Content warning: This is one woman’s experience and should not be taken as professional medical advice.
I was fortunate to become pregnant for the second time at 43 and was adamant I was going to have an ecstatic, drug-free birth, as I had done with my first.
The senior obstetrician warned that I had a higher risk of a stillbirth being over the age of 38.
This did not sit well with me. I was well-informed and had seen documentaries like the Business of Being Born warning against synthetic syntocin drips which make contractions all the more severe and don’t allow the body to naturally prepare for them.
It would also mean being attached to a drip and a heart-rate monitor, restricting my movement. And then there was the threat of it all failing and ending up with a feared caesarean.
So, I left the appointment determined to do more research and everything I could to avoid needing to be induced.
Unfortunately, my efforts failed when I reached 38 weeks and found out I had cholestasis, a condition which causes extreme itchiness on the hands and feet, particularly at night due to bile acids entering the blood stream. Another side-effect of the condition is an increase in the risk of still birth.
Faced with the double issues of my age and cholestasis, I was left with no choice but to acquiesce and agree to the induction at 39 weeks.
However, I was still adamant I wanted to be induced on my terms, rather than being pushed through the hospital’s time-frame.
I was told the induction procedure would involve having a balloon inserted into my vagina to stimulate dilation and then two hours later having my waters broken and being put on a syntocin drip. My baby ended up being too high up so rather the balloon I was given prostaglandin gel.
I wanted to give myself more time to allow my body to go into labour naturally after the balloon was inserted, and thus avoid the drip. I asked at earlier appointments and knew they could push out the two-hour time-frame. But on the day, my unwillingness to follow standard induction procedures did not sit well with the midwife.
“You do realise you are here to be induced don’t you,” she said. I did, but I stood my ground.