A mama’s struggles for natural birth and an emergency c-section

[ 6 ] 04/05/2014 |

shutterstock_296147564 weeks after birth I feel confident enough to share my story with all of you here.

Οn the 31/03/2014 my first son was delivered via emergency c-section. When he was first brought to me after what felt like hours to me, I looked at him and thought ‘this could be any baby’. A couple of very hard weeks followed where I had difficulties accepting the birth experience, bonding with my baby and coping with being a mum. I spent over two weeks crying every day, wondering whether I could ever love my baby the way he deserves and the way I assumed I was supposed to from the very first moment. I felt guilty for not loving him. I wished he was back in my belly and I felt guilty for thinking if I gave him away this would be a relief. I took care of him, cuddled him, responded to the slightest sign of him being uncomfortable but everything out of duty and never with the love and passion I thought a new mother ought to feel for her baby. When he was on my breast I looked down at his beautiful face and felt empty and sad. I read the love in his daddy’s eyes and was jealous but at the same time relieved that ‘my little baby had a least someone who loved him unconditionally’.

What helped me get back on track was being honest about my experience from the very first moment on. I so much wished for a natural birth and I had read enough to know that unexpected turnouts can cause trauma and depression. I wasn’t prepared but in my head I knew my feelings were ok and I was ‘allowed’ to feel sad and depressed. So I told friends honestly what I felt. It took me a while however to confess to my husband that I thought I did not love our baby. From that moment onwards, I started to become better. And speaking to one of my closest friends one night I suddenly realised it was not the cesarean that had left me helpless and depressed but the whole experience with antenatal, birth and postnatal care that I had gone through.

To sum up my story quickly I was ment to be induced at due date +4 for no obvious reason. The doctor who I saw one week before my due date got out his calendar before even examining me properly. I objected the induction and was asked to come again one week later for a check. from that moment onwards a nightmare started of me fighting for my right of having natural, spontaneous labour and what I guess are hospital procedures. At +2 my blood pressure went up slightly (due to what I assume was pure stress caused by the doctors’ talks about induction and increasing still birth rates), as I objected to being induced again I was asked to stay over night for being monitored. At first this sounded like a fair compromise to me but it quickly turned out, it was just another way of trying to scare me into an induction and the next day I discharged myself from hospital, much to the anger of the doctors.

They looked at me as if I was that irresponsible mother who put her baby’s life at risk for her own sake of having a natural birth. none of the doctors would listen to my fears and my reasons. it was all about procedures and I cannot even count how many refusal papers I had to sign. from now on I went to hospital every day for a monitor. Most of the midwifes secretly supported me in the absence of the doctors. But there I was, supposed to take decisions solely based on what I thought and felt was right for me and my baby. I felt like there was no one at the hospital who I could trust. and every time I went in, I would see a different doctor and start the same discussion over and over again… until at +8 my waters broke at home spontaneously.

I cannot even tell how happy I was, thinking ‘the moment has come’. With all the talk about induction, rupturing membranes, procedures etc. I had always thought I just have to make it into labour and then everything will go its way. How wrong I was. One hour after my waters had broken I was at hospital. was 1 cm dilated, but still 2 cm long and firm. No contractions. 4 hours later (I hate these damn 4 hours, everything is 4 hours at the delivery suite!), I was still without contractions and meant to be put on the drip which I refused. When I refused the drip I asked the midwife ‘what would you do if you were me?’ I think she wanted to help me and give a hint by responding that it was procedure to start the drip after 4 hours but women in my situation in England were allowed to go home again, check their temperature and come back when contractions were strong and regular.

Maybe she wanted to indirectly encourage me to discharge myself again and to take my own decision again but this time I was too scared and too confused to fully understand what was happening to me. I knew that with the babies head not engaged there was the danger of cord prolapse and with the waters gushing out I was too afraid to go home. But as the midwife allowed me to, I did everything I could to start labour. I was walking around, rocking on the ball to no success. Looking back, this might have been a huge mistake as my baby’s head wasn’t engaged and this might have caused the cord to prolapse but I will never know for sure. 10 hours from the time my waters had broken still nothing had happened. the midwife on charge had changed and this time I agreed to the drip. So at 6 pm they started the drip.

Contractions started hitting in but they were bearable. However, at 8 pm there was still no sign of progress, so the midwife advised me to get an epidural in order to help my cervix soften. By that time I had a feeling like this was going to lead to a cesarean and told my partner ‘better get the epidural now than being put to sleep later on’. At 9 pm the heart-rate of my baby dropped drastically. From there on everything happened very fast. The midwife told me ‘that not every women’s body was meant to birth a baby’ the doctor who had to speak to me and get the signature for the cesarean did not even dare to speak out the word as she was there when I had discharged myself from hospital the week before and probably saw me as crazy and of unsound mind.

But what they all did not understand that I never ever meant to put my baby’s life at risk. The opposite was the case: I was so full of love for this unborn baby that I did everything to advocate for an enjoyable welcome in this world experience for my baby and for me. But I would have never refused any necessity. And in the end in my situation the cesarean was a necessity. It might have saved my baby’s life. so I told the doctor ‘I understand what you’re saying and I am willing to agree to anything now to get this baby out healthy’. 30 mins later he was born.

Meanwhile I have accepted the cesarean birth. As I said in my situation it was necessary. But I cannot help but question whether my whole situation could have been avoided. The worst thing is the feeling that you cannot trust anybody. That you’re completely on your own but with this huge responsibility that you carry inside of you. That to the doctors you’re not a human being, you’re part of their routine. And if you don’t obey, you’re crazy and a troublemaker. I felt there was nowhere I could turn to. And I think this is what broke me afterwards. The thinking whether I took the right decisions. Every night going through the whole experience again and wondering whether different decisions might have had a different outcome. It is not my body that is not capable! it was the doctors who did not trust my abilities and chose their routine’s over my capability of birthing my baby on her own pace and at her own time. It was procedures that ruined it for me and turned it into the nightmare. Or am I maybe just trying to find people to blame…

I hardly ever saw the same doctor twice. How was I meant to gain trust? Even though I have accepted what happened to me (that is how I felt… it happened. I had lost control), I will never forget the music in delivery suite, the midwifes bright lipstick face on the second day of my stay, the music played on tv of one of my room neighbours on the 2nd night. It will always remind me of my helplessness. But I told myself I won’t feel that powerless again should I ever be blessed with another baby. And I am glad to say that now I love my son more and more every day. I cannot stop looking at him and I adore everything he does. He makes up for the pain and I take care of him with love and passion.

Thank you for reading my story,
a mama

Category: Birth Stories, Guest posts

Comments (6)

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  1. Melissa Bugeja says:

    You are not alone mama. Hugs to you. My birth was a lovely experience but I was still robbed of a lot due to not being able to trust anyone and having to be my own rock.

  2. Becky Gauci-Maistre says:

    Most definitely not alone. A story that has become all too common. It is impressive that you managed to fight back for so long. Many end up under the impression that they don't have a choice. The medicalization of birth is causing many to free and distrust the birth process as well as the white coats. Things can and will change. If everyone speaks out, awareness is raised and more mothers will become empowered to take back ownership of their bodies and birth.
    If you have had a traumatic birth experience, do seek help from a counsellor, a peer or a support group. It is very important that you do not walk this path towards healing on your own.
    Best wishes to you mama.

  3. I am currently at 39+4 and my doctor told me that unless I start having contractions (or my waters break), I will have to be induced exactly 1 week after my 'due date' because apparently, that's how it's done in Malta, which I find really unfair, because only 5% of women give birth on their due date because they are not accurate, since they are calculated from the 1st day of the last period, so no one knows the conception date. I am really nervous, as I don't want to be induced… what happens when you are induced? do they hook you up to any machines ? I was really looking forward to a natural birth and trying different positions etc, and I know I still have 9 days left until the induction,but I feel hopeless.. I'm only giving birth. I am not going to hospital because I'm sick! 🙁

  4. Hi Den, I was given +10 days and Erik popped out +5. If I am not mistaken, if the pregnancy is developping as per normal, we can be given up to +14 days. Becky Gauci-Maistre might be able to give you some extra info?

  5. Katie says:

    I am also reluctant to go down the medical route when it comes time for me to give birth (July 2016) and want to avoid interventions unless absolutely necessary to the well being of my baby, can anyone point me in the right direction when it comes to home birth in Malta? From what I’ve learnt it can be a really peaceful and beautiful experience to birth your baby at home and I’d really like to know how well set up Malta is in this department. Thanks

    • liza says:

      Hi Katie, Becky (check the comments above) had a home birth and she might be able to give you some info if you contact her.

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