Last week, one of my HypnoBirthing mums said that she had watched One Born Every Minute and had some questions about it so I felt I should watch the episode too, having managed to miss almost 2 series of it1. It proved to be quite an eye opener! I noticed that the programme is now filmed from Southmead Hospital in Bristol and a quick look at the combined 2012/13 statistics from Birth Choice for the Central Delivery Suite and the Birth Suite show that that 16.5% of mums have a caesarean, 14.4% have a ventouse or forceps delivery whilst 69.2% have ‘no help’2. So, given that this programme features 3 births, one would expect 2 of the 3 featured births to be with ‘no help’ and 1 to have some intervention. This is what we were shown:
Firstly, I want to comment on the positive language that was used through the programme. We saw one mum, Zoe, being examined and she was 1cm dilated. The midwife said, “About 1cm dilated, so not too bad”. Zoe smiled and said, “1 cm dilated, get in there!” I later jotted down comments such as, “You’re doing brilliantly” and “You’re breathing through them so beautifully”. This is just what a mum wants to hear and I was so pleased to hear the mums being supported in this way.
Secondly, we saw the relationship between patient and anaesthetist. Patients can fixate on the surgeon, the midwife, generally the person conducting the operation. For most procedures, it is the anaesthetist that the patients can see and talk to. I recommend to all of my clients who will have an anaesthetist involved to make friends with that person and we saw in #OBEM that this anaesthetist was friendly and on the mum’s side. I’m pretty sure that one of the criteria for being an anaesthetist must be to have a friendly disposition.
The first mum, Cheryl, who was with her husband Rob, and was having an elective C-Section. Cheryl’s story and strength was inspiring but I fear for anyone watching this that has an elective C-Section booked. One fear that mums have is that the spinal block /epidural won’t work. There are some stories to be found on the internet that will tell you that they don’t always work and this happened to a friend of mine, but this is incredibly rare. On the #OBEM website there is a link explaining how epidural’s work and it says, ‘if you are having a Caesarean section and have had an epidural, CSE or spinal block, you will be checked extensively by the anaesthetist before the operation takes place to ensure you are fully anaesthetised. Often, they will ‘pinch’ the skin over your abdomen to reassure you that, even though you feel some pressure, you will not sense pain.’
So, what was Cheryl’s experience? The spinal block did not fully work, which they knew before the procedure started but Cheryl wanted to go ahead in order to avoid a general anaesthetic which would mean that her husband would be unable to remain in theatre and see his son being born. It made for uncomfortable viewing. Cheryl was clearly in a lot of pain and looked like she was going to pass out. The anaesthetist was clearly concerned. Can you imagine watching that as a pregnant mum? The baby was born, cord cut immediately, taken to the side table cleaned up, packaged up in a blanket, and handed to dad. I felt so sad for mum and baby who could have had skin to skin and that fabulous oxytocin rush.
Our second mum was Zoe who had had a long fertility journey before reaching the delivery suite. I enjoyed this birth mostly because of husband Anthony’s response to the birth. Zoe’s baby’s heart-rate went down and a forceps delivery was recommended. The doctor crouched down at Zoe’s height and explained it to her. I felt this was well done. The birth itself appeared to be relatively easy and it was joy to be part of their joy at meeting their long-awaited daughter, Dana.
Our third mum was Sarah who was with her husband Mark and her own mum. The birth seemed to be going well until the midwife said that the baby was unexpectedly breech. Suddenly the room was full because a breech birth is considered an emergency. Mums who have a breech diagnosed in advance will be steered towards an elective C-section which means that the average midwife and obstetrician hasn’t experienced that many breech births – which is why 6 members of staff were considered necessary for a vaginal breech birth. It was then confirmed that the baby (who has been called naughty for being breech) was in fact in the correct position and a normal birth could take place. However, poor Sarah still had 8 people packed tightly around her, most of them staring at her vulva. I can’t think of many things more likely to make my nether-regions clamp shut than having all those heads staring at me! Little Chloe was a very healthy sized baby, still covered in a thick layer of vernix which was allowed to stay on which was great to see.
So, we had seen 1 C-Section, 1 Ventouse and 1 ‘no help’ with quite an audience.
Exhausting stuff and I have to admit I shed a tear and felt inspired by those amazing mums and dads. I also had a very interesting HypnoBirthing class where we went through some of the events from this episode. We obviously see a heavily edited version of events in that programme and I expect my clients to leave with the skills and strategies to be able to direct their own birth and know what questions to ask so that they can avoid some of the pit-falls we viewed in that episode. Ultimately though we saw 3 healthy women have 3 healthy babies and that is what we ultimately want.
Congratulations to those mums and good luck to all those having their baby soon. x
1 I don’t recommend that the people coming to my class watch One Born Every Minute as it shows birth to be disproportionately traumatic. This will not help a mum to know that her body is perfectly designed to birth a baby.
2Figures do not add up to 100 due to rounding.