You'd think, wouldn't you, that a mother would feel a bit the worse for wear after three days of intense and erratic labour. And when it arrives at a point, where the only way to go is a caesarean, distressed maybe. Done in.
But as with all things in human life, a large dose of love from others can transform everything. It did for a mother I supported earlier this year. Her labour didn’t move forward, she was back and forth from hospital for two days and as the hours passed, with little progress, had become growingly despairing and downcast.
Finally, an obstetrician came and sat down by her side at her bed. She pulled up a chair, so as to be at her level. She didn’t behave like an expert. She was first and foremost a person, sharing her thoughts, her experience-based recommendations, and a fair bit of laughter and 'what can you do?' reassurance. There was also genuine compassion - for the journey she knew this mother had come.
She talked through the options, listened carefully to how this mother was feeling – and together they arrived at a plan. To have a caesarean, if possible, one that honoured and aimed to meet some of the mother’s first wishes: delayed cord clamping, swift contact, a skin to skin welcome.
A team was gathered, preparations made, so that in the space of a few minutes, the atmosphere in theatre was expectant, full of waiting wonder. I spotted a disco ball on a trolley, which said it all. ‘Ah yes, that...I found it in TK Max,’ explained the doctor. ‘I thought some sparkles on the ceiling might help to create a softer mood.’
And so it continued, with everyone in the room offering such attentive, sensitive care that the mother felt completely at the centre of her birth. She was able to enter this special experience that was arrival of her child, instead of submit reluctantly to a procedure she hadn't planned on.
When a mother has made informed choices, is at the absolute centre of her care and meets a point when a caesarean is necessary, the birth of her baby can be every bit as magical and positive as the birth she’d planned. Difficulty evaporates, energy is restored, and in no time at all, generous, personalised care gives a mother back to herself. It’s not a case of professional ‘niceness’ or rectitude. It is about realness rather than routine - relationship rather than detachment. People actively and thoughtfully considering how a woman wanting to give birth but who hits all manner of obstacles actually feels. When a mother can feel that - that somebody actually cares, she feels safe, can better understand and reframe the disappointment or difficulty she's encountered and move onward - to meet her baby positively as she always planned.