A Conversation for The Needs of Pregnant Women

A little off topic...

Post 1


This isn't so much about the needs of pregnant women as pregnant women and women who have had babies in general.

This is a pet peeve of mine - women who are smugly condescending and get all "nature is a wonderful thing" about childbirth. The sort of women who act amazed when you tell them the truth, that childbirth for you was horrible and traumatic and then proceed to smugly tell you how their baby fell out in a couple of hours and what was all the fuss about?

I would like to give you all a short personal history to let you understand fully where I am coming from. My son (now 6) was born after a totally uneventful pregnancy. I was healthy and strong and extremely happy - we joked the whole time about how I should bottle up the hormones coursing through my body and save them for later, as I was so pleasant and calm. I walked, ate fairly well and didn't drink except an occasional cider. One day 5 weeks before the baby was due I went into labour, for no apparent reason. After going to the hospital to get drugs to stop the labour, I came home and my waters broke like Niagara falls. So, there I was on the toilet eating tomato soup (forced upon me by my best friend who had been through labour and knew I would need my strength!), water still trickling out of me while hubby and best friend ran around my house throwing things frantically into a suitcase. I sat there listening to cries of "where's your pyjamas?" "where's your toilet bag?" and "make sure you eat that soup!". It was all pretty surreal and actually very funny.

After a day of labour and intense pain, mostly without any drugs, I gave birth. It took nearly two hours of pushing. After about an hour and a half it was obvious the baby was distressed. His heartbeat was dropping and I could not seem to budge him despite my frantic efforts. Of course being exhausted by this point didn't help.

Finally, Jacob was born. Turns out the cord was wrapped around his neck three times. He was a greyish purplish colour. Every time he breathed, his little rib cage seemed to practically collapse. His eyes jittered around his sockets and frightened the life out of me. In addition, I haemorrhaged horribly and nearly bled to death. There is something about the gynaecologist having his fist shoved against your bleeding vagina, while he tells the nurse not to use the pump for the drugs to help the blood clot, "just get it into her as fast as you can" that is rather unsettling.

Two days after he was born we were told Jacob had had a sub arachnoid brain haemorrhage, a grade 3 bleed (grade 4 being the worst, and 1 being the best scenario), probably due to the prolonged and traumatic labour. We were told he might have cerebral palsy and would almost certainly have some sort of brain damage. He also had to receive 5 lumbar punctures over several weeks to stop him from getting hydrocephalus as a result of the haemorrhage. He saw a paediatrician, a neurosurgeon and a developmental specialist for the first 18 months of his life and had several CT scans - amongst other things.

Amazingly enough, he is perfect. A bright, happy 6 year old boy, enjoying school, doing well in classes, normal in every way. Despite having to take iron tablets and suffering from extreme fatigue for some time, I am also fine. I can genuinely say that not a single day passes that I am not grateful for the gift of his health.

When I had my second child, I planned to have a vaginal birth. At about 7 months I started suffering extreme fear at the idea of labour - not fear of the pain (which was excruciating, but pain can be endured and it does finish eventually) but the actual mechanics of it. Although my head knew I would probably not go through a similar experience, my guts were terrified of the remotest possibility of putting my child through something similar. I had an elective caesarean and it was the best decision of my life. I was up and about the next day after surgery, and was told not to run by the nurse when the phone rang in my room. I was awake for everything and joked and chatted with the nurses and Doctor throughout the event. It was a happy, safe and pleasant experience for me.

This isn't supposed to be a scare story. I am not trying to frighten pregnant women and I certainly never walk up to someone who is pregnant and tell my story - in fact I rarely tell it at all. Nor am I a proponent of C-sections. I am not for or against them, since every single case and every single person is totally different. I do know however that if I had had my son without medical intervention, I would be dead and so would he.

The simple point of this entire post is this: the only thing that separates my experience from anybody else's is plain dumb luck. Nobody had the faintest clue that what happened to me and my son was on the cards. Nobody could have. It was just bad luck, horrible luck. And nobody can control that.

I have friends who had two and six hour labours with little pain and no complications, and I am delighted for them (I have other friends who have horror stories too of course). I am happy to sit and chat to anybody about their birth experiences and rarely tell people the full and gory details, unless they specifically ask. I never try to rain on anybody's parade and above all I would never wish on anybody what I went through, and I certainly wouldn't wish what my son went through on a baby!

But I would say this; if I could get in a time machine and change just one thing in my life, I would go back to the morning I went into labour with my boy. I would spare my son the misery and pain of his birth, the brain haemorrhage, the spinal taps, the CT scans, the doctors visits, and I would spare ourselves the constant and crushing fear we experienced for such a long time that he might not be alright. I would say "give me a Caesarean."

If you have an easy pregnancy and an easy labour and a healthy child you are lucky. Just that. Don't be smug about it, don't be condescending. Don't assume you have the faintest clue why someone might choose to have a C-Section. Don't think you have any idea of what someone else's labour was like. Be happy and be glad because you were so lucky, and enjoy your baby.

That's all really.


A little off topic...

Post 2


I would just like to thank you Alabus for your thoughtful and intelligent approach to the issues you raised. All too often people become far too self-righteous about topics such as elective C-sections and breastfeeding without contemplating why that individual has made such choices. Instead of accepting that somebody has made a different choice to them, very often people decide to judge and attack those people. Every experience is different and people should respect that, instead of condemming any choices that differ to their own personal experiences. Pregnant women already feel overwhemled with the responsiblities of motherhood, support should be offered instead of condemnation.

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