The birth of Oscar - a gentle caesarean birth
A brilliant birth story where Hilary and Andrew planned the best birth for them – a gentle caesarean birth. Hilary is someone that I worked with when I was teenager, and had kept in touch with through social media. When I got my pregnancy yoga qualification in 2020 Hilary messaged me to see if I would be offering online pregnancy yoga classes (online due to COVID restrictions). It wasn’t something that I’d considered as I thought people would prefer in person classes, and that hopefully it wouldn’t be long until I could run them. After another person asked me for online classes I decided to take the plunge and start offering them. Hilary was with me every week throughout her pregnancy, all online as baby Oscar was born the week before I was allowed to offer in person classes. I’m so pleased that Hilary gave me the nudge, and that I was able to offer her this support in preparation for the birth of her second baby. So thank you Hilary for the push, and thank you for the lovely birth story! Hilary writes:
When I had my daughter 4 years ago, like many first time parents, (and despite attending some antenatal information classes), I wasn’t confident in my choices or knowledge, or properly prepared. After my waters breaking early, I was induced (and wasn’t really aware that this was a choice, and not mandatory) but unfortunately after 15 hours of labour I was only at 3cm dilated and so opted for a C section as I was exhausted. Thankfully my daughter and I were healthy and all ended well.
However, my experience meant that this time around I was determined to make my own, informed choices for my mental health, our family and our baby. And so we opted for an elective C section. Along the antenatal journey, there were several points at which I was asked if this was the right choice for me. Quite rightly, the possible risks and benefits were laid out and I regularly had the chance to ask questions. Occasionally, this narrative could feel patronising – a little bit “Oh bless you, but we’d really prefer you to have a vaginal birth. Do you really understand what you’re asking, dear?”. However, I’m proud to say that I stuck to my guns and politely explained my reasoning firmly every time. I was pleasantly surprised (people seem to assume that you’ll have to fight hard for this choice) to be accepted and understood throughout.
And so the big day came, we had been given a choice of dates in advance and received a call the night before our chosen date to confirm our time for arrival. We’d organised childcare for our little girl and so we tried to get some sleep in peace. We arrived at the hospital first thing (we had the early slot) and after lots of really friendly and thorough introductions and explanations of roles and procedures, we headed into theatre, (me on foot which felt nice!) and began.
Our anaesthetist was a kind, funny man who asked about names for the baby and asked about us, all the while explaining the steps of my spinal block both before and as he moved through them. This was the only aspect that I found tougher than with my emergency section as I was more aware and less “Just get it done!” as I had been during a long induced labour the first time. However, thanks to some golden thread breaths, courtesy of Colleen’s amazing pregnancy yoga classes that I’d taken from 16 weeks pregnant until the end. I closed my eyes and breathed my way through the anxiety and discomfort as they inserted the spinal block to allow the anesthetic to do its job – at one point I watched my heart rate slow as I breathed deeply and calmed myself.
Thanks to some tips from Colleen via her social media accounts and expertise, I’d been able to explain my choices – an elective, gentle caesarean might seem a “fixed” option but actually there are lots of things you can do to tailor it to your choices and make it a positive and personal experience. We’d prepared a Spotify playlist and the theatre staff provided a Bluetooth speaker and helped us link it up to my phone. My husband brought his phone to use as a camera, and between him and some (seriously talented and incredibly lovely) members of the theatre team, we have some absolutely amazing birth photos. I was given the choice to lower the drapes when our son was born (we didn’t know the sex in advance) so I could see boy or girl for myself, at the same time as my husband, and so we saw our little boy for the first time together as we held hands and (of course) I cried. My husband opted to cut the umbilical cord, and I asked for skin to skin ASAP – our son was on my chest within minutes of being born, all while they finished closing me up. They didn’t even weigh him until I was happy I’d had time with him.
I know that an elective section (or gentle caesarean) isn’t the right choice for everyone and I can completely understand why. The possible risks and the recovery journey should be properly considered. But for us? It was the most calm, positive, dare I say, happy, experience and I have absolutely no doubt that it has impacted my recovery time frame and pain etc this time around, as well as the beginning of our fourth trimester as a family of four.
And Colleen’s yoga classes and breathing techniques have continued to help as I recover – some regular “up breaths” each day have helped to expand my lungs and very gently stretch out my abdominal muscles as they adjust. In more recent days, I’ve also done some very gentle hip circles to loosen up my hips and back and avoid any tightness around my scar . Obviously you have to do what’s right and safe for your recovery – but I have no doubt that just knowing these techniques has helped me feel better, faster.