Is c-section the easy way out?
One thing that shocked me after my baby’s birth was the reaction of some people when I told them I had a c-section. They would ask me “how was the birth? was it hard? was it quick? was it painful?” but as I told them I start explaining “well, I had a c-section…” they immediately said “Oh! I see. You had a c-section.” and quickly started talking about something else. It shocked me that it still looks c-section is the easy way out.
Why would people look at c-section as the easy way out of labour and delivery? Is it because a c-section is not hard, it is not painful and it does not take a long time?
Let’s see how easy a c-section is. Imagine a woman going through either an elective or an emergency c-section.
When we talk about c-section we are talking about surgery. Major abdominal surgery to be precise. First, the surgeon makes a cut on the skin. Then, they separate the abdominal muscles and they cut the womb. After that, they take the baby out. To finish, they put everything back together. Stitch the womb, stitch the connective tissue, stitch the skin.
Before this point, there could have been long hours (maybe days) of painful labour. In many cases, the woman has not been allowed to eat anything during all this time.
Then it comes to the postnatal period. We are talking here about somebody that had major abdominal surgery. Nothing easy about it. It is longer and it is more painful. In the first days after the birth of my daughter, I felt somebody was stabbing me everytime I tried to get up from the bed. On top of that, instead of resting until she feels better, this woman is waking up every two hours or less to feed her baby.
There are other things that are more difficult with a c-section. For example, bonding with her baby. Unlike an unmedicated birth, the love hormone, oxytocin, is not present during the c-section, making it harder for mum and baby to bond in the first hours after birth. The fact that in many cases mother and child are separated and kept in different places for hours is hindering the bonding process too. Starting and establishing breastfeeding can be challenging for the same reasons.
Later in the life of this woman, she could suffer infertility as a result of this surgery. When she gets pregnant again, many health providers will consider her high risk and will push her to have another caesarean in subsequent pregnancies.
From an emotional point of view, she will be a higher risk of suffering from postnatal depression. She could also have PTSD, especially if her c-section was an emergency one. And even if she does not have a serious mental health problem, feelings of inadequacy are very common. Many women think their bodies are flawed or broken because they could not deliver their baby.
But, why would anybody say a c-section is the easy way out from labour and delivery?
Maybe it is because we have this idea that many celebrities have had elective c-sections, and we see them as a luxurious choice. They can decide their babies date of birth in order to fit their schedule and they are back in front of the cameras in a few days with a flat belly like nothing has happened to them. Or at least, that is what we see on TV.
Also, c-sections are not depicted in films or TV. When we see a character giving birth on the screen, it is always a vaginal birth and usually, there is a lot of screaming and drama. People associate giving birth with pain and a lot of effort but they have no image of how a c-section birth is and they might think it is all clinical, sterile and straightforward.
So, if you, like me, have given birth by c-section and feel uncomfortable about people saying your birth has been easy, think that you probably did not know a lot about it before you were pregnant and had yours. Also, media are usually giving us a frivolous and glossy vision of c-sections.
What should I do next time anybody tells me that a c-section is the easy way out? Well, due to the fact that punching them in the face will not be the right thing to do, you could ignore them or educate them. Just point them to this article or other similar to it.