As this was our first baby we went through a lot of discussions over the birth. From starting out wanting a hospital birth with epidural (as I thought I had a low pain threshold), to a home birth (Richard wasn’t keen as it was our first birth and we didn’t know what to expect) to our final plan of a water birth at the local birth centre using the hypnobirthing techniques we learnt on Hannah’s love your birth course.
We were all set for our water birth, the birthing preferences had been written and discussed with the midwife. The hospital bag and labour bag had been packed for weeks with led lights, lavender sprays, clary sage etc. And then we went to our 36 week check and the bump was measuring a big growth spurt so we were referred for a growth scan.
The growth scan was the following week and at 37+3 we were measuring over the 95% on the head and stomach measurements and estimated that the baby would be 9lbs 8oz at 40weeks!!
Due to COVID Richard wasn’t allowed in to the growth scan and consultation with me, so the doctor and I talked through the options (induction, c-section, natural birth in hospital) and the risks (shoulder displasia, tearing, intervention needed) and the evidence (only 20% of growth scans are accurate etc) and I then took that information home and discussed it with Richard at depth, doing our own research too. It felt to us that the c-section was the best course of action. We would be able to plan for it, write out our preferences for the c-section and be prepared. We would also know exactly when the baby would come. So we called the midwife and booked an elective c-section for 39weeks.
We went back over everything Hannah had taught us on caesarean’s and the options we had and re-wrote our birthing preferences to match. We wanted a calm environment with skin to skin immediately after birth, delayed cord clamping, visibility of the birth, Richard to announce the gender (we hadn’t found out during the pregnancy), weighing and checks to be delayed til after an hour of skin to skin, monitoring on the back and cannula in the non-dominant hand etc.Due to COVID we had to go to the hospital 2 days before the planned c-section for COVID swabs and pre-theatre blood tests and then we had to call the day before to find out what time to attend.
This was the most nerve wracking time, just waiting around, but I enjoyed knowing exactly which date my baby would be here. We called on the Thursday evening to find out we where second on the list and needed to be at the hospital for 7.30am on Friday 5th February 2021. I had to fast from 2am Friday morning with no further liquids from 7am. I could not sleep that night. I was so excited to meet our baby, I wasn’t even nervous, just excited!
We arrived at the hospital for 7.30am along with 2 other women who where having sections that morning too. We where shown on to a ward and the preparations began. We where changed into gowns and scrubs (they had to go find a bigger size for Richard due to his shoulders and height – 6ft3!).
They put the cannula in my left hand and we saw the surgeon, anaesthetist and theatre manager. We went through the birth preferences with each and they told us what they could and couldn’t do and the reasons why they might have to not meet a preference if it was in the interest of the baby or my health at the time. It was great to be listened too and have our preferences met in so many ways.
Out of the 3 couples on the ward having sections that morning, we where the only ones to have brought preferences for the birth.The morning went fast and suddenly I was walking into theatre in my snoopy slippers (a joke from my husband which the theatre manager loved). They took the gown off my right shoulder so the baby could be placed skin to skin on arrival (one of our preferences) and put all the monitoring contacts on my back so my chest was clear. Richard was there the entire time and once the spinal block was in, he just stared into my eyes repeating the breathing technique taught to us by Hannah. In two, three, four, Out, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. This helped so much as I was starting to get nervous just lying on the table waiting for it all to start. Richard kept me so calm with the breathing and eye contact and minutes later the baby was here. Screaming its way into the world. They dropped the screen as they pulled it free so we could see the birth (one of our preferences) and Richard was able to tell me it was a little girl (something I had believed the whole way through the pregnancy, but kept being told I was wrong as I was carrying all out front and the baby was big which usually means a boy!) She was passed straight on to my chest for skin to skin and the delayed cord clamping was only for a matter of minutes, but it gave blood back and anything is better than nothing. We then lay there with Isabelle on my chest and Richard holding her little finger, while they stitched me back up. When they were ready to take me through to recovery Izzy was given to Richard and he put her under his scrubs for skin to skin during the transfer to the recovery room where she was passed back to me.
We stayed skin to skin for over an hour in total before Isabelle was weighed and measured. She was born at 10.39am weighing 8lbs 10oz with a head circumference of 36.5cm.The surgeon said it would have been difficult to deliver her naturally at that size and worse if we had gone over due.Richard was able to stay with me and Izzy on recovery until they where ready to take me to the labour ward at 3.30pm, then he was only allowed during visiting hours. But that time together on the recovery ward was amazing and altogether the c-section could not have gone any better. Our beautiful daughter was born into the world in a calm and relaxing way and had the best start we could give her.
Philippa and Richard