I've been expecting this story to appear in the media given the treatment I have received from my home NHS Trust regarding my current pregnancy.
My first child was born in 2009 under a c-section due to being an undiagnosed breech birth. After my waters breaking I spent 3 days waiting to go into labour. During this time a scan revealed the breech position and I then experienced several shift-changes of Consultants all doing their best to convince me to abandon my plan for a natural birth and elect for a c-section later that night. A second scan revealed that the baby could not be turned (no fluid left) and there was a risk that she would not fit through my 'geometry', hence I eventually agreed to what turned out to be an easy op and I was back running on the treadmill 3 weeks afterwards. At the time the Consultants were quite clear that I could try a natural birth in future (VBAC) if I wanted, but with my geometry, the scar on my uterus and the fact I never went into labour I would be best advised to book an elective c-section. Added to that fact was my daughter, having being stuck head upwards for several weeks prior to birth, developed a condition called torticolis. This is a potentially serious condition in which the neck muscles do not develop properly preventing the baby turning their head to one side, and the facial features on the affected side can 'migrate' around the face if it is not fixed. It also causes a flat head on one side and rounded on the other giving a terribly-upsetting lop-sided appearance. Fortunately intensive physio over 18 months avoided the need for an op for her and she is now mostly symmetrical.
Fast forward to my current pregnancy. I have moved area and am now under a different NHS Trust - Mid-Essex Health Authority - some 150 miles from the previous. At 16 weeks I was summoned to a meeting to discuss VBAC (seriously - I was told this was a mandatory meeting and I couldn't give birth without it!). At this meeting I was informed that despite my fears over a natural birth and the advice I had been given at my previous pregnancy, there was a new (2-3 month old) policy of forcing all mum-to-be into a 48-hour 'trial of labour'. As I had a previous section, I would have to be on a drip with a catheter, therefore stuck on a bed unable to eat, drink or move for the entire time. In the event my labour did not progress (ie exactly like last time) they would try different methods of trying to start labour - which is both more painful and more dangerous. At no point during this time would I be able to have a c-section unless the baby or myself were classed as in danger. Plus as the baby is due at Christmas they would prefer to avoid pushing me too hard and into an emergency c-section as staffing levels are low at this time...
Incidentally, the statistics of interest are: 60-70% of attempted VBACs end in success. Ie 30-40% of MOTIVATED women attempting a natural birth after a c-section do not succeed and end up with an emergency c-section. Added to this, the risks of an emergency c-section are 3 times that of a planned c-section. So, pretty much a third to a half of such women treble their risk. These stats really don't add up for me, or allay my fears given that I never made it into labour last time AND have a higher risk of baby becoming stuck. However, a cynic might be able to prove that overall it saves money.
I was also told that I could discuss my fears at a consultant meeting, but not until 31-34 weeks and a decision would be taken then over my 'wish' to have a planned c-section. However as this was a new process there was as yet no process of appeal over the decision - not that there would be time to do so successfully anyway.
So all in all I have been given the threat of utterly barbaric treatment from an NHS Trust which has no interest in my previous medical notes or the likelihood of my second child developing torticolis. This includes a hugely stressful 15-week wait to hear my fate during which time I cannot sleep or eat properly - hardly ideal conditions for a pregnant lady and one brought about by a callous new process devised by people who should know better. I am clearly not motivated to have a successful VBAC and think it highly likely I will need a true emergency c-section if forced down the VBAC route, at 3 times the risk to myself and baby. Along the way I have found this Trust's literature promoting VBAC unbalanced, comparing as it does the risks of VBAC versus emergency c-section, when it ought to be the risks of VBAC which include a possible emergency c-section, versus planned c-section.
Fortunately, I have just been able to switch Trust and meet with a Consultant this week (22 weeks' pregnant) to discuss my history and fears. I believe this Trust to be more balanced in their approach and hope that I can get a sensible resolution. To anyone else faced with this dilemma I can only say "exercise your right to choice, force your surgery to switch you to a different Trust (and believe me they will do it but you have to be prepared to make a pain of yourself) and assume things can't get any worse at the new Trust. Rope in friends and family for support because trying to tackle this on your own when pregnant, knackered, sick and hormonal is not a good recipe for a healthy pregnancy."
I hope my story has helped someone.