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Interview 19

Age at interview: 29
Brief Outline: Successful pregnancy after an early miscarriage and blighted ovum. Caesarean due to baby lying breech. Lack of support for breastfeeding in hospital due to pressures on staff.
Background: Children' 1, aged 5 months at time of interview. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' White British.

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She felt keeping fit in pregnancy helped her recover from her caesarean section.

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Recovering from the caesarean was actually kind of easier than I thought it would be. I think so long as you follow medical advice and really take things very easy. As they said to me, the most important thing is that you look after your baby and yourself, anything else, including housework or driving can, that can all wait until you are fit and healthy again. And especially if you're breast-feeding, you know, you've got to be very careful that you're, you're maintaining your diet and you're looking after yourself. And not to lift anything very heavy, not to do ironing, not to do hoovering. But for me, I recovered very well from it, I certainly had no problems after having the section. One of the things that was important to me during my pregnancy was that I kept very fit and active as far as possible. Even right up until a few days before I had my daughter, I was out walking the dog for example, you know, because it was, it was an activity that I could maintain without it having much impact on either myself or the baby.

Earlier in the pregnancy, what other sorts of fitness things were you doing?

I went swimming quite a lot [laughing] until it got to the stage that I could only swim on my back because my bump kept turning me round. And I had done aerobics up until the impact of the exercise was probably just too much, probably when I was about 4 months, I think, I had to give up my aerobics. But I carried on swimming until I was probably about 8 months pregnant, but certainly walking I carried right up to, yeah, until a few days before or so.

Do you think that being fit was helpful?

I think it, certainly being fit contributed to the quick recovery time after my section. I was able, you don't want to push yourself too quickly, I think, after you've had major abdominal surgery, which having a section is. You really do have to take things pretty easy for the first couple of weeks, certainly, afterwards. But I was able to go out walking probably, you know, 3 weeks after having had my section, I was able to push [baby's name] in her pram and things like that.
 
 
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She had a planned caesarean because her baby was breech and she was told it was risky to turn the...

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We'd gone into the hospital for your 34 week appointment and after the midwife had felt my stomach she decided that the baby was lying breech, which basically means that its bottom's down instead of its head being down. And she decided that it would be advisable to have a scan just to confirm it, because sometimes they can get it wrong. Apparently the bottom and the head both feel the same. So we went for a scan and it was confirmed that my daughter was lying breech and she also had her legs extended, which kind of means that her legs were up beside her ears as well as her bottom being down. And it wasn't recommended that they try to turn her, but what they did was, they actually brought me back 2 weeks later and scanned me again just to see if she'd turned naturally. And it wasn't until at that point they then said that really it would have to be a section that I would have, and a date was arranged for the section. And they left it until 4 days before my due date to book me in for the section because they obviously want to let you go as far as possible to reduce any risk to the baby, so.

How did you feel when they said that you wouldn't be able to have a natural delivery?

I was a bit disappointed. My initial reaction was kind of disappointment because you've built yourself up over the past 9 months for this, you know, big event and the delivery, but at the end of the day, my husband and I spoke about it, really the safe arrival of a baby is the ultimate and that was what was most important to us. And you just have to sort of change your views about your delivery and go for what's been advised by the medical staff, as they know best and they're delivering so many babies a year. And therefore we kind of just relied on their opinion to help us along. But they do sort of tell you all about your birthing plan and everything else and I was just going, [laughing] my birthing plan was very short in that it was to be a section and that was the end of it. So yeah.

When they discovered that your baby was breech, did they give you a choice about what to do or did they say, 'Look, you have to have a C-section'?

Right, the, the medical profession advised that I had the C-section because it would be very difficult to turn a baby that late into pregnancy and the risks that were involved in it then. They said that they recommended that the section would be the best option for us both.

What did they say the risks were of trying to turn the baby?

The risks involved in trying to turn the baby that late into pregnancy are that your placenta, I think it's called 'abrupts' or something, and it can cause the baby to die that late into your pregnancy. And it can also cause the Mum to be very ill and involves the Mum, in a lot of cases, having to have a blood transfusion because she loses so much blood. I, I assume that it would probably be a ruptured placenta that it would cause. So, yes, I decided not to opt for that because the risks involved were just too, too high to both of us and went with the medical professional man and opted for the C-section.
 
 
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During the caesarean the baby's position caused some problems, but it was generally a good...

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I was booked in for the, the C-section and we went along and my husband actually got to be in the operating theatre with me, which was quite nice in that he was there for the birth, because it had been something if I'd had a natural birth that was quite important to us, that he was there as well. So he got to come along too, and my daughter was, was born on, in the afternoon. It took them quite a long time to actually get her out, just because of the way that she was lying. Her head was trapped under my diaphragm which was, [laughing] seems a bit strange. She came out with two nice big lines on the back of her head,  which quickly disappeared. But yeah, that was, everything went fine. And the surgeon was very nice and everybody certainly involved in the operation, for such a - I think what surprised us most was, I mean, it's a major operation. I think a lot of people forget just how big an operation it is and, you know, there was kind of eleven people all involved in the operation in this theatre, but they actually kept it quite informal, which was quite nice. You know, it wasn't all sort of medical talk and things like that. They made you sort of feel like a human being as opposed to just a number which was, it was nice, yeah.
 
 
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Postnatal support has been very good. Her local postnatal group has covered lots of useful...

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The postnatal care that I have received I've found very, very good. Initially, when I came out of the hospital there was, the midwife came in for 10 days after I came home and then we had a health visitor. Because I had had a section I couldn't drive for 6 weeks after the section, which meant that the health visitor arranged home visits. She would normally have you go to a surgery to see her. But she arranged home visits and has been of great support. We also have a postnatal group that's run locally and it's been a nice opportunity to meet with other mums and they cover various topics. They've done sort of sleeping and crying, they do a session on how to play with your baby, they do baby massage as well. They did something on choking and resuscitation, how to wean your baby on to solid food, which has, yeah, it's been very useful.

And who organises that?

It's, that session's been organised by the National Health Service and it's run at one of the medical centres locally.
 
 
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She would like the NHS to provide more specialised support for breastfeeding, especially for...

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I think the advice that I would give to health experts - certainly I had absolutely no issue with my antenatal care and my postnatal care has been fabulous. The only problem really was immediately after I had my section in the hospital, my baby was born. The only advice that I would say is that if somebody wants to breastfeed, perhaps there should be somebody allocated, a special nurse, and that should be their only duty, should be encouraging mums or helping mums who want to breastfeed be able to achieve that. And certainly people who, it's their first baby, they don't know when to change nappies, they don't know how often to feed, you, it's your first time round, you've never been in this situation before. I think it's important that the health service, certainly, recognise that and give these people more support immediately after the birth of their first child.
 
 
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Nothing had prepared her for how much parenthood would change her life, but she and her partner...

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I don't think anything can really prepare you for how much your life gets turned upside down after you have a baby, and it's phenomenal the changes that take place, sort of both emotionally and physically. You know, suddenly all your energy is channelled into this small child, where your energy may have been channelled into a job or, you know, fitness or something like that, your energy is suddenly sort of channelled into this small child. And it's, I mean it's fabulous, don't get me wrong, but it's very overwhelming to begin with. In the culture of the baby time-warp, time just seems to disappear [laughing]. It doesn't, I don't think it has changed my relationships with other people so much.

Yeah, certainly the relationship with my husband's very important and we make time in the evenings for that. What we do is certainly, we put the baby down pretty early in the evenings, about half past 7 every night, which means that we have time for ourselves to sit down and have our meal and chat as adults without a baby sort of sitting beside you, kind of thing. And it, it seems to have worked. I don't think it's had much of an impact on our relationship, sort of emotionally or physically, you know, outside the fact that you've obviously got another, another human being to look after. And I mean, we still do things that we enjoyed doing before our baby was born. You know, we've, we take her swimming with us, we go out walking, my husband plays cricket and, you know, she comes along and watches the cricket with him. So yeah, I don't, I don't really think that, it's not the end of your life [laughing]. It's sort of the beginning of a new life. Yeah, we've just kind of fitted her into our lives and, you know, we do things specifically for her as well. And we spend a lot of time playing with her and we go to Mum, well I go to Mums and Toddlers with her as well, once a week and she, I think she gets a lot out of that, you know. She certainly smiles a lot and chuckles, so yeah, she must enjoy it [laughing].
 
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