Both of my children were born via scheduled c-sections when I was 39-weeks-pregnant. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to push or was too afraid to have a vaginal delivery (as a family member suggested). I suffered severe pelvic floor nerve damage after I was in a car accident at the age of 16, and since I had endured about a decade of debilitating pain, surgeries and physio to get it under control, the specialist who I still see every year recommended that I have a c-section. My obstetrician agreed with the specialist’s opinion, and that was that.
I’ve never regretted having caesareans, nor have I ever wished for a vaginal birth. I’ve never been one of those women with a strong desire to give birth a specific way. In fact, my feelings about how a child enters this world can be summed up in five words: GET THE BABY OUT SAFELY. I believed in my doctor and I trusted her to deliver my babies safely (and she did!). But that doesn’t mean that my babies’ births were easy in any way.
So why do I keep hearing people imply (and even say) that mums who have c-sections are taking the easy way out?
Shortly after my first child was born, the criticism began. First, there were the jabs from a relative about vaginal births being “the real way” to have a baby. (This same person criticises mums who get epidurals.) So does that mean having a caesearean is the fake way to have a baby? Because there was nothing fake about my surgery or recovery, let me tell you. I spent the night after my daughter was delivered sweating and shaking as the anesthesia wore off, followed by several weeks of pain when getting in and out of bed, walking for more than a block and climbing on and off the tall stools in our kitchen. Nothing fake about that!
Then, when I was expecting my second child, a fellow preggo in the shoe shop grilled me about my birth plan, after revealing that she planned to deliver her child naturally the following week. When I told her that I was having a scheduled c-section, she replied with an icy: “You don’t think you can push your baby out naturally?’ I was speechless. Why in the world did this woman care how my baby was going to be born? I most definitely did not care about her childbirth plans. A friend of mine received a similar verbal beatdown in a supermarket, followed by a lecture on why she should have a VBAC.
There was also the judgy-ass dad who blurted out, “ARGH, THAT’S SO TERRIBLE!” when he discovered that I had delivered via caesearean. I was in the middle of dropping my son off at school, with my sleeping newborn in tow, and for some reason this guy had questions about my delivery. He proudly went on to tell me all about his wife’s natural births, shot me a look of pity, and then said, “Well I guess you had it easier!”
Perhaps these people and all other c-section critics assume every casearean is a whimsical party that involves unicorn dust, fairy wings, and twinkling stars?
If so, here’s a reality check (based on my own experience) that will kill that fantasy really fast. When I received my spinal for my second c-section, it hurt like hell and I peed myself. (I have no idea whether that’s a common reaction or if a nerve was hit but, either way, it was awful.) Then, I was simultaneously shaved and catheterised before the numbing meds kicked in while a group of nurses looked on — all while still lying in my own pee because I was too overwhelmed to speak up. Shortly after that, the meds kicked in and I started vomiting, only I was strapped down flat so, despite the anthologist’s best efforts to lift and turn my head, I swallowed most of my own vomit.
Once the vomiting stopped, the mindf*ck of it all fully set in. Despite my husband’s best efforts to distract me, I was fully aware of the fact that I was being operated on and yes, I was nervous. I felt anxious about whether my baby would be born healthy, as well as nervous about what was happening to my body (as a former pregnancy editor I know exactly what was going on behind the curtain). I had a blood transfusion because of a bleeding issue. When it came time to pop the baby out, there was the suffocating sensation of two adults pressing down on my rib cage to deliver my baby.
So yes, I didn’t push a baby out of my vagina, but there was nothing easy about it. It’s not like I lounged on a massage table at the spa while a baby was painlessly plucked from my belly. There was the magic of meeting my children for the first time, but everything else was very, very real. I had major surgery. And yes, for me, that surgery was less risky than having a vaginal delivery. But it was still major surgery. It was still painful. It was still hard work. And I still had to recover from it — just like every other mum, however she delivers her baby.
So, here’s a little advice for those people out there who still want to be judgy about mums who have c-sections. Worry about your own pregnancy and delivery and stop focusing on mine and every other mums’ out there. How babies come into the world just isn’t important. It’s how they’re loved and cared for once they’re here that is.
Further reading on c-sections:
- 21 Things Only Mums Who Have Had C-Sections Know
- C-Section Scar Pictures: What it Really Looks Like After You’ve Had a C-Section
- What it Feels Like to Have a C-Section, According to Mums Who Have Been Through it