I’ve just read an article published on The Guardian news website, sent to me by the lovely Jayne over at Mum’s The Word. The article is entitled I Was Pregnant For Ten Months and I suddenly thought, hey! Me too!
My first pregnancy was text-book normal and I did not experience once jot of morning sickeness, swelling, headaches or any of the other delightful pregnancy bonuses there are. I did have heartburn once, but I think that was more down to wolfing two packets of Rolos in quick sucession than anything else. When I booked in with the midwife I was given a date one week past my due date, to discuss induction if the baby hadn’t arrived by then. As that date came and went, I was booked for an induction- common practice right? Well, no actually, it doesn’t have to be.
I never questioned anything. I did, however, read that at my hospital a high percentage of inductions failed and ended up as emergency sections and I remember telling my sister that I had a feeling that would happen to me. It did.
I was induced at 7 am, following an examination by a midwife who exclaimed that I was nowhere near ready to deliver and that she would eat her hat if my baby was here before the weekend. It was Monday. I wonder now why I didn’t have the foresight to question why they wanted my baby out if she was nowhere near ready to come by herself?
The article talks of many American women regularly getting to 43 weeks of pregnancy and that it isn’t all that strange at all. In France, 41 weeks is considered term and the women there aren’t overdue until 43 weeks. The article also speaks of
“tales of weirdly overdue babies… The actor Jackie Chan claims his mother carried him for 12 months before he was born by caesarean section, weighing 12lb. There is also a story of a woman in a prisoner of war camp who allegedly waited until the camp was liberated to give birth – at 12 months’ gestation.”
and claims that only 5% of babies are actually born on their ‘due date’. I wonder why UK doctors are so eager to induce and get our babies out early? The writer of the article, Viv Groskop, was not given any clear answers to that question.
My induction began at 7am and by 10am I was having ‘niggles’. I was strapped to a monitor and I was told to press a button whenever I felt anything. For what its worth (and its a different story, really) I was told that I wasn’t in labour and so suffered these niggles, strapped to the bed, for hours. Eventually, it was determined that I was in labour and I was taken down to the delivery room, amidst grumbling that they were really short staffed (again, another story). To cut another really long stort short, my induction failed. My daughter was born via emergency section at 2am the next morning, weighing inly 6lb15. For a baby who was fifteen days late, thats really tiny.
The next afternoon, my midwife came to see me and actually brought a hat on a platter with a knife fork, asking me if I wanted to share her lunch.
I truly believe that my daughter was not ready to be born and perhaps was not even late at all. I truly believe that I would’ve laboured naturally and would’ve given birth naturally. Her birth affected my second pregnancy to the point where I refused to be induced again.
Worryingly, the article talks of a complication called “iatrogenic” (“doctor-caused”) prematurity – “inductions where babies turn out to be premature and then spend a week or more in the neonatal intensive care unit”. Whilst my daughter probably wasn’t premature, she certainly wasn’t quite ready to make an appearance when they induced me. The stress of that caused her heart-rate to decelerate and take longer to recover with each contraction. The emergency section saved her life but I wonder whether her birth could’ve been so much different. Isn’t it time we trusted mums a little bit more to know what is best for their babies? A woman who has had a normal pregnancy, free from complications and without any other health concerns should surely be allowed to carry her baby to term. Surely?