Positive Elective Cesarean Birth at Hospital HM Nuevo Belén
Laura is originally from the UK and chose to give birth at Nuevo Belen with the One to One team via an elective Cesarean birth in 2021.
After realising I was still holding on to some trauma from the birth of my first son, I proactively searched out the possibility of having a planned caesarean. I hit a brick wall with professionals in the public system, who told me that electing to give birth this way wasn't allowed unless for medical reasons. I was also told that my mental health was not a sufficient reason to choose a caesarean either. I felt both demoralised and outraged that I didn't have a choice about my body and birth.
I had heard good things about Dra. Ana Suárez and loved that I could speak English with her - though my intermediate Spanish was certainly developing with so many, solo, appointments in the public system. In my first appointment with Ana, it was her that suggested a caesarean might be the best option for me. Knowing that she is renowned for being pro-natural birth, her suggestion felt like she was actually more pro-woman than anything else. I felt seen, heard and relieved that a caesarean was, in fact, an option for me after all...if I decided to opt for it.
This birth experience was really positive for me and just what I needed to get over - or at least not dwell any longer on - my previous birth.
We chose to use the One-To-One team and met with both midwives prior to making our final decision. Marina quizzed me about choosing a caesarean. I remember feeling a bit put out at this and that I shouldn't have to justify it, but I realised she was really trying to understand me. She was excited to see the birth preferences I had put together based on a lot of reading and research. She also loved that I had put it on green paper as she knew it was more likely to be seen on the day. I wasn't asking for the moon on a stick, but I did want to be respected. Amongst some other things, I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping, dimmed lights and my own music.
Dra. Suárez had been open to some of these ideas when I spoke to her, but I also felt a little dismissed by her sometimes. Partly for some of my choices but mostly because she was always so busy that it felt like you were on a bit of a conveyer belt and she was trying to get you out of her room as quickly as possible. Sometimes she spoke over me when I was trying to ask questions or understand something linked to the birth or my body. I get it; she has a good reputation, she speaks great English etc. but my body - physically and mentally - is important and I didn't always feel like that was taken into account.
It is true to say that Ana did go out of her way to find who she thought would be the most open-minded team for my planned caesarean. The people she thought would be most likely to read my preferences and act the way I was hoping for. I really appreciated this.
On the day, Marina was the midwife that joined us and I couldn't have been happier with her. We were extremely fortunate that Covid rules changed just before the surgery and my husband was allowed to be present alongside me. I have barely been into hospitals before and the theatre seemed pretty scary - extremely bright lights and lots of people around. I anticipated this, but it was still very daunting. Marina stayed with me and helped fight for me to have my breathing mp3/music on during the set up.
The anesthetist spoke a little English and was super kind and there was another medical professional present who had lived in the UK for some months and spoke clearly to me. I was scared about the epidural and felt very vulnerable being naked and nervous in a room full of people. I know to them it was just another day at work, but to me it all felt so huge. It was quite a while until my husband could join me and I remember asking a few times where he was. Marina stayed by me and spoke directly into my ear, which I found very comforting.
I was nervous about the procedure: if I would be ok, if the baby would be ok, if I had made the right choice for us both and many other concerns.
My husband helped me change the music and the surgery was underway. Really. Fucking. Weird! Not painful, but the strangest feeling. Our little man was out within the one song; Foo Fighters - The Pretender! Marina even caught it on video and I LOVE this memory we have - amazing!
After skin-to-skin, my husband went away with our new son and they finished things with me in the theatre. Gradually there were less and less people around and I again felt vulnerable as I was fully aware that I was naked and uncovered on the table. I didn't like this so much and wish they would have covered me up. I know they'd just seen my insides, but a little dignity would have been appreciated. Marina later covered me up as we waited. I was cold too by this point as we had to wait longer for a porter to be available.
Overall, it was a quick, easy, weird and positive experience.
Marina posted on her Instagram (@marinawonderbirth) about the birth, focusing on 'el papel verde' https://www.instagram.com/p/CN5VzOclQ7C/?utm_medium=copy_link and advocating to mums-to-be that they can make choices about their birth. Not all of my preferences were met, but on the whole, I was very satisfied with the care.
Less so the after care, specifically about my scar. I had researched lots previously and was already seeing a specialist physio, but was disappointed that not much else was provided by the doctor. This was also true in the follow ups I had in the weeks after the op.
Thank you for sharing your experience Laura!
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Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. There are many factors to consider at all times. The support of a doula from home to hospital adds an additional layer of support for both the birthing person and partner. Continuous care and individualized support both increase the likelihood of satisfaction with one's birth experience, regardless of the birth outcome (C-section, instrumental birth, etc).