Everyone has an opinion on childbirth. Whether you agree with elective cesareans, or believe that childbirth is a woman’s most natural, base instinct – we all have our opinion.
Yes, we can plan what we consider to be our perfect birth, but for those of us who have been there, how many can say their plans were followed?
I have done a birth plan calling for: with my first – all pain relief except epidural, with my second – an epidural at the slightest twinge of pain, with the third – home water birth with just gas and air (we’d bought the pool, and even a sieve should I poo in the water – glamorous!) None of the plans were followed!
Anyhoo, today, I found a book while cleaning out my cupboard under the stairs ‘The Yummy Mummy’s Survival Guide’ by Liz Fraser. I’d been given this as a present when pregnant with my second child and never really got around to reading it. I felt that as this was my second baby, I knew a lot about being a mum (albeit, NOT a yummy mum by any stretch of the imagination) already. So today, with Frankie (my third baby) having a nap, I sat down with a cup of coffee and flicked through.
I was enjoying skimming through the pages until, dan dan daaaaan. I came to the chapter on choosing your method of childbirth, and, while it does inform you of the little truths about labour that no one talks about (the likeliness of poo-ing yourself for example) I found that the entire section was completely un-researched and one-sided, and based solely and completely on the authors opinions. Yes, I know she is the author and of course has the right to express personal opinion but she (Liz Fraser) is harping on about the greatness of all pain relief, especially epidural’s (she says it’s like having all your best orgasms rolled into one), I quote “free drugs! free drugs! TAKE THEM ALL” and I think that to write a book on matters of such massive importance, you need to be a little more responsible and well-informed! (Maybe getting in a medical professional opinion or two, like she does when she gets a designers advice in the pregnancy wardrobe part of the book. I’m just saying. )
“There are no prizes for enduring a painful birth. Nobody will care, there will be no parties, day spas or free babysitting for the woman who refuses all pain relief, because she thinks it makes her more of a mother than anyone else. It doesn’t.”
When I went into labour with my first child, I was absolutely terrified. At 4 cm dilated, I could not believe the intensity of the pain I was in. Why did nobody warn me? I had gone through the whole pregnancy with people telling me ‘Oh, it’s not that bad’. WHAT??? It is horrendous! Anyway, after about 6 hours, I decided I needed something more than gas and air, and was completely up for a bit of pethidine . I had read that epidural’s increase the chances of caesarean so wanted to avoid. So, I had pethidine, which made me so so sick, and mixed with gas and air I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I hallucinated a lot and at one point I thought the midwife had turned into the talking clock off Beauty and the Beast!!! True fact! :-O
Anyway, in a cloud of complete, excruciatingly painful confusion, I could not push my baby out ( I had no natural urge to push, plus no one said it was pushing like you were having a poo!) and I was soon strapped into stirrups, numbing injections were inserted (!) and cuts were made (wince) and a ventouse was fitted onto my babies head. I felt as though I was steaming drunk, my head was spinning and woozy and I could make no sense of anything. All I knew is that I thought I was dying – and I let everyone know, as I screamed repeatedly “I’m dyyyyyyiiiiiinnnng”. Oh the shame! But I thought I was!
My baby was then dragged out of my body and as I looked between my legs I noticed she was absolutely beautiful and……blue! She was taken over to the resuscitation table while doctors flooded in. I turned my head away and stared at the clock. (A real one, not a talking one). I was being stitched up but was completely numb. Everything was silent. Then Rob started crying. Then my mum started crying. The world stood still, I thought it had ended. (I am struggling to type here, through my tears – I have never wrote this experience down) 7 minutes went by and my baby still wasn’t breathing by herself. Then a pediatrician shouted ‘Has mum had pethidine?’ ’Yes’ someone shouted back and the antidote was injected into her and she was whisked off to SCBU. I didn’t even get a proper look. I got to hug her an hour later – it felt a life time. Everything was fine, she is amazing, she is gorgeous, she is my angel.
It turns out that I had had pethidine too close to delivery, it knocked the baby out cold, midwives had swapped over and notes weren’t made so the pediatricians didn’t know about the pethidine.
Liz Frasers opinion on pethidine:
“If you’ve never taken hallucinogenic drugs and fancy having a go for free, then pethidine is your answer. Some disadvantages – it crosses the placenta, so your baby might be sleepy for a few days….And this is a bad thing.”
Yes, it can be a bad thing!!!!! I thought my baby was dead.
When I had Olivia, I was fully prepared to have an epidural immediately, I wasn’t going through the “I’m dying” thing again! That huge needle was being inserted at the first pain! However, there wasn’t room on the ward, so I had to go begrudgingly to the birth centre which was….calming, homely and lovely. I was offered the use of the birthpool which to my amazement I found fantastic and that’s where I stayed for 16 veeeeeery long hours, coping fine on just gas and air and the warm water. This is where she was born. My little water baby. It was quiet, calm and absolutely amazing. I did not plan this, and I wouldn’t chose a drug free and painful birth to feel ‘more of a mother’, it just happened this way.
Liz Frasers opinion on water births:
“Many women love the calming, soothing aspect of birthing pools but be warned:
The water is lukewarm at best…..you’ll look like a shivering sun-dried tomato giving birth.
You will have to sit in the water with bits of shit, mucous, wee, blood and many other foul things floating about….you can’t have an epidural or pethidine…..there’s all the hassle of getting dried and dressed…..you will get even colder.”
Is this informed opinion? Has she experienced this? Thank God I didn’t read this book prior to having Olivia!!!!
With Frankie – number 3 – a home, yes home, water birth was planned, but a bit of bleeding meant a hospital birth was needed. See, I told you birth plans are rarely followed. We’d bought the pool and all the necessary add ons! And off we were to hospital anyway. I used the pool there but got out to deliver him on a beanbag. I had gone from 4cm to 10cm in 12 minutes and delivered him in 5 minutes. Total labouring time – 17 minutes!!! I had gas and air as I approached the 10cm mark.
Liz Fraser’s info on homebirths just so you know :
“Personally, I wouldnt’ advise anyone to plan this…….you may end up bleeding over the white sofa and parquet flooring.”
Now, I know that you don’t ‘get a medal’ for giving birth naturally, I had gas and air with all three of mine because it does bloody hurt, but, I have never and will never think myself, in any way superior or ‘stoical’ for not having an epidural. Surely, as I said, to be writing a book on such an important and personal thing as giving birth, I think you should be a little more responsible and research your chosen subject in-depth!
Women should have ALL the facts in order to make an informed decision and should, ultimately do whatever they feel comfortable doing. If they chose an elective caesarean – fine – it’s their decision! The same as if they chose to birth with an epidural, pethidine gas and air, no pain relief, in a pool, on a bed WHATEVER! As long as they’re fully and fairly informed of their options!
We know our capabilities and should 100% trust our instincts! No one actively chooses to have a painful birth, they aren’t doing it to boast. From my experience, I would never use pethidine again. I wouldn’t actively put anyone else off using it though. Each to their own.
A woman has just gone through one of the best and worst (in terms of losing their dignity and the pain) experiences of their lives and however they got there, they have produced the same result – a brand spanking new life! No judgement deserves to be made on their journey, just the cuteness of the end product – ha ha! Joke.
The three birth plans I made didn’t come into practice at all. It’s so true what they say about the best laid plans.
Saying that, the rest of the book I found to be funny and down to earth. I especially liked her chapters on once the baby arrives onwards. It kept me busy for an hour and a half anyhoo.
That is all. Amen