Respecting a Caesarean Birth
Did you know that around 1 in 4 pregnant women in the UK have a caesarean birth? A 'c-section' or caesarean delivery, is a procedure where the baby is birthed through an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus rather than vaginally. A caesarean can be a planned occasion or done in an emergency should the need arise during labour.
The frequency of caesarean births have increased dramatically over the years which has almost ‘normalised’ the whole operation. Whilst it’s amazing that caesarean deliveries are available to those who need (or choose) it, what should be remembered is that it’s major abdominal surgery which requires a slow and steady recovery.. something that is difficult to achieve when looking after a newborn.
A few reasons that you may need a c-section are:
- your baby is in the breech position (feet first) and your doctor or midwife has been unable to turn them by applying gentle pressure to your tummy, or you'd prefer they did not try this
- you have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
- you have pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
- you have certain infections
- your baby is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients – sometimes this may mean the baby needs to be delivered immediately
- your labour is not progressing or there's excessive vaginal bleeding
The end goal of pregnancy is to have a healthy baby but this shouldn't be at the detriment to the mother, the mother's birth experience should also be advocated for and respected. It can take years to heal from birth trauma and shouldn't be overlooked. If you feel like you're suffering long-term side effects from your birth experience or you're feeling anxious about your next birth - please know that there are organisations, such as The Positive Birth Company, who are on a mission to help mothers make informed choices around their birth preferences.
Whilst a caesarean may not be your 'Plan A' (although for some, it is 100% the right decision for them), there are a number of ways to make it a healing and calm experience. Introducing the 'Gentle Caesarean.’
Gentle caesarean’s are becoming more accepted and known throughout various hospitals, incorporating a variety of those magical moments you can experience during the ‘Golden Hour.’ Examples of a gentle caesarean birth include:
- You can request to have the lights dimmed and your own music played to create a calm environment as you birth your baby
- Monitoring can be purposely positioned to lead away from the body to allow freedom of arm movement and ample space for skin-to-skin contact
- The procedure can be performed using a clear sheet, this allows you to witness the birth of your baby whilst maintaining safety
- As long as mum and baby are well, baby can be placed on mums chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact
- Delayed cord clamping can be requested
Whilst not all of these options are available at every hospital, it’s always worth asking the questions if it’s something that is important to you. Whether you deliver abdominally or vaginally, the birth of your baby should leave you feeling on cloud nine and empowered. But, here’s a special shout out to all those who had a caesarean birth; it’s not the easy way out, your body didn’t fail you and you are one amazing Mama.