When the Facebook group Disciples of the New Dawn recently put up a post shaming women who have c-sections, it was pretty obviously another instance of misogynist trolling from a group that may not even be real. Still, and unsurprisingly, women who have had c-sections were angry. REALLY angry. Not only was the post generally hateful, it perpetuated the idea that women who had c-sections didn't really give birth and are inferior to women who have vaginal births.
Especially since April is Cesarean Awareness Month, now seems like a good time to talk about why women have c-sections. Or rather to ask them to talk about it, in their own words. The reasons to have a cesarean are myriad, and if you speak to women about why they delivered this way, you quickly grasp that their reasons do not include, "I just wasn't in the mood to push" and/or "I wanted Terry Dubrow to do a quick tummy tuck as soon as they took the kid out."
As the shaming fails to indicate, most women pregnant women don't want to have major abdominal surgery to get their babies out. Many women who have c-sections looked forward to the experience of a vaginal birth and were sad to miss out on that. Some feel that their doctors pressured them into it for the physician's convenience or for the doctor or hospital's financial gain.
And women who are glad they had a c-section? Often the procedure saved them or their baby from medical complications or even death. Or, as one woman below shares, it saved them from an experience that would remind them of sexual trauma.
We asked women to tell us why they had a c-section and how they feel about it. Whether they're ultimately grateful that the procedure was available to them or still upset that it happened against their wishes, you'll see that not one of them went into the experience carelessly.
"My c section saved Matthew's life. I was over 9 cm last time they checked (probably ten by the time it all happened as I was having strong urges to push), and he went into distress. (He became tachycardic. This was on top of muconium in my fluid. I had pre eclampsia also, so I'm not sure if that played a role.) 10+ people rushed into my room to begin prepping me and then ran down the hallway to the OR. When Matthew was six months old, the best friend of one of my close friends had the same situation during her labor, but her doctor did not act as quickly and the baby didn't make it. I will forever be grateful for modern medicine and the fast actions of my team."
"I labored 68 hours at home with my first, ended up at the hospital with meconium in the fluid so we did a section. Second baby was another attempted home birth, he was tangled up in the cord and basically strangled himself and we got him out via section and general anesthesia in thirteen minutes. My daughter came third and was a delightful and amazing vbac via Intown midwifery and Dr. Bootstaylor. Fourth baby came after two hard miscarriages (one that resulted in life or death surgery) and was transverse so we opted for scheduled c section!"
When I finally held her in my arms, it felt like we had been through a battle together and emerged exhausted but alive.
"With my first I had a scheduled c-section. She was breech with the cord wrapped around her neck. she was brought to me within 10 minutes of me coming out of the o.r. She latched on immediately and we had an amazing breastfeeding relationship. So my experience was a good one!"
"I had a c-section. It wasn't a choice. it was after 30 hours of labouring and trying to reposition my daughter so she could get out. No dice. After about 24 hours I felt like i was going to die (literally), only i was so tired and morphined out (apparently I am one of those people who have an extreme reaction to morphine) I couldn't even gather up a good panic about it. That baby just had to come out. By the time they got an anaethesiologist (6 hours later) to help with surgery, I was floppy and exhausted and I did not give a crap about much at all at that point. When I finally held her in my arms, it felt like we had been through a battle together and emerged exhausted but alive."
"I was bullied into mine. It took them 15 hours of harassing me, and threatening to cut my vagina against my wishes, for me to finally cave. My favorite part? The surgical forms list the reason as "elective.""
I have already scheduled my c-section for my second little boy (due June 26th)...you should see the side-eye's I get when I tell people
"I did not choose it. With my first pregnancy I labored mostly at home, did all the right things, showed up at the hospital 10cm dilated and ready to push but the process was stopped b/c the baby was a surprise breech. The hospital/doctors policy was section for all breeches. Had I been with the right provider we would have at least tried to push and see how it went. I didn't realize that until my subsequent pregnancies with a new midwife and doctor."
My first pregnancy was relatively uncomplicated, [but] I had some nerve pain. At 40 weeks, in constant pain, I opted to let my doctor induce labor (it was my son's actual due date the next day).
I was checked into the hospital Wednesday evening and they came into my room early Thursday morning to begin the actual induction. By 3pm, my son's heart rate was dropping significantly, and when my OB gave me the option of waiting another two hours or having a c-section, I opted to reduce any stress on my little one and deal with recovering from surgery. He was born a healthy, beautiful little boy. I was able to breastfeed for 13 months until he self-weaned and was water skiing and at the gym by 9 weeks postpartum. I have zero regrets regarding my decision! I have already scheduled my c-section for my second little boy (due June 26th)...you should see the side-eye's I get when I tell people!!
"I knew early on I was going to have one...there was a fibroid which prevented my son from turning and he was breech...fibroid would have been in the way for a vaginal birth regardless...I cried many tears when I learned this was my fate, but was at least able to mentally prepare."
"I had one. I did not plan on it. I was in labor for about a hour or two when I started to bleed heavily. Apparently I had a case of placental abruption, where the placenta detaches and can be really dangerous for both mother and baby. Next thing you know I'm being rushed to the operating room feeling like I'm in a hospital drama on TV. It was surreal.
But I was so thankful to be in the hospital when it happened and that they were able to operate immediately. Side note - SUPER stoked I had to have this emergency C-section because my baby was 10 1/2 pounds! The doctors all agreed that I lucked out with having to go the C-section route and after seeing my HUGE baby, I had to agree."
[The] nurse came in and said, 'You know what's going to happen. Can I go ahead and start prepping you for the OR, or do we have to fight about it?' Um....
"I was carrying twins. My doctor told me I could hope for a vaginal birth, so we took Lamaze classes and planned to go for it.
(I did have a chat with an OB/GYN friend of a friend’s who, upon learning I was carrying twins said to me,'You’ll have a c-section.' I replied that no, my doctor didn’t think that was a given. He said, 'Oh, well, they won’t TELL you that, but trust me, it’ll be a C-section.' In a way, I was glad that he told me that, as it gave me time to think about it, read about it, and prepare myself emotionally for the likelihood.)
All was going well until about 6 weeks before my due date when I woke up during the night with a severe pain in my side. Our Dr. urged us to get to the hospital asap, where they diagnosed HELLP Syndrome and preeclampsia.
My doctor came in and asked me if I was OK with having a C-section. I told her that it was fine with me, if it was the best thing for the health of my babies. She said it was and they prepped me for the ER. The twins were born a few hours later. Small and a bit premature, but healthy.
The next day my doctor came to visit and I asked her whether I had really had a choice about whether to have the C-section or not. 'Nope,' she replied. 'I just wanted to see how you felt about it. But it was really the only option for you.' (I assume she meant because of the preeclampsia, not because of the twins.)"
"I was bulled into mine. Classic failed induction, cascade of interventions, failure to progress. Nurse came in and said, 'You know what's going to happen. Can I go ahead and start prepping you for the OR, or do we have to fight about it?' Um.... "
After being sexually assaulted twice, I associated any pain down there with trauma. I wanted all the numbing drugs u could get because I didn't want to feel ANYTHING. So a c section seemed like the best choice for me.
"I would say mine was a 'mutual' decision between me and my doctor. baby was sunny side up and I pushed for 3 hours unsuccessfully. Doc said she would give me 30 more minutes to keep trying but I decided I was done. In hindsight I;m sure there are things we could have done differently to prevent the C but I have accepted it. I'm hoping for a VBAC this time around."
"I wanted one the whole time. My mom, and aunts all had them. It just seemed normal for me to have a cesarean too. I went into labor, but never dialated after 48 hours they took him out because each contraction his heart rate was going down. The doctor said he was "stuck" and probably wouldn't have fit vaginally anyway. I believe her. Also, I NEVER planned on getting pregnant EVER. The thought of ANY pain scared the shit out of me. After being sexually assaulted twice, I associated any pain down there with trauma. I wanted all the numbing drugs u could get because I didn't want to feel ANYTHING. So a c section seemed like the best choice for me."
"My unwanted and completely unnecessary induction led to a failure to progress after 29 hours of pitocin induced excruciating labor. C-section followed. The c sect was completely necessary. The baby was twisted and caught up on my pelvic bone - a huge bruise on his face post birth. The induction was 100% not necessary. I wish I'd had a birth supportive team or been more aware of my rights."
"I developed pre-eclampsia at 28 weeks and at 30 weeks 3 days my son was in distress, my blood pressure was rising by the day and he needed to be delivered as soon as possible. A c-section saved both our lives!"
"I had planned to birth at a birthing center. After lots of labor (about 12 hours later) I was still at 7 centimeters. Around that time, we started having some heart decelerations from the baby, so the center recommended transferring to the hospital.
We went to the hospital around 11 pm, I think. Still 7 cm at the hospital, and lots of meconium in the waters. At that point, we discussed pitocin and epidural vs. c-section. The on-call doctor at the hospital recommended C-section, and my midwife was of the mind that the C-section made the most sense as well, so that's what we did.
It took me a really long time to come to terms with it (still not sure I have?). I had been trying for a medication-free birth, so I think I probably took it harder than some. The decision for the c-section was definitely not as a result of some crazy emergency, so it didn't feel like 'if I hadn't done this, something terrible might have happened.' It felt like a choice we made after weighing the risks of either decision, and so I mourned not having the birth I envisioned. I don't necessarily feel like it was the wrong decision, though."
"I only had five weeks before my fall semester started and that was all the leave I was going to get because I hadn't accumulated any. So when the OB said after my due date, "you're low on fluid and not at all effaced. we can do a c section now or induce." I thought, that sounds like the kind of induction that turns into a really shitty and tragic c section that would be harder to recover from in five weeks so I went with the section. It opened in a one inch spot but didn't get infected. I'm glad I ended up with my kid and hope my other ends up ok."
"Felix was frank breach practically the entire last part of my pregnancy. Because I was also low on fluid, the OB didn't think that a cephalic version would be successful. I was living in Charlotte, NC at the time and hadn't heard of anyone there that would have allowed a trial of labor in that circumstance, so I just went ahead and scheduled a c section at 39 weeks as he recommended. He gave me a spinal for anesthesia, and recovery was completely textbook. After seeing how my baby's head came out asymmetrical from being stuck on one side for so long, I was pretty sure my doc made the right call. No regrets."
Images: benjgibbs, Remy Sharp, Tammra McCauley, Brett Neilson (2), Kelly Sue DeConnick/Flickr