When I was pregnant, I was adamant that I would have a natural childbirth. Meaning, a non-medicated, vaginal birth. I wanted everything about my labor to be "natural". Including letting the baby come in his own time – no induction! At my 39 week appointment, I asked the nurse practitioner what would happen if I came in at 40 weeks still pregnant. I asked if I would be told I had to be induced. She assured me that I would not and that it wouldn’t be suggested until at least 6 days overdue and I wouldn’t be encouraged to have one until 2 weeks.
What a relief!
I had gestational diabetes and, though it had been well controlled, I knew that this could be of concern. I should have reminded the nurse that I had gestational diabetes when I brought up induction but since we had discussed that in the appointment, the thought never crossed my mind. The reason I did not want an induction was because I knew that would increase my chances of having a C-Section.
And I did not want a C-Section.
I left my appointment, completely satisfied with how it went. One week later, I was still pregnant. I went into my appointment, expecting a check-up and not much more. I was completely blindsided by the way the doctor entered the room (not my doctor, by the way). He barely greeted me before the question, “Has anyone talked to you about being induced” flew out of his mouth. I told him about my conversation the week prior and he told me that she was wrong. He went on to say that I should have been induced at 39 weeks.
This was all news to me. I could feel the tears building up. I did not want to be induced! I tried to explain to the doctor as calmly as a 40 week pregnant woman possibly can, that I did not want to be induced. Of course, he strongly advised me to.
I was scheduled to see another doctor, the following day. I left that appointment feeling even worse. Finally, I emailed my actual doctor, who backed up the other doctors 100%. Feeling defeated, I called my friend and doula. She suggested that I call the hospital before agreeing to check in and ask I would be allowed to try some natural methods to induce first. They agreed. And, a few short hours later, I reluctantly checked in to the hospital. My friend came to the hospital and we walked, well to me it felt like running, I bounced on my exercise ball and we convinced the nurses to bring in a breast pump.
That night I was given Cervadil because I refused Pitocin. I had read that Cervadil was less aggressive and I was certain that Pitocin would lead to an epidural and eventually I would end up with a C-Section.
I’ll spare you all of the terrible details but another dose of Cervadil (that sent me into labor so hard they ended up removing it shortly thereafter), Pitocin, an epidural (that wore off within 20 minutes resulting in an increased dosage) and over 72 hours later I still had not given birth.
At this point, my mid-wife sat down and informed me what I already knew but wasn't ready to admit, I had to have a c-section.
Even though “natural” had gone out the window days ago, there were still many reasons for not wanting a C-Section and as I faced this reality, I was afraid.
My son had done remarkably well throughout my labor. His heartbeat was strong and he never went into any type of stress. My C-Section was not an emergency but, due to the fact that I was not progressing and I was physically exhausted, it had to be done. I’m thankful that I wasn’t whisked away for the C-Section. In fact, although it was inevitable, I asked for some time to make peace with it before it was scheduled.
Like many women who end up with a C-Section often feel, I felt disappointed. But I knew in my heart that I had done everything I could. It wasn't so much the surgery or the way my son would be born that I had to make peace with, it was my fear.
I pulled out my headphones, listened to my labor playlist and I said a prayer. I did some breathing exercises and told myself that everything was going to be ok. I replaced the negative thoughts I was having with positive thoughts to relieve my anxiety and fear. .
I was able to overcome this fear and go into my C-Section feeling completely calm but I can't help but wonder if I would have dragged out my labor as long as I did, had I seriously considered this outcome before I ever even arrived at the hospital.
What if I had thought about having a c-section when I made my birth plan?
While I am still very much a believer in a non-medicated birth and if I were to ever have another baby, a VBAC would be my goal, I think it is wise for an expectant mom to consider the "what if" of c-section. For me, there was absolutely no "what if". I never entertained the idea of a c-section scenario. Not even once.
So, why should you think about the potential of giving birth via c-section?
- Because it happens. While some women are at more risk of needing a cesarean than others, it really can happen to anyone.
- It's scary. There is a lot of fear associated with having a c-section and you may not have time to process this fear, should you be faced with one in delivery. This isn't to say, the fear will not exist should the hypothetical become reality, but it certainly would help to address those fears when you aren't in the thick of the emotion.
- It can be disappointing. Most women experience feelings of disappointment when they find out they need a c-section. Many feel like they have failed in some way. Acquainting yourself with stories of women that have had to go through a cesarean will likely show you that they are not failures. They are just as strong and brave as any other woman who has given birth!
- You need to be informed. I was recently reading a post about cesareans and I realized, almost three years after having one myself, there's a lot I didn't know. Now, obviously there are some things I was told in the hospital, pertaining to the procedure or recovery, but not only was I exhausted and emotional but I was medicated. It would have been much better for me to receive that information with a clear mind. Plus, there are a lot of myths about the birth experience itself when it comes to c-section. For example, one thing I did "know" about c-section was that no one was allowed to be there when the epidural or spinal was injected. this was not the case for me. When I asked for confirmation that my mom had to leave the room, the nurse told me that I could ask the anesthesiologist if she could stay with me. I asked and he agreed.
- You can maintain some control over your birth experience. This goes hand-in-hand with the last point. When you are informed, you can include a c-section in your birth plan and maintain some control over your birth experience. I wish I could have seen the doctor pull my son out. The truth is, I probably could have but I didn't even think to ask. I also didn't think to ask for the doctor to hand the baby directly to me rather than to my mom. I did think to yell at the nurse when she was about to bathe my baby before skin-to-skin, though. But, had I given consideration to the fact that my labor could end in c-section, (hopefully) the yelling could have been avoided! (For the record, I didn't yell at her in anger it was more of a 'Nooooooooooooooo" that you would yell at someone that was about to walk in front of a bus.
The point is, being realistic that a c-section is always a possibility can help you to ensure that even though things may not go according to your ideal plan, it can still be a positive experience. The birth of your child is a magical experience and something you will be reminiscing about for the rest of your life. Do yourself a favor and consider every possible outcome, so that you are prepared to make the absolute best of the experience no matter what.