One in three pregnant mothers will now give birth via Cesarean section.
Natural birth advocates tsk at this number and spout off the related risks of C-sections (infection, blood clots, blood loss, etc). But for the millions of mothers who give birth in this fashion, hearing all of the negative conversation about C-section can make you feel inadequate and uninformed. I know, because I am one of those mothers. Both of my babies were born via C-section and to this day, I still feel pangs of regret that I did not deliver my baby “naturally.”
When pregnant with my first child, I remember making the doctors and nurses light up when I arrived for my frequent appointments. “Your pregnancy is so easy!” they would say. “You’re so lucky. Other women have a lot of difficulty carrying babies. But you’ve got it made!”
Foolishly, I took that to mean that an easy pregnancy meant an easy delivery. Could not have been more wrong about that. I went past my due date and there were no signs of labor getting started anytime soon.
Then one morning, almost to the 41 weeks pregnant mark, I woke up bleeding. Once we got to the hospital, doctors were more concerned about my rapidly spiking blood pressure. A day later I was induced.
Somewhere after the twelfth hour of labor, I developed an 104-degree fever out of nowhere. Concerned about infection, doctors told me that for the safety of the baby, it might be best if we proceeded with a Cesarean. I consented, worried about my little one who was literally baking in my belly.
Five minutes later, my beautiful baby girl was born grumpy and gooey, but healthy. I was in awe.
I didn’t have time to think about the way she entered into the world until I was pregnant with her brother a year later, when I had to make the decision on whether to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) or go ahead with a scheduled C-section.
I chose to schedule a C-section. I was scared of the risks of a repeat C-section, but because I already knew what it was like, it felt more “normal” to me.
When other moms talked about how long they pushed and how powerful they felt delivering their babies into the world, I smiled politely and changed the subject. The few times I did talk about my delivery, I would feel the pity in their eyes. One woman actually said to me, “Do you feel cheated out of the birth experience? I would.” Ouch.
Home births are on the rise, as are births at birthing centers, as more women try to avoid the routine medical interventions that often lead to C-sections. Spend time among women passionate about natural birth, and there’s disdain for women with C-section scars. Why weren’t you more informed? Why didn’t you say no when your doctor recommended the surgery? Don’t you know how magical birth can be? You have a voice in how your birth goes!
At times, yes, I do feel like I was uninformed. But looking back, I don’t know if there’s anything I would change (and I now accept there’s nothing I CAN change), so why beat myself up about it? My babies are here, they are healthy, I don’t have any lingering problems, so I should be happy, right? Right…I guess.