C-sections Vs Vaginal Childbirth: The Myths, The Facts

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I have shared the story of the woman, who lost two babies, because of a perceived belief that having a C-section was taking the easy way out, where childbirth was concerned.

And during the week, I found a new research that stated that the increasing number of c-sections being done on women was changing the course of human evolution. According to the study, women with narrow hips and babies with big heads wouldn’t have survived the rigours of childbirth a hundred years ago, which was nature’s way to making sure their genes weren’t perpetuated.

However, with the availability of c-sections, such deaths have been erased, which means women with narrow hips pass on the trait to their daughters, and the story goes on.

This reminds me of our chat with Dr. Faye, where he pointed out the dilemma of fertility doctors, in cases where a man has no sperm or malformed ones, which was nature’s way of ensuring such genes are not perpetuated. But how does a doctor tell a man nature doesn’t want you to have a baby? Rather, they have to find a way, even when it means circumventing nature and its wants.

There are people who would take that new study on c-sections, and it becomes their justification for their stand against C-sections, but wait a moment! Do the lives of the narrow-hipped women and big headed babies not matter at all?

Anyways, I think so many people are against C-sections because they really don’t know how the procedure works and the after effects. Below, we will stack vaginal birth and C-section side by side, the myths and the facts and, hopefully, some woman would not have to die unnecessarily or lose a child in an unreasonable manner for lack of knowledge.

First of all, while c-sections are routinely performed these days, they are not performed just for the sake of performing it; it is major surgery and requires some serious consideration, which includes:

  • Breech presentation; when the baby is in any other position, except that which will enable vaginal delivery, like upright, bestriding the uterus but not head down and engaging the cervix.
  • A mother’s health condition could prevent vaginal birth. Conditions like sickle cell or a heart condition, among others.
  • An instance of previous caesarean sections
  • An emergency, such as a baby in distress
  • Baby unable to be delivered vaginally due to an obstruction, such as a low placenta (placenta praevia)

And to the myths and facts:

Myth 1: You won’t feel the baby being pulled out / You will feel baby coming out

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According to my research, the fact that you don’t feel the baby coming out is something anti c-section people argue with. So, how do you know you have given birth?

Well, I asked moms who had c-sections, and here’s their verdict:

“I knew when the baby was brought out of my womb; I could feel a certain pull. Not painful, mind you. Moments later, I heard my baby’s cries and every other thing didn’t matter. – Yemi

“I wasn’t looking out for that moment, as I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. But indeed, there is a feeling you have in that moment when the baby is brought out. I have been there twice now, and yes, you do know when your baby is born.- Cassandra

Even doctors, who perform the surgeries say patients definitely will feel something. The usual analogy is that somebody is doing the washing up inside your tummy. You feel somebody pushing on your tummy, as the assistant pushes on the top of the uterus.

If the caesarean is performed during labour, and the baby has got stuck, then you will certainly feel the obstetrician reaching down to retrieve the baby. It is a very weird sensation, but it shouldn’t be painful.

On the flipside, you feel all the pain, pull and push of the baby with a vaginal birth.

 

Myth 2: Caesareans can make it harder to breastfeed / Breastfeeding is easier with Vaginal birth

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The basis of this myth has to do with the connection, the skin to skin contact is a lot easier to achieve with a vaginal birth than a caesarean birth.

The skin to skin contact goes a long way in stimulating the let-down of milk, however, I know moms, who had vaginal birth, held their babies within minutes of their birth, yet struggled with breastfeeding. Our bodies are truly different.

On the c-section part, although there’s a lot of interest and controversy about this myth, there is indeed some evidence that the bond between the mother and newborns is affected by caesareans.

Partly because there is a lack of immediate skin-to-skin contact and this might be due to the fact the woman can also be incapacitated, so isn’t as able to move about or respond to the baby’s needs in the first 48 hours of baby’s life.

There is also evidence that shows it is not as easy to establish breastfeeding, so any prospective mother should consider these factors. Obviously, these concerns seem small when compared with the safety of the baby as it arrives, but there are subtle downsides to having a caesarean delivery.

 

Myth 3: Natural childbirth is impossible after a c-section / There’s no such thing with vaginal birth

 

pregnant_belly-714813True, you don’t have to worry about having a c-section when you have had a vaginal birth. However, that is not 100 percent guaranteed, as there might be reasons you might have to consider it for subsequent births.

On the myth that says once you have a caesarean, you always a caesarean, you can discard that. There have been cases of vaginal birth after c-sections. What’s important is the reason you had a c-section the first time. If it was because the baby was breech, or case of placenta praevia (a condition in which the placenta partially or wholly blocks the neck of the uterus, so interfering with normal delivery of a baby), then there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t plan to have a natural delivery next time.

If there are other complications, such as the baby getting stuck, then nothing will change; the baby’s head is likely to be the same size, as will your pelvis. You need to suck it up and accept the structure of your body, and that of your unborn baby’s, which is partly influenced by your husband’s genes, and opt for another c-section.

 

Myth 4: There’s a limit on the number of caesareans you can have / You can have as many vaginal births as you like.

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We have heard of women in days back, who had babies back to back, as though they were going out of fashion, all vaginally. Bravo to them and anyone who wants to try it now. While the vagina may not complain, the woman’s general health will surely suffer. Incubating and birthing a baby is no child’s play. It takes a lot from the body.

And for caesarean sections, while there is no absolute limit, there are increasing risks each time. Four is probably a reasonable limit to give yourself, according to gynaecologists.

Each time you have a caesarean, however, the likelihood of the placenta burrowing through the uterus wall increases, leading to a hysterectomy. Another possibility is the bladder can be injured as it becomes stuck to the scar.

 

Myth 5: The recovery period for a caesarean is longer compared to vaginal birth

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Well, it is not necessarily true. Both childbirths can be hard to recover from. It’s all based on the individual mom’s body and the circumstances prevailing as at the time of birth.

Whether the mom was exhausted, when it was done and whether it was planned says a lot about the recovery process. Some people find recovery from caesarean a breeze while others find it really difficult. It is a very individual process.

Obviously, if you are recovering from a long labour in a natural birth, then you will be jolly sore and need time to heal. Across board, one is no worse than the other.

These are some myths regarding caesarean and vaginal childbirth, alongside the facts that have been proven over and over.

Food for thought!

 

 

 

Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here

Photo credits:

1. http://www.theayurveda.org/

2. https://www.abclawcenters.com

3. http://www.the-elbowroom.com/

4. http://www.peainthepodcast.com/

5. https://www.nct.org.uk/

6. http://media.gettyimages.com/

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