We’ve all heard the expression ‘too posh to push’. But while the number of women having Caesarean sections is on the rise, many have no choice in the matter, which is why a new Facebook page, criticising them for being ‘too lazy’ to give birth naturally, is causing outrage.
The page, created by Disciples of the New Dawn, includes controversial messages such as “Face the facts: You didn’t really give birth. Please show respect to superior women who actually had what it took to get the job done.”
We spoke to mothers and experts to find out what it means to have a C-section and whether or not it really is ‘an easy option’.
‘I was so upset and felt a failure’
Áine Molloy from Dublin is married to Jarlath and has a two-year-old son called Fionn, who was born by Caesarean section. The unplanned procedure left her feeling emotionally scarred, but she soon realised that no matter how he came into the world, she still deserved the credit for bringing him here.
“I had gestational diabetes which I worked really hard to keep under control, but ended up on insulin. Women with diabetes are usually induced quite early but I didn’t go in until I was almost 40 weeks.
I had planned on a nice, natural birth and so didn’t know very much about what could happen when things go wrong.
The doctor broke my waters and a drip was put in to start contractions. I thought it would lead me into a nice easy build up, but within minutes, I was in excruciating pain, going from zero to full-on labour in minutes. This continued for hours and when I couldn’t handle it anymore, I asked for an epidural.
But when the doctor examined me, I wasn’t even 3cm dilated after about 10 hours on the drip — I was devastated. So I was told I would have to have an emergency section. Things went fine at the start, but it’s all very hazy and I don’t really remember my son being born. I also had a post-partum haemorrhage and a lot of bruising.
I didn’t know that breast milk takes longer to come in after a section. I was so upset and felt a failure. I hadn’t got the birth I wanted and I couldn’t even feed my son.
Then, I got an infection in my wound and needed antibiotics. I was stiff and very, very sore. The scar and the muscle around it were incredibly tender and swollen and I could barely walk.
Emotionally, I was upset that I hadn’t ‘birthed’ my son myself — but I had carried him for nine months, doing everything the doctors told me; reading baby books, picking out a name and clothes and he arrived healthy and happy — so I did my job. I realised I was a good mum who did everything to make his arrival as safe as possible.
If I had insisted on ‘birthing’ him, then I might not have those toes to kiss now. I am a mammy — I gave birth, because if I hadn’t, I’d still be pregnant.”
‘My baby was born healthy and the C-section paid off’
Lisa Ryan lives with her partner Dillen and one-year-old son Elliot. She writes a blog about parenting at fourwallsrainydays.com and says while her son was delivered by Caesarean, she didn’t feel any less of a mother than if she had given birth naturally.
“After 35 hours of a failed induction, Elliot was delivered by emergency section as his heart rate had plummeted and my blood pressure soared.
Afterwards, I was sore and recovery was tough but I didn’t feel any less of a mother for not having a natural birth. My baby was born healthy and the intervention paid off — and for that reason I will never regret having the section.
I had an eventful pregnancy so was prepared for things not going to plan. Of course, I wish my stomach muscles had some chance in reclaiming the abs that never were, but my gorgeous healthy boy is a larger priority.
When I hear people putting down women who have Caesareans, I just want to tell them to cop on — I laboured on my child before taking the necessary steps to get him here safely. The fact that I required surgical intervention does not make me any less of a mother.
I myself was born by emergency C-section and I knew my mother had felt put down about it. So the idea of too-posh-to-push really does grate because when it comes down to it, my child came out of my body and I had to recover from it while learning to become a mother; so that doesn’t make it any less of a birth experience than any other woman’s.”
‘I pleaded with the midwife to give me the chance to birth naturally’
Deirdre Ganly from Rathfarnham is married to Andrew and has two children - Harry (3 1/2) and Alice (1). She too felt guilty about not birthing her son naturally but realised that the fact he is alive and well means all went according to plan.
“I had an emergency section on Harry’s birth. I was 4cm when I got to hospital and went straight to delivery. Shortly after having an epidural, I felt the urge to push as I had dilated to 9cm. But after examination, they discovered the baby had produced meconium so a C-section was recommended.
I pleaded with the midwife to give me the chance to birth naturally, but she explained the risk of meconium aspiration and what it would mean for Harry. I was brought straight to theatre and even though they topped up the epidural, I could still feel a lot of pain. So I had a further top-up and then they were happy to operate.
Once he was born, the most frightening thing was the fact that he wasn’t crying and I couldn’t see him. But the midwife explained that he had a tube down his throat to clear his airways of meconium. After he was cleaned up, he had to go into an incubator and I stayed in recovery, so it was over three hours before I could hold him.
Afterwards, I felt unbelievably guilty that I hadn’t managed to ‘do it myself’. However, a friend pointed out that although it wasn’t the birth I had wanted, it was the birth Harry needed.
It’s taken me a long time to get my head around having a section, but I’ve no doubt that I birthed my baby boy.
My little girl was born vaginally nearly a year ago and I was up and about the next day. I wasn’t crippled with abdominal pain and although I suffered a bad tear, it wasn’t a patch on the pain and recovery involved in a section.
Having done it both ways, I know that all mothers birth their babies. Having a baby by section doesn’t mean you’re not doing your best. You’re doing exactly that —you’re doing what’s best for your baby.
Getting my head around having a section took over two years. It wasn’t something I chose, or was warned of in advance. But, as that friend said, it was the birth my son needed.”
‘Why is it easier in some hospitals to get a section?’
Margaret Hanahoe is the assistant director of midwifery at the National Maternity Hospital and co-author of e-book ‘From Bump to Birth’ and the forthcoming e-book ‘After Birth’. She says there are many reasons why Caesarean sections are performed, and while it is easier to request an elective section in some hospitals, the decision should not be taken lightly as recovery can be long and difficult.
“There is no doubt that it’s easier in some hospitals than others to get a section — but the reason for having them vary; from breech to foetal distress or failure to advance in labour. Women should be given evidenced-based unbiased information to be able to make a choice, but will usually only do what they feel or were told is the best option for them and their babies.
The question that needs to be asked is what advice are they getting and are they being told of the risks associated with a section?
I think what needs to be discussed is what advice they are getting from professionals and why does the section rate vary so much from hospital to hospital.”
As I lay in the cold operating theatre in the maternity hospital, the chill not only entered my body, but also my mind. I had been prepared for emergency Caesarean section three times in the previous three weeks.
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