Thank you to MoorMum Jane from Ilkley for sharing her story.
I gave birth to Arthur on 4th November 08. We chose that date because it is Arthur’s uncle’s birthday on the 3rd and the 5th is bonfire night.
From about 22 weeks, we were told that he was breached, but that he would probably turn. As time went on, I spent time on all fours and I even sang to him to try to get him to turn! At 36 weeks, the midwife decided that he had probably turned, but we went in to see the consultant just to double check. After ‘palpating’ me, the consultant also thought Arthur had turned, but when they checked with the machine, turned out he just had a massive head!
We had to decide between 3 options: an ECV (external cephalic version) where they try to turn the baby externally, a planned section at 38/39 weeks, or a breached delivery. We decided to go for the planned section because the ECV can apparently be very painful (and was unlikely to work due to Arthur’s feet being up by his head) and the breached delivery is more risky than a normal delivery.
So a date was booked, there and then. I wasn’t sure what to put in my diary – ‘birth of my first baby’ or ‘end of my life as I know it’… It was just very bizarre.
The day arrived. We were to be at the hospital for 7am. I was terrified at the idea of being chopped open whilst being awake. I was even more frightened about them sticking a cannula in the back of my hand. I’d had this done in late pregnancy, and it REALLY hurt – like being jabbed in the back of the hand with a sharp implement (i.e.: exactly what they do). As it happened, I made such a fuss about this, that they put some anaesthetic gel on the back of my hands and the anaesthetist was an expert at putting it in, he gave me a small anaesthetic first to numb the area. That hurt a bit, but then it was ok.
We were 2nd in the queue for the c-section that morning. They came to check the baby was still breached. Unfortunately, the baby of the first couple in the queue had turned and was head down. They were therefore sent home and we jumped to the front of the queue.
There was a lot of rushing around to get us ready for surgery. And then nothing for a couple of hours – someone else had gone in as an emergency.
At about 11.30am (we’d been there since 7am!!), we finally went down. I walked down in my dressing gown with Alan in scrubs. I then sat on the edge of a trolley whilst they put the epidural in my back. I was trembling all over because I was so nervous. Luckily, Alan was there with me the whole time.
The epidural was like a warm blanket. I could feel very faint tickles but no pain. I was then wheeled into the theatre. Arthur was out within 5 minutes of them making the first cut. The anaesthetist was great and told Alan when to take a photo, which means we now have a photo of Arthur being pulled out, with the cord still attached!
Arthur was cleaned up by the midwife and handed to Alan. He held him up to me, wrapped in a towel. It took about 45 mins for me to be put back together again. We were taken into a side room and the midwife was brilliant at helping put Arthur on my chest to help him make his way to my breast. I think this initial time really helped me to successfully breastfeed. We were wheeled back up to the ward with Arthur feeding on me.
Having a c-section does not mean that you are a failure as a mother. Both my mum and my mother-in-law had c-sections for myself and Alan and they both told me of how they felt failures for not giving birth naturally. I just feel very lucky that a c-section was available as it was the safest way of getting Arthur out.
Ask for as much help as you can get with breastfeeding. It isn’t obvious! It is a skill that both you and your baby need to learn. And don’t just ask one person, get advice from lots of different health professionals (midwives, health visitors), and get them to watch you do it.
If you can sleep with ear-plugs, take them to hospital. Take anything that will help you sleep in a noisy, light, boiling hot room.
If you are going to have a planned section, try not to focus too much on the actual operation but more on the baby you are going to be getting – that is what you are there for after all!
The recovery from a c-section can be painful. Make sure you ask (and are given) as many drugs as will make you comfortable. It is hard enough coping with a new baby without being in pain as well.