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However, the next scheduled scan at the hospital again I was bombarded with horror stories of babies dying from the doctor and she strongly advised a C-section. I was told I would need more regular scans at heartlands to check baby’s heart as they couldn’t see if it was developing correctly which added more anxiety but everything was fine at every scan and there were 3 or 4 scans at the Heartlands specialists. I felt all the scans were unnecessary. I kind of felt that they brought up issues to make me feel that a c-section was the only option.

I had to see a consultant about birth plan and ended up with the same negative doctor who pretty much told me I have no choice but to have a C-section which would take place at another hospital which I wasn’t familiar with going to. I felt backed into a corner and just wanted to leave as she wasn’t listening to my choice, she booked the date even though I didn’t want it, she said I can always cancel nearer the time.

As I wasn’t planning on having any more children, I had a maternity photoshoot with Tianna J Williams who told me of her experience as a midwife and having a doula herself. She went on to say her friend had two vbacs after two c-sections with a doula. As Tianna was previously a midwife, she said it wasn’t uncommon that scaremongering language was used. When I went home I did some online research and found Lorna, at this point it was about a month before my due date so very late in the pregnancy but I knew that with Lorna’s experience I would feel more confident especially as it turned out that I was faced with more appointments at the hospital with multiple midwives and consultants telling me I need a C-section.

In order to cancel my c-section the hospital said I would have to speak with a consultant and sign a form saying that I was going against their advice which sounded straight forward but that wasn’t the case. I had a set appointment but waited hours finally I saw a consultant with one midwife and they basically went over the risks of a natural birth many times never once mentioned a benefit on a vbac, I explained that I did look into it and had arranged a Doula. The midwife was very patronising and earlier insinuated I was aggressive when I asked how much longer I was expected to wait. The only reason she would say that is because I was black because I am a very calm person. The consultant could see that I had already made up my mind, in her last attempt to convince me to have a c-section she said, you have had two c-sections before it will be fine. She not once mentioned the many risks involved in having another c-section so I listed some and she said I can see you are intelligent so I don’t see why you would want to go through with a vbac. She then dropped in that my pelvis was too small without even measuring or examining me. I told her my mother had two sets of twins naturally and I have the same frame as her so where would she get the idea that my pelvis is too small. (Later after giving birth naturally with no problems, I discussed this pelvis comment with a friend who said she was told the same thing and she had to have a c-section. I very much doubt her pelvis was too small either) My babies have all been around the 7lb mark I knew I was not having a huge baby and I had growth scans which confirmed this. Our bodies are amazing and fully equipped to bring life into the world in most situations, especially with mothers who are healthy with no current or previous health issues and it’s been that way since the beginning of human life.
However the consultant said she wasn’t willing to sign the form as it would be her name there if it went wrong and she couldn’t have a dead baby on her conscience… apparently.

I mentioned all this to my midwife cousin she said its best to along with consultant. I guess that’s what they are trained to do at the end of the day.

There was an occasion I was told to come back to see a senior consultant at a set time and that person was not available so I was waiting hours and didn’t see anyone as they were short staffed but instead of rearranging I was constantly told to wait as it wouldn’t be much longer.
I was made to feel like a nuisance when I asked how long as I wasn’t expecting to be there all day again and I had children to collect from playscheme. Finally, one midwife came in and said the consultant isn’t available to come back tomorrow then left room and said to other midwives ‘sorted’ as if the others were scared to talk to me, insinuating I was difficult which I definitely was not.

When I finally got to see a consultant the next day…it was the same consultant as no-one else was available. She said I would have to come back with my husband as she wasn’t convinced that he knew the risks as well and said another consultant would sign it off… As if I needed their permission to try to have a natural birth.

I came back with my husband the next day with my husband and no consultant was available so ended up speaking with another midwife she said we would have to go back again when another consultant was available but we didn’t bother going back again as we were clearly being messed around. My husband is very busy, he doesn’t have time to waste for no reason.

I wasn’t given any other options such as a phone call or home visit instead but anyway I knew I wasn’t having a c-section and at least I tried to cancel so it wasn’t my problem.

DOULA EXPERIENCE

The book Lorna gave me to read was fantastic as I was able to read the experiences of other women and read that the risk was not much greater after a second c-section as the doctors kept saying. This filled me with more confidence and I knew I was doing what was best for me. I didn’t feel the doctors at the hospital really were putting my interests first as they never mentioned one positive of a v-bac only negative. Lorna also produced an amazing birth plan and referred me to a lady that makes placenta capsules. Lorna informed me of the benefits of delayed cord clamping which I never heard of but was happy to do.

Lorna was great in the pre-birth meetings she explained the whole birth process and techniques to prepare for birth. On the day of the birth we got to the hospital and I was asked again if I was going to have a vbac but the first midwife. Once in the delivery room a doctor came in asking if I was sure I wanted a vbac and again reeled off a list of risks. So again, I said I want to have a natural labour.

Luckily labour started days before the set c-section date, even though I would not have gone as I already told them many times, I wanted it cancelled and found it strange because NHS always ask to be informed of cancellations to save their resources.

Throughout the labour Lorna was amazing at setting the scene, keeping me calm. Informing me of options. I was given a massage and we slowly built up to gas and air as pain relief. The monitor around my belly kept dropping but nothing was wrong with the baby. The doctor and then later another midwife with a student (although I requested no students on my birth plan) were very keen to get an internal monitor on my baby’s head. As I was constantly in contractions, I was unable to make that decision so I told them to ask my husband. My husband spoke with Lorna about it and decided it was not necessary and there were risks that came along with it that were not explained. Even though he said no they were trying to go ahead until Lorna stepped in and said they said NO.

Following all that drama the baby was delivered safe and naturally we were able to have delayed clamping and skin to skin which I missed out on with my other births. We were able to take the placenta to be made into capsules and I was able to go home the same day to be with my other children.

On the date of the c-section I was called to find out where I was. I was happy to say I had given birth naturally days before and had tried to cancel the appointment many times already.

If I had to have another c-section looking after my other children would have been very difficult as the healing time is so much longer. I also genuinely didn’t feel that I would survive another c-section especially knowing the higher rates of black women who die in childbirth due to racism and lack of care.

I think it is essential for women of colour to be supported by a doula who can support their choices and speak up for them when they are not listened to.

I am so happy to have been able to deliver naturally especially after being made to feel as if my body was not equipped to do so. My baby is very strong and healthy and has a strong bond with me.

POST BIRTH

I did have a very patronising health visitor who felt the need to go through my house and ‘make sure’ the baby had blankets that were not ‘too hot’ for the weather even though I already explained that I knew which blankets were suitable for the temperature…. as if this was not my THIRD child. She went on to tell me my baby’s legs were short…. I knew this was not the case as the baby was wearing the next size up clothes which fit his legs perfectly. The next appointment at the surgery when he was measured confirmed there was no issue. I feel the health visitor said this knowing there was no problem to make sure I went to the next clinic appointment. She was pushing vaccinations very hard. When I went for the health check at the doctor’s surgery, I thought it was just a health check then they said I had to see the nurse and the same health visitor was there. I had 3 nurses and the health visitor pushing me to vaccinate my baby. I did not feel comfortable as all, I asked about the option for separate jabs and they said that would traumatise the baby it’s better to get it done now out the way so you don’t have to come back. My friend who is a nurse with an autistic child told me not to get all the vaccines at once, but I had not mentioned this to any of them so I don’t know why they were pushing so hard.
One nurse said don’t believe the documentary the doctor was struck off ….. I said I would think about it and left. I then watched the vaxxed documentary and am convinced there is a link between autism. I have not vaccinated my child and he is fit and healthy. I don’t think there would be a need to patronise and pressure mothers if there were not issues. I honestly do not think they would pressure white mothers in this way.

PERINATAL WELLBEING

I think all women experience postnatal depression in some shape or form. People think if you have a husband and family visiting that you have a lot of help but it is still a very lonely time. You are sleep deprived and trying to look after yourself is difficult with a demanding baby. I think women are less likely speak up about postnatal depression in fear of being judged, deemed unfit or it being used against them down the line. Especially as black women do not feel listened to as it is, we fear being misunderstood and things exaggerated out of our control. When you have experienced it with your first child and got through it, when you have another child just knowing that things do get easier makes it easier to push through.

OVERVIEW
Throughout my whole experience I feel I was always treated as unintelligent although I am well educated, trust my instincts and had done hours of research every step of the way. It turns out I do know best. Even though I made a conscious effort the look ‘put together’ when I went to the hospital in a hope to not be stereotyped, at the end of the day I was just another ‘aggressive’ black women.

I urge mothers to be to be well informed and to trust their instincts because you have the best intentions for you and your child. My doula informed me of my birth rights and they are important to know. I do not think hospitals look at individual cases enough but look at facts and figures as if we are just statistics so unfortunately it is up to us to personalise our care. If you are healthy I see no reason why a particular option should be pushed on you, I can understand if other complications were in the mix however this was not the case in my experience.
A csection is a major operation which comes with many risks which should not be overlooked and used only as a last resort.
If I did become pregnant again, I would have all my scans done privately and I would want a home birth with a doula present of course. I am lucky in a sense that I was able to afford some private appointments, tests and a doula but many black women are unable to and are left completely in the hands of people who do not necessarily value their lives. I think all hospitals need a diverse workforce to make women of colour feel more comfortable and understood.
If a black women is not able to have a doula, the next best thing is a positive women who has experienced childbirth such as a mother or sister. It is always lovely to have a partner there but they never really understand or appreciate the pain you are going through and sometimes they feel helpless and therefore not as supportive as they would like to be. I do think it is important for men to educate themselves as much as the women so they are able to stand up for their partner when unnecessary procedures mentioned. Women are unable to make decisions in that state when the contractions are very strong and close together all that woman is thinking about is getting through that pain. No medical professional should be asking anything of a woman in that scenario, especially when there are people supporting her that can help with that.