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.
Although 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.