Friday, 8 July 2016

The One With #MyBodyMyChoice (27 months + 27 days)

Oh my gosh. I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE that I am going to get round to doing our update post. I was literally sitting down to write it, but I've been faced with something that I really think deserves my attention more right now (or at least it's something that I feel I need to write about more right now- otherwise the anger is just going to fester and become toxic and I'll be a bitter, miserable, shriveled mess by midnight).

I am all for people being allowed to make their own decisions. That sounds like a stupid statement, doesn't it- "I advocate free choice"- great, who doesn't? But, just bear with me. I am VERY for people being allowed to make their own decisions with regard to their bodies. It is my body, therefore it is my choice (#mybodymychoice if you want to get in on the action guys).

Where is this coming from? Here. This is where this is coming from:

HALLELUJAH. Those of you who have followed us from the start will know that I had a planned c-section with Piglet. And I was a rare case- I did not need a section for any medical reason, I CHOSE to have one (and by chose, I really mean fought). It was a battle to get the birth that I wanted (with some help from my mummy- shout out to mummy right here). And, I think that the reason they "officially" granted my request is that I had a "fear of labour". That was the phrase that was written in my notes.

I don't care about that- they could have written whatever they wanted on there as long as it meant I got my caesarean. I don't have a fear of labour. One of the things that really irked me was that the midwifes kept telling me that I could "have an epidural" and then "you won't feel a thing", but it wasn't a pain issue, I wasn't "afraid" of it "hurting" (I'm tough man- I am TOUGH). They repeatedly did not listen to my justifications for wanting a section.

I wanted a section because- like any other first time expectant mother- I did have concerns about the delivery. So, I researched it. And I looked at possible complications. And I looked at the statistics on vaginal births. And I looked at the data for c-sections (which to start with is a nightmare, because the majority of the time they collate the data for both planned and emergency caesareans, so that all the risks are skewed anyway- an emergency caesarean is by nature going to carry more risks than a planned one- the name says it all. What complicates the matter further, is that the majority of pregnancies culminating in a planned section are high-risk- hence the need for the section in the first place). I was not happy with the risks of a vaginal birth. And I will be discussing these with you (so those who don't want to know- you might want to stop reading soon). Because I think the majority of people are unaware of the risks that a vaginal birth may carry. This sounds like I'm totally anti-vag. I'm not against natural deliveries at all. If that is what you want, and what you think is best for you and your child, that is fantastic, and you should be allowed to have that. The point I'm getting onto is about making informed decisions.

When you choose to do something- especially something as huge as delivering a baby- it is vital that you have all the information available to you. You cannot make an informed decision when you're missing half the information. It's ridiculous. Literally preposterous. This isn't like, "oh well, let's just pick the wildcard and see what happens"- it's a huge, huge thing. And one that carries risks for both you and your child irregardless of delivery choice- both have huge potential negatives. So, when I was faced with "professionals" telling me that my beliefs were unfounded, and a vaginal delivery is always the safer option, I was fuming.  Because it's been a huge cover-up. Like a giant conspiracy (starting on conspiracy theories- must be getting old if I've reached this point...). They don't want you to have a caesarean. They've got targets they need to meet. NICE issue guidelines on what percentage of births should occur in what manner. And if you're looking at it in terms of numbers, that because it costs the NHS more for you to have a caesarean, than if you have an uncomplicated natural delivery. Note the phrase "uncomplicated" there. You have complications from a vaginal birth- that's going to cost the NHS a lot more to correct.

So. And here's where some of you may want to stop reading. Alternatively, here's the part that some of you might have been eager to read. I was going to do a table, and make it all fancy and stuff but I've just seen the time so.. I'll summarise:

Risks of Caesarean delivery:
To baby: For planned sections performed at 39+ weeks, the risk to your baby is the same as for a successful natural delivery (i.e. one with no complications- WHICH ONLY HAPPENS 47% OF THE TIME BY THE WAY). HOWEVER there is the potential (I believe it's a 2% occurrence...that number sounds familiar) that the baby may end up with a superficial cut from the scalpel. I will also point out that in premature sections there is a higher risk of breathing problems in newborns. There is also (limited) evidence that babies born by sections are more likely to be asthmatic and suffer from eczema. Oh. And some studies have suggested that babies born by sections are more likely to be obese (although I would argue that that statement has no weight whatsoever- there are too many variables concerned to make this a controlled study. Are all pregnant women who enter in c-sections equal? No. They all have a variety of conditions, and genetic profiles, and environments and I think it's just a bloody ridiculous coupling to try and make a correlation between).

To you: Infection is obviously the big one. Blood clots. You may end up needing an emergency hysterectomy (side bar: my mother kept accidentally referring to my caesarean as a hysterectomy before it went ahead- talk about how to freak someone out). You're more likely to develop adhesions, which are internal bands of scar tissue that can cause your organs to stick together, and apparently can be quite painful- these are really common (around 50% of women who have had one section will have adhesions; 75% of women who have had two sections and 83% of women who have had three sections). Nerve damage can occur from the spinal tap (that was the one that stressed me out). Death, potentially. And obviously, aesthetically, you're going to have a big scar (although- more on this later).

You've also got the bollocksy psychological ones. "Less contact with baby, so you will not bond with your baby". Post-natal depression is a huge, huge thing. Do I think that the mode of delivery can influence the onset of PND? Personally, no. I think if you are going to suffer from post-natal depression, then you will, irregardless of how you have had your baby. Actually no, I'm going to retract that statement. If you have not been allowed to give birth in the way that you wanted to, then yes. I can see that having an impact. I can see that being a contributing factor. But again, as a causation? I would argue it. Contribute certainly, but not cause.

Risks of Vaginal delivery:
To baby: These risks are present. They may be small. But they are there. Brain damage. Death. Instrumental deliveries increase these risks. They can happen in a number of ways, for example umbilical cord prolapse, or compression. I just read a story actually, about a lady who was given too much oxytocin during her labour which resulted in her baby not taking a breath for 12 minutes after he was born (although this is a happy story, because they took part in a xenon gas trial, and he is now one and developing totally normally- this is phenomenal. When he was born, he was blue and showed no brain activity. This is incredible. THIS IS WHAT SCIENCE CAN DO). Again, aesthetic injuries are common with instrumental intervention. There is also the potential for a brachial plexus injury, which is nerve damage to the babies arms, resulting in weakness or a loss of mobility- this "usually" rectifies itself, but can persist.

To you: Ready? Even without forceps or the suction thing, there is the risk of urinary and fecal incontinence. If you factor in instrumental deliveries, we'll start with tears, which can range from first degree ("superficial" is the term that is used... is any tear superficial?!) to fourth degree (you don't have two holes anymore- you've got one. I don't need to elaborate any further than that do I?).And you're going to say well they can just stitch you up and you'll be fine, right? They can stitch you up, yes. Will you be "fine"? There's no guarantee. A lot of women are left in constant pain. As in 24/7, no relief pain. The risk of "sexual problems" is "high" (which isn't surprising really if you're in pain).Again, incontinence- massive, massive deal. And this isn't necessarily just something that will be affecting people in the short term, this can be a lifelong condition. Oh, I haven't mentioned my favourite yet- recto-vaginal fistulas. A fistula is a tiny hole that connects two parts of your body that aren't supposed to be connected. Your rectum and your vagina should NEVER be connected. Never. And these are harder to correct.

I'm not trying to make everyone be on Team Caesarean. That is not my point. I mean, you could die having a section. What I'm trying to get across, is that it should be up to YOU to do you own risk-benefit analysis. And you should be aware of all the facts before you enter into anything, which is why I am SO HAPPY that the risks of vaginal births are (potentially- everything is potentially) finally being acknowledged. FYI, in my opinion, forceps should be banned. It's basically mutilation. I am so against forceps it is unreal. However, there will be some people saying that they don't mind what state their body is in as long as their baby is fine- and that's ok too. Me though? I'd rather have sticky internal organs thanks. Oh, and of course, I almost forgot! The "big scar"? Not actually that big:

(My surgeon was an artist- I did send her a thank you card. Also please forgive my lack of abs- I still have 7lbs of Christmas weight to lose...I know it is July. I am aware.)

The second point I want to make, is less about decisions, and more about being open. Which you could argue is very easy for me to say when I'm sat here on a laptop writing under a pseudonym (although to be honest, I'm actually a really open person- I had too much therapy and now I don't know when to stop sharing). The complications of natural childbirth are unheard of because they are not spoken about. People suffer in silence. There's a thread on mumsnet that's full of women who have experienced traumatic labours which have resulted in some of the conditions that I mentioned, and I think that's absolutely brilliant. Because it's a support network. And I can't think of anything worse than to go through something like that completely alone, and with nobody to talk to (some of the stories are so sad. It really upsets me that some of these women are being completely failed by the medical profession).

Now, you're going to say that's all very well and good, when you're sat there with no signs of adhesions and your invisible caesarean scar- shut up, you stupid gloating girl. I do not have any childbirth injuries to reveal to you. My birthing experience has not altered me in any way (physically). However, my pregnancy has had a lasting impact on my life, and so I will share that with you now:

I have never had boobs. I still don't have boobs. The only time in my life that I had boobs was when I was pregnant. Recently, I was offered a potential job (to go alongside uni, of course) by my builder (I'm a little bit in love with my builder. It's slightly inappropriate). He said his friend was looking for someone to work in his bar. Cracking. Brilliant (well, brilliant-ish. Bloody hate bar work). There was just one thing he needed to run past me first- it was topless bar work- would that be ok? I politely responded that since having Piglet, my nipples are now parallel to my belly button, so that probably wouldn't be the best option for me. Potential future career- ruined by my body! (I didn't actually say nipples to my builder. That would be inappropriate.)

I'm making light of it. These women are incredibly strong, and I have the utmost respect for them. This is a subject that I'm incredibly passionate about (and I know that sounds weird, but it's true)- I had to make some comment on it. So everybody- make sure you all make informed decisions. Know all your facts. Overshare as much as possible. And keep supporting each other as much as you can.

STAY TUNED  for news involving fleas, hamsters, cats, escorting, and more ridiculous conversations with my builder (who is my future husband, just so you all know- don't tell him though, you'll ruin the surprise).

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