"Natural birth is such an accomplishment"
Sunika Nattrass recalls how quick giving birth went the moment she started to push.

One of the biggest fears I had while I was pregnant was the birth itself. I was very focused on it, on how “sore” it was going to be and how I was going to approach it. I was more focused on that than the end result – my beautiful son. I’ll definitely do it differently next time. 

That said, let’s get back to the matter at hand – the actual birth. Initially I was dead set on natural birth, but seeing as I’m a bit of a sissy (I faint at simple period pain...), I couldn’t see myself doing it without medical intervention. Hence, we decided on natural with epidural. However, as the pregnancy progressed, I started considering a Caesar, as it’s so much “easier”. Yes, you have the pain of the cut afterwards and you can’t do a whole lot for the first while, but at least you don’t have to go through labour. 

I chatted to other moms-to-be about this and realised that almost all of them were having Caesars, due to some medical reason quoted by their doctor. And to be honest, most of these sounded like excuses to cut and get the baby out on their schedule. I suddenly found myself ready to fight for my natural birth, the one I planned from the start. I was looking for reasons why Caesars should be banned, reading up on other’s experiences and remained awestruck at how first world countries (UK, USA, Switzerland) don’t just do Caesars at a whim – you really need to have a huge problem before they allow you that alternative. 

I then broached the subject with my gynea, with whom I usually sit with a mouth full of teeth whenever I am supposed to ask clever questions. He simply said “Why not natural?” and so it was settled. Without my knowledge I had procured the services of a pro-natural doctor – which is a little bit of a rarity these days. 

Labour day finally came. Four weeks early. I hadn’t even done my birth plan, we barely had the nursery ready, but Corin had chosen his own birthday and today was the day. 17 July 2009.
On the Thursday afternoon before his birth, I went to the loo and there was a bit of a mucussy discharge but I made nothing of it. I have not had any pain, just been really, really tired and needed to get home to lie down. I got home at 16:30 and still made some dinner.

There had been nothing else apart from that afternoon... I went for a bath and when I went to the loo again there was some more mucus, but I just thought it was from the bath, but in the back of my mind wondered if it couldn’t be the mucus plug coming loose. Shoved it away though because I was so tired and didn’t need to worry about anything more.

I fell asleep on the couch and eventually went to bed at around 22:30 and was generally uncomfortable, but that didn't stop me from sleeping - I was so exhausted! I woke up during the night with backache and what felt like period pain, but because I was used to the sore pubic bone, I simply wrote it off to that. There was however more mucus at each loo visit, but I was so tired I just got back into bed and slept.

When I got up at 7:00 I went to the loo and I had my show... Here I started to panic! I went into the room and asked Craig, my husband, if he wanted good news or bad news... Good news, you're not going to work today, bad news, baby is 3 weeks early (according to me I was 37w1d on Friday, according to doc, I was 36w2d). I phoned the midwife where we had our antenatal classes just to confirm and she said, "Yes my girl, you are in labour. But run a hot bath and relax, you've got lots of time". 

I phoned a few people (like the boss, the parents etc) to let them know and went to the loo again at which time my water broke. It didn't come out in gushes but I definitely had about a cup full just spill out - thankfully while I was on the loo. The contractions also started and when I timed them they were about 2 minutes apart and fairly hectic. So much for the hot bath!! I just said to Craig we had to get to the hospital as soon as possible! So in an absolute flurry, we packed the last of the hospital bag, put in a nappy for a pad (best advice ever) and hurled it all into the car, with me pausing every few minutes for an In-2-3-4 Out-2-3-4...

Into the car and off to the hospital – luckily it’s only about 1.5km away from our home! From leaving home to getting into the labour room, I had about 5 contractions and they were getting stronger. Craig dropped me at the front of the hospital and went to go park the car.  I must have been quite a sight walking into the hospital stopping every now and then to make my way through a contraction. 

At the hospital they took me to the labour room - lo and behold, my gynea was standing in the reception finishing his rounds and asked me “Mrs Nattrass, what are you doing here?” I just said, well, uhm, I’m in labour, that’s why I’m here. I went for a wee – they tested it and also checked how far I was dilated – the midwife couldn’t find my cervic and after her digging around down there for a while she gave up and got the doctor to have a look.  

The doc found it quick and said about 4 -5 cm. This was at 8:30-ish. When the midwife checked me again (and by this time the contractions were all the way down my thighs, and hurting like mad!) I was about 6cm dilated and she called the anesthetist in half a panic. He came in, needled and doped me and at this stage it was heaven... I just lay there, enjoying the feeling washing over me, no pain, just chilling. This was about 9:30.

My contractions eased off here, but were still regular, even though less intense. I had time to finally enjoy the now cold ham and cheese toasted sandwich my hubby had gotten me for breakfast.  I kept watching the monitor and had a good giggle – “Look Honey, I’m having a contraction!” Hahaha!! After an hour the midwife came and checked on me again.  As I was still in the early-ish stages of labour they considered me “low risk” and left me for long stretches to get through the initial contractions.  She checked the dilation again (heaven, I couldn’t feel a thing!) and I was 9cm! (So much for a cm an hour!). She was in a flat panic! She wheeled me off to the delivery room and tried to get hold of the doctor because it was now time to push!

At 11:00 the doc arrives and says that the baby should be there by lunchtime. Midwife says nope – he’ll be here by 11:15! She was right! When I started pushing it just went quicker and quicker from there! Corin got stuck and they had to use forceps to pull him just past the bend. They didn’t pull him all the way out – I still had to push the last stretch. But within a few seconds I had the most beautiful baby boy in my arms (at 11:22)! When I heard him cry for the first time I shed a small tear as well, but I was still a bit drugged (even though they plugged the epidural at about 10:45). They cleaned me up and put in the stitches (thankfully I could still not feel anything!).

They then left us (the new family) alone (for about two hours) to get to know each other and get feeling in my legs back. They then wheeled me to my bed and took Corin for his measurements and the Pediatrician checked him out and he got 10/10 on his Apgar score. Everything fine! He weighed 2.72kg's and was 46cm in length. 

The one thing that I can remember of that day is the triumph I felt when they put Corin in my arms. The pushing was hectic, and having to lose your dignity (putting your feet up onto the doc and midwife’s hips while they’re staring at the sweet spot is everything but romantic) was less than appealing. But being told you’re a star for pushing so hard (even though you give yourself a wonderful tear and stitches you have to deal with later) and being congratulated on the birth of your child is something you can’t explain to anyone. 

Yes, I was still drugged when they put my little boy in my arms, all gooey with birth fluids. But that contented look in his eyes, him snuggling up to me and just ‘belonging’, the pride I felt... All those emotions can’t be explained. Relief, joy, happiness, exhaustion, pride, elation, fear of the unknown. Thinking of it I just want to burst.

Your heart can barely contain the emotions. That moment is almost suspended in time – nothing else matters but the love of your new family. Having your husband by your side, glowing with pride at the son you just gave him, just as bewildered as you are, but just as happy – can’t be put into words. 

I know these emotions probably accompany a Caesar as well, but the sense of true accomplishment that you get from doing it the way it was meant to be is indescribable. The pain, the trauma, the hurt – all made worth it when you stare into your perfect little baby’s face for the first time. 
Natural birth is such an accomplishment. And even though I can understand why people would not opt for it, I’d like to say – please give it a try. It’s really worth it.

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