Am I the only one who didn’t know there was an entire calendar month dedicated to c-section awareness??
A whole month dedicated to raising the roof about cesarean moms?? Sounds great!
The idea behind Cesarean Awareness Month: to call attention to the prevalence of c-section births, and in particular our nation’s alarmingly high rate of cesarean deliveries. To emphasize the importance of women laboring without unnecessary interventions, and to advocate for VBAC care for all women. Currently, more than 30% of mothers in the USA deliver their babies via c-section, which is a lot higher than many places in the industrial world. There are many theories as to why our nation’s numbers are so high: an increased use of epidurals, a lack of emphasis on the benefits of “natural” (read: unmedicated) deliveries, unnecessary medical interventions for moms and babies, uses of pitocin or other means to augment labor, etc…CSAM seeks to raise awareness for all of these issues.
Here’s my own spin on this: to help the exhausted momma who had a c-section cope with her birth experience, and to help her feel supported and validated as she recovers.
Like many mothers who have had a c-section deliveries, whenever I hear or read about c-sections, the discussion tends to take on a hidden and ominous tone. At times it feels as though c-sections are trivialized as not true birth experiences.
I will admit that I hope any woman could experience a safe, complication free vaginal delivery. I would hope for any birthing scenario where a woman has a positive experience.
But if complications do arise? Then what? Where does that leave us women who deliver our babies by c-section?
If you have ever longed to be a part of the conversation among other moms about the miracle of delivering a child vaginally and/or unmedicated, you are not alone.
If you have ever felt robbed of a “true” birth experience because you delivered by c-section, you are not alone.
If you ever felt traumatized, and your feelings minimalized after delivering your baby/babies, you are not alone.
It’s hard to imagine that in this day and age any woman would feel shamed or marginalized because of how she has given birth. But it does happen. It’s harder still to imagine that we still live in a world where a woman’s pregnancy, delivery and parenting are up for public consumption and opinion. But we do, and all you need do is sign up for Facebook to see that this is a fact.
It took time for me to accept my own birth experiences as valid and beautiful. It did not happen overnight.
It still occasionally stings to think about what I might have missed out on. It took time for me to accept that nothing is wrong with me. It took time for me to stop feeling as though I had missed out on some important feminine experience.
It took time for me to realize that my journey to motherhood, my birth experiences and recovery were just as valid and miraculous as any other mother’s.
Here are just a few ways that c-section deliveries and vaginal deliveries are the same:
1.) We are all afraid
Honest confession: I cried after each of my three c-sections. Like, ugly cried.
I even cried while in the OR, on the operating table no less, during my third delivery, much to the dismay of my confused anesthesiologist, who could do little more than pat my shoulder, and assure me that everything would be okay.
Those tears were not just from pain and discomfort, things any pregnant woman who has reached full-term in her pregnancy knows all too well.
Those tears were from fear. From feeling completely helpless.
Much like any mom who is anxiously anticipating the arrival of her little one, before and during each of my surgeries, I had an underlying fear that did not dissipate until all of my children were safely in my arms.
Until then, I felt just as helpless and vulnerable as the next woman who is about to deliver.
Any woman in labor should strive to feel as confident as she can. But even despite our best preparations, we are still vulnerable to unforeseen complications when having babies. That’s the nature of having babies.
Things can change in an instant.
While it is great to strive for complication free vaginal deliveries, we should also seek to support women throughout their pregnancy and delivery, as they are experiences unique only to women. We wield an exceptional amount of the burden when it comes to bringing children into this world.
Yes, husbands do share in some of the sweat equity. No, I wouldn’t personally want to be a labor and delivery doctor or nurse. But labor is something that is, physically speaking, solely on the shoulders of moms. We have to place our trust in others just as much as in ourselves during delivery.
Every birth mom should experience labor with a supportive birth partner, have access to and the support and care of a skilled obstetrician/midwife/doula who has mom and baby’s best interests at heart while she delivers in a place where she chooses to and feels safe. She should look back and ultimately feel empowered in her birth experience.
THAT is a successful birth, not whether or not your baby comes out of your hoo-ha or your belly.
Several months after having my son, I remember having a conversation about my delivery with a curious friend. When I stated that I had delivered by c-section, they stated that it must not have hurt that badly then, right?
The presumption is that taking a baby out via surgery is somehow less painful, invasive or difficult than delivering a baby the ole fashioned way.
I don’t really need to state how obviously wrong this is, right?
I have personally always thought that c-sections and vaginal births were equal in terms of how much pain a woman feels. Beyond that, here is something else we need to consider: does it really matter who hurts more?
Is there some metric that declares how much pain a woman should feel when she gives birth in order to make her experience valid? If you don’t endure 29 hours of unmedicated contractions (and hats off to you if you did), but you instead can’t hardly get out of bed for a week after delivering for fear of reopening your incision – does actually that sound much better?
Better is a relative term in most cases when we are talking about birth.
We all wear the same (hideous, but strangely oh so comfy. Seriously, those things are made out of unicorn clouds) mesh undies after delivery. We all hurt. We all bleed. We all have about a dozen people who have seen our crotch by the time all is said and done.
And we can probably all agree, it’s kind of terrible and our babies are lucky they are so cute.
3.) We are not crazy
I used to give the moms who endured 48 hours of labor, drug free, the side-eye. I would think that they were crazy, because that wasn’t my thing.
I used to wonder why a woman wouldn’t want to just opt for the elective, repeat c-section after having their first. I thought they were crazy, because who wants to go through the stress of labor only to get so far and be stuck again??
I used to wonder why someone would want to endure multiple c-sections, because I sure as heck don’t want to be cut open four or five times.
Before you kick me, please know that my views on birth have evolved substantially. In fact, I didn’t know that the topic of birth was something that we really needed to form actual opinions about until my third pregnancy. I guess I was a little late to the game.
When pursuing a VBA2C, I realized something: it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to want to labor and deliver the way that she wants to labor and deliver.
Their journey is their journey, and every woman has the right to feel like she is making the best choice for HER and her baby. We all have a right to feel supported.
I have been in a situation where suddenly, everything changed. Birth plans and expectations were thrown out the window. Even though those experiences were scary for me, I had an amazing doctor, a wonderful husband and my family there to support me every step of the way. Even though things didn’t go as I hoped they would, I can’t look back at that day and ever feel like I went through such an ordeal alone.
When I knew that a VBAC wouldn’t work out for me at the end of my third pregnancy, I was crushed. I knew that we were making the right decision. It was just something I was hoping would turn out differently.
An all too familiar emotion crept up: I wasn’t preparing to have a baby. I was preparing to have a c-section. I had weeks of discomfort, pain and difficulty to look forward to, never mind the newborn and other two small children I needed to be able to care for.
In the weeks prior, however, I couldn’t shake an annoyingly persistent and nagging thought: is this really going to matter one day?
I took it to heart before I had my c-section and held on tight as I was wheeled back into the operating room.
While c-sections can have implications for the health of the mother, especially repeat c-sections, I have to think that one day, 20 years from now, when are sitting around the table at Thanksgiving, and all of my children are smiling back at me, it won’t matter.
Giving birth vaginally was a hard vision to let go of, but I have been doing some of that since they were born.
Because my life doesn’t always look like I thought it would, and thankfully, it’s much, much better than I could have ever envisioned.
I didn’t labor with all three of them, no. But I have been laboring over them since they were born. I have been putting the first since we found out my husband and I were going to be parents. And it births amazing things everyday.
So yea, there’s always that.