April is cesarean awareness month.
But really every day is time to raise awareness about cesareans.
It’s a loaded topic. There is lots to say about cesareans.
But today I would like to focus on what I learned from my personal experience.
The story of my cesarean.
Right after giving birth the first time with the support of midwives, I felt like a rock star!
I was looking forward to having a swifter birth with my second…
But the direction of my birth preferences literally changed, when I was 29 weeks pregnant and discovered that my baby was breech.
Around 32 weeks I started doing everything that was known under the sun and moon to try to get her to turn. I set up a schedule working my way in trying to create space and movement; above all I had a daily conversion with my baby to let her know that we were in all of this together.
I learned so much during those weeks about control and the release of it…
I learned to relax and stay focused on what is most important for me. I realized that my baby would be born into the world in the way that she chooses and I was there for her in however that would be manifested.
At week 37 she was still breech and I choose to try to flip her with an ECV (external cephalic version).
This is where a trained medical care provider tries to manually turn the baby, while monitoring the baby to see that they can tolerate it. Every time we tried, she went head down and jumped right back up moments after. It felt that something was holding her up. The protocol at the hospital did not give me the option for a vaginal breech birth. I ended up having cesarean.
Informed birth choices
During the weeks leading up to the birth. I had time to prepare myself to the different possible outcomes. I ended up having what I describe as the most positive experience possible. The team was supportive and asked me what was important for me. And they respected all my wishes: To have my partner right beside me. To be informed what was happening every step of the procedure. To delay the cord clamping; they kept her on my thigh for five minutes while the placenta was still attached. To bring her to me right after for skin to skin. I’ll always remember that first sensation of her skin touching mine, she was so soft and warm. We stayed together for the rest of the hospital stay. This supported us in the initial stages of breastfeeding. She found a deep latch right away.
I learned so much from my cesarean experience. I showed up informed and confidant. I knew my choices. I was met by a great skilled and empathetic medical team. I felt seen, heard and honored in my own sovereignty. I felt safe.
I wish each birth giver could be met this way. Welcoming new humans gently, no matter how birth ends up showing up.
25-30% of women who give birth in the hospital will end up with a cesarean. The WHO recommends that 15% is a reasonable rate to save the lives with obstetric surgery. Cesareans are useful when there is a true medical need to have them. When needed, having attuned social support present can change the cesarean from being traumatic to being a gentle and positive birthing experience.
One of my biggest takeaways from my personal experience is that it’s possible to have a positive experience during and after having a cesarean. But it is important that this is saved for the cases when it is really medically necessary.
As for breech birth, we need more trained and experienced care providers to support vaginal breech birth. When possible and safe it’s important to have the option to choose to have a vaginal breech birth.