21 Apr 2015

C-section - so what?!


I’ve had two very different birth experiences. With Becky I gave birth “naturally”, and with Alex I had a planned C-section.

Becky’s birth was long, drawn out and distressing, and it has left me both physically and emotionally scarred (yes, it was that traumatic!) and with a few problems that I still suffer from today. 
I actually still find it hard to go over it and relive those days in labour. I look back at Becky’s birth, and all I can think about is how horrible the whole experience was, how terrified I was and what a tough start Becky and I had. Apart from actually having her, which obviously was worth everything, there is nothing good or beautiful that I can take away from that birth experience, which is quite sad, really.

When I fell pregnant with Alex, giving birth and what my next birthing experience would be like was therefore obviously a big deal and it played on my mind throughout my whole pregnancy, even dampened it to a degree.

So when I was eventually booked in for a C-section at my 36 weeks consultant appointment, I’m not going to lie, I was relieved. Because while a Caesarean was also unknown territory, at least - I hoped -  it would give me a calmer and more predictable experience and help me and my baby get off to a better start.

And that’s exactly what happened. I look back on that day, and all I remember is how much more positive the whole experience was. I will never forget that gush of euphoria that came over me when Alex was handed to me and the tears of joy that he was there, safe, sound, alive and kicking. I was lucky that the whole surgical team were marvellous - kind and sensitive, and they turned what was nevertheless a nerve-wracking and scary situation into a calm and positive experience.

For me, a planned Caesarian had proved to be the right thing. There is nothing that I wish had gone or been done differently.

But somehow there is a huge stigma attached to C-sections. People seem to think it’s ok to judge someone who had a C-section and belittle their birth experience somehow.

This happened to me recently while chatting to a friend, who seemed to insinuate that because I had a C-section, I hadn’t given birth properly. Like I’d somehow taken the easy option. Cheated motherhood or nature or whatever. Quite ironic, actually, as that particular friend hasn’t actually ever given birth herself!

It’s left me pretty angry, and a bit disturbed, actually.

How dare anyone judge or criticise somebody else’s birth? And what’s more, who actually cares how someone gives birth? You don’t get a medal for having pushed a baby out vaginally, and you don’t get a medal for having had it taken out in an operating theatre. What counts is that the baby came to the world safe and sound and that both mother and child are well and healthy.

There is no right or wrong way of having a baby. If you’re opting for a home birth – do it. You want a water birth? Do it. You want to be in a midwife-led birthing centre? Do it. You want to be in hospital and have every single drug going? Do it. You want to give birth in a field at full moon surrounded by white swans while a bunch of Tibetan monks are chanting in the background? Do it. You have a C-section, planned or emergency? Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve still done amazingly well. You’re a mother. You’ve still given birth.

There is no right or wrong way. Everyone’s birth experience is different, everyone’s body is different. Everybody’s baby is different.

And let me tell you: A C-section is not an easy option. There is nothing easy about having a major operation with the risks and the physical recovery time associated with it. It’s just a different method.
And it is giving birth.

I have given birth. I have given birth to Becky, and I have given birth to Alex, and no one can take this away from me. I have nurtured and grown these babies in my tummy for nine months. I have worried myself sick during that time whether I was doing everything right to give these babies everything they needed. I have done everything by the book and more to make sure that these babies can come into the world, be healthy, happy and thrive.

And I won’t have anyone belittle me or that experience. I won’t be told by anyone that I didn’t give birth. Because I did. I gave birth. Twice.





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26 comments

  1. This is the second post I've read today about people defending their choice, or not as the case may be, to have a c-section. I had an emergency one with my first and elective with my second and I would definitely not have opted for them either time as the recovery is so much harder. It's so sad to me to hear mums judging mums and just another situation where we should all be supporting each other x

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    1. I think it's terrible that women are so harsh against each other. I've never heard a man discuss the method his baby was born and giving any kind of judgment. I had a traumatic natural birth first time and the C-section was still scary, though a much calmer and better experience. If I had another child, I honesty don't know which outcome I would hope for ( I actually recovered quicker from the C-section than the after effects from my first, "natural" delivery). But in case, it's everyone's personal experience, and no one has the right to pass harsh judgments. x

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  2. I think this whole judgement over c-sections seems to be doing the rounds at the moment. I had 3 of them and wouldn't have 'chosen' any of them. After the first emergency section (and 28 hours of labour!) I did feel cheated and wronged. I felt like I hadn't given birth properly and was a bit of a failure. As if we need anyone else telling us that on top of our own feelings of inadequacy! The truth is, the baby needed to come out. There was no choice. Well said!

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    1. It's what's best for the baby that counts. I can sympathize with your feeling of being cheated after such a long labour and then ending with a C-section. This scenario was my biggest worry with the second one, and I'm glad that it didn't come to it. But at the end of the day, no one can predict how labour will pan out, and the most important thing is that you have a healthy, bouncy baby, whichever way it came into the world, x

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  3. What absolute rubbish that someone who hasn't even given birth has judged you for your choice. This makes me very angry. I had an instrumental birth first time round but not long before that was being prepped for an emergency C-section. I remember thinking at the time, as long as baby is OK I don't care how this happens. It wasn't exactly what I planned but I'd still grown my baby for nine months and will love her for the rest of my life. Who cares how she actually came into the world. It's great that mums have birth choices and they should be free to do whatever they want without judgement x PS - just about to have my second, so I'm a bit emotional about the topic! :) #Sharewithme

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    1. Aw, congratulations and good luck! I hope you'll have the birth experience you're hoping for. I know, I was really quite upset, but what can you do, it's peoples' ignorance that is the worst. But you are right, we are lucky that we live in a country where we can safely deliver babies, whichever method. All the best for the birth and your new addition to the family. It's even more amazing the second time round! x

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  4. Fab post and good on you. Stuff what everyone else thinks. You did give birth both times and like you say both have pros and cons. You have 2 amazing children both ways. I had not a bad experience with a vaginal birth first time but it doesn't mean I'm any less scared next time around and be open to giving birth a different way xxx #sharewithme

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! Makes me feel a lot better hearing such encouraging words! xx

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  5. I have never had a c-section myself but just because i gave birth 'naturally' does not make me any better then someone who has had a c-section , i think no matter how your baby was born you still grew and gave birth to a child. Infact from what i have heard from friends having a c-section is a much harder recovery time. x #sharewithme

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    1. Thanks you for such a supportive message! I agree, I don't think anyone who's had a c-section, planned or emergency, is any less of a woman. Giving birth is not a competition! xx

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  6. I once had a friend (who had 2 c-sections) tell me she felt disappointed because she never "birthed" a child. I don't get it. Like you, I don't understand the pressure people put (even on themselves) to have a natural birth. I don't understand the stigma attached to having a c section. I felt pressured and stuck to wanting a "natural" birth for so long, it got dangerous and then I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. Given my traumatic birth experience (everything that came before the actual birth), I'd choose an elective C if there was ever a next time...no questions! #sharewithme

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    1. I think women and probably society put so much pressure on themselves and each other, and we forget that giving birth is unpredictable. Until it happens, no one knows how things are going to pan out, and it's sad that some women feel disappointed, ashamed even, for not having given birth vaginally. As far as I'm concerned, I have no regrets or melancholy over the C-section. What counts is that I have two beautiful children - and they don't care how they came into this world either! :-) xx

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  7. I so agree with you. Mine was unplanned - after 13 hours induction on a drip, they couldn't give me any more, and I've only gone from 1cm when I arrived at hospital to 3cm. So I didn't even get to proper labour. But i've never thought that I didn't give birth. It was just a different type of birth. N as still born into the world. It was just a calmer one than it might have been had it been natural.

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    1. Definitely, Emma. Glad to hear you had a positive C-section experience! x

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  8. I hear you - I had the same experience, except the exact opposite. C-sections are NOT easier. I would rather go through 100 more labors and deliveries than recover from another C-section. I still can hardly look at our first pictures with the baby in the O.R. It was that traumatic. Thanks for sharing your story.

    #sharewithme

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    1. Thank you Jenny. Sorry to hear your C-section was so traumatic. Goes to show how unpredictable the whole process is, whether that's natural or c-section birth! x

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  9. I loved my c section. I made the informed choice to have one. It was my birth and I owned it. It was the positive, healing experience I needed. As long as women have the choice on how they birth, and are empowered to make their own decisions, it doesn't matter what the mode of delivery is!

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    1. What a great and positive message, so nice to read this. I love your attitude! Thank you for your comment, it's really uplifting! x

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  10. A great post and very well written. I have had six c-sections after six vaginal births and I'd take the vbs over the sections any day. Whoever thinks it is the easy way out really hasn't experienced it but, at the end of the day, who cares as long as baby and mother are healthy at the end of it?

    Women are often too busy berating each other's choices - what happened to this 'sisterhood' we're supposed to have? Why can't we support each other even when our opinions and choices differ?

    You might be interested in this post I wrote a while back: 'How Many C-Sections Can A Woman Have?' http://www.largerfamilylife.com/2013/09/19/how-many-c-sections-can-a-woman-have/ (of course, feel free to delete this link if you prefer!).

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    1. Wow, six c-sections and vaginal births! I take my hat off to you. I totally agree, women can be so hard on each other, and the sisterhood is fairly non existent, especially when it comes to parenting, births and all those other emotive subjects. Thank you for the link, I'd love to read your post, so will check it out now. x

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  11. I am glad you had a calm, happy experience. I dont' think it matter how we bring babies into the world as long as its safe, happy and calming for all involved. I hate people judging anyone for how they gave birth. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With me. #sharewithme

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  12. Apart from giving birth 'just' the once, you echo absolutely everything that I ever think about c-sections Isabella. I had acute pre-eclampsia and hellp syndrome and both myself and our little bear are extremely fortunate that we're here all, section or no section! #brilliantblogposts

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  13. Thank you Carol! Sorry to hear about your tough time, but glad to hear it all worked out in the end. Thanks for such a reaffirming message. It's been so nice to hear from everyone! xx

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  14. I have had 2 natural (ish) births and my third was an emergency c section. It is definitely not the easy option! I found it a lot less traumatic than my first two labours but it was still scary x

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  15. It is scary, isn't it? I think I wasn't quite prepared for how much is involved in a C-section, and how many people, either. Thank you for stating that you found your natural births traumatic, I did with mine, and I'm glad to know that there are other women who do, too. x

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