Caesarean Awareness Month: A Rant

So April is apparently Caesarean Awareness Month.  I thought I’d check it out to see what it was all about considering that my birth experience resulted in a caesarean section.

What a total waste of my time.

Basically to cut a long story short, caesarean awareness month is a way in which to make women who have had caesareans feel like failures and like they ‘chose’ the easy option.

After all looking at their statistics, it seems 32% of births in the US now result in surgical delivery compared to 5% of US surgical births in the 1960’s.  I wonder what the death rate was during those different periods for the Mothers and the babies.  I wonder if more caesareans were offered in the 1960’s, if the statistics of birth related deaths would have been reduced?

Because that’s the thing they tend to not mention.  Very few people opt for a caesarean birth.  Usually a woman will be lying on that surgical table as a last resort, not a first choice.  And let me tell you something, being in a situation where your life and your child’s life is in the hands of another person is not an easy feat.  Our bodies were made to deliver babies safely in the natural way.  But not all of us get that chance.

In my experience, after spending over 36 hours in induced labour and finally reaching a dilation of 9cm, I ended up with an infection.  Irrelevant of antibiotics being pumped through my veins and my body increasingly worn out by the labour process it was hard for me to not succumb to the infection, my mind was becoming confused and my temperature was dangerously soaring.

My eyes were tired.

And so I shut them as a cold flannel was pressed against my forehead.  Within seconds I had a medical team around my bed, anaesthetists, doctors and nurses came running in and pushed Mr London Mum away from my bed to access me and my bump.  My baby’s heart rate was dramatically dropping.  The commotion forced my eyes to open, and as they opened his heart rate went back up.

Feeling content the medical team left me to progress.  After all I was only 1cm away from being able to push my baby out.  The infection was still rife but it wasn’t going to be long hopefully.  I shut my eyes again.  Once more the red button was pushed and the team came running through.  I was so exhausted.  I knew my eyes closing was having an effect on my baby now.  Not only was my body trying to still support the life growing inside me, it was also trying to deal with the infection I was dealing with, that was now obviously passing on to my Son.

There was no choice, the baby had to come out now.  To keep him in longer would result in more of the infection passing over to him and could cause tragic consequences for both of us.

It was decided it would be best to wheel me into the operating theatre, firstly to still try to give me the natural birth but also if needs be the team could move quickly with a caesarean section.

With the cold metal steel bars being put up around my bed, and Mr London Mum having to change into surgical clothing I was wheeled alone into the theatre with a host of medical professionals.  The only person I knew was the midwife who stayed by my side and tried to stop my body from uncontrollably shaking.  With your life, and your baby’s life hanging in the balance it’s this team that you know will do their utmost to keep you both safe.  You can’t see their faces due to their face masks but you trust them implicitly.

You have to.

Unable to stretch me an extra 1cm to progress with an immediate natural birth  and with the baby in distress there was no choice.  After receiving a spinal block and finally having Mr London Mum by my side the surgery began.

Lying there fighting an infection, exhausted from the trials of labour and listening to scalpel’s clashing together and mumbling between the surgical team you just wonder if it’s going to go ok.  You don’t care about yourself.  You don’t care about the pain that will result from having full on abdominal surgery.  You don’t care about having a scar.  You care about hearing your baby cry for the first time.  Everything is out of your control and it’s the team in the room that’ll either get your baby out alive or dead.

Hearing suction machines and feeling hard pressure being pushed into my abdomen which was the hands of the surgeon trying to get my baby out, they eventually after a lifetime managed to pull him out.

Silence.

For a long time I heard nothing.

Then eventually I heard my Son cry.  I cried.

There I was lying on a surgical table, my abdomen sliced open, no doubt blood spilling out of me.  The surgeon was still working on me, now attempting to close me up.  Waves of nausea were washing over me.  My body was going through one of the hardest experiences, labour, coupled with infection fighting and surgery.  Being sick isn’t an option when major surgery is happening.

My Son was brought over to me.  He wasn’t breathing right.  I remember asking repeatedly if he was supposed to sound like that.

After a quick look at him and holding him for literally seconds he was taken away from me.  He was sent straight to the neonatal intensive care unit.  No skin to skin.  No studying of his features, I hadn’t even seen his fingers and toes.

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In fact my Son was kept away from me until the day after his birth.  They had to get his infection under control and I was unable to move due to my surgery and all the drips and wires going into me.

Now going back to caesarean awareness month- perhaps that’s the awareness they need to look at promoting, real caesarean stories.  And the fact that caesareans are perfectly acceptable as a form of birth.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it certainly isn’t any less of a birth than a natural birth.  Birth is bringing a child into this world in the safest way you possibly can.  We are lucky to be able to have caesareans as an option.  Without the surgery there’s no doubt I would have died and my Son would have died during childbirth.  Instead of trying to convince Mother’s of how awful caesareans are maybe they should be fighting hard against images such as these:

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I’m sorry, but I feel superior that I managed to survive my childbirth.  I’m not sure many natural birthing Mother’s would want to trade experiences with me if asked.

And yes I did catch a lucky break.  I’m still alive to tell you my experience, and my son is a happy, healthy toddler.

There are many women and babies that still die in childbirth, let’s not take for granted the medical choices open to us.

thelondonmum

22 Comments

  1. I have seen this photo floating around and it makes me extremely frustrated. I too had a cesarean. Yes it was planned as Amelia was breech for quite a while but it didn’t come without its complications. Csections always seem to come with their own challenges the first of which being women putting their ideal plans aside and doing what is best. That alone is a really tough idea to get over, then we are left paralysed in bed scarred and exhausted. Not even mentioning recovery time. I think people who haven’t been through it or have no idea about it would probably say it was an easy option which is so sad as they are so wrong. You’ve inspired me to possibly actually write y birth story! I’m sorry you didn’t get exactly what you planned for but like you said you survived and did what was best at the time! Xx
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    • I’d love to read your birth story! It’s so frustrating that people think having a c section is the easy option, I’d give anything to be able to have the natural birth I wanted. And I think many women that end up having c sections would want the same. But I don’t know many women who would want to give up their natural births for the c section option.
      Any kind of surgery is petrifying, but add the fact another life is invloved as well as your own and the doubles the fear. xx

  2. Oh, that last photo makes me feel sick and I think it’s awful that something like ‘caesarean awareness’ month should be so negative towards mothers who had a c-section. Like you said, for most it’s not a choice. It’s a matter of getting both mother and baby through safely. Before Pumpkin was born, I knew a caesarean was a possibility because the scans were showing that she was massive, and the few friends that I told about it had responses ranging from “ooh, maybe you can have a section - that would be so much easier!” to “but don’t you WANT to have a *real* birth?” those all made me so angry. I just wanted a healthy baby! In the end, I didn’t need a caesarean, although the birth was traumatic, and like you I was separated from the baby for about 24 hours due to other complications. I think myself lucky to not have had a section - not because it makes me ‘more’ of a mother, but because it means I didn’t have to go through terrifying surgery or the painful recovery process of having your abdomen spliced open. (Sorry - geez, this comment got out of control…) 🙂
    Shannon recently posted…50 things that make me happyMy Profile

    • It’s really odd that people think having a caesarean is the easy option! I know the caesarean awareness month is to try and show that people shouldn’t have caesareans and should opt for a natural birth, but that’s what most people already want! Very few people want to have a caesarean out of choice for non medical reasons. It’s frustrating that as Mother’s we’re deemed to thick to make our own choices when it comes to birth. xx

  3. I’d ignore anything posted by the Disciples of the New Dawn tbh….. as well as being anti-ceasearen, they are also anit-formula, anti-every-race-other-than-white, anti-divorce, anti-drugs, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-masturbation…… and just about anti-everything else. They are the extreme minority that most people laugh at,

    I’ve had a c-section, a VBAC and another c-section. No one can make me feel guilty, or less of a woman for those c-sections. They saved the lives of my babies and the second section saved my life as well. But those of us who had c-sections for baby side issues aren’t the ones that caesarean awareness week is aimed at. Its those women who are let down by medical professionals, who don’t get the support in early labour, or who have “failure to progress” that is actually failure to wait, or failure to offer the right care and support. It seems to me that its about making sure that caesareans are done only when that is the only outcome that labour could ever have had, rather than done because the cascade of interventions leads to that c-section. For most women the c-section IS a medical necessity at the point at which the decision is made to go for a section, but its the intervention in labour earlier in labour that are not necessary.

    • I just don’t trust their statistics. The increase of caesareans is something that has happened but with better contraception and more women having babies later than in the 1960’s having a higher c section figure is more probable in todays world. A few people, especially when private do opt for a c section without the need for it but those women are in a minority if we’re being honest. But if that’s a decision they’ve made then that’s for them. The c section has always been considered the easy route, and it really isn’t. It’s this I’d like to see changed.

      How did you find the vbac? would you recommend it? It’s something I’ve been toying with, whether to attempt birth again one day or opt for a c section because I’ve already had one and I would hate to go through all of that again to end up having another c section.

  4. I feel the same, I also had an emergency section and if it wasn’t for the fast nurses and surgeons who knows if my baby would have survived labour, I was only 2 cm, waters hadn’t even broke, I was rushed from the ward around 8.40 my son was delivered at 10.11. I know I hung around until roughly 9.30 with the new doctor on call. I’m glad the old doctor outstayed her shift and got me into theatre. Maybe one day this week I’ll rwrite my birth story onto my blog. But I for one am proud of my scar, am proud that I could ‘bounce’ back from major surgery within what 6 weeks and looking after a new born. I’ll take the sunroof option again if it’s a matter of life and death.
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    • I’d love to read your birth story, make sure to send me the link if you do manage to write it up! Looking after a new born after a section is tough.. no one tells you there’s no extra help. People that go in for any other abdominal surgery get easier treatment post surgery than a Mother, who’s expected to just go straight on duty. x

  5. I’m so sorry you had to go through such an ordeal! I was really feeling for you reading your story. My first “natural” birth was also very traumatic (though thankfully not as dramatic as what you had to go through). But I was four days in labour and only escaped an emergency C-section by a fraction as Becky finally came out whole they were prepping the theatre. My second birth was an elective C-section because of medical reasons as well as the baby’s position, and I am not ashamed that I gave birth that way. It doesn’t make me less of a woman or mother. The most important thing is that the baby was delivered safe and sound, nothing else matters, and it’s such a personal experience anyway. To be honest, if I had any more kids (which I won’t), I don’t know which scenario I would hope for, a natural birth or a C-section. My natural birth was horrible and traumatic, but the C-section also was tough, even though overall a much calmer experience. But it’s definitely not the easy option, and people who publish these posters and make other women feel bad about something that is mostly totally out of anyone’s control, should be ashamed of themselves, not the women who had a section. x
    Isabella @ Fairies & Pirates recently posted…C-section - so what?!My Profile

    • I think very very few women ever get the birth they want. I bet you were a mixture of emotions when your daughter came out! I have one friend though who said it barely hurt her and it was really easy! How I don’t know lol. Either way getting a baby out whether naturally, or through surgery, whether it was easy or hard results in the same thing. xx

  6. Great post, totally agree with everything you said. I had a c-section, it wasn’t planned but basically my baby was too big and c-section was the safest option. I certainly don’t think I caught a lucky break! I lost a lot of blood and had to stay in hospital for 5 days while I would have much preferred to have been home with my new son. I also got a chest infection once I got home and coughing whilst recovering from that operation is not fun at all!! xx

    • I can’t imagine anything worse than getting a cough so soon after a c section. The pain must have been god awful! x

  7. Wow! I had a c section as well. My fluid was really low and she was breech and had to have an emergency c section. I don’t agree with people saying we didn’t give birth because we got a c section. That’s such crap! WE are all mother’s at the end of the day and the decisions we had to make to have a c section are brave. Thank you for sharing your story. You’re one brave mommy!

    • As are you! There’s nothing like panicking about a manner of problems that result in a c section. Every Mum that lies on that table just wants her baby out and to hear it cry. xx

  8. Caesarians DEFINITELY aren’t the easy option. 2 of my sisters and my sister in law have had them and I know their recovery was a lot more difficult than mine. Like you say, I’m sure most people would rather they didn’t have to have one but that’s not how it works! Your birth sounds pretty horrendous, I’m so glad everything turned out ok!
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  9. Great post. Too right. I didn’t have a C section, but I did have other interventions (ventouse delivery and an induced delivery) and it seems to me to be ludicrous that given just how horrifically bad the statistics on childbrith were before the advent of modern medicine, how modern medicine in childbirth is reviled.

    Plus, as you say, C sections are hardly the easy way out. Bah.
    Mama Herself recently posted…Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and World of IllusionsMy Profile

    • If they could give more statistics then maybe i’d agree with them that reducing the number of caesareans should be encouraged. And yes while some people do opt for elective caesareans they each have their own reason as to why they’ve chosen that delivery- which isn’t discussed. But most c sections aren’t elective and definitely not the preferred option for most mother’s xx

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I had an emergency c-section too - my first baby - after contracting pre-eclampsia (which wasn’t picked up before I went into labour might I add!). I didn’t even get the chance to hold my son after the operation - I was cleaned up, wheeled into recovery and had to ask someone to pass him to me. I know that I am incredibly fortunate - compared to those whose babies are extremely ill and need immediate care. You have inspired me to tell my birth story on my blog (even if no-one reads it!). I really hate the stigma that surrounds c-sections too. I had a friend say to me that due to health problems she would probably need a c-section in the future, when her time comes - ‘but that’s okay no pushing and no baggy bits eh?’ I was livid! I tried explaining what had happened and the fact that I felt completely useless for the first few days (I’m rather stubborn!) and relied on my husband A LOT. People just don’t seem to understand.
    Thanks again, I love your blog - will be following for more posts.
    Stacie xx
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    • Really glad you enjoyed it 🙂 If you do write your birth story make sure to give me a nudge so I don’t miss it. It is frustrating when people think it’s the easy option- far from it! x

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