I have been reading, with some interest, the news that NICE will recommend that every woman that requests one can have a caesarean section regardless of whether there is a medical reason for it.
Having had both an emergency section and a normal delivery I feel that I am, at least, qualified to have an opinion as to which is the better option.
Max was born in 2007. Having gone ten days overdue, I was induced at about 11am and after about 10 hours started to have contractions. These lasted for a while and eventually I was transferred to the labour ward at about 1.30am. Paul arrived, having been woken from his slumber, and then Max's heartbeat started dropping with every contraction. Having then broken my waters and attempting to attach an oxygen monitor to Max's head with no success, the doctors decided that I needed an emergency section as Max's heartbeat was getting dangerously low. Max was born at 4.10am, about 5-10 minutes after they first sliced open my stomach. After Max was born it took about another 40 minutes to sew me back together, all the while Max was in a separate room with Paul. When I was transferred down to the ward, I was propped at an angle that was neither laying flat nor sitting up. I could not get out of bed, mainly because I couldn't feel my legs but also because I had a catheter in. That night I had to get the midwives to come every time I needed to feed him. I remember that my notes said "Lynne pressed the buzzer again" several times as, if he stopped feeding, I was in a very awkward position and didn't know how to/couldn't get him back on.
I was not the first person to hold my baby, spend his first few precious minutes with him nor did I change any of his first nappies - an honour which fell to Paul! Oh yes and I couldn't drive for 6 weeks....
When Penelope was born last year, everything about my pregnancy and delivery was coloured by the fact I had had a section with Max. I had to have "shared care", rather than "midwife-led" care, as my pregnancy was considered to be "high risk" because of the section. I saw the consultant three of four times and was told that there was no reason I could not have a normal delivery. The statistics were that I had a 72% chance of delivering normally, particularly as the reason for the section was "foetal distress" rather than "failure to progress".
When my waters broke 5 days before my due date I was told that I had to stay in hospital, again because of the section. Three days later after there being next-to-no sign of madam appearing by herself I was again induced. This time things progressed more quickly and I was fully dilated about five and a half hours after being induced, having managed on just gas and air and diamorphine. Oh don't get me wrong I asked for an epidural - it was just too late! An hour and a half of pushing and an episiotomy finally saw Penelope appear just after midnight.
Hurrah - I was the first person to hold my new baby. I was also the person who got to find out what colour of baby we had, even though I had to get the midwife to double check!
After I was transferred down to the ward, I could get up and about - I could feed my baby and change her nappies without having to press the buzzer!
When I had the section with Max I had nothing to compare it against. I accepted, and do still accept, that having the section was the safest thing for me and for Max. Having had a normal delivery though I cannot understand why women would choose to have major surgery, for that is what a section is, if they do not need it. Make no mistake, they slice open your stomach and pull the baby out. Some women profess to wanting a section because they are scared that a normal delivery will hurt. Well yes a normal delivery does hurt, but not for long, but a section will hurt much more and for much longer afterwards.
Sometimes sections are necessary. Three friends of mine have had sections with all their deliveries but they were done because they were necessary, not on some vain whim.
Let's face it, babies were meant to come out one way and if you're not prepared to face the possibility of them coming out that way then perhaps you shouldn't be having a baby.