Every one of my birth experiences has been different
Vanessa, Melbourne, Australia
There’s a lot of pressure on mums to have natural births, to be a hero and push with no drugs. But when it comes to it, so much of it is out of our control. Every one of my babies has come into this world differently, and what I wanted has had nothing to do with how things have turned out.
With Abigail I imagined that movie moment, holding my new baby in a glow of spontaneous love after a beautiful, natural birth. But in reality, she got stuck after 13 hours of labour. I had to have an epidural, then got rushed for an emergency caesarian. Afterwards, I felt disappointed, like I’d failed. Then my milk didn’t come in, so I had to give her a bottle, and I felt even more guilty. I fought really hard to breastfeed and managed it eventually, then ended up breastfeeding for 12 months. I’m sure that had a lot to do with the guilt of not having a natural birth, I wanted to make up for it somehow.
With Seb, I really wanted a natural birth. My partner Mark thought I was mad, wanted me to book a C-section, but I was determined. In the end, it was horrendous. I had my first contraction around 11.30 at night and knew exactly what it was. What I didn’t expect was for my next contraction to come just 2-minutes later. Turns out I don’t have any pre-labour pains, no warm-up contractions, so I went straight into full-blown labour. Within 2 hours I was in an ambulance and my body started pushing. I couldn’t stop it. I got to the hospital just before 2am, screaming for an epidural, but when they examined me, he was already there. I just made it onto the ward and one push later, he arrived. There wasn’t time to get me hooked up to any machines or give me any drugs. It was so fast my body couldn’t cope. I lost a lot of blood. I had to have a blood transfusion, and took a long time to recover. Overall this natural birth that everyone raves about was a lot harder on my body than the emergency c-section. I was up and about the next day after that.
When we fell pregnant with Roman, Mark won and we booked in for a planned cesarean straight away. Secretly I longed for the baby to come early so I could have a natural birth but I didn’t tell Mark that! The pregnancy itself went really quickly. I didn’t write a birth plan and, to be honest, I was more focused on the practical details of how we’d manage with three children after he arrived. I didn’t give the birth much thought either, and in the end it was lovely because of that. I didn’t have the unrealistic expectations I had with Abi, and there was none of the trauma I had with Sebastian, so it was really lovely. I was in the moment a lot more, so it was really emotional, really spontaneous. I loved that.
There is so much judgement about how mums should have their babies, and that’s just wrong. I had a lovely c-section experience, and my body recovered far better from that than it did a natural birth. For me natural birth didn’t quite work out, and in the end, there’s only so much control you have. You just need to go with whatever works best for you, and try not to feel guilty however things work out.