My labour was an intense one. With tiredness and no more physical strength and the definite acknowledgement that I wouldn’t be allowed an epidural during labour originally, when the option of an assisted birth was offered, I took it. As the midwife constantly told me to push, I physically couldn’t. I was exhausted, there was nothing more to give. Assisted births are usually offered when your baby needs assistance being delivered. They kept telling me Emily was only a few centimetres away from arriving but every ounce of my strength had gone by this point and I couldn’t give anything more. So I was offered the option of an assisted birth and originally, from my existing knowledge of this route, it wasn’t the way I wanted to go. But my knowledge of forceps was a little different to what was informed on the day and what actually happened.
What is an assisted birth?
The NHS website says “An assisted birth is when your baby needs help to be born with instruments that attach to her head. It’s also called an instrumental, or operative vaginal birth. About one birth in eight is assisted. Assisted births are often needed when labour has been long and tiring, as it can be about helping the mum as well as the baby. A long slow labour is more likely if you’re expecting your first baby. Based on statistics for England, about one in five first-time mums has an assisted birth compared with one in 14 mums who have had a baby before. The option of assisted birth helps many first-time mums to achieve a vaginal birth, and puts them in a better position to have a straightforward birth for their next baby than if they’d had a caesarean.”
When deciding what you birth plan will be for your new arrival, take it with a pinch of salt. I didn’t even get to make one and it still didn’t go how we planned it. Birth plans are usually set out to be a basic guideline, and there are so many different options or routes you’ll go down in order for your little one to arrive. For me it was the assisted delivery route or Caesarian section. I went with the former, but had to sign a document to say I agreed to the C-section should the assisted delivery not work. They advised I would be wheeled into an operating theatre. Mum had to wait in the other room whilst Sam accompanied me in, holding my hand the whole way through the procedure, until of course Emily arrived. I was given an epidural and within minutes my whole body numbed. It wasn’t long until Emily arrived and was in our arms.
All assisted deliveries happen differently. But none should be feared or cause alarm. The team that looked after me were amazing. They talk you through the whole process, they offer kind words, giggle with you and sing along to that song on the radio, if one is present. I was given the epidural I desperately wanted earlier that day, but sometimes you can be given a local anaesthetic to numb your nether regions if you haven’t already had an epidural. If your obstetrician has any concerns, you may be moved to an operating theatre so a caesarean section can be carried out if needed – for example, if the baby can’t easily be delivered by forceps or ventouse. This is more likely if your baby’s head needs to be turned.
A cut (episiotomy) may be needed to make the vaginal opening bigger. Any tear or cut will be repaired with stitches. Depending on the circumstances, your baby can be delivered and placed on your tummy, and your birth partner may still be able to cut the cord if they want to.
For anyone who is a little indecisive about having an assisted birth don’t worry about it too much. You are in the safest of hands, have the best people around you and they only have you and your baby’s health and safety as top priority.
To find out more about assisted deliveries, visit the NHS website.