I have to admit that as a paediatrician attending deliveries, I was a bit apprehensive about giving birth. That probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I was working on a NICU during the last trimester of my first pregnancy. The nature of my job meant that I was more likely to attend a difficult delivery or one with complications. In reality, there were many more uncomplicated deliveries taking place that I wouldn’t see.
Attending an antenatal course helped and I followed all the recommendations to give myself the best chance of a natural delivery. I prepared a birth plan that set out my preferences and looked forward to the delivery.
As I reached 41 weeks, although I felt quite uncomfortable, I didn’t meet the criteria for an induction of labour. At that time, an induction of labour would only be offered after 42 weeks unless there was a medical need to deliver earlier.
I tried absolutely everything to bring on labour naturally. Even running for what felt like miles during the summer heat through a swarm of Flying Ants didn’t help – obviously not an intentional exertion, just not a fan of Flying Ant day!
At 42+1, I attended hospital for my induction of labour. Despite best efforts with the induction, a CTG later that night showed signs of fetal distress and I needed an emergency caesarean section. Thankfully, he was delivered without any concerns.
The following day, I started to feel unwell with fever and abdominal pain, which resulted in a 2 week admission for infection. When I got home, although I reflected on my experience, I didn’t feel bad about the fact that I didn’t end up with a straightforward birth.
Perfectly Imperfect births
Our expectations of childbirth are shaped by what we are taught and the experiences of others around us.
Whilst the antenatal course I attended was helpful, I don’t think it prepared me that well for the possibility of an induction (and what they may involve) or c-section delivery.
When faced with images of seemingly “perfect”, uncomplicated deliveries, one might feel quite negatively about their own experiences which might not match that expectation.
I previously thought that attending all those deliveries during work might negatively shape my expectations but it allowed me to see the different possibilities in childbirth. Whilst they may be different, there is no failure in that.
My birth plan set out my preferences and I kept in mind the potential for deviations from those preferences. I wrote brief notes about my feelings on the various interventions that were mentioned in the sub-sections of the birth plan. So, did my birth plan fail? No. After all, it did exactly what it was meant to do.
My first delivery was far from straightforward. At the antenatal appointment of my second pregnancy, we discussed any worries I had and these were also re-visited on the day of my delivery. The team implemented plans to avoid a recurrence of previous issues and I had a very positive experience.
There are plenty of women who have a successful VBAC and there are different factors which may influence whether or not it may be the right decision for each individual. On weighing up the possible benefits and risks of each option, a planned c-section felt like the right decision for me.
At my c-section, the consultant mentioned the finding of uterine dehiscence, which meant that there was an incomplete separation of my previous c-section scar. They expressed concern that from the appearance of that dehiscence, they thought that labour contractions might have resulted in a complete rupture. As a result, my third baby was delivered by an earlier planned c-section, at 38 weeks, to reduce the risk of going into labour before delivery.
Making a birth plan is really helpful. Detail what your preferences are, but know that:
- You may change your mind
- Interventions may become necessary for the safe delivery of your baby
- You may need to deliver in a different environment than you wanted – but it doesn’t mean that you will need to have a less positive experience
- None of this is “failure”
If you had a negative experience previously or a specific concern, talk to your team and share your worries – it can make all the difference.
Check out this post “Ways To Prepare For Labour” for top tips on preparing for labour, written by experienced midwife and mama of 2, Siobhan Obodai-Payne.
Amal is a paediatrician and mum/step-mum to four wonderful children. She started MedicMum101 to share tips and experiences on all things motherhood. She enjoys writing about parenting, health, and wellness, as well as other life musings from time to time. When she is not working, writing, or running after the kids, you can often find her working on a new piece of art.