“As I lay there, numb from my chest down, I couldn’t really comprehend what was about to happen to me. As they tugged back and forth, it didn’t really feel real. Had I made the right decision? Cold, clinical and clean, my twins were about to be bought into this world.”
In the weeks after the girls were born, I noticed that during conversations with health visitors, friends and even family, I felt reluctant to use the term ‘giving birth’. I hadn’t gone through labour, so I hadn’t really given birth, right? A wave of shame and disappointment would come over me as I scrambled for the right term to use, ‘since I’ve had the c-section?’. My sister would reassure me that I had given birth, albeit not the conventional way, and that giving birth was simply bringing babies into the world.
I would fill my time thinking up excuses as to why I went with a c-section and would have these excuses ready for when inevitable question came about how my labour was. “oh well I had a c-section, yeah because of the twins, it went well, quite well actually”. I felt compelled to keep all the gory details to myself. The fact that I would only ‘remember’ to go for a wee when my bladder was so full it would put agonising pressure on my wound. The anti-clotting injections I had to self-administer (squeamishly asking my sister to do so) or holding in my coughing, laughing or sneezing incase my wound opened up.
I feared to have a bath after my c-section even though I had been cleared at 3 weeks, and the glue remained on the scar for 8 as I was too scared to start pealing it off.
This made me think. When 13% of us elected for a C-section last year, why is there still such a stigma about opting for it? Why do we feel we have to justify our decisions, and why do we feel shame in being honest. Why are women celebrated and encouraged when they choose to go for a home birth but shunned when using the same planned, thought through decision-making skills opting for a Caesarean?
It’s sad to see in the 21st century, where women are being encouraged to celebrate and support each other, some mothers are being berated, judged and made to feel guilty for making a decision that they feel is best for THEM.
To break down some barriers, I’ve decided to tackle a few common misconceptions of a Caesarean section.
C-section mothers can’t bond with their babies as soon as their born:
During my C-section, I was awake, calm, and my arms were free. This allowed me to have skin to skin with my girls once they came out. Although this was for a short time as they were small (born at 37 weeks gestation) and needed some warming up, it did allow me, however, to meet them almost immediately.
Recovery from a C-section is easier than a vaginal delivery:
Says who? Quite frankly, recovery from both are quite horrific. With a vaginal delivery, yes there’s the risk of tears and stitches, but with a c-section, there is a definite 7-inch stitch across your lower abdomen. Yes with a vaginal birth there is the risk of incontinence and those dreaded pelvic floor exercises, but for a month after my C-section, I still had to set a timer on my phone to remind me to go for a wee as I had no feeling whatsoever. It’s unfair to say any is easier than the other as every individual experience is different. Let’s just agree that they are both terrible.
Women choose C-sections because they are easier:
This argument is flawed from the onset. C-sections are not easier. Women choose C-sections for various reasons including dealing with a traumatic first child delivery, the certainty of when it will happen for planning reasons, or just because they feel that this is the right way for them. Choosing how to deliver your baby is a very personal decision and shouldn’t be put down to women trying to ‘ease their way out of labour’.
Once a C-section, always a C-section:
NO. VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean sections) can actually be safer for women than repeat c-sections as they carry their own set of risks. I’m sure you’ve all heard of uterine ruptures (when the scar tears open) but believe it or not, this only occurs in 0.35% of VBAC labours which equates to about 3 in 1000. Medically you can still go for a VBAC if you’ve had two or more c-sections, and there is little difference in the risk of rupture. Most hospitals in the UK will support a women’s decision for VBAC after one c-section unless there is a medical reason proving that labour will result in some danger to the baby or mother.
If you have a C-section you haven’t ‘given birth’ or ‘delivered’ your baby:
Nonsense. A C-Section mum carried their baby for 9 months the same way a vaginally delivered baby was carried. They were born via them. They delivered them. Period.
Before we start judging mothers on how they choose to deliver their baby, let’s just remember that C-section or not, that baby is nourished, cared for, enjoyed, and most importantly loved.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)