So we all know that there are really two options when giving birth, right?? We either do it the “natural” way, which is vaginal, or we have a c-section. Simple. Two options. Some women have the choice of which option they want to go with, some don’t. Some want the “all-natural” experience, without the assistance of medication. Some want an epidural the second they feel a single contraction. Some want a c-section, because it maybe takes the guessing out of how painful childbirth can really be, or they have already had that experience with a previous pregnancy. And you know what, sometimes there is just no choice in the matter, and we have to trust that the healthcare professionals are helping us make the right decision for ourselves and the baby. Seems simple. So why are women made to feel that one option is more courageous and brave than another??
I was due with my first son at the end of April 2013. My husband and I “prepared” ourselves for childbirth. We attended a birthing class. Some women think the classes are a waste, but I left birthing class feeling like a ROCKSTAR! I CAN do this. I can push this baby out of my vag, no matter how painful it is going to be. I got this, I got this, I got this I kept telling myself. I left excited for giving birth the “natural” way.
Well, things did not turn out that way. My son was breach at 34 weeks. I went to see a chiropractor that specialized in turning breach babies (you may have heard of the Webster Technique). My yoga instructor made a special video just for me to show me yoga poses that would encourage him to move into the correct position. I tried the version technique at the hospital, where they give you medication to speed up your heart rate and relax your uterus, while they literally push so hard on your stomach you feel like they might be killing the baby in the process. He didn’t turn. I was doomed for a c-section. I was horrified. Terrified. Disappointed. Sad. Felt like a failure. I was prepared to give birth the natural way, and now I was being robbed of that opportunity.
My water broke on April 13th, and we made our way into the hospital for a c-section. Giving birth to our son was the happiest and proudest moment of my entire life. This little creature that had spent almost 10 months inside of me was now in my arms. Do you think I thought twice about the fact that he arrived via c-section?? Not even once.
So why does society make women feel like giving birth the “natural” way is the only real deal? As if having a c-section is some cowardly, weak, easy, not-really childbirth, way the baby enters the world. I mean a c-section is easy right? You just lay there and they cut you open and voilà, the baby is here.
Um, no. Having a baby via c-section is also “the real deal.” You walk into a cold operating room, where there are no less than 8-10 medical professionals prepping you for surgery (yes surgery, by-the-way. This is a MAJOR surgery). You lay there, they drug you up, and all you can feel is from the boobs up. If you were as lucky as I was, your partner sits next to you and you just wait. Wait for them to cut your stomach and uterus open, move a few organs and things around, and deliver the baby. You wait to meet this little person, as they prep him and stitch you right back up. It feels like an eternity because you do not get to even see them for the first 5 minutes or so. Oh ya, you are still bleeding out of your vag as if you gave birth that way too. Let’s not forget the catheter that was put in you at god knows what point in the process. That is in there too for a day.
Then you go home, and you can barely lift the baby. Walking hurts. Coughing and sneezing, forget about it. Turning sideways hurts. Bending over hurts. You cannot drive. You just had major surgery, but everyone wants to come over and see the baby, so you are pretending to feel good and sit there and entertain them as they “googoo” and “gaga” over your new precious bundle of joy. Having a c-section is no walk in the park. It is “the real deal,” too.
I am now pregnant with my second son, due any day now. I keep getting the question of, “are you just having another c-section?” And my answer is no. If it comes to that then yes, absolutely, and I am okay with that. Ya know what though, I would like to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time. I would love the experience of a different childbirth than the experience I had with my first son. Not different because vaginal is better, or because I didn’t rock the c-section, but different because having a baby is literally the most amazing thing you will ever do as a woman, and why not try to experience the other way a baby can be born.
What is different this time is that I am not putting the unnecessary pressure on myself that having a baby out of my vagina is somehow more of the “real deal” than a c-section. It does not serve me on any level, it does not serve my unborn baby, our son, or my husband for me to put this expectation on myself that I am some big disappointment for not pushing him out of my vag.
The most important food for thought I would give to any expecting mother would be that what is most important is that you deliver a happy and healthy child, safely. Go into labor with an open mind and an open heart, that whichever route your child gets here, you are just as much of a rock star bad ass mama as the next mama. There is enough pressure in society for the millions of other experiences we go through, why not just let yourself off the hook and pat yourself on your back for putting your body through the most amazing experience it could ever go through; creating, nurturing and birthing a child.