C-sections are on the rise across the world. Some studies have shown that up to 1 in 5 children now are born via c-section Most c-sections are the result of complications during childbirth where mom or baby’s life is in danger.
The rise in cases of non-medically required c-sections is alarming to the World Health Organization (WHO) and more research is being conducted to determine how WHO can implement measures to decrease the amount of non-medical c-sections. As a result of the increase, c-sections have become stigmatized as being the “easy way out” for those who wish to not labour at all or for those who want to plan out the birth date.
Here’s the truth: there is no easy way out. Labor and vaginal delivery are difficult but having major abdominal surgery isn’t a piece of cake either. Do you know how many layers that they go through to even get to the uterus? It’s 7. Check out the video here and you’ll get the idea.
Then imagine having to care for a newborn who relies on you for their very survival, while healing from both a stapled up incision site and an 8-inch wound left by the placenta. In no way am I saying that it’s worse to have a c-section, but neither is it a walk in the park. But I will challenge that stigma and describe how a c-section is NOT the easy way out.
I was absolutely terrified to have a c-section. The very thought about being cut open while awake was beyond my comprehension. My son was born via vaginal delivery, but that came with its own complications. He had shoulder distortia, and got stuck. While pushing him out, I had broken his clavicle.
When I was 39 weeks pregnant with my second, once reminded of the previous delivery, my doctor got very serious, telling us the potential risks of repeat shoulder distortia due to her predicted size. She recommended a c-section. I looked at my husband, petrified by the thought of it. When the doctor left us alone to make the decision, we reminded each other about our birth plan: deliver the baby safely. A c-section was scheduled for the following morning.
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Mom and dad are in for double the giggles, double the grins, and double the trouble. We love this shot by IAPBP member @albanyjalvarez_fotografia! . . . . #twins #twinpregnancy#twinsbirth#twinbabies #birth #normalizechildbirth #birthmatters #birthisamazing #birthisbeautiful #birthphotography #birthwithoutfear #cesarean #csection #birthstories #cesareanbirthisbirth #empowered #beastmode #strength #iamstrong #strongasamother #gentlecesarean
This is what it's like to have a c-section: You are wheeled, without your partner, into the operating room. A nurse holds you still as they do a spinal injection for the medication that will numb you from the neck down. They strap you to a table with your arms out.
The anesthesiologist will administer the drugs to numb you, then they put up the screen that separates your upper torso from the surgical site. Of course, not without asking you several times if you’d like a clear screen so you can watch. (No, thanks, I’m good). Then they start- okay, they usually bring your partner in by that point but in my case, they had forgotten him and started before the anesthesiologist, asked, “Is someone going to get Dad?”
I was surprisingly calm through the whole thing. Not sure if I was just glad not to be pregnant anymore or if it was the meds. But my husband was shocked by my demeanour during the surgery. He said they were forcibly moving me around but I felt nothing. I barely felt any pressure, which is what I always was told you feel. Honestly, it was far less scary than I imagined being on that table. My daughter was born about 15 minutes after they started, which only seemed like two minutes.
The longest part of the surgery is them putting you back together. I was convinced that they took out all your intestines during surgery and set aside, but they don’t, except in extreme cases. Post-op they bring you to a room and quiz you every 10 minutes or so, asking “Can you feel here? How about here?" Once your arms are not numb, they will pass you the baby to start breastfeeding and skin to skin.
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At this point of my pregnancy I was so done. I would call my OB almost everyday towards the end to see if they would do the cesarean a couple days earlier as I couldn’t hold it any further. I then thought that I was being selfish and that would put my children at risk. It was a constant battle. It really challenged my strength. . . . I just couldn’t stand being at home all day alone as my husband worked and I was literally plopped on the couch binge watching every Netflix series ever made while blasting a standing fan as the body heat was in full effect. Having to walk to the bathroom was a killer, felt like the longest walk of life. I placed a chair in the kitchen for when I had to make food. I would only go downstairs in the morning and back up at night as I couldn’t stand the pain of the stairs. Sometimes I’d just sleep downstairs because the thought of stairs just exhausted me. . . . The weight of my babies, at this time was a total of 13 pounds plus the placenta and all that good stuff. Imagine, I weighed 90 pounds and gained a total of 50 pounds throughout my pregnancy. I never exercised so carrying a whopping 50 pounds all day took a hell of a toll on my body. . . . A woman’s body and strength is the most incredible and precious thing ever. So much respect goes out to all our expecting Mamas and Mamas. We are truly super heroes and I will never get tired of saying that. So proud of what we do day in and day out pre and post-partum. And we do it without a doubt, with our eyes closed no matter what life challenges were facing. . . . Give yourselves a big pat on the back and tag a Super Mom that needs to hear it today. We are all warriors! 💪🏻💪🏼💪🏽💪🏾💪🏿 . . .
For the first 24 hours, you are not allowed to get out of bed and must rely on everyone around you to pass you the baby when it’s time for a feeding. Then you must stand up. They have you walk across the room to the bathroom, and with every step, it feels like every staple is going to explode open and your uterus is going to fall out. Then you’re trapped in the hospital for what seems like an eternity until they send you home, with instructions to lay low and not lift over 10 pounds. Sounds easy enough, right?
What they don’t tell is, how difficult it is to walk up stairs or that it hurts to laugh. They don’t tell you that you will be terrified to look at your incision or that you will feel like Frankenstein from the staples. They don’t tell you that you still bleed for several weeks post-birth, as you would with a vaginal delivery. They don’t tell you how much you use your abdominal muscles in every movement you make so that everything hurts all the time. They don’t tell you that you will still have some pain and some numbness three years later.
A c-section does not equate, by any means, that a mother is taking the easy way out. There is nothing easy about being sliced open, then stapled up and then while you recover, required to take care of a newborn baby. It does not make you a better mother if you had a natural vaginal delivery and it does not make you stronger superior mother if you had a c-section. Both are just means to get the baby safely out of the mother.
Unfortunately, there is no “easy way out." But know this mama, that you are amazing because you birthed a baby, no matter how it is delivered.