For those that have been following my pregnancy diaries, you’ll know that most of my pregnancy went very smoothly. It continued to go well, until the task of getting baby out, that is!
We had discussed and agreed with my Consultant that I’d start having sweeps from 38 weeks. This was hopefully to help start things naturally and avoid being overdue like I was with Mini. My Midwife attempted sweeps at 38 and 39 weeks but was unable to complete to do it. Both times my cervix was still very posterior and very much closed. Talk of induction had begun, which I was keen to avoid. I therefore requested that we didn’t book anything in until one more sweep the following week.
At 40 weeks, again a sweep couldn’t be performed. Baby’s head wasn’t engaged at all and was still free. Therefore the midwives have to be quite gentle with examining me at this point. This is because there is a risk the waters may break during examination and the cord could prolapse if the head isn’t engaged to stop it. At this point, I was getting quite fed up and disappointed that nothing seemed to be happening.
We were then referred back to discuss our options with a Consultant. Unfortunately our original Consultant wasn’t available however, the one we saw helped us calmly and rationally discuss our options moving forward. We all agreed that based on the 3 failed sweeps and a previous failed inductions with Mini, it would not be best to plan an induction this time as the conditions didn’t seem favourable. I therefore, reluctantly agreed to be booked for a Caesarean section. It was booked in for 40 +11 so I felt I’d be giving my body the best possible chance of going into labour naturally.
I also had one more final sweep at 40+7 however although my cervix had softened, it still hadn’t moved forward or open. I’d had a big wobble that day and felt that I’d failed. I just couldn’t understand why my body wasn’t ready to give birth yet. I’d had my heart set on a waterbirth at the hospital’s low risk midwife led unit. However, the further I went overdue, the less likely this was going to happen.
The day before the planned Caesarean, I woke to news on Facebook that a University friend had given birth to her baby stillborn. We had been due within a few weeks of each other. My heart went out to her and it gave me a kick up the bum, that I needed to do what was best and safest for my baby. Even though everything was fine at the moment, I was aware that the further overdue I went there was a greater risk of my placenta deteriorating.
Later that day I went with my Mum to the pre-op appointment at the hospital. I also found out that our original Consultant would be performing the Caesarean for me, which instantly made me feel better and at ease.
To help prepare for birth, Mr Mack and I had enrolled on an online hypnobirthing course with The Positive Birth Company. The course gave us lots of great tools to keep calm and make the best decisions at each juncture for us and baby. The course also gave us information about gentle caesarean birth options. This is where you try to emulate, as much as possible, a natural birth in a theatre setting. We decided that we wanted to request this option and planned to discuss with our Consultant before the surgery.
Thankfully our Consultant is very progressive and forward thinking and is at the moment, the only one at the hospital offering a gentle caesarean birth. He listened to our preferences and was more than happy to accommodate them. I felt so much more relaxed knowing that we had input into the birth experience.
When I arrived in theatre, I used the breathing techniques that I had learnt on the course to stay calm. I felt so excited that we were about to meet our baby at long last. Once the initial incision was made, baby’s head was born onto my stomach. From here on in, everything that followed was part of our preferences for the gentle caesarean. The screen was lowered and my head was raised as I got to see my baby for the first time. He was then allowed time to make his own way into the world. He had some assistance with getting his shoulder out but then wriggled himself out onto my tummy, whilst Mr Mack and I watched. It was such a special moment for us both, and everything I’d hoped for.
Whilst I had been with the Anaesthetist, our Consultant had been planning a play list with Mr Mack of some of my favourite songs. He had timed it perfectly so that whilst baby was wriggling himself out, our wedding song played in the theatre. It was such a amazing and emotional moment and one that I will never forget.
Another aspect of the gentle caesarean is that the incision is made slightly smaller than normal. This is to try to emulate a vaginal birth where baby travels through a narrow passage, which helps them clear the mucous built up in their throat.
As soon as baby was born, he was passed straight to my chest under the screen. He didn’t move from me at all from that point on and we had skin to skin for at least an hour. We had requested delayed cord clamping and then Mr Mack cut the cord. The screen was put back into place whilst I was being stitched up again. Mr Mack and I were able to enjoy the wonderful moment of meeting our Son, who was already attempting to latch onto me. We chose not to have him cleaned or weighed until later when we had finished skin to skin and were in the recovery room.
After baby had finished his first breastfeed, we had him weighed and confirmed his name.
Baby Edison Samuel Mackcracken born at 11.21am on 22nd November 2018 weighing 8lb 1oz.
I cannot be more appreciative to our wonderful Consultant. I felt that I was listened to and had a direct involvement in the birth. I’m so thankful that we had the opportunity to have Edison through a gentle caesarean birth, which was truly a magical experience and gave me memories that I will always treasure.