Thursday, July 28, 2011

My article for The Star Metro 21st July 2011

Opting for natural birth despite naysayers
Star Metro
21st July 2011


WHEN I was expecting my first child, I knew that pain was not an option and decided for a Caesarean or a C-section.

I wouldn’t have to endure labour pains and I could more or less, schedule the time of birth in advance.

My parents and mummy friends did not understand my reluctance for natural birth and kept persuading me to go au naturel, but I was adamant and my obstetrician was very supportive in my decision.

Prior to my OB giving me the green light, she did warn me about the pros and cons on elective C-sections before giving me the cheer boost I was desperately searching for in sealing my decision.



A real bond: Daphne with Isobel when she was two weeks old.

Going through the surgery gives the mother better control to plan childcare and work leave and it is relatively quick compared to vaginal birth.

There is also less fear of reduction or loss of sexual enjoyment and research shows that mothers are more likely to be less stressed, as there is no labour pain or fear of an episiotomy (an incision on the perineum).

However, the downside to it has its worrying disadvantages — from surgical complications, increased blood loss and infection of the uterus and incision site; to internal scar tissue that may affect future fertility, discomfort during breastfeeding and an increased likelihood of postpartum depression.

The coward in me opted for C-section and since I was at it, a feng-shui consultant was called in to give us an auspicious date and time of ‘delivery’. Fast forward four years later, here I am again in my second pregnancy bloated, frumpier and less active. The difference? I am ready to endure natural labour. Hooray!

I was blessed with a fast postnatal surgery recovery; and I was up and about ready for work at the studio on my 30th day of confinement — so why the sudden change of heart on my birthplan this time around?

I guess I am less afraid and more informed on the advantages of natural birth. After much thought, I have decided to apply Mongan’s method on Hypnobirthing for a supposedly pain-free labour and to try waterbirth as my choice of delivery.

Now here is the confusing part.

I am currently in Thailand to accompany my husband for work. Since I am here, I have to look for a doctor for my antenatal checkups and ideally, he or she must consider and respect my birthing wishes. Prior to us settling down here, I went around looking for that healthcare provider only to be disheartened that most, if not all, were against Vaginal Birth After Caesarean or medically known as VBAC (Vee-back).

Frustrating to say the least, hubby and I went to all the top medical centres only to be told that they don’t do VBAC because mothers like me are in the high-risk group.

So here I am, ready for natural birth and I’m not getting the support or rather, professional help for it.

I was told that the risk of a uterine rupture was the main reason why I should go for C-section again.

I went back to my Malaysian gynae and unloaded my annoyance to her. She told me that VBACs have historically received a bad rap because of methods of incision that were originally used, such as the classical and inverted T.

But mine was a low transverse or fashionably known as the ‘bikini cut’ which is supposedly safer and prettier (I can still don a bikini without worry of the ugly scar on my tummy). So what gives?

My Thai friends and very cynical husband have come up with their own theories why the doctors in Thailand refuse to do VBACs. First, they think it’s because doing a C-section allows the hospital to make more money, and second, to make the doctor’s life easier so he or she is able to plan their surgery according to their time. They’re probably right.

How sardonic is it that I am now ready for natural birth only to be warned against it. But just as adamant as I was on an elective C-section for my first born, I am strongly unbending about going quite the opposite this time around — even if it means getting a doula or a midwife to assist me in a home birth!

Hypnobirth predominantly deplores the myth of pain as a natural accompaniment to birth making it possible to experience gentle birth without the pain we quite often hear about or see in movies.

I’m not going to give up on VBAC but as Alanis Morissette would sing, Isn’t it ironic that life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right”.

Daphne is currently learning the Mongan Method with her birth companion and father of the child. Find out if she is able to go through a VBAC through her tweets on @DaphCLPT. If you have experienced VBAC and/or Hypnobirth previously, do email her at daphne@daphneiking.com as she’d very much love to hear from you.

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