I had a discussion with a good friend of mine today, when she came to the realisation that despite having a section she could still have maintained some level of control over her baby’s journey into the world. She is 20 weeks pregnant with her third son and is looking forward to the birth and excited about the pregnancy, but for her last two births she had caesareans after not progressing at all. Her second child was born using HypnoBirthing and although she was very calm and focussed she just didn’t progress.
This may be because of an accident she had when she was younger and not treated for properly, and so this time she is going to see a chiropractor and then make the decision on whether to have a caesarean or go for a normal birth again. If she does have a normal birth, then I’m going to be her birthing partner so I have all fingers and legs crossed that I can be there with her.
But while she was here I went through the research by Professor Fisk on ‘natural’ caesareans, some of which I posted on our Facebook page the other day. Natural seems a bit of paradox when talking about such an invasive surgical procedure, and I have seen some midwives splutter and cough on hearing the term. Yet Fisk’s research shows that some methods of delivering a baby by caesarean can mimic the journey through the birth canal, for example by delaying cord clamping for as long as possible, reducing the amount of time the baby is separated from the mother, ensuring that there is skin to skin contact before weighing and that the mother is as comfortable as possible – surrounded by her own choice of music and wearing her own clothes.
However, many women, once they decide on a caesarean, reluctantly assume that that’s it -they can hand over to the medical professionals, book a date and go into have their baby. Well that isn’t it, there is so much more that can be done to ensure that baby’s and mums have a better birth experience. It’s not that new a phenomenon and there have been articles published in The Times, The Guardian and in the BBC about steps some hospitals in the UK are taking to make caesareans less traumatic for mum and baby.
Preparation should not just focus on the day but also taking action to ensure that the there is some emotional and mental antenatal preparation for your baby’s birth, even if it will be surgical is hugely important. Antenatally, the time that the baby has in the womb is a vital 9 months – that environment is one in which he begins to lay out his neurological map and experiences emotions and feelings. From what I have seen in my antenatal classes – there is no doubt about it baby responds when the mums are calm. In the middle of relaxation exercises there is joy and laughter all around as they experience thier babies move almost in unison! Women that have birthed using mind and body techniques have practised these techniques many weeks in the run up to the birth so that the baby benefits from that positive imprint during its time in the womb.
This is just as important to a baby that is going to be born surgically as a baby born naturally. Time spent preparing beforehand can really make a difference to your baby and to how you emotionally prepare for parenthood.
When having a caesarean, some women decide to have small rituals the day before to welcome the baby into the family, just sitting quietly, or perhaps with music, singing, reading and spending some close and loving time with thier family in preparation.
Many will have discussed beforehand with their caregiver what their intentions on the day are, so that they know what to expect and feel reassured that the birth is going to be as gentle as possible for the baby.
Here is a list of things you may want to discuss with your surgeon and midwife before.
- Request you wear your own clothing
- Bring your own music in
- Lower the drape after uterine incision so that you can see your baby being born
- Allow the baby to breathe while the body is still in utero mimicking birth
- Delay cord clamping as long as possible.
- Baby can be passed directly to the mother.
- Baby only weighed after surgery is finished.
So my friend now feels comforted and relieved that she can do something to ease this baby’s journey into the world even if it is surgical. Even so I have all fingers and toes crossed for a normal birth so that I can be there!