Confidently prepare for a positive birth experience – Join The Birth Class

Episode 417

Dara – private obstetrician, planned caesarean

In today’s episode Dara discusses her choice to have a private obstetrician and the steps she took to educate herself and plan a vaginal birth. Towards the end of her pregnancy she decided that being focussed on one birth option didn’t feel right so she started exploring what an induction, emergency caesarean and planned caesarean may look like. It proved to be a worthwhile practice because at 41 weeks her baby wasn’t engaged and her cervix was long and firm; instead of opting for an induction, she chose to have a planned caesarean which was an incredibly positive experience for her.

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“We got married in March 2022 and I thought we’d wait at least 12 months to try for a baby but then as soon as we got married we felt like something changed. We fell pregnant the first month we started trying but eight weeks later I had a miscarriage. That was really tricky and I just never felt it would happen. I literally goggled: ‘what do I do if I have a miscarriage’ because I just didn’t know. Everyone had really different perspectives about the best time to start trying again; some said try straight away, others told us to wait and give ourselves time to process. We fell pregnant the next month and it was really lovely to have something positive to focus on.

“I’m a type A personality and was a bit nervous about the first pregnancy and birth, so I wanted consistent care and I chose a private obstetrician. None of my friends had kids but I met a lady in the park and she spoke very highly of her obstetrician who was female, a mother….she ticked all my boxes. I feel like it was one of those moments where the universe aligns because Ann was amazing; she’s very relaxed, comforting and straightforward. She gave me the statistics and the options and I just want to have more babies so I can spend more time with her.

“I was quite nervous at the start because a lot of symptoms of early pregnancy are similar to having your period or an early miscarriage. Once I got over the dating scan I settled into it a bit more. The first trimester…I describe it like the personality chip in my brain was removed and was replaced with nothing. I was so tired. I had boxes of jatz everywhere, I didn’t have anything to give anyone. The late nights and travel were really tough in pregnancy, often the last thing I felt like doing was going on stage but often it was the best thing for me, getting out of my head and into my body and dancing…I always felt better.

“I felt great between week 20 – 35 but I started to have a niggly thyroid at the start of pregnancy so I started medication for that which was a bit intimidating. That was the only issue I had which I felt grateful for. I made an effort to stay active which helped my mental health and my work but we also have a very active dog.

“I was really keen on having a vaginal birth and I didn’t have any issues with intervention for pain management. Scott and I did a hospital course and I also did an online education course. I was doing yoga, meditation, I ate dates and drank raspberry leaf tea. I did everything I could to control the situation. I was really excited about labour and I was so curious about what a contraction would feel like.

“Ann started to make some suggestions that Lando was quite big and I am a small person. I got a scan at 39 weeks to determine his size; my goal was to get as much information as I could. I’d heard these scans can be pretty inaccurate but in the scan he was measuring 97th percentile for everything and was almost 4.15kg.

“I got to my estimated due date, went to a friend’s labour on the south coast, came back to Sydney and a week later nothing had happened. It was a really hard week because I was so uncomfortable; I was in bed in tears a lot of the time which is so unlike me. I had lightening crotch, the stretching, the deep back pain, I was having loads of braxton hicks which told me my body was gearing up for birth.

“My belly was still huge and high and I didn’t have any bloody show or mucous. At around my due date I’d had a good chat to Ann about my options and she encouraged me to continue with my alternative therapies but also laid out the evidence and statistics. She starte talking about induction and planned caesarean and I started to think about what was realistic, even though the birth plan I wrote may not happen.

“Every night I would lay in bed and think about giving birth in different ways and it helped shift my attention away from a spontaneous vaginal birth. I’m happy I did that as it played a big role in how I handled the next week and my birth experience.

“I went in one day before 41 weeks and his head was higher than it was previously and my cervix was still firm and long and closed. We spoke then about induction or planned caesarean and I don’t know what came over me but I opted for a planned caesarean. I was in so much discomfort – physically and emotionally – and looking at the success rates of induction when the baby wasn’t engaged and the cervix was long and closed weren’t great.

“Ann gave us the option of having Lando that day – in four hours time – so we just said okay. It was a lot to process but I’m proud of the choice and proud of the fact that I did a lot of mental preparation work in the weeks previous. We went home, got our hospital bags and then went back to prepare for surgery.

“I had the most epic caesarean experience, it was straightforward but terrifying but I felt safe, seen and cared for the whole time. There were so many elements that were quite surprising; how fast it was, how quickly I got back up to have a shower. It was an amazing, beautiful, epic moment and birth and it’s crazy to think now that I worried so much about how he was going to come out and I put a lot of pressure on me and him. And I think it was quite ego driven.

“We spend so much time thinking and talking about birth and my message for mums-to-be is to spend time thinking about what happens afterwards because postpartum is far more intense. Birth is quite short in the scheme of things from a time perspective. I hadn’t done much preparation for any part of postpartum but especially not for caesarean recovery. I spent five days in the hospital and we had the best experience there. Scott had never held a baby in his life and yet we were discharged with tools to use and a lot of education and understanding about how we were going to tackle the first 6-12 weeks.”

Topics Discussed

birth education, Miscarriage, mother’s group, One baby, Planned caesarean, Private obstetrician, thyroid

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