Caesarean Section Awareness Month - a birth story
We hope you enjoy reading this personal reflection on birth by Annalisa Gardiner; yoga teacher, postpartum doula and Founder of MotherSpace.
Grateful, empowered, calm, at peace.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I know that there are still so many caesarean births taking place unnecessarily. The statistics are rising and women are being told that a caesarean is the safest and best option, when that may not always be the case.
But sometimes it is the case… It certainly was for me.
I remember doing the prep work around natural births, attending the courses and reading all of the books.
Not even giving a second thought to the idea of a having a C- section. Why would I? I had full belief that my body knew how to birth my baby.
And it did…
I remember standing in the shower in the hospital, around 7pm on Tuesday the 22nd of October, 2019, and having an out of body experience.
As the warm water cascaded down my back and I asked my baby what she needed, she spoke to me and said “please get me out now, safely”. All of a sudden, I knew what I needed to do. I felt so much relief that my beautiful girl would be ok if I listened to the wisdom of my body and what it needed.
My husband was a bit shocked. He probably couldn’t believe that me, his well-researched pro “natural birth” wife was asking to have a Caesarean, but I didn’t have a doubt that it was the safest and wisest option for Sofia and I.
So into the surgery room I went, feeling slightly terrified that our whole lives were about to change.
I felt my legs go numb as a result of the spinal tap and I knew that we were one step closer to holding our precious child in our arms.
I remember “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities playing in the background (random) and it did, in fact, make me feel safe and sound. I felt a whole heap of pulling and tugging in my abdominal region as Luke held tightly on to my hand and then the young obstetrician saying, “who is ready to meet their baby?”, to which we nervously replied, “us!!”.
Then, “The Circle of Life” started playing as Sofia was lifted over the surgical curtain and placed onto my chest, and that is generally where she stayed, for many weeks to come.
I remember kissing her little lips and I can say with certainty that I was in an oxytocin bubble that whole night. I most certainly didn’t miss out on any of the bonding experiences that people claim women who have had a caesarean miss out on.
I want to make it clear that there are ways you can make your birth experience special even when things don’t go to plan.
Here are some ways to have a positive Caesarean experience:
1. Request to have your own music playing, just as you might if you were having a natural birth.
2. Bring birthing affirmation cards into the space with you and get your support person to either hold them up for you to see or speak them out loud to you and repeat them back. I love the birthing cards from www.bestbirthco.com (Use the discount code MotherSpace21 for 15% off your order).
3. Use your breath, a simple 4 count breath with a hold in between the inhale and exhale can be so very effective in bringing your body back to a state of calm. Remembering to make your exhale longer than your inhale can also work wonders.
4. Obstetricians are increasingly becoming aware of a concept called “Gentle C-Sections”, whereby a baby is born slowly and a mother is an active participant in the birth, sometimes she is able to have her head raised and see the baby being eased out of the incision. In some cases, the mother is even able to reach forward and assist in the birth of her baby.
5. It is known that skin to skin contact immediately after birth improves outcomes for both mother and baby, so, unless there is some sort of medical emergency, there is no reason for you to be separated from your baby. Have someone there who will advocate for you and who will help ensure you get that immediate bonding with your baby.
6. If possible, after you have had your stitches and are out of recovery request quiet, uninterrupted time (preferably in a dark room) with your new baby, have lots of skin- to- skin contact, breathe in that newborn smell and know that you are a powerhouse to have birthed a brand-new human into this world.
Of course, I know that these options aren’t achievable for everyone and there are so many people who have left the hospital feeling traumatised or disappointed and for that, I am truly sorry.
Know that you are not alone and there are so many organisation's that can help you unpack what happened during your birth and to heal.
Gidget Foundation : https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/
PANDA: PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia
If you enjoyed Annalisa’s story, you can listen to her podcasts here:
ANNALISA, LUKE AND SOFIA IN THEIR LITTLE LOVE BUBBLE