Like me, did you skip the sections in the pregnancy books about cesarean sections?
I was horrified — simply horrified — by the idea of a c-section when I was pregnant. Everything about it seemed barbaric. I had never had surgery, and I didn’t want to start now. I refused to accept a c-section as a possibility. Even during our childbirth class, I purposefully tuned out during the c-section lecture. We hired a birth doula to attempt to have a natural childbirth. Ironically, she and her doula partner had both had difficult c-sections, and these experiences were the catalysts for studying and beginning a career in childbirth education.
April is Cesarean Awareness Month, a worldwide campaign to raise awareness and educate people and the medical community about the facts and experience of c-sections.
My last post was about developing the “baby bug” and wondering about a second baby. I’m not sure if the baby bug has completely passed, but I’m thinking more about the reality of what having another baby would mean.
And today, as part of this April campaign, I’m asking you to do two things:
1. If you are a pregnant woman, or know a pregnant woman, or treat pregnant women, make sure that you know the facts about c-sections. Seriously, just do it, even if it grosses you out. Even if a c-section is in no way part of your birth plan — it certainly wasn’t in mine — read about them, ask other women about them. Learn about why you might be given the option, or why you might not, what the recovery is like, what you can expect if you have one. Ask about your hospital’s c-section delivery rate and find out how it compares to other hospitals in your area.
I had an emergency c-section after a completely normal pregnancy and several hours of normal labor. I was in active labor, pushing, when my son’s heart rate dropped and wouldn’t recover the way that the doctors expected that it should. They rushed me to the operating room, and I was not given any choice about whether to continue with labor. And I should not have been given a choice. My son’s life was at risk, and I’m thankful that the doctors were skilled and fast. My son’s umbilical cord was too short for him to be able to exit the cervix, and he was literally stuck.
After a terrifying birth, I was completely unprepared for every aspect of what to expect after a c-section. I didn’t know how long it would take to recover, how difficult breastfeeding would be, how long I would stay in the hospital, how much pain I would be in, how many complications were possible, how much medication or which kinds I would be offered.
2. I also want to ask about your experiences. Did you have a c-section? Did you have a repeat c-section after your first? Or were you able to have a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? Did your doctor or hospital push you into another c-section?
The United States has a remarkably high rate of Cesarean deliveries — about 30% — but the rates vary widely from hospital to hospital, even in the same city. And it has a very low rate of VBACs, because hospitals often refuse to cover them in fear of litigation. And many doctors don’t provide women who have c-sections with complete information about the risks and benefits of a repeat cesarean. It’s so hard for women — like me — who want good information about future pregnancies after a c-section. Do you recommend any resources?
What was your experience? Do you have any advice?