Friday, 3 February 2012

To Section Or Not To Section...?

Now this post may not even be relevant, and the points I put across might not even be true, but yesterday I read something interesting and I can't really get my head around whether I agree or not.

In a group I'm in on Facebook, a lady made a post that the NICE (National Institution of Clincal Excellence) has apparently announced that in the future, all women will be able to opt for a caesarean section birth despite it costing the NHS an extra £800 compared to a natural birth.

I'm not sure how many of you know, but my labour was traumatic. So bad to the point that I often still have flashbacks to the shocking amount of pain I endured and the agonizing screams that followed as the nurse told me "I'm just going to try and turn her around". After 26 hours of gas & air and a shot of diamorphine, I was asked to sign a consent form and was rushed to surgery for a c-section. I'm not the only one to have experienced an awful labour like this, many of the women involved in the Facebook group discussion had also had emergency c-sections as I'm sure have millions of other women around the world. However, I seemed to be the only one in the post who was absolutely terrified of ever getting pregnant again.

Which is what brings me to my confusion. My utter fear of labour is one of the main reasons that is stopping me from popping out more sprogs (because let's face it, I'm broody as hell and One Born Every Minute is certainly not helping!). So if a Midwife were to approach me and say "Yes, you can have an elective c-section" I would jump at the chance. However, I don't think that every woman should be given the option. Call me a hypocrite if you will, considering I would gladly take the option, but I have a million reasons for wanting to. A first time Mum has no experience of labour. She could quite easily push that baby out within two hours and three pushes - so why should she be allowed to choose a caesarean? Or the Mum who has previously had three children but would choose a section just because it's easier and she wouldn't have to experience the pain? Don't get me wrong, we've all been there for the first time, absolutely terrified of the pain we were about to endure to bring our precious ones into the world, but I can't find a reason as to why someone would willingly give up that experience without having tried it. Or even if they have tried it and managed it well, why would they not want to do it again?

I know that c-sections are still a normal way of giving birth, but let's face it, it's not really 'giving birth' is it? Your baby is whipped out of the sunroof before you're given the chance to even see them. I've spoken to women who after their babies had successfully been taken out that they were placed straight on their chest, but given the chance there were complications of any kind, you don't get this option. During my time in hospital I wasn't even the first person to hold my Princess, Daddy was. I would never begrudge him that right, she is just as much his Princess as she is mine, but after enduring 29 hours of pure agony to then be rushed to surgery, I sort of felt robbed.

Which again is what brings me to my confusion once more. To this day I still regret the fact that I wasn't able to give birth naturally. I'm not talking without pain relief, but to simply have just been able to push her out. To feel the absolute relief that the pain is over, to see my baby girl being held up to me and placed on my chest, to even see her being weighed and checked over. I missed every bit of it. I didn't even hold her until I'd been wheeled back to recovery. In my eyes I can't understand any reason for wanting to give that up. That choice was taken from me during labour, but for those who have a choice, why would you deny it? 

The other points that were raised by a woman who had recently seen her Midwife, were that the only women who would be given the option were those who had previously had a c-section. First time Mums and those who have had perfectly fine labours before would not be given the option. If that's the case then just completely disregard everything I have just said. If a woman has had a c-section before because it was medically needed, or like me, didn't have a choice in the matter, then by all means I think they should be able to opt for another one. 

Princess was my first child and nearly 16 months on, I'm still reeling from the labour. However, because of my feelings towards the c-section I feel that I would like to give natural labour another try. The only problem is, the other half of me is screaming that I just can't do it. I'm already suffering anxiety just simply from the thought of it, so I don't even see how natural labour is going to be an option for me. I don't even mind the thought of labour lasting another 29 hours, but if a Doctor could tell me that my baby would be born healthy with no complications and wouldn't be back to back as Princess was, I think I would go for it. Sadly, I think anxiety is definitely going to get in the way of this, plus a Doctor can never promise a woman that.

Overall, I have mixed opinions on this. I think it's great that Mums like me with traumatic labour experiences might be given the option to go down the same route as before, but there is also another hiccup in this. Apparently a c-section can cost £800 more than a normal birth. The NHS could spend this money on so many other things, for example, on more equipment in the NICU departments, or more staff. Even though an emergency section may end up costing them more, the likelihood of every woman who's had a section needing one again is quite slim. I cannot fathom why the Government would pass a right to spend more money simply giving women an option when they're already making so many cuts to other areas. In some parts of the country, entire maternity units have had to be shut down. This again, tips my opinion towards disagreeing.

I can't really make an unbiased opinion. From my experience an emergency c-section was not the route I wanted to take, but it was the only one available. My recovery time was approximately 2 weeks, but that was only to feel fully normal. After 2 days I could get myself around and see to Princess myself (not that I had much choice I was in hospital for 3 days afterwards). After a week I made my own way to see the Midwife for a check up, so to me the recovery time is not too bad. Even though I hate my scar, I hate the numb feeling I have underneath my belly button which is still so numb that I can pinch it and feel nothing, I am grateful for my caesarean. 

Like I said, this post might not even be relevant, but I just thought I'd put that out there.

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