Today I had to see a consultant at the Rosie to assess whether I can give birth in the midwife-led birth centre or whether I'm too "high-risk" and have to go to the clinical delivery unit.
I feel that my experience giving birth to Bethany was a cascade of unnecessary interventions. I was pressured into an induction I didn't want, which meant lots of fetal monitoring and being attached to wires. Being induced sooner than my body was ready for, and being attached to wires and not being able to move about much, meant labour didn't progress as fast as they'd like (although really it was fairly short by many people's standards), so they gave me an episiotomy (cut), and then extended it with another one. Then I had a third-degree tear, which I think was due to the cuts (suppose you're pulling a very tight T-shirt over your head, it's more likely to tear if you've snipped the neckline than if it was intact), and then I lost quite a lot of blood from the cuts and tear. Then I only got to hold Bethany briefly before being whisked off to theatre to be sewn back together, and then I spent the next few days feeling (almost literally) drained and struggling to care for her.
Having a third degree tear, and losing lots of blood, are risk factors that potentially bar you from having your next baby in the birth centre, which is meant for low-risk births. But I think I only suffered those things because of excessive intervention and medicalisation in the first place, which is why this time I want to go to the midwife-led birth centre and not the medicalised delivery unit, and try to avoid all that.
The consultant today talked about the tear and graciously gave me permission to have a vaginal delivery (I had no idea there was even any question of an elective C-section!), and even agreed to let me in to the birth centre in spite of it (as long as I understood there was a 5% chance of it happening again). Out of naive honesty, and a desire not to have the information come up and bite me later, I asked about the blood loss as well. She was all "ooh, ooh, I didn't know about that" even though it was in my notes. She said that would disqualify me because they have a hard threshold of 1 litre of blood loss from uterine atony (womb failing to contract back down after the birth), and I lost 1.5 litres. I said that was from the cuts and tear, not from uterine atony. She said she thought it was a bit of both. I said, OK, if it's half from each, that's 750ml from atony, so under the threshold. She didn't seem to follow this argument.
I came away with basically a no, but a follow-up appointment with the Supervisor of Midwives, who might be more sympathetic.
I felt frustrated and angry, especially as the whole system seems to rely on mothers' memory (of events years past that happened during busy stressful times) and honesty. If I'd forgotten or deliberately omitted to mention the blood loss I'd be allowed in the birth centre. (Not only that, but if I genuinely were high-risk, and had forgotten some key detail, then I'd be allowed in the birth centre when I maybe shouldn't be.)
I wondered if I was being irrational and pregnant and hormonal: I'm carrying a live baby, who cares how it gets out? But I think it does matter: Bethany and I didn't get off to a brilliant start and I struggled to bond with her, and I think a better birth experience would help me bond with this one better. I want to walk around in labour and rest in the birthing pool, and then give birth in a position where gravity works with me rather than against me, and then hold the baby and snuggle with it and nurse it.
Tags: baby, birth