Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

Vivienne's story

Hi, my midwife suggested I should share my story with you, I hope it helps you feel more confident.

I fell pregnant with my first born son at the age of 27. I was young and fit and healthy and had a relatively complication free pregnancy, aside from a bit of extra amniotic fluid and swelling in my feet and ankles.

He was a big baby, and the obstetrician suggested that a planned caesarian might be in order, but was happy for me to try to deliver him vaginally as per my wishes. I was young and fit and healthy so I figured that, of course I could deliver him myself - why not?

I had a 27.5 hour labour, that failed to progress, my son never engaged in the birth canal, so after a very tiring 27 hours, his D-cel (sp?) count started to go up and they called for an emergency C section. I was disappointed, and found the whole thing quite nightmarish. But, of course, the main thing was that my son was healthy and happy. I was told by many people that my "body was just not made for delivering babies".

A year and a half later I fell pregnant with my daughter. I was adamant that I at least wanted to try to deliver vaginally, and definitely wanted to let the labour begin naturally. I felt that the contractions had purpose in terms of preparing the baby for the world, and preparing my body for lactating etc.
The obstetricians were very unhappy with my wish to at least let the labour start naturally, they wanted me to have a planned caesarian. I was told over and over "Your pelvis is too small for your babys' heads, the only way you'll be able to deliver your daughter vaginally is if she is very small" and "It is very irresponsible to plan for an emergency caesarian, it is an unfair strain on the hospital staff!"

And, of course, she grew into a relatively big baby (as my babies do).

A few days before my due date I went into labour at 1am, the contractions were pretty close together so I called my midwife. She said "you have a history of long labours, try and go back to sleep".

So I tried to go back to bed, had a bath etc, but the contractions got stronger and then I had my show. My husband called the midwife again, we jumped in the car, did the 30 minute drive in 15 minutes with me hollering all the way down! By the time we got to the hospital, the baby was pushing so far down I thought my pelvic floor was going to fall through (and I was terrified because my cousin (an obstetrician) had told me that vaginal births destroy women's pelvic floor muscles).

BabyThe midwife arrived in the nick of time, and after about 45 minutes of pushing, my beautiful baby daughter was born at 6.35am, after just 5 and a half hours of contractions/labour and I got to pick her up right away and hold her in my arms and never wanted to let go. Within 1.5 hours I was fit enough to pick up my 2 year old son and walk along carrying him to the post natal ward (I could never have done that after a caesarian, I would have had a big wound in my belly, and still been prostrate under epidural).

To any woman who would like to try for a VBAC, it is possible, and it is certainly worth doing. A vaginal birth experience is, in my experience, a much better way to begin life with a new baby.

Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of pain - I had about a dozen stitches down there (some down to the muscle) and was very very bruised (I couldn't believe how sore it was to sit down!), but  I think it is a much healthier and happier way to give birth if you can.  Don't let the doctors tell you "you just can't do it" because people's bodies do change over time. I'm living proof.

Also, my body has recovered much more quickly this time (Who knows if it is due to the vaginal delivery? Maybe/Maybe not) After my son was born it took more than a year for me to regain my pre pregnancy size, and my stomach muscles have never recovered from being cut into (Plus I have a 10cm scar, and there was also a tear in the incision -yay). This time, within 6 months, I am back to a size 8 and feeling great (and my pelvic floor is perfect)

Many many thanks to the Midwifery Group Practice staff at the Adelaide Womens and Children's  Hospital. Your service is superb.