Pregnant women who give birth in countries like the US, Australia and the UK have approximately a 1 in 3 chance of giving birth via c-section.
Whether your c-section was planned or an emergency, it’s still the birth of your baby.
Women often feel judged by their friends, family, and the entire world of social media, if they own up to having a surgical birth.
Whether it’s because of previous birth trauma, anxiety, fear, or medical necessity, a woman’s reasons for having a c-section are her own.
5 Things C-Section Mamas Want You To Know
Here are 5 things mamas want you to know about their c-sections:
#1: It’s Not The Easy Option
There are plenty of people who still subscribe to the notion a c-section is the easy way out. Not only does this buy into the idea that labour and vaginal birth are ‘too hard’, it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that a c-section is major abdominal surgery.
Women who have an emergency c-section are likely to have been in labour for some time before going to theatre. There’s a good chance they’re exhausted, frightened, and even experiencing symptoms of medical conditions. They aren’t going into surgery feeling physically at their best. This can make recovery really challenging.
Even when a c-section is performed before labour (planned or elective) there can be complications that increase the risk of the surgery. Women might worry about the health and safety of their babies and, after major abdominal surgery, recovery is also a concern.
In the first few days, some women struggle to deal with the side effects of the anaesthetic, and the feeling their organs have been shifted around (because they have!) Their breast milk might take longer to come in, which can cause discomfort and distress as babies can have trouble latching and nursing.
In the weeks following, most women find themselves trying to manage life, and cope with the demands of a newborn, as well as the household chores and possibly other children. They can’t drive for weeks, and aren’t supposed to lift anything heavier than a toddler.
#2: C-sections Are Births Too
Women give birth to their babies regardless of the way in which their babies come into the world. It’s important to remember this. Women all around the world nurture and love children who aren’t created and born from their own bodies.
A woman who has a c-section isn’t less of a mother because of the way she gave birth. She became a mother the moment her baby was lifted out of her body, in exactly the same way a woman becomes a mother as she pushes her baby out of her body.
The evidence keeps stacking up to show vaginal birth is normal and safer than c-sections for low risk women.
This information is reinforced because today’s maternity culture keeps intervening in the natural process, and creating risks for women. This is not a reflection on whether a mother is ‘better’ because she had her baby naturally or via c-section.
C-section mamas probably already know all the reasons why their birth choice isn’t the preferred way to give birth. They might have known this before their c-section, or they found out after. It can be devastating to realise people don’t see them as ‘real’ mothers because of the way they gave birth.
Your opinion on c-section versus natural birth is your own – leave it at that. Birth brings out many complex feelings and emotions. Having a c-section can add plenty more – even if the surgery was by choice.
A woman who gives birth by c-section still needs the same support, love, and nurturing as mamas who birth vaginally. Be available to do what she needs after the birth of her baby – by providing practical support, offering emotional support, or giving her space.
Read some tips about how to help mama hibernate and recover after giving birth.
#3: It Can Be An Amazing Experience
When thinking about birth, women often include a bucket list of items they want on hand. They mention aromatherapy, music, hypnobirthing, immediate skin to skin, and so on. These ‘must-have’ birth items aren’t only for women having a vaginal birth!
Often called ‘gentle’ or ‘mother-centred’ c-sections, there are several ways women can create a positive and special atmosphere as they welcome their babies into the world.
Find out how to have a mother-friendly c-section.
Even if you are planning for a vaginal birth, it doesn’t hurt to have an alternative plan in place, in case you need an emergency c-section. That way you can ensure your wishes are respected, and your baby’s entry into the world is the positive experience you hoped for.
#4: It’s Not About You
It’s common to assume women who have c-sections feel devastated or disappointed they didn’t give birth vaginally. Many women do wish things had ended differently, but if they were empowered to make the best choice at the time, then they can own their experience, like a birth goddess!
Women who have a straightforward vaginal birth need space and time to process all their emotions. Women who give birth via c-section are no different! They might also need to talk about their experience without feeling shamed and judged, or to be given space to dig into their deeper emotions. Your support can be as simple as asking how they feel, or just being there to listen.
Many c-section mamas are very open about how positive they found their birth experience to be. This isn’t the time or place to make a comment on how you feel about c-sections – it’s not your birth story!
C-sections don’t just leave physical scars. Read about the emotional aspects of c-sections.
#5: What About Next Time?
How a woman decides to give birth after a c-section is no one’s business but hers.
Vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC) is definitely possible, and even highly recommended, for most women these days. Surgical methods have improved vastly in the last three decades, and there are increased risks to women if they have repeat c-sections.
That doesn’t mean a woman has to have a vaginal birth. It’s about choice, and weighing up the risks and benefits for her personal and individual situation. No one should dictate how she gives birth to her baby.
Women tend to seek other women for advice and recommendations, especially if they have been through similar situations. If a c-section mama is considering her options for a future pregnancy, let her know there is a lot of information available about VBAC, and encourage her to do some research. In the end, it’s her choice how she gives birth.
BellyBelly has an article with plenty of information about VBAC.
Women need to feel supported and empowered, no matter how they give birth.
A good birth experience doesn’t depend on how a baby is born. Women who give birth by c-section have grown and nurtured their babies, have faced major surgery, and have recovered afterwards. These are amazing achievements and deserve to be celebrated.