Baby Tom born at Vincent Pallotti on 27 November 2017
I met Sam Suter quite last minute, just a few weeks before her due date and she was looking to have a doula for her birth. “I had always wanted a natural birth, although I am hesitant to use that word now, as no birth is unnatural,” says Sam, who opens her birth story (below) with that line. As time went on, she developed an unusually high blood pressure and had to be induced. On the day of her induction her blood pressure just kept climbing and in the end a caesarean became necessary.
“The whole birth experience was not ‘perfect’ or how I had envisioned it, but I had to go with the flow, what was best for my baby and I – and I think that is a huge learning for parenthood overall – so for James and I learning this early was a gift in many ways,” says Sam. “To laugh, find the joy in every situation and make the most of it. Because we won’t always be perfect parents, and Tom won’t always be the perfect child. But we have love, and joy and should be present in every situation and just enjoy it as it unfolds.”
Since meeting Sam, James Suter and Tom, they have crept into my heart and are there to stay. A very warm family, beautiful souls. Here is Sam’s story of remaining flexible, birthing her baby and allowing the tigress within to emerge. Thank you for the honour – it was a very special caesarean. Much love to you special people… <3 Check out the breathtaking photos of Sam’s birth… xx #charleneyaredwest #relaxintobirth #empoweringbirthsandnewparents
“I had always wanted a natural birth, although I am hesitant to use that word now as no birth is unnatural.
At 36 weeks pregnant, my blood pressure reading was high and and continued to increase or remain too high. My gynaecologist kept a close eye on me and allowed my baby boy to grow and develop in my womb for another (almost) four weeks but at 39 weeks on one of these check ups with her, my reading was higher than it had ever been before, and she decided to induce me for natural birth.
I was induced with the hopes that contractions would start and I could have a natural birth, this was around at 10am in the morning and at 10pm at night, although contractions had begun, they were ever so slight and my blood pressure was continuing to rise. The decision had to be made to have a caesarean section and I could see that my gynaecologist didn’t want to tell me because she knew that I would be upset and that it was really the only thing to do, with me being at risk of a stroke and of course with labour comes pain which means that my blood pressure would generally increase even more. So, I had 20 minutes to get my head around the fact that I was going to have a caesarean, in between filling out paperwork and being prepped for surgery. It was difficult, and I was anxious but at the same time I knew that very soon I was going to meet my baby boy and so there was a sense of excitement as well of course.
I’ve heard a lot about caesareans and I’ve read a lot about them prior to my birth and I did have concerns – mostly around the natural hormones that are released during and post birth that my baby and I may miss out on, and on how the initial meeting between my son and I would be – I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted everything that should happen in his body and mine to happen the way it should to ensure that he had the best start in life and we had the best start at our relationship, because I think that all those things play a role later on in life. I went into a cesarean thinking that possibly there was something that I was going to miss out on or that Tom was going to miss out on because we weren’t having that natural birth experience.
However, I have to say that for me, I ended up having a beautiful experience, although traumatic, because it was honestly more than I could have hoped for and not only because it was a caesarean and I had concerns, but because obviously I never had a child before and It was really just simply amazing. I believe all birth experiences have an element of trauma, and this is all part of it – but for me the euphoria and the memory of seeing Tom for the first time way outweighed any trauma.
I had an incredible doula and that just made a huge difference, she ensured that all my requests were met as you are generally quite distracted during birth! Things like delayed cord clamping and that the curtain was dropped and I could actually see my baby boy come out. That skin on skin happened immediately and I could hold Tom just after he was born. We also had an incredible team, we had a couple of cameras in there because my husband and I are in the film and photography business and we had the anaesthetist and our doula picking up the cameras and snapping away – there was just this real feeling of being safe and everyone seemed as excited as us, with the best bedside manner, just so caring, loving and sensitive. That also just made it for my husband James and I. The people that were by our side through it.
What I didn’t know and what some people might not know is that even if you’ve had a caesarean, nature takes over and the hormone oxytocin is released – in both mom and baby, it’s not as though it’s not released just because you having a caesarean, even with anaesthetic our bodies are so incredible – nature is so strong, it takes over and you experience that high and you experience that bonding with your child with this natural hormone being released. I was definitely feeling the oxytocin and looking back the experience is such a happy one. Happy is in fact not the word to describe it – it was the most incredible human experience I have ever had.
Another thing that I think made it really great was Tom’s breast crawl. Because I never went into ‘hard-core’ labour, I didn’t have the opportunity to be offered any pain medication and so I didn’t have any pain medication in my system. I went into the cesarean without having anything other than of course the anaesthetic, but that was it – and so there was little that had a major impact on Tom.
They often say that when a baby is born via caesarean section that they are slightly less alert possibly because of these drugs in their system, however, Tom was none of these things and what was just a huge gift to me after all my concerns around a C-section. Not only was Tom incredibly alert, but when placed on me he started crawling towards my breast. My doula said not to show him where to go, that he should rather find his way himself, and I will never forget Tom on his tummy his neck up, head sort of bobbing trying to make his way to my breast. My husband used to be a full time game ranger and compared Tom to a new-born lion cub. We couldn’t believe this new-born child making his way toward my breast on his own, just showing such strength of character already and obviously giving me reassurance that even though we had had a cesarean section, he was just doing so well. We felt really blessed and I think everyone has a part of their birth experience that just really stands out for them and that moment really stood out for us, and will always.
The other thing that I think is worth sharing is that after birth, if you are in a hospital, there are a lot of people wanting to help you and wanting to guide you and this is all fair and well and it’s wonderful to have help but often these people can not have the instincts that a mother has and perhaps not do things the way you want to do things and they may push you in a certain way, so it’s always good to understand what you want and do your research prior to birth because then you are able to sift through which help you need when you are in a hospital. I had Tom screaming a couple of hours after the birth as babies do, and I had all sorts of nurses around me telling me how to breastfeed, wanting to help, … and the tigress within me came out and I told everyone to get out of the room and to just give us some time. I was able to shush Tom very quickly obviously being his mom (never question yourself as mom, you know best) and we were able to figure out breastfeeding on our own. It’s not that I never consulted someone or got help about breastfeeding, it’s just that the initial time is so precious – you don’t need a million people interfering , it just makes things more tricky.
The whole birth experience was not ‘perfect’ or how I had envisioned it, but I had to go with the flow, what was best for my baby and I and I think that is a huge learning for parenthood overall – so for James and I learning this early was a gift in many ways. To laugh, find the joy in every situation and make the most of it. Because we won’t always be perfect parents, and Tom won’t always be the perfect child. But we have love, and joy and should be present in every situation and just enjoy it as it unfolds.”