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Kelly's Pregnancy Journal

Week 16
~ To VBAC or not to VBAC

This week my mind has really been mulling over the birth of this baby. As you may have guessed from the title, have to decide whether to opt for an elective caesarean, or to try and have a natural birth.

When I was pregnant with Levi, he never "engaged" until I was overdue, and even then, he only descended to a 1. I went into labour naturally (10 days overdue) and after about 12 hours I was dilated 8cm, but he still hadn't fully descended. I stalled at 8cm for about 4 hours, after which it was decided that I needed to have a caesarean. The next day, the surgeon who performed the caesarean, told me that he probably could have "fit," but he had gotten himself wedged in sideways, and hence the failure to progress. So because of that the option of a trial of labour is open to me.

I would love to have a natural birth. I love the thought of being able to hold my baby straight after the birth. In the caesarean they whipped him up above the curtain for about 1 second then whisked him away to be cleaned and examined, while I was left lying on the table wondering what they were doing with my baby, having no idea if he was fine and healthy. I realise that that is just a necessary part of caesareans, but it is not something I like.

I also love the thought of "achieving" a natural birth. That is something I struggled with when dealing with the fact that I had had a caesarean, there was no sense of having "done it," of going through all the struggle of labour, and then finally pushing out your baby. I feel like that is something most other mothers have, that I don't.

Also I didn't handle that actual surgery very well. I was so exhausted from the labour, and so pumped full of drugs that I was not very with it! I was not able to really be in the moment at all. When I was being stitched up, I was in so much pain (I don't know what from, the anaesthetic was working fine) that I couldn't even look at Levi, I just had to close my eyes and deal with it. So I would very much like to be much more lucid and in the moment next time. Having said all that, I am so grateful that I was able to have such a successful caesarean, Levi and I have both come through (relatively!) unscarred, and to have the technology and knowledge to have had such a safe delivery is a real blessing.

One of the main reasons I would love a natural birth, is the recovery. I would love to be able to walk in the days following and to be able to lift my baby out of the bassinet, instead of waiting for a hospital midwife to come and do it for me. I would love to not have the excruciating pain that comes following a caesarean while you are also learning to breastfeed and look after your new infant. Last time I was fortunate to recover really well, but I followed all the rules. I didn't drive for 4 weeks after, I didn't carry anything heavier than the baby, I only did very light housework, and I really don't see how would possible with a very active toddler to look after as well.

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There are also some fairly compelling reasons for choosing an elective caesarean. Firstly, I would really like to avoid the situation I was in last time of having been in labour for a long time and come so close only to have to have a caesarean. By choosing an elective, I could avoid that entirely. I could have a date pre-booked, go into it well rested and happy, and have a much better experience.

A major reason for a caesarean is I know what to expect. I know what it feels like. It is not unknown territory for me, a natural birth would be. Though I found it hard at the time, I felt safe and well cared for. I know what they will be doing to me, and I will be much more prepared for the aftermath, there won't be the shock of the restrictions that come with recovering from major surgery.

Another reason a caesarean appeals to me, which probably isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things, but is a factor for me, is the fact that my "downstairs" (if you catch my drift) would be guaranteed to be intact. Having a major tear during a natural birth is something that scares me. Last time, even with all the pain, it was a great comfort to know that I could sit and pee without it hurting. Anyway, as I say it's probably not all that important, just something else for me to throw in the mix when deciding.

Also, I am only 5'0" and Levi was 8 lbs 12 oz born, so he was a big baby! If I follow the trend of having bigger subsequent babies, then I am probably not the best candidate for a natural birth in the best of situations. *Sigh* What a decision!

So hopefully all this makes sense, and you understand why it is something I have put a lot of thought into. I have talked things over with my midwife, and for now we have agreed that the best course of action is to plan for a natural birth, but to consult an obstetrician a few times during the course of the pregnancy and get their opinion of how they think things are going, and then to reassess closer to the end of the pregnancy. I would really appreciate any thoughts others have about this. I want to make myself as informed as possible so I can be as empowered as possible whatever the outcome.

Bye for now,

 ~ Kelly

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