On Friday, I posted a link to this article (titled “Why I’d Rather Give Birth Via C-Section”) from the HuffPost blog on my Facebook page, and it got a lot of attention… Naturally, as I’m now halfway through my second pregnancy and the first one ended in c-section, this topic – in general – is on my mind a lot lately… To clarify, I don’t agree with everything the writer says in this post. In fact, I think, as my sweet friend Ashley so tactfully pointed out in the FB comments, I think she portrays the entire birth process in a rather bad light and many of her reasons for preferring a c-section seemed kind-of surface-y and superficial to me as well. (Not that I don’t have some of the same thoughts at times, I just wouldn’t necessarily base my decisions off of them if I could avoid it.) THAT SAID, I can relate to the feelings of guilt and shame sometimes – about having a c-section in the first place and maybe even preferring to have one a second time all things being equal.
Jeff and I haven’t completely decided what route we will go for delivery this time around. Our doctor – who is wonderful and wise – has encouraged me that I’m a “good candidate” for a VBAC and has weighed all the pros and cons of both a trial of labor and a scheduled c-section for us. Right now, we are praying and waiting to make a decision; but, in the end, despite my tendency towards what I “know” and some of my fears about delivering “naturally,” our decision will come down to what we believe to be best for our BABY. (Truth be told, I’d much prefer for the doctor just to tell me that I HAVE to do it one way or the other, but he isn’t going to, so that’s that.) Either way, I’m determined not to feel bad about the road we choose to take to get this baby safely into the world. Motherhood brings enough opportunities to worry and feel guilty and labor/delivery in and of itself is plenty to cause anxiety without the added pressures of what other people think about it.
Along those lines, below is a post I published last winter on the topic from my old blog. It has a slightly different meaning to me now that the “future pregnancy” is the reality; but, I think its general message is clear and important…
*Warning* I share a little bit about my experience with Sam and – though the ending is very happy – it could be considered scary. Keep in mind if you are pregnant and trying to avoid those kinds of things.
Let me say this before I go any further… I don’t have a lot of strong opinions when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and child birth.Some may fault me for this, but there is A LOT of conflicting information available when it comes to having a baby, and I decided very early in my pregnancy that I am NOT an expert at those things, and that I would drive myself crazy if I tried to become one in nine months. The best thing FOR ME was to trust my doctor as the authority and rest in that. I know some of you feel differently. I know some of you are passionate about natural childbirth or avoiding a c-section at all costs. That’s fine. This is my experience and what worked for me and my baby. I also hope that it will be encouraging to those of you that have had c-sections yourself or are pregnant and may face some similar decisions in the months to come.
For context, here’s a Sam’s birth story in a nutshell:
– I labored at home from roughly 11AM – 10PM (not super intense). We checked in to L&D at 10:30PM, and my water broke (on its own) about five minutes later.
– Things progressed pretty quickly once I got to the hospital (I was already dilated to an 8 by the time I got my epidural – which I loved, btw), and I started pushing at about 1:45AM.
– For the next hour, I pushed with very little progress until the doctor finally came in to check again around 3AM and found that Sam’s head was stuck on my pelvis, his heart rate was elevated, and he appeared to have a fever. At that point, he said I could continue to push for a couple more hours but recommended a c-section.
– To quote from my original birth story post, “I sincerely believe that God had been preparing me for that moment. I am so grateful for the peace that I had about getting the c-section. It was like I was already ready for it. Jeff and I didn’t doubt the decision for one minute; we just went with it. We just wanted a healthy baby. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t even scared. I just was ready to meet Sam.”
– Less than two hours later, Sam was born completely blue (not breathing) with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck FOUR times. (This is called aquadruple-nuchal, and it was only the second our OB had ever seen. If you want to be scared, Google it.)
– Thankfully, the OB was set and, after receiving some immediate attention, Sam let out the most beautiful cry ever, and we had our happy ending.
I’m going to try not to be super dramatic here, but… I really believe that if I had continued to push back at 3AM (which wouldn’t have been crazy for a lot of people), our story could have ended VERY differently…
So, here’s the thing… I think I can speak for every mother ever when I say that the ultimate goal is to safely deliver a healthy baby when it is all said and done. Something about becoming a momma makes you instinctively able to do ANYTHING in order to make that happen (just ask one). I, truly, have a lot of respect for women that choose to have their babies completely naturally and without surgical intervention. You are right, our bodies ARE naturally designed to be able to do the hard work of childbirth and the miracle of it IS beautiful. Yes, hundreds of years ago, women had babies in their homes with little to no medical intervention ALL THE TIME; but hundreds of years ago a lot more women and children died during childbirth too.
I’m honestly not trying to cause a ruckus (really, I’m not), it’s just that your desire NOT to have medical intervention might be the EXACT SAME reason I choose to have it. Are you with me? In my case, having a c-section might have SAVED my baby’s life, and you just can’t underestimate that.
As I mentioned in my original birth-story post, God gave me an incredible peace about the entire situation. Long before it was time to make any hard-fast decisions, I had a sense (a motherly intuition, maybe?) that I would have to have a c-section. *In fact, for those couple of hours when everything was progressing normally, and I had started to push, I remember a moment of “I can’t believe this.” No, I didn’t ask for a c-section; but, I also wasn’t upset at the recommendation or disappointed in my decision to go ahead with it. I feel like JUST AS MUCH of a mother after a c-section as I would have been if I’d delivered my baby “naturally,” because – either way – I was doing what was best for MY baby.
Are there negatives to having a c-section? Absolutely!
I only got to see Sam for a hot second before we went our separate ways to recover for a couple of hours, I had to stay in the hospital a little longer (which I actually didn’t mind), I couldn’t lift heavy objects, drive a car, or go up and down stairs for a longer time, and my scar was painful and then tingly for a long time after the surgery (not to mention my scar will show in a string bikini – bahahahaa), and I think the “c-section stomach pooch” is absolutely real. But, overall, even despite the fact that I went through the entire labor process, pushed, and still had a c-section, I’d say I had a pretty good experience in terms of recovery, bonding, breastfeeding, etc. (Of course, I don’t really know any differently either.)
All that said, I have to admit that, although I’m not even pregnant again yet, I already get a little nervous when the subject of c-sections and VBACs comes up in conversation these days. I don’t know yet what we will decide to do when it comes to future deliveries; but, I admit that I feel a certain societal expectation to at least try to avoid a c-section and a little guilt about the possibility of not. Really though, that’s silly. I’ve got to let that go. I’ve got to remember that we all have the same goal, and I don’t need to impress anyone.
So, if you are a mama that had a c-section to deliver your baby, I want you to know something:
YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. YOU HAD MAJOR SURGERY IN WHICH A SURGEON CUT THROUGH YOUR INTESTINES TO BRING YOUR BABY INTO THIS WORLD, AND YOU WILL HAVE THE “BATTLE SCAR” TO PROVE IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Please don’t let anyone convince you that you did the wrong thing, that you didn’t “try” hard enough, or that you haven’t experienced childbirth. They are WRONG (and, frankly, ignorant.) You did the best thing for your baby from DAY ONE. Rest in that.
And, if you are pregnant right now and preparing yourself that a scheduled (or emergency) c-section could be an option (which I encourage you to prepare for regardless), know this:
YOU ARE ALREADY THE PERFECT MAMA FOR YOUR BABY. PLEASE TRUST YOURSELF, YOUR DOCTOR, AND GOD AND DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL GUILT OR DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE WHEN IT COMES TIME TO DELIVER. The way in which your baby comes into the world has NOTHING to do with your performance as a woman or a mother. YOU’VE GOT THIS. (And, really, c-sections aren’t that scary and terrible anyway.)
Ok, sorry for getting so feisty and deep on you today. Just keepin’ it real.
I welcome your thoughts and or personal experiences related to this subject, but ask that you please keep it friendly and supportive. Also, as much as I love you, I don’t necessarily want you to use the comments as a forum to convince me (or other moms) which way to go with this delivery… I’ve got my hands (and mind) full already without other added input. 🙂
Thanks for posting this!!! I agree there is absolutely no shame in delivering via cs. (Also, your poor sam’s little noggin from all that pushing! Yowch!)
Sarah Hall says
i just had baby #2 via scheduled repeat csection. My chances of VBAC using the prediction formula were 50/50 and a trial of vbac labor that ends up in a csection increases csection complications dramatically so I opted for the repeat section. I’m so glad I did. It was a much better birth experience – my hospital allowed me to get skin to skin in the OR and the surgery without the 16+ hours of labor beforehand allowed for a quicker recovery. I was much less sore and only on heavy pain meds for about 4 days. The hardest part is not being able to lift Sawyer (2 years old) at home but I’m lucky to have help. My OB told me that my pelvic ring is quite flat and that I would have a hard time delivering a bigger baby naturally and that in wagon days it’s likely I could have died giving birth. I’m with you that a healthy baby and healthy momma is the goal. I feel no shame with either of my csection a becAuse I have two beautiful boys and I am lucky to be their mommy regardless of how they entered the world.
Been following your blog for over a year now and am a L&D nurse, I shared your huff article yesterday because I feel like so many patients feel the guilt and it’s so silly!!! I’ve seen beautiful c-sections, successful vbacs, and failed vbacs and every one resulted in a mommy getting to have her sweet baby. You’ll make what choice is right for you!! Also be vocal about what you want! If you repeat ask for skin to skin if they’ll allow it. Or ask to be not separated. Many hospitals are moving to “baby friendly” and are not only trying to offer these things but have to!
The longer I’m a mom the more I realize there are some people who capitalize on our small amount of shame or disappointment until those things become gargantuan. The fact that any woman delivers a healthy baby is a pretty amazing feat. It’s amazing if the child comes out through the birth canal or an incision. It’s awesome if the baby comes out when a Momma is unmedicated or medicated.
You know what else is awesome? Feeding your baby–no matter which route you choose.
This Mom thing…it’s so hard. There are so many ways to feel like a failure because we just aren’t capable of planning absolutely everything down to a ‘T’. And I think that demands more support for each other.
You plan to have another Csection? You go girl. You HAVE that baby.
You plan to try a VBAC? You go girl. You HAVE that baby.
Truthfully, though, both end in a baby. And I think that’s the most fantastic thing of all.
I think you have a really healthy attitude about the whole thing. If the doc says you’re a good candidate for VBAC and you’re up for it then I would go for it! Knowing, as you already do, that things could change during labor. I have two sisters who had c-sections and neither have any interest in doing a VBAC. I think it’s really up to the mom since it’s her body and her baby!
Landon had a nuchal-2 and almost didn’t make it. I pushed for three hours and was begging for a c-section by the end, lol. I actually think I SHOULD have been taken in for a c-section because he was obviously in distress. Oh, hindsight.
Great job hun!
I had easy deliveries with both my kids (pushed 30 minutes with my first and 10 with my second!). I am happy I didn’t have to have a c-section because it is major surgery. I would have been fine if we would have had to have one for the sake of mommy or baby!
I think the epidural is the greatest thing in the world. I think moms who can do it without it are troopers.
Nikki Miller says
Such good perspective.
My OB says all babies are born NATURALLY… having a baby is the most natural thing in the world…some are just born surgically and others vaginally.
Hannah Gloria says
E, I had to add my thought here because I had such a wonderful experience having Evelyn vaginallly after having 2 sections. All their births were special of course but I am SO glad I had the opportunity to give birth in the traditional way. Ed actually delivered E(dr was right there) and that is something he brings up all the time. Those two are super tight and I think it started from minute 1. Trust your heart and find a doc you are 200% comfortable with. Contact me if you want to hear more. Hannah
This is so well done, E. I’ve never really thought all that much about c-sections, all my deliveries have gone really smoothly. But I tell people that I do natural childbirth and don’t get an epidural not because I’m not scared of anything, but because I’m scared of DIFFERENT things. The idea of a medicated birth is way scarier to me. It’s not brave. It’s my actual preference.
I have to agree with you. The idea of medicated child-birth/hospital child-birth has scared me a LOT. I’ve had all five of mine at home, so obviously not medicated. But mentally, after the last one, I think I’m becoming more afraid of labor itself. (My births have all been what I can only describe as horrific. I love babies; I hate labor.) I work hard to inform myself and not make decisions from a place of fear, but ultimately we all decide to do the thing that we are comfortable with, which is obviously not the thing that we are truly afraid of. And being comfortable with your own decision is super important when going in to labor.
I had a 30 hour induced labor with my first which ended in a c-section. I had a really hard time with that and really wanted to attempt a VBAC. I did, and it was successful! I have really enjoyed the easier recovery and loved having my VBAC. So please, if you want to ask any questions (if you decide that route), feel free!
That being said, I think just being a mom is hard enough…who cares how the baby got here? The VBAC was really important for me, but I don’t look down at all on moms who choose repeat C-Sections.
Because pregnancy seems to make us all doubt and wonder, I just want to speak a little truth into your heart right now.
YOU ARE AN INCREDIBLE MAMA!
Regardless of what delivery plan you choose, YOU are the ONLY mama God chose for that baby! He already knows exactly how baby Chapman will arrive in this world and has already written the powerful introduction to his (or her!) story. Rest in the comfort of his plan!
I think the world of you. I adore your heart, value your honesty and love how open you are about your experience with Sam. You’re helping other mamas by sharing your story with Sam and baby #2s story will be another blessing, I’m sure! 🙂
Love love love this. I love the tactful directness and truth of your words. You brought it in these posts and I love it. 🙂
A wonderful read and perfectly said. I have delievered all SIX of my babies via c-section and they have been beautiful experiences. My first was breech and I chose “what I know” over the unknown for the next and then I wasn’t given a choice from then on. I have had my times where I wish I’d experienced a vaginal birth, but ultimately this was what was meant to be for me! The only regret I do have is that I never dreamed I would be blessed so many times and now it’s getting somewhat dangerous for me to continue to get pregnant.
I started to cry reading your message to moms who have had a C-section. Thank you so much for writing this. I planned to have an unmedicated water birth, but ended up having to get a very unwanted emergency C-section after 36 hours of labor. It was a traumatic experience, and I am still dealing with difficult feelings about it, despite my joy in my baby. What you wrote here meant a lot to me. Thank you.