It was 2 years ago this week that I gave birth to my first child. At 6 days passed my due date I was booked in for an induction. Following 36 hours of trying and failing to get in to “active labour”, I was taken down to theatre for an emergency cesarean. As it turned out, my son Oliver, was never ever going to arrive naturally. He weighed in at 10Ib 11oz and had what could only be described as an enormous head (anyone who’s met my husband will understand!). Basically my body was not built to naturally deliver my husbands babies – after all, he’s 6ft 3in and I’m 5ft 2in – in that respect we are incompatible. However when I fell pregnant with my second child, which turned out to be a girl, we were cautiously optimistic that she would be smaller than Oliver and therefore I hoped to be able to deliver her naturally. As it turned out, for various reasons, this was not meant to be and instead she arrived by planned cesarean section at 39 weeks, weighing in at 9Ib 13oz.
There is an incredible amount of ignorance out there around cesarean sections. Ridiculous comments which suggest that Mother’s are taking the “easy option” by delivering via surgical means really make my blood boil. Exactly what is it about serious abdominal surgery leading to 4-6 weeks worth of excruciating pain and inability to do the most basic of task that sounds “easy”? Believe me, there is NOTHING easy about it. The emergency cesarean I went through with my son was both terrifying and lifesaving. After 36 hours of contractions and failure to progress, my sons heart rate had dropped and I was exhausted. The surgery was in fact necessary to save my baby as I was physically unable to deliver him without intervention. This brings me on to that other little gem you’ll likely have heard about cesarean sections, “you didn’t have that choice in the olden days”. Well no, you didn’t . . . You wouldn’t have had a choice because you’d have been dead. While Cesarean sections have been performed for many centuries, they weren’t considered to be “survivable surgery” until after the 1940’s when antibiotics were available to aid recovery. Historically cesareans were only performed after the mother had died during labour in order to attempt to save the baby. So in my case where I was physically unable to deliver my baby due to its size and my anatomical and skeletal structure, I would have certainly died in years gone by.
My experience of an emergency cesarean was miles apart form the planned cesarean I underwent last month for my Daughter Alice. I genuinely feel that Oliver’s delivery made it harder for me to connect with him immediately after he was born. Due to the emergent nature of his arrival, I wasn’t able to see him arrive or have skin to skin contact and obviously I couldn’t feel anything – for all I knew, this baby could have been brought in from another room. With Alice, I was able to see the surgeon pull her from my tummy and she was immediately given to me for skin to skin. She also stayed with me from that point onwards. Altogether a completely different experience.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to dispel the myth that cesareans are easy, or cheating, or that women who have them are weak. Any form of child birth is a miracle, surgical intervention or not. Each woman goes through their own journey of strength and endurance, and each woman will have very different scars to show for it – be they physical, mental, internal or external.
So I would like to ask you to do something for me, next time you hear an ignorant comment about a cesarean delivery, please share this with them. Lets celebrate child birth as a whole and salute those who deliver naturally but also salute those who go under the knife. We are all incredibly strong and heroic women, responsible for bringing new life in to this world by any means necessary. Remember that. Share that. #cesareanawarenessmonth