Giving birth is no easy feat. By virtue of birthing a human being, we're talking about a multitude of things all happening at once, within mom's system as well as outside of it. It's daunting and an often painful experience. In stark contrast, it's also beautiful, seemingly unreal, and emotional in the most blissful way possible.
The fact that couples have so many options when it comes to starting a family of their own is a testament to modern medical practices and is truly a wonderful thing. A woman who is not high-risk can always choose to carry her child naturally, but in the instance that she does become high-risk, a C-section could not only save her life, but her baby's as well. If a woman simply can't have children due to a medical reason or otherwise, she may opt to find a surrogate to carry her child. This has helped those who normally wouldn't become parents otherwise to raise a family of their own while still maintaining a biological connection to their own child.
The best part about all of these pregnancy and birthing options is that none of them are any better than the other. Each one comes with its own set of pros and cons, as well as risks, just like any other would, though they're all perfect in some way for some mom-to-be. We're going to implore a little more of what makes each option unique and how life-changing it can be to those who opt for it.
30 Natural: You Have A Variety Of Pain Management Options
To any mom who knows what the searing pain of labor can be like, having the option to manage your pain is comparatively the greatest medical advancement as far as pregnancy goes. While it's really not, it can certainly seem that way to a woman who has a low pain tolerance. You do have access to quite a few options, the most popular being an epidural.
Don't let the rumors get to you; women who use an epidural are no less of a birthing superhero than those who go through labor, sans-pain medication.
Alternatively, if you want to go down a route that's natural as far as the dictionary definition of the term, consider holistic options. A doula can be helpful in sharing with you practices that have been shown to encourage focus, such as breathing techniques. Similar to the education you'd receive in a Lamaze class, breathing can do wonders to improve temperament, mood, and drive focus to where it needs to be.
29 C-Section: Often The Process Is Painless, But It Feels Strange
Most of the time, a c-section is done while the mom-to-be is still awake. This might sound scary but don't worry --
You'll be completely numb from the waist down and have a curtain between you and the action, so you won't be able to see what's going on down there, either.
Although you won't feel pain, what you likely will feel is something akin to pressure, similar to when you're having teeth pulled. It'll be more of a pressure and pull rather than a pain since the spinal block used will create a numbness from roughly the middle of your chest all the way down to your feet. This anesthetic measure is much stronger than an epidural but allows doctors to do what they need to in order to get your baby out quickly and easily. And hey, it won't make you drowsy!
28 Surrogate: it Happens In One Of Two Ways
Potential parents have one of two options when it comes to surrogacy, depending on their situation and their medical limitations.
The first is a Gestational surrogacy, which is when the surrogate, or "intended mother" uses one of her eggs in addition to the material from a male donor.
This is what happens in the event that, for whatever reason, the egg cannot be fertilized by the intended material during a couple getting together -- A process that is remedied by the use of in-vitro fertilization, otherwise known as IVF.
Therefore, the child has a genetic connection to the mother, but not to their "intended father".
Alternatively, the more traditional method is via the use of an egg from the surrogate mother in addition to the material of the "intended father" or from a donor.
The result would be a child who is biologically related to the surrogate in one way and might also be genetically connected to the intended father. Both methods allow couples to become parents should they ever encounter a medical disadvantage when it comes to having their own biological children.
27 Natural: It's Usually Easier The Second Time Around
Moms who have already had children via a natural birth will likely notice that the second time around is a bit easier than the first. While this might not be a very impressive fact to those who had figured as much, it is worth mentioning for those who haven't.
Second-time moms not only have a familiarity with the process, but their systems have also become accustomed to labor and what it entails.
Once you've given birth, your cervix and uterus have been stretched and altered, allowing slightly more space and creating somewhat of an easier time the second go-around. Again, this might not hold true for specific cases, but it overall more common than not.
26 C-Section: Tissue Can Build Up
As with any incision, the risk for scar tissue is higher because your body is healing and closing up a wound with excess tissue. The uterus is no exception and you might find that scar tissue develops as a result of a c-section.
While this doesn't mean that you won't be able to have more kids in the future, but after your third child, it might become somewhat of a hindrance.
This would typically become more of an issue for those who plan to have very large families but if your parenting stops after two children, it's not something to stress over.
25 Surrogate: Ideally, You Should Go With A Surrogate Who Has Been Pregnant Before
Not only will this ease your mind as to whether or not your surrogate has had a successful pregnancy, but it will ensure that they're confident in their ability to carry your child as well.
A pregnancy is no small thing to undertake and should be entered into with caution and certainty, and if your surrogate has gone through a pregnancy before, then they know exactly what to expect and how to take care of themselves and your unborn child.
Most of the time, if done legally, women will be put through a thorough psychological screening before they're allowed to be a surrogate.
24 Natural: A Mom's Water Does Not Need To Be Broken To Start Labor
This is something that might have you scratching your head upon reading it, you might be thinking, "how can you have a labor without one's water breaking?"
It's true; one in ten women do not experience their water breaking before their baby begins preparing for their exit.
While a broken water is a surefire and definitive sign that your baby is on his or her way out, it's not always something you can count on to be a flag for labor. Rather, it's common for moms-to-be to experience contractions and later find out at the hospital that they are dilated. Don't worry, though -- Your doctor will do the job of breaking your water for you if necessary, although it will likely break on its own further down the line.
23 C-section: The Actual Process is really different From Natural Birth
Everything down to the position you lie in is completely different since, with a c-section, you'll be lying flatter on your back with your arms out. You won't need to do any pushing so you don't need to hunker down in order to prepare for the battle ahead. Additionally, you'll be hooked up to plenty of monitors and won't be able to see anything, which can be nerve-wracking, but you should know that it's okay to put your faith in the doctors and allow them to do what they're trained for. Additionally, you'll probably notice that you feel very cold and even have the shakes... This is completely normal! Anesthesia has a tendency to lower blood pressure which is why they'll be monitoring your progress the entire way, ready to remedy the issue in the event that your blood pressure does drop a tad below what it should be.
22 Surrogate: There Are Certain Rules To Follow
Of course, there are laws as with anything medical. It shouldn't come as a surprise that surrogacy is not legal in every state and additionally, each state has their own set of laws that apply to the process. There are several general laws that apply just about everywhere, such as the first step upon entering into a surrogacy. The process can't be started without agreement from both parties before anything has even happened and there are laws restricting payment for that process as well. It's not a career; rather, it is viewed as a way for women to give back to those who haven't been as fortunate in their desire to have a child.
21 Natural: You Might Spend Less Time Pushing
It has been shown that women who refuse an epidural cut down a relatively significant amount of time once labor begins. While this statistic will not prove to be true for all moms, it's common for those who have chosen to have a purely natural labor to also have a shorter labor as well. This should in no way impact your decision as the epidural is there to ensure that you don't feel pain, thus creating what some would call a better experience. If you do choose to leave that off your to-do labor list, a Doula is helpful in the way of teaching you common practices that will help you get through the contractions.
20 Natural: Babies Come Into The World When They Want To
If you're electing to have a natural birth, you have no say in when your baby wants to be born. While labor can be induced, in a natural birth, babies are left to do their thing and come out on their own time. In a normal, low-risk pregnancy, there's no need to break a woman's water or put her into an induced labor in order for her to give birth. It will happen when both your body and your baby are in a birthing alignment and that means no doctor can give you an exact time or date. A "due date" is simply an estimate based on how long a pregnancy takes and might vary based on how quickly your baby is growing, but other than that, it's a complete surprise.
19 Natural: Labor Contractions Are Finicky Things
This is the frustrating thing about labor. You start feeling contractions and then mysteriously, after about a half hour, they're just gone -- Poof; vanquished as if by some unseen mercy-giver. Suddenly, an hour later, they start right back up again and it's confirmed that you are, in fact, in labor. A natural birth is just that: Natural. It's due in part to this that the process is rarely over quickly and one thing to keep in mind is that your body needs to work up the strength to push your baby out. While incredibly painful, contractions are a good sign and mean that your body is readying itself to do what is seemingly impossible... Give birth!
18 Natural: Skin-To-Skin Contact Between Mom And Baby Is Important
On both a scientific as well as an emotional level, allowing the mother of a newborn to hold their child is almost a necessity. As soon as your baby makes his or her acquaintance with the world, they'll be delivered right into your waiting arms. Barring any extra actions or precautions that need to be taken, this is a necessity for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, being huddled close to their mama will ensure that your baby's body temperature remains constant. Additionally, this action is helping to ensure a connection and lifelong bond between mother and child. Having your baby so close has been proven to improve hormone regulation and is beneficial on both ends.
17 Natural: During Labor, Skipping Meals Is Necessary
A precautionary action, yes, but one that if avoided will lead to dire consequences. Even if you go into labor with the intent of delivering as naturally as possible, you simply don't know what lies ahead. In the event that doctors do need to go in for a C-section, it's advised that you don't eat anything while you're in labor. In fact, many hospitals will not allow you to have anything other than clear liquids and ice chips. The reasoning behind this is because if a C-section is necessary, food can end up making its way into your air pipes, which as you can imagine would have poor consequences.
16 Natural: It's Not Over Just Yet -- There's more birth to come
Another trademark of a natural birth is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the placenta, which officially signifies that labor is over. After you've given birth to your baby, there is plenty of tissue that needs to come out along with your beautiful bundle of joy. This is called "afterbirth" and entails all the things that have helped your baby to survive until they were ready for the outside world. The placenta has essentially been the life source of your baby for the past nine months, and some moms even believe in keeping it whether it be for health benefits or spiritual reasons. Either way, it's important to push this out in order for labor to officially be declared a done deal.
15 Natural: There Are Plenty Of Things To Deal With Post-Labor
A natural birth is a thing of remarkable beauty for those involved, but it's pretty hefty to recover from. Bleeding can last up to six weeks postpartum and many women deal with immediate tenderness and occasionally pain in their nether regions (of course, you did just push a sizable child out of them). In addition to this, you'll likely need plenty of rest in order to recover from the ordeal as you'll be absolutely exhausted. Stitches might also be a necessary option and aren't something to fear, you likely won't even realize they're there unless you use the bathroom or attempt to sit down rather than lie down.
So you're having a C-section, here's what you should know:
14 C-Section: There are so many reasons a mom might need them
It's not that having a c-section is an uncommon practice, it's just that there are many different reasons for having one. Some women might elect to have one on their own depending on their body size and condition, while others might have no other option. An associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Dr. William Camann, recommends that any woman in labor should mentally prepare herself in the event of a c-section. Any number of reasons for this could be a breech birth, placental abruption, or even a placenta previa. None of these things are anticipated and could happen to anyone which is why you should be prepared, but not overly worried.
13 C-Section Don't Think About Walking Until The Following Day
You won't be allowed to engage in any physical activity on the same day you've had a c-section. Doctors and nurses will ensure that you're getting plenty of rest considering your body has just been through what's considered a trauma. With the spinal block, you won't even be able to move your legs immediately so it's best that you take their recommendation and remain calm and relaxed for the remainder of the day. You'll be able to see your baby as soon as you give birth so don't worry about that, either!
12 C-Section: Your Baby's Coloring Might Be Off But Don't Worry, It's Temporary
Since your baby will be given to you immediately following a c-section -- barring any extreme circumstance -- you might notice that their coloring is a bit off. This isn't something to be concerned about; it's normal for your child to appear as though they're a bit blue-tinged. Since they haven't been birthed naturally (this is not to say that a c-section is "unnatural", because it's just as traumatic as a natural birth), they might need a little help in clearing their tiny airways. This will be done by the nurses and your baby's color should return to normal shortly after they've caught their breath.
11 C-Section: Recovery Is Different For Everyone So Don't Push Yourself
There's no telling how you'll respond to a c-section, especially if you weren't anticipating having one in the first place. That's okay! The reason you remain in the hospital following the act of giving birth is so that you can recover and recoup from something that takes everything out of you. The doctors and nurses will help you take care of your baby while you regain your strength and begin to feel a bit more yourself because they understand. This isn't the time to be pushing yourself, because you're about to take on the role of an amazing new mom to a beautiful human being.
10 C-Section: After The First 24 Hours, You Can Return To Normalcy
This is a bit of a contrast to a natural birth; since you've had a c-section, your incision and tender spot, for lack of a better term, will be your abdomen. This means that while you will be recovering for up to six weeks, you won't face the same types of pains and exhaustive actions as you would have otherwise. Instead, you'll need to be careful of your incision site and be wary of the stitches that you've had put in. Additionally, it might take up to two weeks to be able to fully walk around normally since a c-section affects the muscles surrounding your uterus as well. Regardless of how you give birth, you'll need to take care of yourself and recover in the time you need.
9 C-Section: Believe It Or Not, You Can Exercise As Soon As Six Weeks Post-Op
You might not feel like it and could think I'm crazy for including this, but it's true -- Light exercise is fine by the six-week mark. That's a full month and a half postpartum which means it's relatively safe for you to begin an exercise regime again. Be aware, however, that your body has been fairly out of commission for six weeks. You also might be having a lack of sleep and will inevitably get tired much quicker than you would have prior to having a baby, so listen to your body. It helps to start off with a walk or lifting light weights and even stretching or easy yoga can be a great way to introduce movement to your body again.
8 C-section: There Is A Stigma, but Just Ignore It
You are a superhero. No one truly understands what it's like to give birth to a child until they're in that position (literally) and have gone through the battle both emotionally and physically. This alone makes you a strong force to be reckoned with and it doesn't matter how you give birth -- You've brought another human being into the world. There is a crazy notion that women who have had c-sections don't go through the same process as those who have had a natural birth, but in reality, the only difference is the name and medical procedure. Being a mom makes you one of the strongest people on earth, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise... Your scar is proof enough.
So you're considering a surrogate, here's what you should know:
7 Surrogate: There's A Difference Between An "Arrangement" And "Agreement"
This is where we dive a bit more into what that means. Additionally, the use of terms is not interchangeable when it comes to a surrogacy -- An "arrangement" is what it's referred to due to the fact that this is not an enforceable term, unlike an "agreement", which can be enforced. This is where each state differs; for example, in New York State, surrogacies can't be enforced, meaning potential parents need to cross state lines in order to cement their enforcement. There are various attorneys out there who will fight for your cause and are well-versed in the practice of surrogacy, so it is absolutely possible to complete one efficiently and without anything illegal.
6 Surrogate: Someone Is Usually Genetically Connected To The Child
In very rare instances, the child a surrogate is carrying might have no biological connection to either intended parent. However, more often than not, either the egg from the intended mother or the material from the intended father will go into creating a baby. This allows potential parents to have a biological connection to their child and is something that will be reflected in the legal documents that are drawn up depending on which state you reside in. It's good to keep in mind that your surrogate has likely been through thorough screening in order to make it this far, granted you've done everything legally, and is looking to bring nothing but joy and happiness to your future family by paying it forward.
5 Surrogate: Let's Talk About Parental Orders
This will vary from state to state. There are states, such as New York and Michigan, which have dubbed the act of surrogacy illegal. Additionally, plenty of states have their own laws and regulations through professional medical practice that protect both sides of a potential surrogacy. There is a myriad of factors involved, from covering insurance costs all the way up to the day your baby is born. A parental order is an arrangement between potential parents and the surrogate mother that has been evaluated by an attorney of law and deemed legal. This must always be completed legally, lest you want to delay your parenting and jump through last-minute hoops in order to start your family.
4 Surrogate: There's A Necessary "Trial Run" To Ensure The Pregnancy Will Go Smoothly
Call it a "mock pregnancy" if you will. This doesn't mean that a woman is impregnated and goes through an entire nine months, of course, but women are given hormones that will encourage their uterus to react as though they were pregnant. For several weeks, they're then monitored to ensure that their uterine lining responds positively and adequately enough to support a pregnancy to its full term. By ensuring that a woman's uterus is healthy and responding quickly to the build-up of estrogen and progesterone, doctors can determine if she's healthy enough to carry a baby.
3 Surrogate: It Does Not Take Away From Bonding With The Intended Parents
Contrary to the presumption surrounding surrogacies, there really is no damage done in the process of using a surrogate mother. Rest assured that the woman elected to carry your future child is doing this purely for the sake of giving the gift of life to another family in need. Becoming a surrogate isn't something that can be entered into as a career and many women have the desire to give back, especially if they've had their own children and care deeply for those who can't. It's a selfless act and one that has allowed many couples to have their own families and this joy is something that surrogates recognize and believe in.
2 Surrogate: It's Not As Cold And Formal An Experience As You'd Think
I've spoken of plenty of legalities and options, but haven't really touched upon what a surrogacy is like from an emotional standpoint. There will be plenty of contact between the potential parents of a child and the surrogate mother they have chosen unless otherwise dictated. As opposed to a closed adoption where the biological parents of a child have no contact with the child after he or she has been born, a surrogate will be involved with potential parents up until the baby is born. This allows the intended parents of the child to bond with their future son or daughter throughout the pregnancy and establish a bond before he or she comes into this world.
1 Surrogate: Lasting Bonds Are Developed Between Everyone
Additionally, bonds are strengthened naturally between all those involved in the process. From doctors to lawyers and all of the parents in between, it becomes a very intimate process. Especially when things such as insurance and covering medical bills are concerned, potential parents will be involved in the process every step of the way. From ultrasounds to the day your surrogate gives birth, the intended parents of the child have the right to be part of both she and their future baby's lives. It's through this process that parents will have their minds put at ease if they were concerned about their baby not truly being theirs; most surrogates simply want to bring the joy of a family to others.