For many women, the anticipation of childbirth is a scary thought. I was optimistic with my first. I had a plan: to give birth naturally and have skin on skin contact immediately following her birth. Fast forward to delivery day and after hours of labour, my baby's heart rate dropped dramatically and I was rushed in to have an emergency C-section. I chose to deliver my second child via elective C-section. These are the things I wish someone had told me about giving birth by caesarean.
1: I was able to breastfeed and bond easily with both of my babies - contrary to opinions that say if you don't have skin-on-skin contact immediately after birth you will struggle. It's not like that for everyone. I was able to hold my babies within five minutes of their birth and breastfed easily within the hour.
2: An emergency caesarean doesn't always mean you will be knocked out and not see your baby for hours. I was awake for the entire procedure.
3: Unfortunately, you may encounter people who will tell you that you haven't experienced "real" birth. I had a very helpful doctor tell me this only hours after my emergency C-section, and many mothers have made similar comments to me over the years. Just because a baby is delivered in a theatre and through a surgical procedure, does not take away from the fact you grew and birthed your baby. Never, ever let anyone make you believe otherwise. Some mothers will feel negatively about a C-section birth. I have never felt this way. I am so grateful to have been in an environment where my baby could be delivered quickly and safely.
4: My second C-section was elective, and I made that decision jointly with my husband. Our choice, your choice. Just get that baby here safely. Look at your options and advice from the medical professionals and do what is best for you and your family. I personally know women who have successfully delivered vaginally after a caesarean (VBAC) - it's not impossible in many circumstances. If you feel strongly about it then talk to your doctor or obstetrician.
5: My elective C-section was scarier for me than the emergency one. I was so out of it with my first baby, in so much pain from my contractions, that I barely knew what was going on. I was just so happy and relieved it was almost all over and the pain would stop. With the elective surgery, I knew it was coming and what the recovery would be like - and that made me really nervous.
6: C-sections are major surgery and not the easy way out. They are painful and recovery is long and hard - and you still have to care for a newborn baby. If you have a toddler at home as well it adds another level of difficulty. It will be weeks before you can bend over or lift things, and driving is off limits for at least five weeks.
I never had any regrets, however, many women struggle with an unexpected birth outcome. If your birth doesn't go to plan and you feel confused, unhappy or guilty about the way things turned out, make sure you talk to a medical professional you trust to work through those feelings.