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I think every mom-to-be has some degree of a birth plan, some sort of vision of how she would like her child to come into the world. Even though I knew that I wanted a c-section from the get go, I soon found out that having a birth plan was incredibly important, not only to prepare yourself, but also to give you some peace of mind.
February is Pregnancy Education Month, a campaign that Bio Oil supports as it encourages woman to empower themselves by researching birth options, so that they can have the best birth experience possible. ‘There is a link between a lack of knowledge, fear and the experience of childbirth’ says national co-ordinator for the Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum, Lynne Bluff and I have to agree. I didn’t have to do a huge amount of research into what having a c-section entailed, simply because I had been in theater over 10 times at that point and was very familiar with the procedures and how I react to anaesthetic. But if I hadn’t educated myself about what to expect directly afterwards, I would have been caught totally of guard. Educating yourself on your preferred birth plan is all good and well, but what happens when your birth plan doesn’t work out and your thrown into a completely different scenario?
Kate is my cousin, but in actuality she is one of my very best friends, and although we live in separate cities (she’s in Cape Town), we talk to each other so much throughout the day that we might as well be sitting next to each other. From the moment that Kate found out that she was pregnant, in fact, way before that, Kate knew exactly which route she wanted to go when it came to giving birth. And although it wouldn’t be my first choice, I really admired how much research she did and how intensely she educated herself when it came to her birth plan. There really wasn’t a question that she didn’t know the answer to – and believe me, I asked a lot of questions! But when D-day came around, things didn’t go quite according to plan. I chatted to Kate to see how she felt about everything now, almost a year later.
What was your birth plan and what influenced your choice?
I think I always knew I wanted to have a natural birth, I have an amazing mom that had two big (4kgs) babies naturally, un-medicated and she always said it’s not as bad as the movies make it out to be.
What did you do to educate yourself for the birth of your son? Did you attend classes, read websites, chat to friends and family?
The year my husband and I knew we would start trying to have a baby I surrounded myself with like minded women. I went to monthly meetings held by a very popular midwife in Cape Town and I heard stories of amazing births and I decided the most comfortable place for me to attempt a natural birth was at home. That ultimately became my birth plan! I spent months researching home births, the safety of them, what could go wrong and how my midwife would be able to intervene should things go south etc. Thankfully my AMAZING gynae was supportive of my choice and also supported the midwife that I had chosen.
For you personally, what was the most important piece of information that you leant.
I think coming to the realization that giving birth should not always be looked at and approached as a medical event. You don’t always need a sterile hospital to give birth and also that giving birth is not something to fear.
Although you had your heart set on your birth plan, did you also educate yourself on what else could possibly happen?
To be honest, not really. I think that was my big mistake. I had indoctrinated myself so much with only giving birth naturally, without medication and the whole “I am women, hear me roar” story that I forgot (and was in denial) that my birth could go any other way.
When you were told that you needed to have a c-section, even though you were understandably devastated, did you feel prepared in terms of knowing what was about to happen and what to expect.
No, not at all! Even when my midwife and doula told me we would need to transfer to hospital after labouring for hours at home, I didn’t think, even then I thought my birth would end in a c-section. We still tried for a good few more hours at the hospital for a natural birth with my gynae, but after trying and trying and trying, she said, “Okay you have tried hard Kate but you are not going to get this baby out naturally, it’s time”. At this point I was crying so much from disappointment that I don’t remember much more. I remember a really nice nurse (I think she was a scrub nurse but she could have been the assisting surgeon) telling me what to expect but I don’t think I took any of it in.
Looking back, would you do anything different?
No, I don’t think I would. I was always so confident in my team of caregivers that I never thought my baby or myself were ever in danger. Even when Tom got stuck my midwife had me transferred to the hospital long before it became dangerous. We still tried for 5 more hours in hospital to try and get him to move into a better position. Sadly these kind of situations are totally out of anyone’s control.
If you could give moms-to-be advice on educating themselves for the birth of their child, what would it be?
I would say maybe be prepared for all events. Be confident in the birth plan you have personally chosen, but prepare for everything. Making an informed choice was key for me personally but where I failed myself was not doing any research into c-sections, especially post-op. Being open to any ending to your story is key. You will be less disappointed then if things don’t go the way you intended.
I think that Kate’s story, although it didn’t go according to plan, is encouraging. There really are incredible midwives, doula’s and gynaeclogists out there that will support your birth plan as long as it is safe for you and your baby and when things start going off trak, will react quickly to ensure both of your safety.
Thank you Kate for sharing your incredibly personal story, and happy (almost) birthday to Tom!
To celebrate Pregnancy Education Week, together with Bio Oil, I am giving away a R2000 hamper. Here’s what is included:
100% cotton gown
Handy storage basket
A soft grey storage pouch
2 x 100% cotton dribble bibs
4 x bottles of Bio-Oil (25ml, 60ml, 125ml & 200ml)
100% cotton blanket
Hand crocheted soft toy
Bio-Oil stretch mark guide, ‘Tips for Moms from Moms’ and baby scan album
To enter, simply use the Gleam widget below.