London, Mummy stuff, Pregnancy

Too posh to push?

We found out on Tuesday that placenta previa is no longer the case, i.e. baby girl is allowed to cook a little longer than the initially assumed 37 weeks. In fact, we have got a date for her birth, which feels reassuring and weird at the same time.

Baby Pea will be born at just under 39 weeks via C-section. I had decided to have an elective Caesarean long before I fell pregnant. It must have been somewhere between the sadistic midwife, L’s sudden lack of a heartbeat and my own overdose on anaesthetics that the verdict was made: natural birth is not meant for me.

The decision to go private fell pretty soon after I had recovered from “the aftermath”: waking up in the intensive care unit, unable to a) breathe by myself, b) hold my baby or c) even think of feeding her. It took about 12 hours before I was admitted to the ward, right in time for Big M to be shooed out, because visiting hours were over. After about 14 hours in labour, an emergency C-section and 12 hours in the ICU, you would think that this is where my recovery started. But no, it all went further downhill from there.

As I still hadn’t regained control over my arms, I was unable to pick little L up during that night. Every time she started crying, so did I, hoping that one of the nurses would come and help me get her out of her cot. Sometimes they did, sometimes they did not. I felt incredibly bad for the woman opposite me, whom we must have woken up regularly. On the other hand, none of us really would have slept anyway, as the lady in the bed closer to the window kept on shouting “Shut the fuck up!” at her newborn.

At a certain point during that first magical night with my baby L, I must have managed to climb out of bed, gather the little bundle and retreat onto a chair that was standing in the corner.

The next morning, Big M came back to find a sobbing mess with a baby in her arms, sitting on a chair in the corner, rocking back and forth to console the baby (and herself). I hadn’t slept in 48 hours, my fingers still felt numb and according to my husband, I looked like a 60-year-old alcoholic, all puffy and yellow. That’s a double dose of epidurals plus a GA for you.

30 hours post c-section: yellow, puffy and feeling like hit by a lorry

I have no idea what exactly he did or said, but after Big M had disappeared for a few minutes, he came back with two of the nurses, and I was whisked off to a single room.

None of the above makes an attempt at natural childbirth feel worthwhile. Neither do I want to play the NHS lottery again. I have been extremely unlucky with whom I came across during my first pregnancy – I am not taking any chances this time.

I don’t want to talk about VBAC, let alone being forced to have perinatal mental health support, as the new NHS NICE guidelines for elective Caesareans suggest.

I want continuity of care. I want a person whom I trust and whom I have gotten to know over the past months to deliver my baby. I want to be treated with dignity and respect. And I want to make sure that I will be looked after post delivery.

It’s a crime that I have to go private to insure that this is going to happen. And it’s got nothing to do with being “too posh to push”.

25 Comments

  1. What a horrendous time you had. I’m sure this time will be so much better. Your decision makes perfect sense. I’d have done exactly the same. Really can’t wait to see your new baby photos now! xx

  2. Everybody is different, but the second one is usually easier -it was for me. As for having an elective C-Section: your body, your choice. If it makes your life easier, why not? Keep us posted!

  3. I have given birth 3 different ways with my 3. My first was born naturally, but he did me a lot of internal damage and I ended up with a spinal block in theatre for an hour being put back together. I opted for an elective c-section when our 2nd was born just 17months later. My 3rd was born by c-section, but under GA for Placenta Previa and Accreta. I am having a c-section this time too.

    I think you need to do what is best for you and for your baby. It sounds like you had a horrendous time first time, and that an elective c-section (which is so much more relaxed) is the right decision for you.

    Not long to go now 🙂 xx

  4. Kirsty says

    Hi, I had my first child by emergency c section at 27 weeks and my daughter was transfered to another hospital with a neonatal unit while I had to wait until my epidural wore off and was fit enough to be transfered to the same hospital. I had only seen a picture of my daughter and had to wait 24 hours to just look at her. I can sympathise with what you went through. When I had my second child I was in and out of hospital and constantly seeing consultants who argued between themselves whether it was safe for me to have a natural birth or whether I had to have a c section. It was very stressful trying to think what to do for best. I was very close to having a elected c section but a week before I was due to go to see the consultant to finalise my decision I went into labor and I had him naturally with no problems at all. I am so pleased that I did. It was so much less painful and I was able to look after my children a lot easier. I don’t normally comment on posts and I am not trying to say your decision is wrong or anything like that I just thought I would share my experience I know what its like to be frightened of natural childbirth after having a traumatic first experience. I wish you the best of luck and I hope your second experience is better then the first 🙂

  5. For me the “too posh to push” is only applicable to mothers who opt for a c section so they can give birth early (so as not to put on too much weight) and maybe have a tummy tuck directly afterwards. And should really be “too vain to push”.

    It certainly doesn’t apply to women who have been genuinely traumatised in giving birth.

    Whatever you decide is entirely up to you and I hope you have a smooth and trouble free delivery. X

  6. I wish I had had a c-section with my 2nd. UK system is too stretched to provide adequate care in tricky situations (I went private but in an NHS hospital… didn’t go very well…)

    I am certain that your second birthing experience will be a walk in the park 🙂 You are mentally prepared and know what to demand if care is starting to lack at any time.

  7. Hi! I’m sorry your experience was so horrible, I thought the English NHS was very good. Wishing you the best of luck from Barcelona,
    Marta
    PS: Will the baby be trilingual Swedish/German/English? Wow! 🙂

  8. Poor you and well done for taking control. I was at a ‘top’ hospital with O yet was let down on the high risk ward, unchecked for hours after an induction which meant I ended up with a crash section and very traumatic birth. After not being able to find me a bed for hours post op, we had all the aftercare privately which was worth it. This time, a different hospital and different city and I’ve been under a fine consultant (NHS) and have had great management so far. I’ll know my scheduled C section date soon which was always, ‘excuse the pun’ pushed for by my own consultant anyway in the hope to eliminate another traumatic birth and he feels as do I, it’s the safest option. Never worry what others think-your baby, your life x

  9. Kate Allott says

    There is no right, or wrong, decision. Do what will make you feel in control post-birth. I had a great (as far as giving birth goes!) experience with my first naturally and NHS but was lucky as plenty of others in the same unit didn’t. How busy they are certainly makes a difference so I hear. Many of my friends who had a rough first time elected for C section second time around and have never looked back. A few weeks after you’ll wonder why you worried so much about the decision, but at the moment it’s all you can think about: how the baby will get out of you and into the world safely.
    Love your blog, have been following you for some years but don’t often leave comments! Fingers crossed all goes well. Looking forward to baby pics!
    KA

  10. I think you made completely the right decision. I also had a very traumatic birth with Littleboy 1 and when it came to the second pregnancy there was a lot of pressure on me to have VBAC, even though I clearly didn’t want to. In the end it wasn’t an issue due to placenta previa so I had a c-section at 35 weeks – Littleboy 2 was then in the neonatal unit for a week, and the contrast between the care there (brilliant) and my care in the postnatal ward (bordering on negligent) was incredible (and this in a top NHS teaching hospital). I am still a huge fan of the NHS – having seen the unfairness of the US healthcare system I think we are very lucky in the UK – but I do think they have serious problems with postnatal care, and need to look very closely at it.

  11. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks. There is nothing worse than a traumatic birth experience and yours sounds horrendous. It took me a long time to even consider getting pregnant again after the first one (long labour, horrible C-section, painful recovery – and that was in a private hospital).
    My second was a VBAC which I wasn’t keen on but they promised to stop after 4 hours if it looked like we were headed in the same direction. I don’t think you would have the same option with the NHS definitely.
    And despite another comment saying it gets easier, after a fairly good 2nd delivery I managed to have another emergency C with my third. So there are no guarantees – Do what it best for you. The baby will be fine. xx

  12. Good for you! I had the same type of experience with 1 and made that decision for 2,3, and 4.It was worth it (for me).You know what’s going to be best for you.Best of luck! Sue

  13. Mali says

    Wishing you lots of luck. Very glad the PP has left the building. I spent the last three weeks of my pregnancy in and out (mostly in) hospital (including Christmas and new years. Yeay!) after a heamorrage with placenta Previa and had an elective at 37 weeks, which was a bit surreal but a very relaxed (as surgery goes!) and positive experience for all of us. ‘Too posh to push’ makes me so cross – keeping you both safe and happy is what it’s all about. Here’s hoping you get to enjoy your first hours with baby girl this time.

  14. Doesn’t sound like you’re too posh to push to me. Sounds like you’ve made a very sensible decision based on the horrific experiences of your last birth. I would have made the same choice I reckon. Hope all goes well for you this time xxx

  15. I got no end of lectures from the NHS about the importance of having a VBAC 20 months after 1st baby was born. It’s a numbers thing, so I tried – not entirely successfully – not to take it personally and not to get too annoyed. In the end I too went private – in fact to the same hosp the boy had been delivered in – and it was an easy and calm and stress-free procedure, just as his had been. You’ve made the right choice, ignore all the scaremongers. (For what it’s worth, I went to the Portland – in fact am booked in for my third there in eight weeks’ time, yikes! – so if you’re doing the same let me know and I’ll give you some handy tips)

  16. Sounds like you had an awful time first time around with lack of control. Hopefully going private will ensure better care and the ability for you to bond with your new baby better.

  17. What a horrendous time you had. You are quite right to have the birth you want to this time around. My first was normal delivery and that was enough for me, the next 4 were all cs. Good luck, I hope this time will be a much better experience for you. Looking forward to baby photos x

  18. I am feeling realy sad about your first experience, I had no idea it was so traumatic. But how wonderful that you had an assertive husband who could help sort things out eventually. I’m typing with a concerned frown. That photo of you really showed how awful it must have been–it doesn’t even look like you.

    Being married to someone who works both as a clinician and manager in the NHS I know that quality varies from hospital to hospital–but I guess that’s the same with anywhere. I can also tell you I am a firm supporter of the woman’s right to choose how she delivers her baby and I think allowing elective C sections is a very good thing. I’m pleased you are free to choose for yourself!

    Looking forward to meeting the new baby! xox

  19. Hello…such a shame that a mother’s birth choice is such a contentious issue. I sense that even though you had such a dreadful time, there is a very small part of you that feels you have to justify your choice now. You so don’t; it’s you and your baby. You do what is right in a million other parts of life and no one bats an eyelid, but somehow when it comes to birth, there seems to be a subtext that suffering should be involved – or at the very least, that a woman should be willing to suffer. CRAZY. I completely respect your decision. You have always struck me as someone who knows your own mind and so I say good for you – welcome little pea into a warm, safe place where most important on all – you are chilled out. Lou x

  20. I think given your experience you have every right to choose how you want to deliver this time. Here in the states most doctors will not give you the option to have a baby VBAC once you have had a c-section. I guess it has to do with liablity. Personally having had 2 births natural and 2 c-sections, I thought he c-sections were much easier. I had 2 horriable natural births. I recovered much faster from the c-sections. I am so glad I never had to share a room. How horriable! I hope you have a much better delivery this time! Good Luck! Can’t wait to see you new addition. I am sure she will be just as beautiful as you are and little L is!!

  21. I had a horrendous and deeply disturbing experience the first time too although in the main, with me, it was not the fault of the hospital, just a lot of bad luck and circumstances. Because of this, second time around I will be doing things differently too. Private isn’t an option for me and I don’t want to do a C Section if I can help it as as a single mum, I don’t want to risk not being physically capable of looking after my 3 1/2 year old as well as the baby without someone to help but I am scraping together the money to pay for a midwife of my choosing who will guarantee being at, and controlling, the birth. That is for me worth everything this time around as I know she will know my history, my hopes for the birth (although I of course know you can’t really control what happens in this aspect) and best of all, has a relationship with me and will keep mine, as well as the baby’s best interests in mind.

    I wish you all the best for your second birth and hope it will be a far less scary experience

  22. For me, inconsistent continuity of care is one of the major NHS drawbacks as care seems very much “luck of the draw” when you have little (if any) say about who is your care provider. While I’ve been fortunate to have good experiences with NHS maternity by and large, I’ve never had the confidence or relationship with my doctor or midwife that my American friends had in pregnancy. You have to do what is right for you, it’s just a shame the conversation isn’t easier to have on the NHS.

  23. My experience of natural birth was very similar – 17hrs of labour, no dilation, terrifying bleeds…. and finally an emergency c-section, but I was lucky enough to receive decent care (not faultless, but adequate…). When I couldn’t get to my baby, they brought her to me, and I needed help they offered it. Even after good enough care and a traumatic birth, I would be be well over halfway to an elective c-section if was lucky enough to fall pregnant again. I’m a big supporter of the NHS, but where it is poorly funded, it is understaffed and those staff are overstretched, stressed and undertrained. Like you say, it becomes a lottery and if I’d had your experience, I’d definitely be queuing up behind you x

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