Birth Story: a healing General Anaesthetic Caesarean

This is the story of a truly amazing and healing birth, after the trauma of my son’s birth.

With my son I had a category 1 General Anaesthetic (GA) caesarean section after induction caused contractions to be too strong, causing his heart rate to drop too low. By the time I got into theatre he had no heartbeat. I was put under and told when I wake I may not have a baby. It was truly heart breaking.

In the end, he survived, although he was born with five undiagnosed heart defects. He had emergency heart surgery at 7 weeks old, and we spent his first Christmas and New Year in hospital. He is doing ok now, although still small, and has global developmental delay and a few other things.

To have a general anaethetic for the caesarean – rather than a spinal – was my personal choice. I have severe needle phobia and I knew I wouldn’t cope with a spinal or epidural due to the needle sizes being bigger. I had more cannulas and bigger cannulas placed once I was under GA too.

So, when it came to birthing my second baby, I elected to have a GA caesarean. I arrived in hospital on at 7am, and waited for the anaesthetist to see me. The anaesthetist successfully inserted a special infant cannula (due to my needle phobia) the first time. I then managed to calm down, I battled hyperemesis the whole pregnancy and I could feel myself getting ready to start vomiting again, so a midwife quickly fetched my max dose of ondansetron (an anti nausea drug) to put through my cannula and get it working quicker.

Around 11.40am was my call to theatre, and I walked down the corridors to theatre, fear struck, as not only did I know needles would be present, I also knew there were possibilities my daughter could be born poorly like my son. Fear then turned to excitement and back to fear then back to excitement again.

I wrote down all my wishes in advance and everyone in theatre was aware that I wanted to do things a certain way. They were:

1. Everyone uses gloves to hold my baby so she has my skin to touch first
2. Capture photos of everything regardless of how baby comes out
3. Use cord tie provided
4. Do not dress baby
5. Immediate skin to skin with theatre staff holding baby on me as much as possible
6. Neonatal checks to be done and baby put back with me
7. Catheter to be placed prior to GA and completely prepare me for the section prior to GA to limit GA going to baby.
8. If needed baby to be given my expressed colostrum while I am under.
9. Help latching baby on me as soon as possible even if I am unable to hold her.

All of my wishes were adhered to, and she came out with perfect apgar results.

I wasn’t offered skin to skin with my son and as he was resuscitated at birth and went to SCBU for a few hours and had blood sugar monitoring for 24hrs. The skin to skin and photos of my daughter’s birth really helped heal me from the trauma and emotions surrounding my son’s birth. I’m so happy the first persons skin she touched was mine and everyone used gloves in theatre.

​As soon as I could after I came round from the GA, I was handed my phone and nearly burst into tears seeing the amazing photos. I had my perfect daughter, skin to skin and on my chest for the next 24hrs as I wasn’t ready to give her up before then. These final two pictures were taken of us in recovery, where she latched on beautifully and is now a champion feeder! I’m so happy we had this healing birth experience and that my wishes were listened to – it made all the difference.