I had my consultant appointment today. I was referred by my midwife because baby#1 was a very hefty 5.1kg (11lbs 4).
To those that don’t know much about sizes of babies, that is friendly-cashier-at-the-supermarket’s-eyes-popping-out-when-you-answer-their-question large. It is midwives-wincing large, it is random-grannies-exclaiming-bloody-hell-you-poor-woman large.
I have a twisted pride about it, I puff out my chest and say “he was 11lbs 4” when people ask, like a warrior back from battle, wounded and scarred, but alive.
It was a bit of a battle to be frank, and after trying to get baby out the usual route and seriously messing up my back, I had to have an emergency caesarean. If you want to know how bad it was, check out the slightly haunted look in my husband’s eyes when you ask him to remember it.
My community midwife told me in hindsight I probably had gestational (pregnancy) diabetes, which tends to produce big puffy babies amongst other symptoms. Thanks for the info, only about 9 months too late there, babes. It was never picked up on, unfortunately, as there was no sugar in my wee samples which is how they test for it routinely. It’s a marker, but not always present for those with GD.
All of this back story means I am ‘high risk’ for this current pregnancy, and therefore need a bit more medical attention paid to me and baby#2, just to make sure we’re good.
So birth choices.
I am traumatised from the birth of my lovely angel baby#1. I want an elective C-section this time, which means no faffing about with labour and going straight to the bright lights and the abdominal surgery.
It’s not a decision I took lightly but for my mental health and my physical health, it’s what I want. If I did have GD, it’s likely I’ll have it again. Even if I don’t and I just cook ‘em big, that didn’t exactly end well last time round. My post-natal depression was brutal too, and the birth was a big factor.
Paperwork and policy wise, the NICE guidelines back me up, as they say it is my choice how I birth my baby.
Shame my consultant had other ideas.
He hadn’t read my notes when I got in the room. He got me on the bed. He made slightly inappropriate small talk about my tattoos and how my husband was a lucky guy.
He asked me how I wanted to birth the baby. I said c-section and he acted all surprised.
He joked that my first baby was large because I ate too many Snickers bars. Hilarious (and also absolutely not how it works btw, if you eat loads, you get fatter. Your baby does not).
He then seriously told me my next baby wouldn’t be so large if QUOTE “you don’t eat so much this time”.
Floored. What on earth. I’m tall. I am not overweight. BEING OVERWEIGHT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ANYWAY.
He said he didn’t want me to decide until he got the GD test results back. He asked me why I ‘felt’ my last birth was traumatic. I told him, but stopped when I got all snotty because I didn’t want to do the crying thing.
I explained I wanted a C-section because I wanted a calm labour. He stopped me mid-sentence and said “not a labour of course”, which was patronising as hell because obviously I meant delivery but I was a nervous wreck and I’m also not a medical professional so gimme a break here.
The more patronised I felt, the more I clammed up and felt I couldn’t say what I wanted to say. I wasn’t expecting anything other than ‘ok sure’ as I had been told by at least three midwives that a C-section, if I wanted one, would be fine because of my history. So for it to be pretty obviously implied that I was making a big deal out of it and that it would be fine to try the normal route just made my jaw hit the floor and my brain turn to mush.
He made another appointment for late November and said we’d talk more about it then (I’m due late December). I left the room and cried. I walked back to my car and cried a bit on the way. I cried in Aldi car park as I passive-aggressively ate two calorie-laden chocolate eclairs, just a bit of a two fingers up to Mr Consultant.
So now I am in C-section limbo. Do you know what is most likely? That I work myself up loads, end up writing a load of stuff to take in with me that states the guidelines that say I can have a section if I want to and they’ll go “oh go on then”.
So all of this will be for nothing, just a part of the process for them and a box tick to say they tried to save the NHS some dosh. Part of the day job for him. Never mind the mental health of the women this happens to, who have fairly serious reasons for mindfully choosing an elective C-section in the first place.
Yes, I am cynical. No, this doesn’t discount the wonderful care I’ve had from the NHS from quite a few people. But I have also personally experienced and heard of so many experiences of women who have been ignored and not treated with respect during pregnancy, birth and postnatally.
Chief Executive of Birthrights, Rebecca Schiller said: “Maternal request caesareans are the the number one reason women contact the Birthrights advice service. The women we support have endured previously traumatic births, mental ill-health, childhood sexual abuse or have carefully examined the evidence available and made informed decisions that planned caesareans will give them and their baby the best chance of an emotionally and physically healthy start. It is clear that women requesting caesareans meet judgement, barriers and disrespect more often than they find compassion and support. We are concerned that this lack of respect for patient dignity could have profound negative consequences for the emotional and physical safety of women.”
Please check out BirthRights UK for more info on dignity in childbirth.