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Mum who suffered permanent injuries from child birth is speaking out against a push in natural births to reduce the rate of caesarean deliveries.

Former personal trainer, Amy Dawes, suffered a stage two bladder and bowel prolapse after her daughter Eliya was delivered via the forceps method in December 2013.

The injury meant she couldn’t lift her daughter or run after her.

‘You never think at 35 years of age that your body could be broken beyond repair,’ she told Daily Mail Australia on Sunday.

‘Having to think how I get out of bed in the morning, having to manage how I move. I can’t say I feel 80 years of age but I feel older than my years.’

The Brisbane woman’s pelvic floor muscle was completely torn from her pubic bone when she gave birth in a New South Wales public hospital, aged 32.

The first-time mother’s physiotherapist advised her to avoid lifting heavy objects.

‘I do think I’m altered as a person because of how different my life is,’ Ms Dawes said.

‘This is such a sensitive subject. It’s very hard to get women to talk about this.’

She really wanted to avoid a caesarean delivery and have a natural birth, but is now speaking out against a NSW government policy of reducing the rate of caesarean births.

‘There should be some focus about the mother’s wellbeing,’ she said.

‘It is so important to make change in this area.

‘Fifty percent of women who deliver a baby vaginally will suffer from pelvic organ prolapse at some point in their lifetime, but no one talks about it, it’s a silent epidemic.’

She is upset at not being informed of the risks of a forceps delivery, which took place after she had been in labour for 19 hours in excruciating pain.

‘I didn’t know what the long-term implications could be,’ she said.

‘There’s nothing more disempowering than choosing something that you think is best for your baby but realising you’ve altered your life completely.’

She said the forceps birth left her unable to walk for four weeks, and diminished her ability to exercise.

‘I lost my sense of self largely due to the fact that I couldn’t exercise like I used to – think weightlifting, Muay Thai and everything else in between,’ she said on her website, Mummy Manifesto.

‘Exercise had been a huge passion of mine for many years, so much so, that I qualified as a personal trainer in 2011.

‘With my new role as a mama, I had lost some of my identity.’

Amy writes on her blog, “I felt compelled to write having recently heard of another woman’s experience at the same hospital where I had my daughter.

The woman who was, like me, desperate for a ‘natural’ birth faced the same forceps or C-section decision and, having been given her options and told about the risk of prolapse and incontinence, she opted for a caesarean. I found myself wondering again whether, had I been informed of the risks, I would have chosen the latter. The answer isn’t 100% yes. I mean, it wasn’t until my girl was 16 months old that I truly discovered what pelvic organ prolapse is!

While we all did the best we could with what we knew at the time, there are still moments when I fleetingly wonder how different it may have been had my midwife been on duty that day, had I been better informed about the risks of forceps deliveries and had I not been in labour for 19 hours, awake for about 48 hours and completely out of it. What I do know is that I can’t keep looking back, or forward. All the matters is what I do with my knowledge now.”

Do you have a similar story to tell? We would love to hear from you.

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  • Not a very nice situation to find yourself in. I wish they would look at this more on an individual basis.

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  • I am so sorry to hear what she went through.

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  • Interesting article. I had a traumatic birth that resulted in forceps and vacuum extraction. We were very close to an emergency caesar. I had so much epidural (the anaesthesist made 3 attempts) that I did not regain feeling for 5 hours after my son’s birth. I remember being told to push when I was pushing so hard I was about to pass out. I don’t believe I’ve been right ever since and would not be surprised if a prolapse is in my future. During the epidural, my fluid sac was punctured which resulted in an emergency spinal patch on the day I was supposed to go home with my baby. This explained the extreme pain during my hospital stay post-birth that could not be fixed with physio), my inability to breastfeed, and inability to do anything for my child. When I returned home, my husband had to do everything for our son while I recovered on the couch. I believe this affected bonding with my son too. It was so traumatic I never considered going back for another child, and 15 years on, is still as vivid as the day it happened.

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  • Quite traumatic for this mum. C- sections are major abdominal surgery though and the push to reduce numbers of them when they are not necessary needs to continue.

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  • I know a Mum that the midwives detected problems and rang her specialist.
    He told them to keep going as they were and didn’t go to the hospital until he was called again 2 hours later. Her bladder was so badly damaged and others to a lesser extent that she had to have bladder surgery immediately after the birth and is unable to have another baby.

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  • So sad that you had this happen to you. Lots of pelvic floor exercises might be able to help you – go to a urologist and take the advice they give you. Have seen it work for some.

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  • I did as the midwives told me with my first two babies and ended up having a c-section with my first and the suction cup thing with my second. With my third I did what I felt was right, and stood up rather than lie down like they insisted. My third went smoothly and quickly. Listen to your body! The midwives even wanted me to lie back down when my daughter’s head was out, lol. I didn’t.

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  • I think that there’s so much going on in our minds, especially as first time mums that there are many things we might not think about. I do think it’s important, and the responsiblity of health care professionals to inform mothers about the potential risks associated with different birthing procedures. However, everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to child birth. While I didn’t experience any organ prolaps, I did have a very weak pelvic floor and suffered from incontinence for about two months. That’s when I decided that there had to be something I could do to put my body back together, because quite frankly, child birth does tear our bodies apart! I’m very fortunate to have discovered “low pressure fitness” training that has helped to strengthen my core and also to repair my diastasis. I would recommed this training to all mother’s who’ve just given birth!

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  • i had my first child at 16 years of age and after 24 hours of agony they did a forceps delivery. there were lumps on my little girl’s head from the forceps. I was torn inside and out and had to be stitched up screaming. I have had urinary incontinence / urgency my whole life. my second daughters birth when i was 20 was straightforward. I am now 63 and incontinent at night.. I feel this woman’s pain.

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  • No I don’t have a similar story to tell, I had C-sections without complications.
    But I know any type of delivery can have complications and I’m sorry to hear how this mum suffered stage two bladder and bowel prolapse, that must have been quite hard.

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  • There should not be a blanket rule for everyone, as every pregnancy is different.

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  • This is really difficult, as there are risks with c sections too.

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  • Poor lady, but not a good reason to prevent cesareans. The chances of this happening are quite small.

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  • That’s scary! I had two natural births without complications, I was lucky!

    Reply

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