Cesarean Awareness and Mothers Day

Cesarean Awareness and Mothers Day: A Celebration of All Mums

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Come Sunday, we’ll all be celebrating our mums, whether they’re here with us in person or in spirit, and cherishing those special bonds. Some of us will also be looking back and marveling at our own journeys – how we became mothers, how our lives changed and how much we love the tiny little creatures we created.

Just as there is no ‘right way’ to be a mother, there is also no ‘right way’ to become one. Yet even in 2023, there is still a fair amount of judgment and misconceptions about motherhood, labour and delivery. Mums who went the all-natural route might flinch when another mother discussing her epidural. The mother who happily dosed herself up the moment she felt that first contraction might internally roll her eyes at her friend discussing hypnobirthing. And even today, some people talk about cesarean sections as if they are somehow an ‘easy way out’.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month, and as the official website discusses, there is still very much a need to raise awareness around this topic. Research estimates that almost half of the cesarean sections that are performed could be safely prevented. While this is a serious topic, what we really want to focus on in this post is the guilt and extreme emotions that often accompany cesarean sections – whether these cesareans were voluntary or elective. Birth is never easy, no matter which route you choose to take or have to take. If you are a C-section mum, you are certainly no less of a mother – and you deserve to be celebrated! 

Let’s discuss some of the misconceptions about C-sections, cesarean recovery and motherhood in the early days, post-surgery after nine long months of pregnancy.

Misconceptions About C-Sections

There are a number of misconceptions around cesarean sections, and it’s something we need to discuss. We can’t blame people for buying into myths that nobody is trying to dispel – it all begins with honest conversation. So here are the most common misconceptions you’ve probably heard about cesareans:

  1. C-sections are an “easy way out”: This is a common misconception that C-sections are a less painful and less complicated way to give birth. However, the truth is that C-sections are major surgeries, and they come with risks and complications. Even mums who elect to have C-sections rarely do so for an ‘easy fix’ – and they still deal with a lot of aftermath.
  2. C-sections are always scheduled: While some C-sections are scheduled in advance, many are done in emergency situations, such as when there are complications during labour or delivery.
  3. C-sections always result in a huge scar: While most C-sections do leave a scar, the scar can be very small and may fade over time.
  4. Women who have C-sections can’t breastfeed: There is absolutely no reason why women who have C-sections can’t breastfeed. In fact, many women who have C-sections successfully breastfeed their babies!
  5. C-sections are only for high-risk pregnancies: While C-sections are often done for high-risk pregnancies, they can also be done for other reasons, such as if the baby is in a breech position or if the mother has a medical condition that makes vaginal birth a bit risky.
  6. Women who have C-sections are less likely to bond with their babies: This is quite a hurtful myth, and one that probably gives mums even more to worry about before their operation. Women who have C-sections can bond with their babies just as easily as women who give birth vaginally. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Reasons A Mother Might Have a C-Section

A mum might decide to have a cesarean section, or they may have to. There are a number of reasons a mother might have a C-section, and they can generally be split into medical reasons and more personal reasons. Medical C-sections are necessary, either for the health of the baby or the mum, or both. However, elective C-sections exist, as well, for reasons we’ll explore below:

Medical reasons for C-sections:

  1. Complications during labour or delivery: If there are complications during labour or delivery that make vaginal birth too risky for the mother or the baby, a C-section may be necessary. For example, if the baby is in distress, or the mother’s labour is not progressing as it should, the decision may be made for a last-minute emergency C-section.
  2. Breech presentation: If the baby is not in the head-down position, which is the optimal position for vaginal birth, a C-section may be necessary to ensure a safe delivery.
  3. Previous C-section: Women who have had a C-section in a previous pregnancy may be advised to have a C-section in subsequent pregnancies to avoid the risk of uterine rupture during vaginal delivery.
  4. Placenta previa: Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta covers part or all of the cervix. If the placenta is in the way, a vaginal birth may not be possible, and a C-section may be necessary.
  5. Maternal health conditions: Women with certain health conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, may be advised to have a C-section to reduce the risk of complications during vaginal delivery.
  6. Fetal health conditions: In some cases, if the baby has certain health conditions, such as a large head or a genetic disorder, a C-section may be necessary.

Reasons for an elective C-section:

  1. Fear of childbirth: Some women may have a fear of vaginal birth, which can lead them to opt for a C-section. True, most of us don’t look forward to childbirth with relish, but for some, the fear can approach phobia, and in situations like this, it might help to retain an element of control or predictability, such as knowing the date of birth and how long the process will take.
  2. Convenience: Elective C-sections can be scheduled in advance, making it easier to plan for childcare and work responsibilities.
  3. Previous traumatic birth experience: Women who have had traumatic experiences during previous vaginal births may choose to have an elective C-section to avoid a similar experience.
  4. Control over the birth experience: Some women may feel more in control of the birth experience if they have a scheduled C-section, as it allows them to plan and prepare for the delivery.

Recovery After a C-Section

Recovery after a C-section (cesarean section) can take longer than recovery after a vaginal birth, as it is a major surgery. Here are some things to expect during the recovery period:

  1. Hospital stay: Women who have a C-section typically stay in the hospital for around 4 days, depending on their individual situation and the hospital’s policies.
  2. Pain and discomfort: It’s normal to experience some pain and discomfort after a C-section. Pain medications may be prescribed to manage the pain.
  3. Physical activity: Women should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for several weeks after the surgery to allow their bodies to heal. After your six week checkup, chat to your midwife about when you can begin to exercise again, but don’t rush, and begin with low intensity workouts, yoga or even something as soothing and simple as walking.
  4. Incision care: Proper care of the incision site is important to prevent infection. The healthcare provider will provide instructions on how to care for the incision and what signs to look out for that may indicate an infection.
  5. Breastfeeding: Women who have had a C-section can still breastfeed their babies. However, they may need to find comfortable positions to avoid putting pressure on the incision site.
  6. Emotional recovery: It’s common for women to experience a range of emotions after a C-section, including sadness, disappointment, and even guilt and frustration. Talking to a healthcare provider, a counselor or a support group can be helpful. You might even find mindfulness helpful as a way to keep unhelpful thoughts at bay – look up tips for how to practice mindfulness and remember to be kind to yourself.

It’s important to note that every woman’s recovery after a C-section is unique, and the healthcare provider will provide individualized instructions on what to expect and how to care for oneself during the recovery period.

Mothering After a C-Section

You might be feeling a range of emotions after having your baby via C-section – some of these emotions might even conflict with one another. Some mums even report feeling C-section guilt following the birth of their babies. However, in all ways that matter, motherhood is exactly the same once your baby is born. It doesn’t matter how your little bundle of joy got here, what matters is they are – and they have a loving and present parent to bond with them. What makes a mother isn’t in the way your baby was delivered, whether you co-sleep or not or whether you breastfeed – it’s in the way you care for your child, raise them and love them.

About the Author: Samantha Lyon is a content marketer and Digital PR specialist and a mum of two. She writes about all things mind, body and spirit over at Nurture & Nourish, a wellness hub, sprinkled with fun posts about hair, skin and beauty.

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