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Hope for a Natural C-Section

The title of this post might sound like an oxymoron. Technically speaking, it is. But I’d encourage you to read on, and watch the video, to find out how c-sections can become a more natural experience for mom and baby.

My C-Section Experience

The weeks and months following my emergency c-section were filled with feelings of failure, bitterness, and loss. To be honest, 2.5 years later I still struggle with those feelings.

natural c-sectionAlthough I am thankful for the advances in modern medicine that have tremendously reduced the rate of women dying in childbirth, I am still saddened that my labor resulted in cesarean. After hours and hours of pushing, the only thing that was progressing was my fever and the stress on the baby. Once the doctor delivered the baby via c-section (after an additional vertical uterine incision because the baby was so low from hours of pushing), she found my tailbone was too intrusive for the baby to pass. Due to this and the vertical incision on my uterus, I am not a candidate for a VBAC. I will be delivering all of my children via c-section.

The Problem with Cesareans

Unlike vaginal births, mothers delivering via c-section don’t get to watch their baby being born. The giant blue sheet hanging in front of our face is a crippling reminder of the distance between us and the baby. Although we may get a quick glance of the screaming child that was just yanked from our womb, we are again separated as they clean off the baby to bring it over swaddled and warm. No skin to skin. No instant breastfeeding. Pure longing for the baby we just delivered.

The effects and recovery that follow such a major surgery also seem to stack up against the mother-infant relationship. I wasn’t able to hold or breastfeed my firstborn until 20 minutes after he was born. I couldn’t get out of bed to tend to his needs for the days following as I would have wanted. I struggled with intense feelings of failure and anger that sent me into weeks of emotional instability. Although I did experience healing (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and eventually developed a wonderful bond with my baby, I can see how easy it would be for mothers to be defeated by an unwanted surgery. It seems a c-section creates the perfect storm for post partum depression and shortened breastfeeding. 

I can handle the anticipation of the cold operating room, the physical pain of recovery, and the scar that marks my baby’s entrance into the world. But I cannot handle knowing that every time I bring a baby into the world, I won’t get the first glance, won’t get the first embrace, and won’t get that immediate breastfeeding experience.

A More Natural Cesarean Experience

Amazingly, doctors and hospitals across the globe are working to give mothers like me a better experience. They are developing a ‘natural’ cesearean technique that (in a medically safe situation) can somewhat mimic a vaginal birth. This includes dropping the sheet for you to watch the birth, the surgeon slowly guiding the baby out opposed to forcefully pulling, and having the baby placed directly on your abdomen for skin-to-skin contact.

Obviously this kind of technique (if your OB is familiar with it and willing) would only be possible in a c-section with no complications and no medical emergencies. This is perfect for someone like me who knows they will always have scheduled c-sections. I would encourage you to watch this video, share this idea, talk about it with your OB, and hope that advances like this allow inevitable c-sections to become more ‘natural’ for both mom and baby. This video left me in tears and a hope for better birthing experiences even for cesareans.

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9 Responses to Hope for a Natural C-Section

  1. Kelly February 27, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    I LOVE this! Not everyone is able (or desiring) to try for a vbac, so a physician’s willingness to work with their patients to create the most natural, safe delivery is exactly what medicine should be.

    • Anna February 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      You sound like a bunch of cry babies. Be happy you Have a child.

  2. Megan February 27, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    At the end of the day the only thing that matters is the healthy arrival of baby. The manner in which baby arrives is not the most important aspect of childbirth. Labor & delivery lasts such a short time in comparison to spending a life with your child. I think being disappointed over having a c section and not being able to breast feed is a waste of energy. Moms should focus on the joys of LIVING with their babies, not despairing over their inability to have a vaginal birth or inability to breast feed.

    • Lauren February 27, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      I agree that the healthy arrival of baby is of utmost importance, but delivery can also have a lasting effect on both mom and baby…especially if it results in factors such as post-partum depression which in turn can affect the mom-baby relationship and sometimes, tragically much more. Thankfully, although I did struggle with feelings of sadness, I was able to breastfeed both of c-section babies for over a year each and never had any serious issues with depression.

      But you’re right, we should always try to focus on the joy of our children and not “what could have been”. Thanks for your input!

  3. Megan February 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    I think some people spend way too much time obsessing over the perfect child birth experience, similar to how some brides obsess over the perfect wedding day. Childbirth and the complications that come with it are mostly out of our control. I also think moms that are dead set on having a vaginal delivery could potentially set themselves up for feelings of sadness and depression following childbirth because the experience didn’t measure up to their expectations. For all you expecting moms out there- trust your doctor and remember, a healthy baby and mom are the endgame. As a side note- It will also not be the end of the world if nursing doesn’t work out…. You will still bond with and have a happy baby. So much pressure out there on moms these days!

  4. Krystal Hurst February 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    This is really interesting because I was just reading a study that links c-sections to colic. (Just 1 theory to its origin.) They say that with the baby being yanked out instead of being pushed through the birth canal, their bodies don’t equalize which results in a feeling of choas and instability for the baby; hense the constant crying.

    I wonder if this more calm and careful approach would help with this?

    • Lauren February 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Yes, this is part of the process!! They pull the baby out realllly slow, called “walking the baby out” or something like that, so that everything gets squeezed out and cleared out like a vaginal birth does.

  5. Kim Griffith February 28, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Lauren, your post sparked an awesome conversation between me and my husband, an OB-Gyn here in Dallas! He was very interested in the video and learning more so he can support his patients in experiencing a more empowered delivery! Thanks for bringing awareness to this most important topic — the way we bring our children into the world impacts their physical and emotional development.

  6. Amanda
    Amanda March 13, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    If weddings “shouldn’t” matter – then why are they a billion dollar industry? Because while the marriage is most important, the wedding is also a BIG deal. You remember that day for the rest of your life.

    I agree that childbirth isn’t the most important aspect of having a child, but to MOST women having the childbirth they want is VERY important. I don’t expect anyone to share my views on childbirth, but I do wish everyone could respect them. And for me – the most important thing isn’t having vaginal vrs C-section — but it’s that every expecting mom go into childbirth with as much information as possible. That information could potentially make some of those “complications” go away.

    Yes, you should trust your doctor – but you should also be as informed and as in-control as you want to be.

    It’s your childbirth experience and the Dr. or Midwife is there to help, not control. I can’t believe the women who would say “get over it”. Why not try to support one another instead of trying to make someone feel bad for wanting a good birthing experience?

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