What about C-sections?

Ah, C-sections, often seen as an easy option. You can now choose to ‘book in’ on your chosen date to have baby taken out at your convenience. But how ‘convenient’ is Caesarean section really? For mum and baby?

I am not against C-sections for medical reasons, or if mother is truly terrified of birth and this is the best option for her. I am against women being led to believe that this is an easy option. A C-section is major abdominal surgery and mothers need to be properly informed as to the risks of undertaking such surgery for them and their new-born baby.
I have a friend who had a very traumatic first birth and no amount of holistic therapy or hypnosis would have led her to birth again had C-section not been an option. When I saw her after the birth of her second baby, relaxed (yet clearly in a lot of discomfort), I knew that this had been the best choice for her.

Some Things to Consider Regarding C-Sections:

• Like all surgery, C-sections have risks such as infection, injury to blood vessels and organs, and serious bleeding.
• C-sections can also cause problems for babies, such as breathing difficulties that need treatment in a new-born intensive care unit (“NICU”).
• Recovering after a C-section is also more difficult than after a vaginal birth.
• C-sections can also cause certain on-going problems. For example, C-sections can cause chronic pelvic pain in some women.
• Babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing chronic childhood diseases like diabetes and asthma.
If your healthcare provider has recommended that you have a C-section and you feel uncomfortable with this, make sure that you find out exactly why this procedure is necessary. This is your body, your baby and you have every right to find out why this needs to happen.

Some Questions You Can Ask About Having a C-Section:

• Why are you suggesting that I have a C-section?
• What are the benefits of having a C-section for me or my baby?
• What problems could arise if I still want to try for a vaginal birth?
• How likely are these problems to occur if I plan for a vaginal birth?
• Could this still happen if I have a C-section?
• What are the possible disadvantages and risks of a C-section?

Having an Aware Caesarean

If you hoped for a natural birth, but circumstances dictate that a C-section is necessary, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an amazing birth experience. All hope is not lost!
You can work with your health care provider to make sure your birth experience is still intimate and beautiful for you and your family.
Having a Natural Caesarean

Today Caesarean sections are being carried out in hospitals across the world with increased regularity and often being seen as standard. Some hospitals in the USA see as many as 1 in 4 women giving birth by Caesarean section.

Many women whole heartedly believe in natural birthing and do everything to prepare for the best possible natural birthing experience for them and their baby. However, as in life, we cannot predict what will happen in birth and often the best of birthing intentions are set aside when special circumstances arise.
Caesarean sections are a vital birthing tool in times of distress for mother or baby and no woman should be reprimanded for electing to have a Caesarean section, through choice or necessity.
C-sections are often seen as an easy option. You can now choose to ‘book in’ on your chosen date to have baby taken out at your convenience. But how ‘convenient’ is Caesarean section really? For mum and baby? We hear regularly about celebrities who are ‘too posh to push’ making us think that if Victoria Beckham swears by them, then caesarean section really must be the easiest way to go?

Is it really the ‘easy option?’

I am not against C-sections for medical reasons, or if mother is truly terrified of birth, and this can be resolved in no other way and this is the best option for her. I am against women being led to believe that having a C-section is an easy option. A C-section is major abdominal surgery and mothers need to be properly informed as to the risks of undertaking such surgery for them and their new-born baby.

I have a friend who had a very traumatic first birth and no amount of holistic therapy or hypnosis would have led her to birth again had C-section not been an option. And when I saw her after the birth of her second baby, relaxed (yet clearly in a lot of discomfort), I knew that this had been the best choice for her.
Some things you may want to consider when electing for a C-section:

• Like all surgery, C-sections have risks like infection, injury to blood vessels and organs, and also serious bleeding. A C-section is not a pain free, comfortable and easy option. Your body was built to birth naturally and a C-section can be traumatic and is considered a high-risk option for both mother and baby.
• A C-section can also cause problems for your baby. Common problems and issues such as breathing difficulties that will mean that your baby may need treatment in a new-born intensive care unit.
• Recovering after a C-section is also more difficult for mum than after a vaginal birth. It is a painful, uncomfortable time which can restrict your movement and also how you feed and bond with your baby. Caesarean sections definitely have their place in birthing where special circumstances have arisen and there is no other option for the safety of mother and child, but please don’t view this as a ‘way out.’
• C-sections can also cause a variety of on-going problems. For example, C-sections can result in chronic pelvic pain in some women.
• Research has also shown that babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing chronic childhood diseases like diabetes and asthma.

If your health care provider has recommended that you have a C-section and you feel uncomfortable with this, make sure that you find out exactly why this procedure is necessary. This is your body and your baby and you have every right to find out why this needs to happen.

Some questions you might want to ask your care giver about having a C-section:

• Why are you suggesting that I have a C-section?
• What are the benefits of having a C-section for me or my baby?
• What problems could arise if I still want to try for a vaginal birth?
• How likely are these problems to occur if I plan for a vaginal birth?
• Could this still happen if I have a C-section?
• What are the possible disadvantages and risks of a C-section?

Does having a caesarean mean that I can’t have a natural birth?

I hate the term ‘normal’ birth and indeed in many parts of the world today, a C-section is viewed as normal practice. Natural birth is a term used to refer to vaginal birth, but even if nature dictates that a C-section is the best option for you and your unborn child, it can still be a beautiful and ‘natural’ experience. If you hoped for a natural birth but special circumstances arise, having a C-section doesn’t mean you can’t still have the amazing birth experience that you hoped for. All hope is not lost!

You can work with your health care provider and your birth partner to make sure your birth experience is still intimate, considerate and beautiful for you and your family.
Some changes to consider to help make your caesarean birth ‘natural’

• In the instance of a planned C-section, you have more time to plan for the birth and there are some great things you can do to make your section birth as positive and natural as possible. If you have discussed with your health care provider why a caesarean section will be necessary, or have chosen to have a caesarean for your own personal reasons, then it is important to have a positive mind set before you begin to birth. Stand behind your choice or the choice that natural has dictated for you and your baby, to have a caesarean section. You have not ‘failed’ as a mother or as a woman and you are doing what is best and safest for you and your baby in the given circumstances. Your baby needs a happy, healthy mother that knows sometimes being strong, means changing your plan for their best interests.
• If birthing doesn’t go to plan and you have to elect for an emergency C-section, although you don’t have as much time to plan and make requests, all of the ideas below can still apply to help you enjoy the experience of meeting of your little one for the first time.
• Remember that all of the birth breathing techniques that you learned for labour can very much still be applied to relieve any tension or anxiety you may experience around the C-section. I have worked with women who have successfully used birth hypnosis, yoga mantras and even singing during a C-section to help them relax and to connect with their baby during the birth.
• You can listen to your chosen music play list, positive affirmations and birth hypnosis tracks during your birth also. This can add to the soothing atmosphere and help you release any residual tension.
• After a C-section, you can still instigate early skin-to-skin contact, with either mum or dad to encourage early bonding. These are the little touches which can make a surgical birth feel closer to the natural birthing experience, more personal and a happier experience for you and your birth partner.
• A slowed down birthing, allowing it to be as similar to a vaginal birth as possible.
• Think about having any partitions removed to allow you to see baby’s arrival. This is a very personal choice but will allow you and your birth partner to view baby’s arrival into the world and the joy that comes with that.
• You can ask for any catheters or blood pressure cuffs to be placed on the same arm to allow you to hold and cuddle baby as soon as they are born. Just little things to make you more comfortable will allow your birth experience to be calmer and more natural.
• You or your birth partner can also request that any ECG leads be positioned on the back, to keep your chest area free for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding after the birth.

Look forward to your birth experience, no matter what it looks like. Applying the techniques above and any others you may choose to make your caesarean ‘natural’, is a woman and family centred approach to caesarean birth. By making C-section birthing as ‘natural’ as possible for all concerned, we work towards a more positive birthing experience.
If you know you are having a C-section birth, you can start thinking about how to make your birth experience special when you welcome your little person into the world. It also helps with, better bonding, early feeding, and overall greater satisfaction with the birth experience. Look forward to your birth with love, no matter what it looks like.

This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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About-cheryl1

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YogaBellies®

I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.

I believe Yoga is for everyone.

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