Experts and moms who have given birth via C-section weigh in on the ridiculous notion that having a Cesarean delivery is the "easy way" to have a baby.
When I first heard there was even a debate about C-section moms not being "real moms" because they chose the so-called "easy way out" of delivery, I was absolutely mind-blown. Here are a few reasons I, other C-section mommas, and a couple of OBGYNs think this debate is 100-percent ridiculous.
1. There is no such thing as the easy way out.
Ha! Easy?! As someone who has had both a vaginal and C-section delivery, I can tell you one thing is for certain: There is no "easy" way to get a human baby out of your body! There is nothing easy about having a child. And I'm not alone on this one, either. Adrianne Browning, M.D., a partner in Baylor Scott & White Women's Health Services who also directs the Obstetrics and Gynecology rotation for medical students at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, agrees. "Although giving birth is a natural process for our bodies, it is never easy," Dr. Browning says.
2. We still have the same postpartum issues as everyone else.
After my C-section, I dealt with the same bleeding, the same baby blues, the same sleep deprivation, the same insecurities, and the same struggles as I did with my first child. How my daughter came out of me didn't change those feelings or the struggles. I still wept uncontrollably for the first two weeks. I still woke up every hour, on the hour, to breastfeed a fussy infant. I still Googled everything she did to make sure she was OK. I still depended on nipple cream to soothe the pain of the early days of breastfeeding. I still changed 13 diapers a day. And I still loved her unconditionally. How she came into the world has nothing to do with how much of her mother I am.
3. C-sections are usually done for the safety of the child.
My daughter was breech, and when my doctor began to tell me just some of the catastrophic consequences of the few breech vaginal deliveries that go wrong, I broke into tears just thinking of the danger we could be putting her in by not opting for the big C. Karen Schneider of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, can attest to this one, too. "My son's health was in danger," she says, describing how her son nearly died during delivery. "C-sections are not often a choice, and it certainly wasn't for me," she confirms. Dr. Browning agrees that C-sections are often performed to help ensure the best possible outcome: "It can save the lives of mother and baby, and some women cannot deliver their babies any other way."
4. The early days of recovery can be a nightmare.
Mother Vicki Young of Southern Colorado would have much preferred the quick recovery of a vaginal birth. The C-section healing process proved especially difficult for her as her incision became infected and took months to heal. "I felt helpless," she says of the first few days after delivery--as though the emotional trauma of dealing with a newborn isn't difficult enough! "I couldn't care for myself, let alone my baby. It hurt to hold him," she explains. "It was the worst pain I have ever had in my life."
5. C-Sections put moms at even greater risk.
Opting for a C-section is certainly not the easy way to deliver your child because it can actually lead to problems down the line. "Women who have had Cesarean births are more likely to need hysterectomies after delivery, and to have scar tissue that can complicate future surgeries as well," Dr. Browning explains. Octavia Cannon, D.O., a board-certified osteopathic obstetrician and gynecologist, and co-owner of Arboretum Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlotte, North Carolina, echoes those comments. She explains that complications like deep vein thrombosis, bleeding, or infection are more likely to occur after C-sections than vaginal deliveries.
6. Motherhood isn't measured by how you give birth.
The actual laboring part is only the very beginning of this journey called motherhood. To say a mother who opts for a C-section isn't a real mother is not only offensive, but completely wrong. "I think a 'real mom' is any woman who chooses to love and care for her child, whether that baby is born vaginally, via C-section, via a surrogate, or she adopts," says Schneider. "The definition of a real mother is not determined by the method of birth required to place that child in her arms."
7. C-sections don't have any negative effects on maternal bonding.
After my surprise C-section, my daughter was placed right in my arms for skin-to-skin contact. According to Dr. Cannon, this is a non-issue in most hospital settings. "Many hospitals now use the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative protocol," she explains, referencing the global program launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding. "That allows immediate bonding with the baby once it has been checked out by the neonatal staff." Dr. Cannon also says babies are often given to their mothers for skin-to-skin contact while the doctors are still finishing up the surgery. If this is not possible, the patient's support person will hold the child.
8. Recovery is torture if you have other children.
When I had my C-section, I had a 19-month-old at home who didn't understand why I couldn't pick him up and care for him as I had been doing up until that point. Every time he asked me to hold him or snuggle with him and I had to say no, I cried. It broke my heart into a million pieces to see the perplexing sadness in his little eyes. If I had had another vaginal delivery, that roadblock in our relationship wouldn't have been there. I definitely didn't view that aspect of the delivery to be easy at all.
9. And finally, the entire debate is just hurtful!
Schneider, Young, and I all feel as though the entire debate is pretty insensitive to the trauma we went through just to get our babies into this world safely. It was not a choice for any of us, but a necessity. Besides, should we really be judging other moms on this? "Ultimately, I believe all women need to support and empower each other in the parenting choices we make," Schneider says. This motherhood job is tough enough so let's not squabble over who gave birth the "right" way.