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A caesarean might sound attractive but....

by Janelle Larson (follow)
It's a Pandora's box, and you should leave it the hell alone if you can.

I keep returning to this article, trying to write it. It's been sitting in my pending folder for about a month now. I'm tired of looking at it. Buckle up, kids.

Here's a brutal, yet as far as I can tell, the most accurate description of what caesarean sections were invented for.

"At that time the procedure was performed only when the mother was dead or dying, as an attempt to save the child for a state wishing to increase its population. Roman law under Caesar decreed that all women who were so fated by childbirth must be cut open; hence, cesarean.

the initial purpose was essentially to retrieve the infant from a dead or dying mother; this was conducted either in the rather vain hope of saving the baby's life, or as commonly required by religious edicts, so the infant might be buried separately from the mother. Above all it was a measure of last resort, and the operation was not intended to preserve the mother's life. It was not until the nineteenth century that such a possibility really came within the grasp of the medical profession."

Well.

EXCUSE me, if I don't really feel like undergoing a surgery, which, in its purest form- at the time of its invention- was not compatible with my survival.




instruments
This is how we welcomed our second child. (own image)


Yeah. That about sums it up!

There are so many reasons my C-sections were not the easy way out. They were hard in so many ways. I don't think I can articulate them without one of my famous lists.

**Let me just add the standard disclaimer here- I have and absolutely would do it again, if somebody's life depended on it. But I am not a fan. Here's why:

1. It rendered me virtually helpless.

I was unable to move normally or attend to my personal care, let alone my baby for much longer than expected. I received pressure from nurses and midwives to 'just get on with it'.

2. It hurt like hell.

For weeks and weeks. I imagine few women would labour for more than six weeks, and live to tell the tale. I'd rather not undergo an endurance test like that with a new baby relying on me again.

3. I never regained feeling around my scars.



scar
It looks ok. But looks can be deceiving. (own image)


You know something is wrong when you accidentally close the numb part of skin in a kitchen drawer, without feeling it. Or when you lean against something hot and don't notice until you're burned.

4. People now feel like my birth choices are their business.

This is a big one. Everyone from the senior Obstetrician at the hospital, to the nosey checkout clerk all wanted to weigh in on my choices for my next birth. The stigma of a VBAC sucks.

5. I have to listen to ignorant waffling. All. The. Time now.

All that matters is a healthy baby.
At least you survived.
Maybe next time will be different.
Maybe you should just go with the flow.

Maybe you should think before you speak! How about THAT.

6. Initiating breastfeeding was harder.

Near impossible the first time, I stopped in under a month. I suppose by the second birth, I knew how to hold a newborn over a surgical scar with minimal agony. Although I've managed to breastfeed my second born well past 12 months (we're still going at 18 months) - I was still faced with the same challenges in the beginning. Hormonal disruption. Unfamiliar environment. Separation from baby. Physical weakness and complicated recovery.

Don't make it any harder than it has to be, unless you can't avoid it.

7. Pregnancy is far less enjoyable for me now.

All because of that first unnecessary caesarean. I love being pregnant. But birth for me is always going to be somewhat of a battle. Nobody likes wondering if they might end up being cut open again. It really takes a lot of the sparkle out of it, doesn't it?

8. The size of my family will be affected.

I was bluntly told, 12 hours after delivery, that I should probably not have any more children as my uterus is 'not as strong as it should be' and it had 'taken some damage'. Excellent.

9. I fear real risks.

The more times I attempt VBAC, the more times I am taking the chance that I may find myself on the wrong side of the scalpel again. This is a real, and sad truth. Even sadder is that it's true of any birth. With a 1/3 caesarean rate, we are ALL at risk- previously scarred or not.

(In saying that, IF I was to decide on another baby- I would pursue VBA2C with the same passion as I did my attempted VBAC in the absence of any compelling medical evidence).

10. First moments lost are gone forever.

I missed every single one of both of my son's first moments. First nappy change. First feed. I remember giving the stink-eye to a particularly rude nurse in special care, after she suggested that if I couldn't bathe my baby, she should because he smelled bad. That might've worked the first time, but not again.

I shakily bathed my second son, hunched over the little makeshift bath, in agony. I couldn't enjoy that moment because of the pain. I rushed to sponge him down gently and just wanted it to be over already so I could sit down. Gee, great memory!



ultrasound
Even my baby was facepalming in utero. (own image)



I'm not saying nobody should ever have a C-section. (I don't know why people are so often accused of saying this- because I've never once encountered somebody who believed that!)

I'm urging you to avoid an unnecessary one. Because although all of us would willingly endure all of this for the sake of our healthy child- nobody should have to face this stuff without a damn good reason.

There are lots of good reasons to have one. If you've done thorough research, know all the risks and benefits, and still want to go ahead and schedule a C-section- I support that.

But blindly going through the motions, going with the flow, ticking all the boxes and being completely passive- it's a recipe for disaster. Here's a tip. If gloved and masked strangers aren't running into your room, thrusting consent forms in your direction - There's time for you to ask some questions.

Know what you want. Know why you want it. Hopefully these are some of the reasons you might find the courage to say "No thanks" to Dr McSlicendice.
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