When in March 2010, Sharon Natukunda a fiirst time mother then, passed her due date by three weeks, she started to worry. There was no sign of labour. Together with her doctor, they agreed that she be induced into labour using drugs.
“I was sure that I would push the baby once the drugs were administered. But after 14 hours of intense labour pains, my cervix failed to open and the baby was big. When the doctor told me that I had no choice but to agree to a C-section, I complied but that did not take away my disappointment,” Natukunda narrates. She says: “It had not occurred to me that I would have my child by C-section. That was not what I wanted. But because it was an emergency I agreed although it took me time to get over it.”
Natukunda gave birth to a baby boy weighing 4.8kgs. However, what she has failed to forgive herself for, is the fact that she was unable to hold and breastfeed her baby after birth. It took another day and even when she finally met him, she could not hold him as she was recovering from the operation. “And my baby had been fed on formula. I did not agree with that either but had no choice. The dos and don’ts were just too many and that’s when I made my mind that I will never do another C-section unless it’s a matter of life and death,” says the 27-year-old mother of two.
A year after, Natukunda got pregnant with her second child. Even when it was considered too soon by her doctors bearing in my mind that she had delivered by C-section, she decided that she would go natural.
Early antenatal visits
“I started going for antenatal visits early, partly to check my scar to ensure that it had healed properly. This went on until the last week of my pregnancy. When I ascertained that the scar had healed properly, I set my mind to do everything possible to have my baby delivered through the normal birth canal.”
While Natukunda had made her choice, the doctors constantly reminded her that it was very risky and that she was likely going to have more complications if she insisted on the natural birth method, reason being that she was having another baby too soon after the first one.
Medically, it’s recommended that a mother takes a break of at least three years before they can have another baby if the previous one was delivered by C-section. And if it’s less than that period, the next baby should also be delivered by the same method to avoid complications. Natukunda, a revenue assistant at Civil Aviation Authority was not going to take any of that.
“I wanted the doctors to give a clear reason. Maybe that my blood pressure was too high, that I was diabetic, that my pelvic bones had not fully developed or that the baby was lying in a wrong position; maybe I would have listened. I just didn’t like this “it’s risky” response because I didn’t think that the circumstances that led me to be operated during the first pregnancy would be the same.”
She went on to consult different doctors about the possibility of having a normal delivery. She dreaded having a scar on another scar. She got even more hope when one of the doctors she consulted told her that she would be given a chance to try. “I wanted to go to the labour suit – not the theatre, not again,” she says. When her expected date of delivery came and passed, Natukunda’s doctor called and asked her to go to the hospital but she did not do that. She asked him for another week, after assuring him that if she got any strange feeling or complication, she would run to the hospital.
The week passed and there was no sign. She says that at that point she started losing hope of “pushing” her baby so she packed her bags and headed to the hospital.
Four hours later, a doctor came to her room and told her that the best thing for her to do at that point was to go for C-section. She debated on whether to sign the form but decided against it and rather called the midwife who had been monitoring her. “I asked her to check my cervix for any signs of progress. Usually, they do this at particular times so I had to practically beg and she agreed. She gave me good news when she said that the cervix was opening and assured me that I would give birth normally. I became stronger,” she recollects.
When the doctors came to take her to the theatre, she insisted on a natural birth. So, about four doctors and midwives decided to monitor her until she finally gave birth to her second baby boy.
Natukunda says that she cannot compare the joy she felt when the baby was placed in her arms immediately to what she felt when she woke up from anaesthesia following the birth of her first born.
To date, while she loves both her sons, Natukunda says she feels a special bond for the child she birthed normally saying that the bond was established at birth unlike her first. “I was able to hold and breastfeed him. Even when he was taken to the nursery for special care, I could easily walk there and spend more time with him – just because I was able.”
Natukunda is now eight months pregnant with her third child and she is convinced that she will deliver her baby normally even when the doctors have told her that the baby is lying in a wrong position. “I’m simply positive that by the time I go into labour, the baby will be in the right position. I cannot trade natural birth method for anything,” she reaffirmingly says.