How a mum-to-be gives birth is one of the most important and personal experiences she'll endure throughout her pregnancy.
But like so many aspects of being pregnant or a new parent, there’s a lot of conflicting advice and opinions that mums-to-be have to navigate to be able to take the path that is right for them.
Oh, and they’re definitely not too posh to push…
1. That C-sections are the ‘easy option’
This one was pretty much unanimous. There is a pervasive stereotype that says caesarean births are not as difficult, emotionally or physically, as natural ones. Whilst both have their advantages and disadvantages, the assumption that C-sections are ‘easy’ isn’t realistic.
“One myth would be, ‘C-section moms took the easy way out!’ I was in labor for 36 hours and I pushed for three hours before my son arrived. I already felt like a failure. As mothers, we have to do what is best for our baby and ourselves. People are so quick to judge.”
2. That it doesn’t hurt
Many women admit to being terrified of the pain of a vaginal birth. All that pushing, screaming, throwing things at your partner… but with a natural delivery, new mums are normally back up and running within days, and get to fully enjoy the precious first days of their baby’s life.
C-sections require major invasive surgery, which can mean a recovery time of weeks (in some cases, months). Swelling and bruising is also generally unavoidable.
Recovery can take a while – often more than a vaginal birth. It might take up to six weeks for your body to feel comfortable doing activities such as driving, having sex, lifting and exercising again.
“You have a major operation having a C-section. Can’t lift, drive or get back to normal for weeks afterwards.”
3. That they’re usually elective
For many women, the decision of how they want to give birth is taken out of their hands completely when health complications mean emergency C-sections are necessary. If you suffer from pre-eclampsia, or your baby is in breach position after 37 weeks, your doctor will usually offer a C-section birth. Lots of women spend hours or even days in labour, and a caesarean birth is the only way to deliver their baby safely.
“That it isn’t a choice that we make, it is for health reasons or complications. My own experience was an emergency section at 31 weeks because I had pre eclampsia and myself and my baby could have died.”
4. That you can NEVER choose to have one
After an emergency caesarean, most doctors will advise delivering in the same way in future pregnancies, as the health complications leading to the C-section are at a higher risk of arising again. To avoid the trauma of last minute surgery, women will often arrange to have a caesarean from the get go. But some mothers simply prefer the idea of delivering this way – natural births come with their own scary bits, too! Having a vaginal birth after a C-section is possible, but comes with risks you should be aware of.
“The elective was the hardest decision of my life. Difficult to get over the feelings of ‘failure’ for not trying the 2nd time – until I held my baby.”
5. That you don’t bleed afterwards
Along with massive pants to accommodate the swelling after surgery, C-Section mums need to bring just as many pads into hospital as other mums because – contrary to popular belief – you DO bleed from the vagina after a caesarean.
‘I was amazed at how many women thought you didn’t bleed from the foof afterwards, and thought you only bled if you had a vaginal birth. After 3 [c]sections I was sick of saying YES, you definitely do!’
6. That you can ‘keep your figure’
The idea that some women choose to have C-Sections to ‘keep their figure’ is really outdated. Unless you had a washboard flat stomach to start with, C-sections are likely to leave you with a ‘belly pouch’ – where your lower abdominal muscles have been operated on, they won’t connect smoothly with your pubis and there will be a noticeable change to your shape. Unlike pregnancy weight loss after a natural birth, this can’t be fixed through diet and exercise and some women even opt for tummy-tucks after a C-Section.
“I put on weight during both my pregnancies, but even after I lost it my tummy was never the same again.”
7. That you’ll struggle to bond with your baby
After a C-section birth, if mum has stayed awake during the surgery and baby is healthy, the midwife will place the baby in her arms soon after it’s born. Just as with a natural birth, doctors respect the maternal need for skin-to-skin contact. You can also request to have your baby weighed and cleaned in the theatre with you, rather than taken out to another room.
“The rubbish that you don’t bond in the same way. I have had three conventional births and one C-section. All had their disadvantages and advantages, but it has not affected in any way our relationship and the love I feel for him.”
8. That you’ve in any way ‘failed’ at childbirth
That there is still stigma around C-Section births, whether emergency or elective, only adds unnecessary pressure for mums-to-be who are already under a huge amount of it!
“It really doesn’t matter how we all arrived at being a mother; natural birth, C-Section or adoption like myself. We are all mums and should celebrate together!”