Birth | Preparation | Planning a gentle cesarean birth

Cesarean birth

That awkward moment when someone finds out you’re opting for a cesarean birth

This week I was yet again stunned by a stranger, and not in a good way. This woman had noticed that I was pregnant and actually came over to congratulate me. But then she overstepped the line. What followed was a crap ton of unnecessary advice and a question about what type of birth I would be having. When I very confusedly replied a caesarean birth she said why must you young woman always take the easy way out.

Caesarian birth

 

What I learnt was that pregnancy hormones can do one of two things –

  1. Take me to a sense of calm when I actually should be furious
  2. Could very possibly push me over the edge where I actually end up throat punching a stranger

I went with number 1 this time. But be warned, this may not be my choice next time around.

Here’s the thing, when you’ve had a caesarean birth (especially unexpectedly) you ALWAYS feel the need to explain this when someone poses the question about your birth. FFS. Why do we do this? Why do we let society dictate to us that the choices we have made are less than?

For those who have had a caesarean birth you know what I’m referring to. Or maybe you don’t because people respect a Mother’s decision in your neck of the woods.  Regardless, having a cesarean birth is having major abdominal surgery. It does not mean taking the easy way out. This does not mean you’re a lazy Mom. It does not mean you’re not doing all you can for your child. What it means is that you have made a choice and everyone should be PRO-MOTHERS CHOICE.

No one has the right to birth shame you

How to Push Back Against Birth-Shaming Mean Girls

If you’re not aware of what a cesarean birth entails here’s a quick summary

Cesarean birth is the delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

PREP

An IV line will be put in a vein in your arm or hand. This allows you to get fluids and medications during the surgery. Your abdomen will be washed, and your pubic hair may be clipped or trimmed. You will be given medication to prevent infection.

A catheter is then placed in your urethra to drain your bladder. Keeping the bladder empty decreases the chance of injuring it during surgery.

ANESTHESIA

You will be given either general anesthesia, an epidural block, or a spinal block. If general anesthesia is used, you will not be awake during the delivery. An epidural block numbs the lower half of the body. An injection is made into a space in your spine in your lower back. A small tube may be inserted into this space so that more of the drug can be given through the tube later, if needed. A spinal block also numbs the lower half of your body. You receive it the same way as an epidural block, but the drug is injected directly into the spinal fluid.

CUTTING TIME

An incision is made through your skin and the wall of the abdomen. The skin incision may be transverse (horizontal or “bikini”) or vertical. The muscles in your abdomen are separated and may not need to be cut. Another incision will be made in the wall of the uterus. The incision in the wall of the uterus also will be either transverse or vertical.

The baby will be delivered through the incisions, the umbilical cord will be cut, and then the placenta will be removed. The uterus will be closed with stitches that will dissolve in the body. Stitches or staples are used to close your abdominal skin.

The first few times you get out of bed, you will need assistance. This WILL be painful.

Some complications occur in a small number of women and usually are easily treated:

  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • Blood clots in the legs, pelvic organs, or lungs
  • Injury to the bowel or bladder
  • Reaction to medications or to the anesthesia that is used

While you recover, the following things may happen:

  • Mild cramping, especially if you are breastfeeding
  • Bleeding or discharge for about 4–6 weeks
  • Bleeding with clots and cramps
  • Pain in the incision

In many ways this is a very cold and clinical procedure, often the staff around you discuss various things from weather to their family life or even complain about other Doctors. Not exactly the calming relaxing presence you want your baby brought into. BUT this is not always the case.

At times you may actually feel forgotten just laying there, unable to see whats happening or move. Another thing your birth companion (spouse, significant other, family member or doula) is only allowed in once all the cutting has been done. All dependent on who your Doctor is.

It can be a very lonely experience, which is sad because this is meant to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.

Cesarean birth

A gentle cesarean includes many features, but its overall purpose is to invoke a peaceful, calm atmosphere that closely mimics what happens during and immediately after a vaginal birth.

Watch the clip to see a gentle Cesarean at Torbay Hospital by Sarah Cooke

Here are some points to raise with your medical team / add to your birth day wish list if you’re considering a gentle Cesarean birth

  • Request an epidural or spinal block; general anesthesia should be avoided at all costs, unless if there’s an emergency
  • Speak to your Doctor about holding baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth, if you’re unable to then have your birth companion step in (read my previous post for more detailed information on the benefits of skin to skin following birth)
  • EKG or baby monitoring devices, placed in areas that don’t infringe your ability to see, hold or breastfeed baby
  • If your facility is able to accommodate it request a clear drape so that you can watch baby lifted from your belly
  • Discuss the option of early initiation of breastfeeding immediately while in the operating theatre
  • Parents can request cord clamp/cut delay until it stops pulsing
  • Letting the dad cut the cord if circumstances allow
  • Why not incorporate a birth playlist in the operating room
  • Doctors and nurses are asked to refrain from “shop talk” or their weekend plans
  • Baby can be held by the Mother while wheeled into recovery, and continue to bond with parents there (this is a challenging one if it’s a shared recovery room – some hospitals however have a obstetric recovery room)
  • Post-birth procedures such as cleaning the baby and weighing the baby are delayed until parents are ready or can be done on the Mothers chest

Have you experienced Cesarean birth shaming? Share your own experiences in the comment section below.

A Cesarean birth can either feel violating and defeating or it can be empowering and beautiful, remember you have a say and a voice.

2 Comments

    • That’s the thing Anthea, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it because its just become a part of us. You definitely have no reason to feel guilty – you have 2 healthy kids and another precious bundle on the way.

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