Meet Ann-Marie, first-time mom to a beautiful bouncing baby boy. She shared her story with us about how unexpected circumstances led her planned C-section to turn into a natural birth, and how it changed her life, and her view of giving birth, forever.

When Ann-Marie first found out she was pregnant, she and hubby Marius were over the moon.  After the initial waves of joy passed however, she found herself overcome with anxiety at the prospect of giving birth to her bundle of joy. “I heard all the horror stories and tales of my mom and other friends who have gone through the pain of natural birth and decided right-off that it wasn’t for me,” she says.  “After all, I thought, modern medicine meant I could forego the birthing process with a planned, not to mention convenient, C-section.”

According to Ann-Marie, she didn’t do any research on natural birth before making her decision and saw the option of a C-section as the “modern way” to have a baby. “You hear about the unimaginably long hours in labour, the pain, the tearing, the midnight rush to the hospital and you think, why go through it?” she explains.

However, when she unexpectedly had contractions before her C-section date, Ann-Marie was admitted to the labour ward and, after examination, was told she would have to give natural birth as she was already well into labour. “I was surprised as my son was a full two weeks before the C-section date and a whole month early, but after the initial shock, I decided to make the most of the situation.”

Because her labour had progressed so far, Ann-Marie was unable to have an epidural, which is aimed at curbing labour pain, and had a completely natural birth. “If I had the chance to go back and change anything, I wouldn’t,” says Ann-Marie, “Natural birth is such an awesome bonding experience between mother and child and thanks to modern medicine, and the high quality care I received throughout my labour, I realised that I would have missed so much if I had had the C-section.”

According to Dr Jacques Snyman, Product Development Director of Resolution Health’s administrator, Agility Health, natural birth offers a number of advantages for both mother and baby. “When your baby passes through your birth canal, the pressure helps to expel the amniotic fluid in your baby’s lungs. This helps to clear away any blockages in the lungs and nasal areas naturally rather than with extra medical attention. Your baby also picks up and ingests protective bacteria as they leave the birth canal. This bacteria colonises in their intestines and forms a balanced immune system as they develop from childhood into adulthood.”

According to Dr Snyman, The benefits for mothers are also numerous. “The recovery time for a vaginal delivery is much shorter than with a C-section. Within hours, you can stand, go to the bathroom and even shower if you’d like. In addition, since you had your child vaginally, there is no scarring, which means your subsequent births have zero risk of tearing any uterine scars left over from a C-section.”  

The mother and child morbidity and mortality is statistically lower if the majority of births are natural and dealt with by experienced obstetric teams.  In addition, the number of babies admitted to neonatal ICU increases with the incidence of C-sections. Less interference from hospital staff means less emergency scenarios for mom and baby, giving both a higher rate of survival.

“When my son was born, most of the women in the maternity ward were struggling to cope with their babies while they recovered from their C-section, while the other natural birth moms and I were up and about almost immediately,” says Ann-Marie.  

According to Dr Snyman, there is a common misperception that giving birth via C-section will prevent permanent damage to a woman’s sex life. “This is an absolute myth as C-sections can actually make intercourse more painful and there is a greater risk of scarring to your uterus. You are also much more vulnerable to infection.” 

Dr Snyman encourages women to consider natural birth wherever possible, and to only undergo C-sections where their doctors believe they are clinically necessary. “Modern medicine and the advent of epidurals and other birth assisting methods have have seen the end of age-old fears regarding the pain of childbirth, complemented by medical developments which are able to predict delivery dates with marked accuracy.  This, combined with the dedicated maternity care mothers receive during and after labour, has led to a widespread revival in natural birthing across the globe.”

“If my husband and I are blessed with another little one I will definitely go the natural birth route again,’ says Ann-Marie, “It was an awe inspiring memory that I would love to share with all my children and I would definitely recommend it.”