By Megha Khanduja
When I got pregnant for the second time, I was concerned about having a healthy delivery. My first baby had been born through a caesarean section (C-section). It was an excruciating experience as I was unprepared. I went to the hospital without contractions or labour symptoms. Doctors had to induce me to break water, followed by a few hours of contractions and labour.
Then my doctor suddenly called for an emergency C-section as my baby’s heartbeat dropped too quickly. I was too scared to question the doctor, which I now think I should have.
In the next few minutes, I was taken to the operation theatre. The anaesthesiologist administered a spinal block. My husband wasn’t allowed in the operating room. A curtain was placed at my chest, which pushed me into an avalanche of anxiety, completely unaware of the process. My doctor announced that she was making the uterine incision.
After the absolute loss of sensations due to the epidural, there was a lot of pulling and tugging and suddenly I felt my tummy light. My little one was out and all I could focus on was hearing his first cry. They held him up over the curtain, then whisked him away to check the vitals and clean him up.
I thought I would be emotional right away but I wasn’t. Since I didn’t see him come out, and barely even felt anything, it took about two or three days for it to sink in that my son was here. I had to consciously make the connection myself.
What followed next was torture. Getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was an hour-long process. Memories of rolling over to get out of bed in those first three weeks will always haunt me. I felt like every stitch was going to pop out.
To make things worse, I suffered from postpartum mental health issues. Back then, I figured I was just angry and sad about the external circumstances. I somehow managed to struggle through the depression.
At this point, Vedic chanting came into my life as I met my guru who elaborated the science behind chanting. It gave me a ray of hope, helped me channelise my emotions, and relieved me from the vulnerability of having a second child.
Though there would be a gap of 10 years between my children, my husband and I decided to go ahead. This time, I kept myself informed about the whole process. I detested the idea of a second C-section. By default, I kept visiting the same doctor until my 30th week of pregnancy, but I also sought information on a health-care provider who followed natural-birth practices.
Here is where chanting helped me. The universe functions in a particular fashion and we as human beings can connect with its manifestations through spirituality.
So, at week 30, I got a call from a friend that she has been certified as a Lamaze childbirth educator and invited us to attend her class. I decided to do my research before visiting her. I happened to pick up an amazing book, Giving Birth with Confidence: The Official Lamaze Guide. In my opinion, this is the first book every pregnant woman should read before she makes any decisions about her maternity care.
Influenced by the book, I enrolled in a Lamaze childbirth education class. It was all about preparing yourself for making the best decisions for you and your baby, and made me feel more relaxed and confident.
During my last trimester, I switched to another healthcare provider, even though the institution was 30 km away from my home. My new doctor considered me an eligible candidate for a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC). I prepared myself thoroughly for what lay ahead.
On the evening of April 1, 2018, I went into labour. By 9 pm, as the contractions got stronger and closer together, we left for the hospital. By the time we reached, the contractions were uncomfortable but I began walking around, which helped the baby descend. I used the birthing ball, did squats, ate a bit.
When I got exhausted, they hooked me up to monitors but my baby was doing great. My labour went on for five hours. The final stage was very quick and only took two or three pushes. Finally at 3.50 am on April 2, our son was born.
Both my husband and I witnessed his pink-skinned entrance into the world. We asked the doctor to delay the cord clamping and to have immediate skin-to-skin contact. He latched on soon after birth, and it was a brilliant start to the breast-feeding process. My dream for a natural birth had come true. It was one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life.
Expectant mothers are often conditioned to believe that once you have a C-section delivery, you have no choice but to keep having C-sections, but I managed to have a successful VBAC. Along with my spiritual lessons, it made me see the infinite potential that lies in me.
Megha Khanduja is a Gurugram-based recruitment specialist.
First published in eShe’s April 2020 issue