Let me start by saying that I did not choose to have a V-bac to be “more of a woman”, or to fulfil some right of passage that is bestowed upon all women, because to be honest, in my opinion, that is a load of rubbish. Regardless of the way you give birth you are still a bloody strong woman, in fact dare I say, having a c-section is far worse than giving birth naturally.
It was for that reason, in fact, that I was so adamant to give birth naturally. So many of my close friends had their baby’s naturally, most without an inch of pain relief and their recovery periods were so much easier compared to mine with my first C-section.
You see, there are 16 months between my boys, and my eldest was so active I couldn’t bear to be flat on my back recovering and in pain while he was running around. He was the only reason I was so determined, and I haven’t looked back for a second.
The importance of this article for me is to bring awareness to a term I heard from Tracey over at The Milk Memoirs of “birth without fear”. Thanks to TV shows and movies, we see women screaming their heads off in pain and it creates this subconscious fear of giving birth. Yes, let’s not get it twisted, having a baby is certainly no Sunday stroll in the park, but as my husband so obnoxiously put it “You can see God created a woman’s body to have babies, I don’t know what all the fuss is about” (I wanted to slap him in that moment), yet his words do ring true.
So let’s go back 4 years to my first birth story. I was 41 weeks pregnant, and one day away from being induced when my waters broke, thankfully at home. Off we went to the hospital and got the news that my waters had in indeed broken, but baby had not dropped at all, he was floating somewhere up there and I was nowhere even close to dilating. My doctor gave me a choice in that moment, you can either go through 30+ hours of painful labour which may have complications and will end up in an emergency C-section , or you can chose the C-section route and we operate right now.
As first time parents we had no clue, despite having a “birth plan” and “Enya” downloaded on my iPod we said whatever is best for the baby. 45 minutes later, I was crying on a nurses’ shoulder with a spinal block in my back and my husband was still downstairs filling in admin paper. Yes, the whole “birth” was smooth and my baby was perfectly healthy, he latched straight away and we had story book skin to skin contact, but when the meds wore off and the pain kicked in, OUCH! I remember trying to stand for the first time when I showered and trying to wash my hair, I felt like I had ripped apart my stomach all over again. When we eventually went home and my baby was crying, I ended up crying too because I couldn’t get out of bed to tend to him. The house was filled with visitors but for me to get up out of bed to go and greet them, I felt like I was an 84 year old women with a hunch back, shuffling to go and say hi…
Fast forward 16 months later, in a new town and with an open minded doctor, I laid out my grand plans and she absolutely supported me. Of course, if you want to have a V-Bac the doctor will lay down certain, very important “clauses”. You cannot go over 40 weeks, you have to dilate 1cm per hour, no epidurals allowed (I wasn’t allowed one because if there is risk of your C-section scar rupturing you need to be able to feel it). Typically you are meant to “wait” 18 months between them, well mine was 16.
I went into labour at 8pm the Friday before I was going to be induced (again, my babies like to wait it out the full gestation 🙂 ). My mum was staying with us and in “her generation” all the women had C-sections, in fact, all the women in my family had C-sections and we were told it was something to do with “being short” or “having small feet”, despite the fact that my hips are about 3 meters apart 🙂 . She started to panicked immediately, as mums do, and couldn’t understand why on earth I wanted to do this naturally. She wanted me to go straight to the hospital. From all of my research I knew the hospital was the last place I wanted to be so early, so I took a shower and went to sleep. By 2am the contractions had moved into that sort of second phase, when you are REALLY sure that this is painful now and you kind of have to hunch over and stop what you are doing. I woke up and saw my toddler and husband sleeping next to me and couldn’t bear to wake them, and managed to hold on until 4am before going into the hospital.
My doctor arrived at just after 7am I think, right about that time where your body starts to move into a “trance mode”, you know where people are talking around you but you can’t answer them, you can’t count the seconds between contractions anymore and your body automatically emits this animal type of moan (I swear that wasn’t coming from me?). My mum was messaging both me and my husband and kept saying to me, “don’t be a martyr, just take the C-section”, little did she know I wasn’t doing it to prove anything to anyone, I was doing it for me, for my little boy.
They tried to give me happy gas which I absolutely cannot take, I just cannot inhale a gas when something is covering my mouth like that at all, so I kept pushing it away, though I did get a shot of pethidine (which I actually regret and if I could turn back and not take it, I would). Thanks to the pethidine I was floating on clouds up in the air and feel like I didn’t get that immediate “connection” to my second baba. I wasn’t focused, my mind was floating. Through it all, at 10h45 on a rainy Saturday morning in the Western Cape, my second baby boy was born, and I did it, on my own!
The rest of the stuff that comes with a natural birth is pretty shameless, well actually the whole process of giving birth is shameless with the whole birth room seeing you butt naked. But the high that comes after natural childbirth is unforgettable. The REAL high, the pethadine and worn off by then. I felt like I had run a marathon. I pushed my baby and I into our room for the night and proceeding to scoff down three full meals (OK, it was nearly lunch time and I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before). But still, the mobility afterward was a joy, Yes, as any mum knows there are certain damn sore area’s , but in comparison to the C-section I was in heaven. 3 days later I was walking around a grocery store with my 16 month old. WORTH IT? Totally!!
Please note: Every single woman’s birth experience is completely unique and different. This is MY experience and MY opinion and I know some people’s reality is vastly different. The aim of this article is to encourage BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR, bar any medical reasons, you can do it !!!