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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 01:14 GMT 02:14 UK
'I had a Caesarean I didn't need'
By Caroline Ryan
BBC News Online health staff

L to R - Jo Sweeney with son Allan, daughter Nina and sister-in-law Alison
Jo Sweeney had two very different experiences of giving birth
Experts are publishing guidelines telling doctors and mums-to-be when it is best for women to give birth by Caesarean and when it is not.

Jo Sweeney, who lives in London, tells BBC News Online why having her first baby by emergency Caesarean changed her life.

I'm not against Caesareans but I do think they are over-used
Jo Sweeney
"When I became pregnant for the first time, I assumed it would all go smoothly.

"I looked at pregnancy books, but I skipped the pages about Caesareans. I didn't really think it would happen to me."

But when her waters began to leak, Jo went into hospital. Over the next 24 hours, doctors tried to induce her labour, but with no success.

She was told she needed an emergency Caesarean.

"At the time I felt relieved because I just wanted it to be over. I'd been left alone for quite a lot of the time and had been laid on my back, connected to monitors, so I was very uncomfortable."

Healing process

After her daughter Nina was born, Jo got on with being a mother.

But she said the trauma of the birth really hit her a year later. "I really started to think how awful it had been.

"It was something I hadn't expected - it hadn't occurred to me that I would need a Caesarean.

"It did take me a long time to recover. I found it very difficult to even get out of bed.

"I also wasn't able to breastfeed because I just couldn't cope with learning a new skill while I was in so much pain and discomfort.

"I went to see the head of midwifery at the hospital where I gave birth, and she told me that if I'd had better midwifery care, I probably wouldn't have needed a Caesarean."

She added: "My second birth, in 2001, was a very different experience. I had a water birth at home."

She says: "I hoped it would be a healing process, but it made me feel even worse about the first one."

Following the birth of her son, Jo trained as a National Childbirth Trust adviser.

She said: "I see women who have Caesareans and think if they'd had better support, they could have given birth naturally.

"I'm not against Caesareans. But I do think they are over-used."

Jo, who now also works as a birth supporter and as a breastfeeding counsellor, added: "I can't regret what happened to me because it changed my life completely.

"But I would certainly want to change things so that it doesn't happen to anyone else."

Caesareans 'must be discouraged'
28 Apr 04  |  Health
'How we cut Caesarean numbers'
28 Apr 04  |  Health
More women having natural births
01 Apr 04  |  Health

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