The birthing process has certainly evolved during the last century or so; woman are now offered a variety of drugs and are even able to choose homebirth, but the most recent change is the increase in Caesarean Sections. Between 2012 and 2013 the percentage of caesarean deliveries in the United Kingdom was 25.5% (167,283 deliveries.)
You may or may not have seen the video of a live Caesarean Section circulating Facebook. If you have, you will agree with me that it is both medically and emotionally amazing. There were many negative comments attached to this video, with people classing Caesarean Mothers as “lazy” who have chosen the “easy way out” of child birth. To my surprise, some of these comments were made by people who I knew personally, and even more surprisingly, some of these people were Mothers themselves. Not only are these comments untrue, they are also incredibly insulting for Mothers such as myself who have experienced a Caesarean birth.
Florence was born by an Elective Caesarean Section. Obviously, this was not how I envisioned my birth to be when I first found out that we were expecting. If you have read my birth plan blog post you would know that I was striving for the most natural, pain free birth that I could have. Of course I didn’t want Florence to be brought into the World whilst I was wired up to machines and pumped to the brim with pain killers. I can barely remember when they held Florence up to us for the first time because the drugs had completely knocked me out... Chris had to force me to stay awake so they didn’t give me a General Anaesthetic during the surgery.
For a large majority of us Caesarean Mothers, we did not have a choice in the matter. A Caesarean Section was the safest option for myself and Florence.
“I wouldn’t worry, my baby turned at 38 weeks.”
Brilliant. For the entire duration of my pregnancy Florence was comfortably in the Breech Position. We tried everything to try and turn her; birthing ball, walking, warm baths, breech tilt, standing on my head, cold and hot stimulation. I came out of every Doctor and Midwife appointment in tears because despite trying everything, Florence still hadn’t turned. I eventually had to accept that I would be delivering Florence via Caesarean Section.
“You’re so lucky to have a Caesarean; it’s so much easier than natural child birth”
Several acquaintances had mentioned how “lucky” I was to be offered a Caesarean Section as this was “easier” than going through labour and delivery naturally. There are so many risks that are directly linked to having a Caesarean delivery such as:
- Infection of the wound,
- Infection of the womb lining,
- Blood clots,
- Excessive bleeding,
- Damage to bladder,
- Aspiration pneumonia,
- Admission to the Intensive Care Unit.
Not to mention to potential risks that may affect your baby. When Florence was born she had to be checked over by the Paediatrician several times because she was born with Dolichocephaly (a mild cranial deformity in which the head has disproportionately molded into a long and narrow shape, due to mechanical forces associated with breech positioning.) She also had to be given a hip scan at 6 weeks to rule out hip dysplasia.
P.S – My waters broke 9 days before my Elective Caesarean. I laboured and contracted naturally, and although it was only for five hours it was painful and tough, not easy.
“Are you sure that your Caesarean was necessary?”
If your baby is lying in the Breech Position, you’ll often be offered an External Cephalic Version (ECV). This is where they will try and turn your baby into the head-down position by putting pressure on, and manipulating your abdomen. Statistics show that around 50% of Breech babies do turn when this procedure is performed, and of those, most will remain head-down. An ECV was never an option for me. Although large medical studies conducted by the likes of Oxford University have proved that the procedure is relatively safe, research also told me that there was a chance that it could have caused Florence distress, resulting in an emergency Caesarean on the same day. I simply couldn’t justify going through with the procedure and putting Florence in potential danger just for the sake of avoiding surgery.
Yes, you can deliver a Breech baby naturally, but again, this comes with vast complications such as:
- Umbilical cord prolapse,
- Fetal head entrapment,
- Injuries to the baby’s brain, skull, spine, and limbs,
- Oxygen deprivation,
- Prolonged labour,
- Increased risk of perineal tears
Caesareans are performed for a range of medical reasons, and sometimes it is the safest option for both the Mother and the Baby. So no, a Caesarean is not “unnecessary.”
“You’ll be up and about in no time.”
Not only is the thought of surgery terrifying, there is also the recovery process to factor in. I spent most of the days after Florence’s birth in tears. I felt like a failure of a Mother; I couldn’t get up quick enough to comfort her when she cried, I couldn’t hold her, change her, or dress her without support. For those few days I relied heavily on Chris doing everything for Florence and I. Luckily, Chris was at home with us for four weeks after Florence was born, meaning he was able to drive us everywhere. I was also exempt from driving so if it wasn’t for Chris we would have been stuck in the house for four weeks - four.weeks!
I do believe that I was lucky with my Caesarean Recovery. The first week or two was tough but it started to get easier as the days went on, and I slowly weaned myself off of the high volume of pain killers I was on each day. I do know of some fellow Caesarean Mothers who found their recovery extremely difficult and are still experiencing some discomfort in day to day life.
Whether our babies were brought into the World naturally or via Caesarean we have still experienced birth, just in different ways. No Mother is “better” than another just because they experienced child birth the way that nature intended. Pregnancy and child birth is a powerful and brave experience; please don’t treat it as a competition.