In the Caesarean Bundle I discuss many of the common comments and judgements around the way we birth when it’s a caesarean. Often it can be our own judgements too. I know for me, I had always had the opinion that caesareans were for those who were “too posh to push” until it happened to me 10 years ago and I really struggled to overcome that belief.
I’ve complied this post by asking all the women who are involved with the academy (students, social media followers, those in the community group). It’s compiled without judgement and with kindness as I know often it’s the way we view birth as a society rather than as an individual. I know very few people mean any harm, but I also know how hurtful it can be if you’re feeling fragile from birth.
I asked “If you’ve had a caesarean birth – what are people’s reactions? How do they make you feel? What would you like people to say to you?”
I acknowledge this isn’t a proper in depth study qualitative study but I feel it’s fairly representative of some of the more hurtful and challenging comments we get. And I’m fairly sure that I’ve at times made some mistakes too when talking about caesareans – I’m definitely not perfect. I really want to get a conversation going about this though as I believe as humans we need to be much more respectful and kind when discussing births (and so much more too…).
Here’s the replies:
“I’ve had some people say to me “oh I’d never have a c-section.” in a way that makes it sound like I chose the easy way out.” (Sarah)
“I had family tell me “oh that’s great because it’s much safer for all women to have a c-section”. And pretty similar comments from most others…wasn’t very helpful!” (Bridget)
“I had my second c section birth 5 days ago after going through a really traumatic emergency c section under general anesthetic with my first. This was a planned c section and fortunately people who knew my background were incredibly supportive and understood how hard a decision it was to make. I had the odd person make comments – “too posh to push” (of course this person was “joking” 🙄) “oh a planned section, how nice!” “Must be nice to know you’ll not have to go through labour.” On the days where mentally I was struggling, these comments would get to me but generally I realised that it was the people who had a lack of understanding about what a section (and the recovery) actually entails. I had a polar opposite birth experience than my first so I definitely made the right decision for me.” (Beccy)
“I was told “I’m surprised they even let you try for a natural birth” and also how it was the “easier option” when I’d laboured until fully dilated and spent over an hour pushing, it was an emergency and I got an infection afterwards so nothing easy about it!! I would have liked to have been asked how I felt about it and the looks of shock I get when I mention I’d like a natural birth next time aren’t very supportive!” (Ashley)
“I got a lot of people telling me it was ok but asking ‘what happened?’. It made me feel like I’d done something wrong and like I’d failed!! I think it’s also mainly because at the time that’s how I felt. Feel much better about it now though. I have a healthy 3 yo and went on to have a vbac. I’m also overall happy with my first birth and feel like it was a positive experience” (Gillian)
“The surgeon – ‘Look at the size of your feet .. of course you couldn’t do it ! ‘😬 and then had vbac ..bull ****!” (Katy)
“I had a few bad experiences with medical professionals – the first midwife who visited us less than ten hours after I had my son via emergency c-section said “don’t worry dear, next time you can have a normal birth” which made me feel like I had done the whole birth thing wrong, it was so hurtful and I was so exhausted after a two day labour, and frankly was the furthest thing from my thoughts at that time, let alone how I would have that child. A doctor doing the hearing test in the hospital told us that c-section babies are often very reactive to noises and so our son might be more nervous than other children. He was barely 24 hours old and what I heard in that statement was that because I hadn’t managed to birth him vaginally I had failed to set him up as a confident normal child.” (Rosie)
“If you’ve had a c-section, are you even a mum? If you can’t even legitimately give birth to your baby then you’re a s**t mum” (Sarah)
What helped/could have helped?
“Something that made a positive difference was Mars, saying “you’ve got this..no, really, you do!!”
“I guess maybe the medical professionals could try congratulating women in similar situations on their efforts? It would help so much to get some validation rather than sympathy.”
“I mean, all they really needed to say in both cases was “hello, great baby, well done” anything else is sort of irrelevant right?”
“Congratulations – that’s lovely news”
“How are you feeling? Can I help you?”
Society’s view of caesareans
One of the things that really frustrates me is that a caesarean is automatically seen as being an easier birth, an easy way out, something to be judged for failure or it’s automatically a traumatic birth. How society views caesarean is something I’m fascinated about given my own births and how I feel about them.
One of the members in the community group said:
“I wasnt prepared for it, really. Everyone should plan their c section as you plan your birth so you know more about what will happen. I was not prepared for the lack of mobility afterward. I was pleasantly surprised about how quick well organised and comfortable it was. The pain was managed superbly well. I didn’t have any pain at all right up to when the stitch came out. I was totally off my face when I first saw my wee one though. They just shot me chock full of diamorphine and my eyeballs couldn’t get coordinated at all, though that only seemed to last about 5 mins then I felt fine in the recovery room, had a beautiful golden hour with the wee one on my chest, had lovely tea and toast and felt very well taken care of.”
We must be aware that around 1 in 3 births are caesareans. It’s something I feel really passionate about in terms of preparation, education, planning, getting comfortable with. It’s something that I’ve included in the Pregnancy Roadmap which you can get when you download the FREE Resources Bundle. I’m so pleased that anyone that does the Birth Bundle gets the Caesarean Bundle included and vice versa.
If you’ve got any thoughts on this, then do get in touch,
Much love, Tricia xxx