Last month we talked about what is the deal with the belly after a c-section (and what can be done about it). The month before that we talked about the stages of recovery after c-section surgery, and before that c-section scaring. Finally, the month before that I introduced myself and explained that I was going to be writing a 5 part series (one post a month) on the topic of cesarean recovery. Below is part 4 of 5, enjoy!
Ok C-Section Moms, What’s the Big Deal?
There is quite a bit of talk about c-sections lately. What’s the big deal? Here are just a few thoughts on some psycho-social reason for the talk.
Expectations: Any vaginal delivery or pre-baby moms listening in out there, we hear you. We know there are bad parts of vaginal delivery. We missed the episiotomy and the dreaded..umm.. #2 on the table. For many of us, besides the recovery from a fairly in-depth surgery, there is the fact of adjusting expectations. Whether found out during pregnancy or at delivery, the news that the baby was coming via cesarean is, at some point, unexpected by many moms. There can be part that feels like “I guess I won’t ever experience something that I was theoretically built for”. This is easier for some moms to accept than others. The majority of us temper the change in expectation with, “Ok the baby is out and we are both ok. The priority is the baby not how the baby gets here”. But still, not experiencing the relatively active birth of a baby and instead having a rather passive birth via c-section can be an adjustment on expectations. I can’t imagine that there were that many moms out there visualizing a c-section that first time they saw a pink line on a stick. Three c-sections later, I still sometimes can’t believe that I ended up that way, although I am ok with it.
Language: The word vagina just isn’t one we use much. That means that “vaginal delivery” becomes “natural delivery”. Ok, “natural” to me means squatting in the woods with a stick in your teeth, not amped up on an epidural. Most moms, however, do have a bit of pharmaceutical or medical help (nothing wrong with that either!) But, since we can’t say “vaginal” in the good ole USA where teens wear shorts cut up to there and people love Lady Gaga, we call it “natural”. Does that default to c-section as”unnatural”?
I can’t begin to count the number of people who either asked “Did you have natural delivery” or commented “Oh, I had natural delivery”. And they weren’t talking about in a hot tub with a doula!! They were talking bout a typical pharmaceutical assisted vaginal delivery. I wasn’t thrilled to have a c-section but I certainly didn’t have a hang up about it either. It did irritate me, however, to hear a birth experience contrasted as “natural”.
Media Influence: There is a lot in the news about c-sections. Sadly, most is in sound bite form with little supporting statistics. The stories stretch from the tisk-tisk “Too many c-sections” stories to the “Bad doctor lets mom labor too long and baby suffers”. They both inspire panic and leave moms little information for the moment when they need to decide what is best for them and the baby.
1.3 million moms deliver by c-section in the US. Not all can be because the MD wanted to go home and play golf as some reports make it seem. And I am also pretty sure at least some were decided too soon and a vaginal delivery would have been fine. Bottom line, moms deserve objective information, respect from the care team and a presentation of their risks for their individual situation, not a judgment from the sideline based on attention getting media sound bites.
So, c-section deliveries, along with a significant surgical recovery, do seem to have a psychosocial component that is influenced not only by what moms expect but by how society discusses cesarean deliveries and how the media presents it. So, it’s not really a “big deal” just a complex one, more so for some than others. I just chalk up my c-sections as sacrifice number one of motherhood….with about a million more to follow, and all of them worth it.
Catherine Brooks OTR, MPH
M. Meunier MD,
C-Panty CEO and Consultant: 18 years of experience in post-surgical rehabilitation in New York City and San Diego and five even more challenging and exciting years of experience as a mom of a three. (All by cesarean, of course!)
“Recover in Comfort” series will address all those things you ever ( or never!) ever wanted to know about c-section delivery.