. I would probably have felt the same, but, as I said, the trauma that is birth stays with you and Eldest's returned with a vengence the nearer I got to having Youngest. An emotional wreck after a potential Downs scare I was a weeping mess... Perhaps I should add, to further my defence, that Eldest was 8lb 9oz 2 weeks late, and Youngest was 8lb 10oz 2 weeks early and their mother was then a 5'3" petite size 8. (Oddly I am no taller now.)

Wylye Girl said...

I struggle with this whole 'natural' thing and prefer to refer to birth as either vaginal or caesarean.I had two caesareans and don't consider them to be in any way unnatural. If I hadn't had them then both myself and my children would be dead. No-one refers to life-saving surgery (which is how I view it) as 'unnatural'. I could go on for hours about this (but I won't) because as a former trainee antenatal teacher with the NCT - I gave up my training on the day that a fellow trainee called me 'too posh to push' and suggested that as I had never experienced a contraction my birth experience had no value in antenatal classes - I see the ridiculous pressures that society/other mothers/the NCT/the media put on women to have a vaginal birth. As far as I can see, the only good outcome is a happy, healthy mother and a happy, healthy baby. Whether they come out of the front door or the window is irrelevant to me. I don't ever feel that I lost out on anything by not going through an excruciating labour as my sister did, so bad that she never had another child, and I have two wonderful children to show for it. Surely that's what matters

Wylye Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
About Last Weekend said...

Hard time first time because induced, then three "easy births" Hard to believe but it does get easier. Here in the US caesarians form the majority of birth because of liability. And almost every birth seems to be induced.

hausfrau said...

Wylye Girl, you have a point, well made.
About Last Weekend, that is my worry I guess, that we go down the route of better to cut open than risk a problem. But, like Wylye Girl, I have been in a 'problem' and am just grateful to be here!