For years and years I knew that I had wanted a C-section, should I have a baby.
Let me start by saying that I most certainly don’t believe that c-sections are necessarily a safer or smarter option all of the time, rather that a woman should have the option to begin with, understanding the risks and benefits of both options.
Let me also say that I have never had a surgery in my life and I am a strong proponent of natural and organic remedies for any ailments that come my way. I did not so much as touch a panadol during my 8 month baby incubation period.
So, my proposed C-section… This opinion, albeit based on very little fact at the time, was something that I just felt was the right decision for me. Logically, I could not understand how a 3-4kg baby could fit through, not only my vagina, but my narrow hip bones too.
The topic had arisen very often at work in my mid twenties, but many laughed it off as a silly shallow option. After all, I worked in fashion.
Fast forward to September 2016 and I found myself pregnant and ready to deliver. Obviously, with my baby-daddy being a Doctor, I was well versed in the ‘benefits’ of a natural delivery and considering that I had no private health insurance I found myself forced into a natural birth.
What I was never told was the risks involved in a natural delivery.
At around my 25th hour of labour, with my child in danger, the Medical team decided that I needed to deliver rather quickly. Tilly’s heart rate was in excess of 210bpm and my temperature was rising, with a possible infection. The team decided that instead of transferring me to surgery, I would deliver vaginally, with the assistance of vacuum and pure force.
My cervix was cut and at around 8cm dilated, the baby was pulled through my birth canal. Graphic, I know. Unfortunately for me, I also then found out that, as I had imagined, my baby did not fit through the opening of my hips, so suffering from what is known as Shoulder Dystocia, I was given a large and very deep episiotomy in order to deliver.
Now, I have to say, the Doctors did an incredible and very thoughtful job in stitching me up, which is now much appreciated. However, the act of being sliced in half to begin with has left a rather large scar.
Obviously, these challenges arise during delivery, almost out of nowhere. Nobody measures your hip bones, or can estimate your child’s ability to cope with stress or infection. The medical team that treated me were fantastic and did everything in their power to ensure my daughter’s safe arrival.
My only qualm is that I believe that I should have a choice in the method of delivery of my child, through my own body.
I completely understand the benefits of the vaginal delivery; the benefit to your child entering the world naturally, coated in the magical, immune boosting bacteria of your vagina – but now I also understand what it means to have to rebuild a pelvic floor from scratch.
I understand now that for 13 weeks sitting was uncomfortable and that two sanitary pads, at a time, were the closest thing to solace that my poor perineum had. I understand the fear of showering for greater fear of seeing the horrific wound in the first weeks postpartum, or the fear of having to wipe yourself after urinating (best case scenario).
I understand, now 5 months later, that my vagina will probably never feel the same again and may always ache when sitting, or stretching, or getting up too quickly, while carrying an 8kg baby.
I also understand that my body succeeded, in the most incredible way. I have created something so precious, which the scars will always be a fond memory of.
But here it is:
C-section recovery: 6 weeks of low exertion, no exercise or carrying heavy objects, no driving. Risks: blood loss, injury to other organs, infection, further risk with anaesthesia
Vaginal delivery, with shoulder dystocia/episiotomy: no exercise for 6 weeks, low exertion, no carrying objects over 4kg, no sex for 6 weeks (more like 12 weeks). Risks: blood loss, infection, injury to bowel, injury to pelvic floor, injury to cervix, long recovery time, further risks with anaesthesia
I would have loved the ability to choose… and next time, I will.