Monday 19 March 2012

Caesarean Section - Did I Give Birth?

This morning, I am going to rant. I haven't had a rant in a long time, and this one has been slow brewing for a while. On forums and on Facebook I have seen suggestions by "natural birth advocates" that if you have had a baby by Cesarean section you have not "birthed" your baby. The implication is that you are somewhat deficient in the motherhood stakes.

Now whilst I accept that there are women who may choose to have elective sections as they do not wish to have a labour and vaginal birth, I know of none. The vast majority of women have Cesarean sections due to clinical need, often emergencies. Yes, I think in some circumstances good, sound care and support may avoid a small number of sections, but by and large, the vast majority of Caesareans certainly in the UK aremedically necessary.

I am personally offended by the suggestion that I did not birth Joseph. Of course I did. I have the scar to prove it.

I think for mums who have had cesareans there is a feeling that our babies were ripped out before they were ready, before we were ready. And to me that's a seperate issue. Dealing with our bodies failure to keep our babies to term for whatever reason should be treated seperately, with tenderness and kindness. It takes time to grieve your lost pregnancy, your lost birthing experience. You still gave birth, just not in the way you may have planned.

For a long time I felt angry that I had had to have a section, that I didn't get to labour or deliver my baby. I was deeply upset and I know a lot of mothers feel the same. To have this further reinforced by so called "natural birth advocates" implying we did not even birth our babies, quite frankly, angers me.

I am fed up with this competitiveness when it comes to childbirth. The most valid method of delivery is the one that results in a healthy baby and mother. You are not more a mother if your baby comes out the lambing end in a pool in a lovely environment, rather than out the sunroof assisted by a surgeon. We are mothers.

For those of us who have had cesareans who would have preferred anything but, these suggestions we did not birth our children are offensive. I had no option. I could have refused to sign the consent form for my section, and indeed all the options were presented to me. However, there was no option if I wanted to live and have the opportunity to have a safe outcome, a healthy baby.

So just stop it. And for those that have had cesareans, take it from me, you birthed that baby, ok you may have had a little help, but that baby was birthed by you. 


  1. A friend of mine said when she had her c section (emergency, her cervix didn't dilate) another friend told her that a little lump of guilt is implanted when they sow you up and I've certainly encountered women who initially have a huge regret that they didn't get to give birth naturally. But mostly in time they realise they gave birth to a healthy baby and that's always the priority. I absolutely agree that there is a competition about it. Did you give birth naturally? I just sniffed lavender oil. Did you have drugs? Oh shame.

    I've given birth twice. The first time my baby came out vaginally and I was drugged up to eyeballs (he was 10lb 1 oz with a big head and it took me 3 hours to push him out). The second time my daughter was transverse and doing flip flops inside me up until the last moment (despite being 10lb 4 oz. I think I run a 5* hotel in there but I digress).

    I was annoyed about having the c section because I had wanted to give birth vaginally like I did with my son. Partly because I was scared of a c section and partly because I felt I wouldn't be able to look after my 2 year old son very well post c section. In the end she was transverse, my waters broke and there was meconium in the waters. That is "you have no chance we're running you to surgery NOW". I accepted it (OK I cried a lot on the way but everyone was lovely) and my daughter arrived happy and healthy. I felt bad about the c section for maybe 10 days. Then I thought I've got my beautiful baby girl what more do I want, shut up.

    As far as I'm concerned I've given birth twice. Once a baby came out of my vagina, and one came out the sun roof. I don't talk about this much. I talk about my children and generally I find no one cares how they came into this world. We just focus on what they're doing and what they're like and that's the way it should be.

  2. I hate it when people say- oh you had to have a section, like you are a failure. I explain that unfortunately Eva was distressed and if we had not of gone through with it then we may not have the little girl we now have. My body still made her, carried her, nurtured and protected her. Just because she came out through my belly and not my vagina does NOT mean I didn't give birth. I have the memories of the contractions and a lovely scar to prove it x

  3. Such a vital and valid post. Are people so short sighted to disregard birth due to a CSection? As a feminist I believe a C Section is valid emergency or elective (some women find the propsect of birth debihiliating and why shouldn't there be choice)? I had an emergency section due to the pregnancy liver condition OC. There was no choice involved-after several hours of labour, I was rushed to theatre to ensure my child a safe delivery. The media needs to rethink the way they represent C Sections as this in my opinion (and working in the media, I know first hand) they only serve to fuel the misconceptions of C Sections and have helped to stigmitise them. Well done x

  4. What timing, had a very similar piece on my blog from last night about having a section and not being able to breast feed! Great feature, well done on highlighting this totally unnecessary competitive edge. All we wanted was a healthy baby!

  5. I've had a very similar post in my drafts for a while now. Well the starting para of it anyway, and for one reason or another I'd not gotten around to writing it properly. The main reason being that every time i went to write it I got so damn angry I had to take a break.

    Now, you've taken the words right out of my mouth. Well done, again Kylie. Yet another BRILLIANT post :) xxx

  6. Thanks for such a great comment. I don't know if you've come across this book yet, but it discusses many of the points you make. I thought you might be interested:

    Choosing Cesarean, A Natural Birth Plan (Murphy and Hull, Prometheus Books)