April is C-Section Awareness Month. This is something that previously, I’ve never heard of. However, as a new C-Section mum, this year it was something that quickly sprung to my attention thanks to the motherhood community I’ve built online and Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly seeing tonnes of empowering posts about C-Section births – and I loved it! A few clicks informed me that it was due to April being C-Section Awareness Month.
According to Wikipedia, a Caesarean Section, or C-Section, is “the surgical procedure by which a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen, often performed because vaginal delivery would put the baby or mother at risk.” You may have heard some people referring to it as having a baby through the ‘sunroof’.
I had an emergency C-Section in May 2020, after almost 20 hours of gruelling labour. I had just about reached 10cm dilation but after it taking so long, they decided an emergency C-Section was the way forward. This had obviously not been part of my plan, I knew very little about what would take place and it was a very scary time. But it got my baby out safely, whilst keeping me safe too, and for that I am grateful.
C-Section Awareness Month
I felt quite excited when I saw there was a C-Section Awareness Month, not least of all because I actually had an excuse to keep talking about my birth now…
However, I saw an entire blog post discussing why actually, this wasn’t important. Why actually, we didn’t need a C-Section Awareness Month at all. As you may have guessed, I feel quite the opposite.
You see, having a C-Section comes with so much stigma, even in 2021. You are met with all sorts of nasty, critical and patronising comments about having a C-Section birth. None of them are true, yet there are a great many people who still believe them. I touched on these comments briefly on my Instagram, but I want to dive into them a bit deeper here on my blog.
Having a cesarean is the easy way out
Yikes. Having a C-Section birth is certainly not the “easy way out”, as so many people claim. When you have a C-Section your stomach is sliced open and your insides are, quite literally, pulled out of your body. Then a baby is pulled through the same incision. Then everything is stuffed back in and you’re stitched up. Whilst that might sound quick and easy compared to a vaginal birth, it’s far from it.
You need a catheter during a C-Section, and that’s definitely not fun. Even now, my vagina curls inwards at the thought of my catheter being removed.
It comes with a six week minimum recovery time, during which even sitting up unaided is the most challenging of tasks. For the first week after my C-Section, I couldn’t even pick up my baby alone. I couldn’t stand from the sofa, climb into the bath or even get out of bed without the help of my partner. At times, the pain was unbearable.
And lets not forget the impossible maintenance of the scar itself. Keep it dry but clean. This is almost impossible if, like me, you’ve been left with a C-Section pooch that hangs over the top of the scar. It gets hot, sweaty, itchy and very easily infected.
Following the C-Section, there’s also ten days of blood thinners. You need to inject yourself every day at the same time to prevent from getting blood clots.
It’s a bloody lot of things, but it’s certainly not easy.
You didn’t give birth
Honestly, who are these nasty women who make this bold statement? Having a C-Section does not mean that you “didn’t give birth”. A human being that you grew inside of you came out of your body. However it came out of you, you gave birth to it.
It’s absolutely astounding to me that any person would be cruel enough to lay this kind of judgement on a mum. As established above, going through a C-Section birth is not easy. Half the time, it’s not even the mums decision to have one. And yet they’re told they “didn’t give birth” because they didn’t do it in the natural way.
Mums have to face enough judgement on a day to day basis for all kinds of things. Let’s not add to that list by judging the way they gave birth, okay?
Having a C-Section means your body failed
Wrong again. Having a C-Section does not mean that your body “failed”. Your body did everything it could do, but sometimes shit happens, shit that is beyond your control.
Maybe something happened during pregnancy that meant a C-Section was the safest way to deliver your baby. Maybe something happened during labour, or maybe you chose to have one, for your own personal reason. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t mean your body failed. At all.
When it comes to birth, all doctors want to do is deliver the baby safely whilst keeping mum safe too. Sometimes that means intervention is needed, sometimes it doesn’t. If you made the decision to have a C-Section, or if you went along with the doctors asking you to have one, you’ve done the right thing. You have made the safest choice for you and for your baby. Does that sound like you failed? Not at all.
Having a C-Section makes you less of a mum
Not true at all. There are so many ways to have babies nowadays, aside from the natural way. None of them make you any less of a mum at all! Like I said above, if you’ve made the decision to get baby here as safely as possible, regardless of what you want to do, you’re already an amazing mum.
No one has the grounds to tell you that the way you became a mum makes you less of a mum. Whether you’ve gone through IVF, adoption or naturally conceived, your title of ‘mum’ is just as valid as anyone else’s.
It’s okay to grieve after having a C-Section
It’s totally normal to feel like you need to grieve after a C-Section. You may feel that you “missed out” on birth, or at least on the birth experience that you wanted. You might feel like your body failed (even though it absolutely didn’t), or you might be grieving over other things, for other reasons.
Whatever it is that makes you feel that way, you’re not alone. Many people go through this process and feel these emotions. You’re never alone and it’s so important that you speak up. There’s plenty of support available via the Birth Reflections service, or similar, through the NHS. There’s also a brilliant community of mums online, easily accessed through various accounts and hashtags on social media.
You may never completely get over what you’ve lost but you can come to terms with it, learn more about it, understand why it happened. One day, you may still feel a longing for the birth you wanted, but you’ll be able to move forward from it.
Let’s end the stigma!
No two people experience the same birth. No two people experience the same C-Section. The last thing anyone should be doing is judging someone who has just created life within their own body and brought them earth side. Honestly, that in itself is an incredible thing to do. At the end of the day, who are you to judge how somebody delivers their baby? It doesn’t concern you at all, and any negative comments you want to make are quite frankly, unnecessary.
If you’ve had a C-Section, under whatever circumstances, know that you’re amazing and your birth was just as valid as any other. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
My body has been forever changed by my C-Section. I have a little pooch on my belly that overhangs my scar. It’s likely I’ll never get rid of it. And of course, there’s my scar too. A permanent reminder of what I went through to bring my baby into this world. It wasn’t the easy way out, that’s for sure.
Let’s stop pretending that any birth is easy. Everyone experiences their own difficulties and struggles. No route into motherhood is easy, motherhood isn’t easy. So let’s stop judging people, acting like some ways are better than others, and just appreciate and celebrate all mums for being so bloody amazing at what they do and how they do it.
It’s tough enough for women as it is. The odds are always stacked against us. Let’s not add to that by standing against each other too.
Love from, Florence Grace