About a third of all babies born in this country are born by Cesarean Section. There is often talk of what percentage of C-sections are truly necessary, and whether common practices in obstetrics could be leading to the climbing C-section rate. That's not what this post is about. What I feel really needs to be discussed is the fact that Cesarean births are indeed births too. Whether a mother ends up with an emergency C-section after hours and hours of labor, requires a scheduled C-section due to complications, or chooses to have a Cesarean for whatever reason- the fact remains: Cesarean births are every bit as legitimate as vaginal births. They are both a means to an amazing end, and both deserve to be celebrated. After all, all births are challenging, and rewarding, and about so much more than the way a baby was born.
New life was brought forth.
Every birth is magical. The way a baby enters the world doesn't change the amazing fact that a mother has birthed a baby, and brought forth new life. After ten months of hard work growing and carrying her baby, a new life begins. Her beautiful baby finally locks eyes with hers, hears her familiar voice, the world stands still and the background fades away.
A mother was born.
In an instant, everything has changed. No matter how she birthed her baby, the baby has arrived, and a mother too, has been born. She will never be the same, for better or worse. Her attention is now laser focused on her little one. Her new hopes, fears, and priorities all center around her child. As is so eloquently stated in The Birth of a Mother: How the Motherhood Experience Changes you Forever by Daniel N. Stern,
In the course of becoming a mother, I realized, a woman develops a mindset fundamentally different from the one she held before, and enters a realm of experience not known to non-mothers.
It was NOT the easy way out.
All births, vaginal or by Cesarean, can be very challenging both emotionally and physically. It can be a difficult decision to make, whether to have a C-section-- one not often taken lightly. Sometimes it's not a choice at all, but a scary, necessary step to keeping the baby alive. However, even if a woman feels it is the best option for her and her baby, or a clear medical necessity, a mother may feel disappointment that her birth experience turned out so differently than what she imagined it would be. Many feel a real sense of grief and loss, sometimes a sense of failure, only made worse by well-meaning people telling her that a healthy baby is all that matters.
Then come the increased risk of complications and recovery time that accompany a major surgery such as a C-section. It is no small feat to juggle all the responsibilities of caring for a newborn, while also recovering from a major surgery. In addition to all of this, a mother shouldn't have to also feel she needs to justify her choices to others.
Cesarean births can be essential and lifesaving. They can be one of the first difficult, brave sacrifices a mother will make for her child. They are NOT less than. Cesarean births are births too.
Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. Looking for doula support or lactation counseling in the Madison area? Contact me here.