Tuesday, 19 August 2014

To C or not to C.

I have gone to a huge amount of effort (and money) to TRY and avoid a C-section in South Africa, and I certainly never dreamed it would be so hard. I am wondering now if I should even have bothered, considering that if the baby is breach or there is another issue, I will have to have one anyway, which would actually save me a lot of money. Maybe I should have surrendered to the C all along.

In the UK the NHS (being free) keeps C-sections to minimum - emergencies and complications only. The care is midwife led. I remember thinking back when I lived there that natural birth seemed terrifying and that I should aim to come back to SA for having kids so that I could have a C-section.

Then I came back to SA and started to actually research what giving birth is like. I remember sitting in my tiny room in Johannesburg coming close to a panic attack as I read about natural birth. Then I remember reading about C-sections - and I realised that as terrified as I was of natural, I was more terrified of C-sections. I have had a very minor operation before, and it was terrible. I hated recovery, I was miserable for weeks. C-sections are not minor. I don't really want to have major surgery and then have to look after a baby. I am sure most women are not such wusses about operations, but I AM! I hate them. Let's not mention the weird reactions I had to the anaesthetic.

So I decided to go the natural route. Little did I know in SA and in Cape Town in particular, this is almost impossible in the private sector. I knew that SA private hospitals have a high rate of C-sections, actually it must be one of the highest in the world, because it is much higher than the US. What I did not know is that most doctors here actively discourage natural birth. Apparently in Cape Town many doctors refuse to do natural birth at all. Or they pretend they will allow it, but then tell you that you need a C-section for various reasons. Basically they lie to you and tell you your baby is too big or your baby will die. Now in some cases, obviously those things are true. My midwife told me their C-section rate is 20% - so they deem 20% of women need a C-section for those reasons.

My hospital up the road has a 90% C-section rate. Apparently 90% of women interviewed for a survey at that hospital hoped for a natural birth. But 90% of women who go there get a C-section (I can't find the link to these stats. I may be remembering them incorrectly. I know it involved two 90%s). Which means a whole lot of people are being told they need a C-section when they don't. I kept reading miserable stories of  women being told their babies are too big, having a C-section and the baby weighs a perfectly normal amount. The reasons are payment (doctors get paid a lot more for C-sections), safety (some doctors think C-sections are safer, although the statistics do not back this up!), convenience (the day can be scheduled, and it can take an hour, whereas labour can be days), and these days, just inexperience.

I have no issue with elective C-sections, if a woman wants one. But if a woman wants a natural birth and is being forced into a C-section, then yes I have a problem with that.

According to the interwebs my only hope of having a natural birth in Cape Town was ditching the doctors and hiring a private midwife. So that is what I have done. They have back up doctors that cover them in emergencies. There is only one hospital in Cape Town that allows them to practice. This hospital is not only my list of hospitals for the medical aid coverage that I chose. And they do not cover both the doctor and the midwife. So I am going to have to pay extra for the midwife and extra for the hospital. This baby is going to cost a LOT of money. If I had stayed in the UK, the whole thing would have been free, and the natural birth would have been default. At least I know with the midwife that if I am told I need a C-section that I am not being lied to and I can trust their advice.

All I can say after all this effort, I better not need a damn C-section after all! Funny, what an effort it took for the privilege of squeezing a baby out of a vagina. Which is still the (second) most terrifying thought to me. Let's just block that thought out for now.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Pregnancy milestone - rogue bellybutton.

I can tell that my bellybutton wants to pop out. It is on the verge. I am dreading it. Outies freak me out. I have always thought they look hideous (sorry previous pregnant ladies). And you can't hide them. They stick out for miles. I am just going to have to not look down for the next 5 months because they give me a bad feeling inside.

Considering what is going to happen to my waistline and apparently my lady apparatus in the next few months, not looking down is probably the safest policy.