I am a c-section mom, after having an emergency c-section with my first nearly ten years ago I have given birth to all of my kids via planned c-sections and I have to say, there are a lot of comments that really get under my skin when I tell that to people. It usually comes up when I tell them that I know the date I'm having the baby, "Oh, you know the exact date? Are you having a c-section?". Yes, yes I am. Again.
The first thing that bothers me, probably the biggest one, is when people say "I'm sorry". Especially after giving birth to my first child with the emergency c-section, what most people said to me was that they were sorry I had to go through the c-section, when what I really thought they should be saying was "Congratulations". Congratulations on having a healthy and happy baby! Yes, the c-section wasn't part of my "birth plan", but the outcome, the healthy baby, THAT was the most important thing (for the record, my original plan was to give birth naturally, with the option of an epidural on the table if I chose to use that option). What did wind up happening was 20+ hours of difficult labor followed by an emergency surgery for which I was not even the slightest bit prepared for mentally or emotionally, and sure, it wasn't ideal. But we got the job done and I had my healthy baby. The last thing I wanted to dwell on was the c-section or have the feeling like people felt bad for me for the way I gave birth.
And don't get me wrong, I am more than happy for any moms out there who actually created a birth plan and then were lucky enough to have that carry out the way they had planned, but with birth and babies, things don't always go as planned. Same thing goes for parenthood, and, well, life in general. Being upset that the plan I had for giving birth didn't work out is not something I waste time on. Ever.
I had another friend that asked if I felt like I had "missed out" on giving birth. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure I gave birth. There was a baby on the inside, then the baby was on the outside, healthy and perfect. Birth, right? And for the record, no, I do not feel like I have missed out on anything. This is my birth experience, different from yours, maybe, but any less valuable or magical? Not in the least. Women make all kinds of choices with their bodies during pregnancy and childbirth. Some women choose a water birth, some choose to give birth at home, some choose to do hypnobirthing, the point is, however you choose to do it (or in my case, not technically my "choice"), it is your experience. Let's celebrate that as women we have all of these different options now and not one of them is better than the rest. Sure, your preference may be natural birth, but mine is the kind that gets the baby on the outside in the healthiest way for both of us, so, kinda the same objective, right?
Women are made to feel like they have done something wrong, or their bodies have failed them, or that something "bad" happened with a c-section. Like they are somehow less woman because they couldn't give birth "naturally". I have read countless facebook announcements along the lines of "My wife was a true warrior, giving birth naturally and with no drugs!". That's great, and I am happy for those women, but I'm a warrior too, let me tell you. Just because I require a different, less "natural" way to get those babies into the world doesn't make me a failure at giving birth. C-section shaming is rampant, with people pointing the finger at the doctor or the patient, wrongly assuming some women don't want to give birth naturally and choose to have the planned c-section rather than go through a natural birth. I don't know about you, but would you choose major abdominal surgery if NOT having it was an option? Probably not.
Now, I know, from experience, some of you are going to argue with me about c-sections, and here's where I am going to shut you down. Giving birth naturally isn't an option for me, so this is how I am going to do it. Say what you want about elective c-sections and the like, but say it to someone else, because I don't want to hear it. Just like some women need more assistance in getting pregnant, I need more assistance in giving birth, and man if I don't consider myself lucky to be able to have that assistance.
Mostly, what also bothers me is when people will ask WHY I had a c-section, and then will speculate on whether or not THEY think it was "necessary". Not one of these people have been a medical professional, and it is rather offensive to assume I haven't educated myself on what is going on with my body and the way I am going to give birth to my children (yes I have heard of VBAC and no it was not an option for me). Thanks for the rundown on c-section statistics, but if I have any major questions about it I'm going to go ahead and ask my doctor. The point here really is, as women, let's be advocates for ourselves and our bodies. Know all of your options, and by all means read up on c-sections and statistics and different ways people give birth and different methods people use. Be an empowered pregnant woman, and make your own needs, your own voice, and your own thoughts loud and clear to the people you are choosing to surround yourself with during the pregnancy and birth process.
One piece of advice I will give to moms who are having a c-section? Be sure to ask to hold the baby afterward, the same way they do for "natural" births to get that same "skin to skin contact". I had a really great lactation consultant point that out to me, and it made a big difference with nursing for me but was something I had to make sure happened since it isn't always the norm with c-sections. I actually didn't even realize it could be an option to have the baby with me (rather than the usual practice of waiting till after you are in recovery) until this great nurse pointed it out, and so I always, ALWAYS tell fellow c-section moms this.
No matter how you are going to bring that baby into the world, keep your eyes on the prize, a healthy mama and a healthy baby, nobody should ever be sorry about that. And us c-section moms don't need to have your pity, we need to have your congratulations and support.