When I first discovered that I was pregnant I went through the usual emotional reactions; excitement, fear, wonder, elation and dread.
As with everyone first time mother who waited so long to fall pregnant I was obviously thankful and excited about the new journey I was about to embark. However, every positive thought is coupled with some very negative ones:
- What if I miscarry again?
- What if there is something wrong with the baby?
- What the hell am I doing?
- How am I going to get it out?
I, like most pregnant women, had a very definite idea in my head of how I was going to give birth. I decided quite early on that I wanted to have a natural birth without any drugs. In fact, my first appointment with my doctor sparked off my seven month long investigation in how to have the prefect natural birth as my doctor (unlike many out there) was pro-natural.
Each month I arrived at my check-up with a list of questions for my doctor as I had taken to reading as much literature as possible to ensure a smooth birth. Here are some of the “facts” :
- Exercise during your pregnancy. If you keep fit, you will not only stay healthy but it will make labour and birth much easier. I was running and road cycling before I feel pregnant and kept going with light spinning, 5km run/walks and water aerobics right through to 40 weeks. Just remember to not overdo it and don’t take suddenly go balls to the walls if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy
- Eat well. Maintaining a healthy diet is not only important to have a healthy baby, but it will help you keep off those extra kilos that you really don’t need. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a good supply of choccies on hand but I balanced it out with some decent food. As a result, I put on a smaller amount of weight compared to some of my counterparts
- Have a well-defined birth plan. I knew what I wanted and I ensured that my birthing team knew, too. Which leads me to my next point
- Surround yourself with a good birthing team. My hubby and I were on the same page. He knew my doctor and the two of them had a great relationship. We also chose to have a doula as part of our team. She provided support and wonderful massages prior to the birth and was there to support us when labour started right through to post-birth
My doctor and I were on the same page but she always did mention that I should be open to the possibility of a C-section just in case. I did just that and sat through the C-section part of our ante-natal classes with minimum interest, but interest nonetheless.
At this point I should mention why I didn’t want a C-section:
- I heard the recovery period is long and painful
- You have to rely on other people to drive you around for six weeks
- You have an unsightly scar
- You will always have belly afterwards due to weakened stomach muscles
- You have to have an epidural
This last point was my biggest concern as I am not really a needle person at the best of times and seeing the C-section videos in the ante-natal class did not help my fears. I was even more determined to go au natural.
As the weeks ticked by, everything was going smoothly. At around 32 weeks, the baby had turned and remained head down for the rest of my pregnancy. She was weighing in on the larger side but healthy and we were well on our way to the perfect birth.
At 40 weeks (and in the height of a scorching Jozi Summer) I was given the news that this baby is BIG and also very comfortable in my belly. My doctor estimate that she was already 4.3kg and she was in no rush to “drop”, my cervix was also nowhere near ripening so natural birth was starting to look unrealistic. The doctor’s concerns were the size of the baby so she really didn’t want me going too far over my due date and that my blood pressure was started to rise. I still think that was due to the heat and the fact that she just mentioned C-section to me!
We were then asked to pick a date during the course of the next week for the birth of our child. My doctor ensured us that she would do everything in her power to force a natural birth but we needed to be prepared.
I gave myself exactly a week to do EVERYTHING within my power to get this kid out!
My first call was to our faithful doula who rushed over and started with all her doula magic to get the kid to drop and come out:
- Essential oil cotton balls between my boobs
- Reflexology, the kind they tell you to avoid in case it induces contractions
- Spicy foods
- Long walks
- Chiropractic pelvic alignment
- Sex – ok my hubby helped with this one but it wasn’t pretty
Nothing worked, this kid was comfortable.
A week later, I went to the hospital with my labour bag, birthing ball, cooler-box, tens machine, hypo-birthing tracks, baby bag, hospital bag and daddy bag. My doctor checked my cervix which was still rock-hard and bless her heart she was still going induce me so I could feel labour. I declined. Instead of hours of painful and fruitless labour, I opted for the C-section. It was smooth, not nearly as frightening as I thought and quick. I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl weighing in at a whopping 3.85kgs. All my fears were forgotten and everything was as it should be.
My advice to you is this: stop focusing on the birth, it will not go according to plan no matter how hard you try. If you have a great team of medical professionals to help you get your child out, there isn’t too much you need to do. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Rather focus on what you are going to do when you get home with your new baby. There just aren’t enough classes for that because that is when the labour really starts.