© Chloe Boulter 2011. Chloe shares her birth story from London. She provides perspective on how even an integrated midwife model of care can still result in interventions during birth:
“What I wanted our birth experience to be and what I actually got when giving birth to my son were two very different things. In the UK you are considered a bit strange if you don't want to have your child in hospital. Additionally, my birth was at a time when there were severe midwife shortages and MRSA scares by the dozen. All of which scared me witless - what 22year old wouldn't be?
I was felt fortunate, however, to have the experience of helping my own mother give birth to my little sister when I was seventeen. Seeing her go through something that momentous gave me courage.
What I was unprepared for was the lack of choice once I was in the hospital for an overnight stay due to elevated blood pressure. I was whisked into a labour suite, much to my naive confusion, hooked up to a drip and only told afterwards that it was synthetic oxytocin to start my contractions.
Everything snowballed after that. I wasn't allowed to decline medical procedures. For example, I didn't want my waters broken forcibly, but the third midwife did it quite painfully. To this day i can't tell you whom my midwife was- there were too many in and out to count. [Side note: midwives are a normal presence in UK hospitals as the midwife model is integrated into the hospital system.]
My induced contractions were fast and painful, but manageable with my TENS. After being in labour for nine hours and reaching 4 centimetres dilation I was told that I MUST have a caesarean to deliver my baby. I managed to squeak out to ask if it was necessary, as I’d rather deliver naturally, only to be told that I could think about it for an hour and then the choice would be taken out of my hands. And so it was.
I didn't look or feel ill or have unusual statistics. My baby had a 'slightly' elevated pulse. But off I was wheeled and cut open and that’s how my son arrived. To this day I feel as if I was robbed of the one thing that was mine to experience and to experience only once. I am thankful every day that it didn't impact our bonding. I achieved this through breastfeeding him until he self-weaned at ten months (too early!). The aftercare I received was awful too. Even now, EIGHT years on, it has me petrified of giving my son a sibling.”