health

'I delivered my own c-section and want to inspire others.'

Mothers who have helped deliver their own babies during c-sections are hoping to inspire others to have wider birth choices.

“People assume blood and guts and your insides but I didn’t see my insides,” said Jane Prichard.

Jane was the first mother to have an assisted maternal delivery at her hospital and she is hoping it could start a trend.

“I had a traditional cesarean before and I was determined this time that I didn’t want that same clinical cold experience again,” she said.

Jane looks at her son for the first time. Image courtesy of Jane Prichard and Breathe Birth Photography

Inspired by clips she watched on  Youtube, Jane asked her obstetrician, Shiri Dutt, if he she could be involved.

With six days notice Dr Drutt "organised the whole thing" and changed procedures at John Flynn Private Hospital so Jane could help deliver her baby.

“I wasn't scared. It was the best decision I ever made in my life," she said.

“I did say to my husband that morning -  ‘I hope I don’t drop him’ – because they are slippery when they’re first born."

Jane and son Tex start bonding. Image courtesy of Jane Prichard and Breathe Birth Photography

Another mother, Sarah Downs, was inspired by Jane's story after reading it in a local paper and went to see the same obstetrician to make the same choice.

"It felt like I delivered my own baby," said Sarah.

"It was the best thing ever, it’s so amazing...I was so excited to meet her," Sarah said..

Sarah scrubbed up, had a hand with the epidural, the incision and then it was up to her to handle her baby.

"Once her head was out, my hands were there waiting to go underneath her arms and I pulled her straight up onto my chest," she said.

"When I lifted her up out of my stomach she opened her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. The first person she got to see was me."

And that was the point. Sarah didn't want to be "laying there with a sheet up" - she wanted to be the first to see her daughter.

"It definitely made it a better experience. It made it more personal," she said.

She wasn't even worried about fumbling. "I was scared more of the epidural than anything else," she said.

Jane "felt pumped" while giving birth. Image courtesy of Jane Prichard and Breathe Birth Photography

Both women are trying to inspire and inform other women about birth choices. In fact, both women came up with the idea.

"I’d definitely recommend it," said Sarah

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"If women are healthy enough and can do it I hope that I can inspire them to do it."

But Professor Stephen Robson, spokesperson from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is doubtful about maternal assisted c-sections growing in popularity.

"Despite it being around for a decade, and despite there being some obvious social media interest, I have never had a request.  I have never heard of any of my local colleagues being asked, or of them doing it."

The obstetrician who helped Sarah Downs and Jane Prichard says he offers it mothers who already have a planned c-section and are motivated for the experience.

"The procedure is done in low risk caesarean sections with prior counselling, training and the involvement of the full team including midwives, operating theatre staff, anaesthetist, paediatrician and the surgical team.

"All procedure related risks still exist and protocols for safe procedure still apply," said Dr Shiri Dutt.

The key thing here is that all his requests have come from mothers.

Doula Angela Gallo says mothers need more birth choices to create a positive experience.

"If this can open up doors for families who are left with no choice but a surgical birth, we should be doing whatever we can to provide a gentle, empowering experience for them."

Another mother who assisted in delivering her own baby, Kylie Szabo, has become an advocate for maternal assisted caesareans - and has changed attitudes around the world.

"I got to see all of her as I lifted her from my body into the air and placed her safely on my chest, where she immediately settled," Kylie told  Women's Weekly.

Kylie and her daughter. Image courtesy Kylie Szabo/Facebook

"My little girl was here. I cried – and I think I saw tears in everyone’s eyes. It was a beautiful moment," she said.

Kylie's story attracted media attention and a lot of new friends on Facebook.

"I never thought that when I fell pregnant, that the child I was carrying would change how caesarean births around the world would be offered to women," Kylie said on Facebook.

"I'm grateful to have an amazing ob, hospital and private midwife who supported my birth choices to allow me that experience."