“Ohhhh you had a caesarean. That’s the EASY way out”
But caesareans aren’t easy. Even when a woman feels like her recovery was smooth, and there weren’t any complications, or emotional trauma, major surgery is never easy on your body. And make no mistake about it, a caesarean is major surgery. The cold hard truth is that we can’t see all the things that are going on inside our bodies, so we really have no way to know the toll that a caesarean section takes on us.
Does this mean that vaginal birth is easy? Definitely not! Vaginal birth can be traumatic, recovery can be difficult, vaginal birth can cause significant physical damage in some women …. but that doesn’t make caesareans easy. The Myth of the easy caesarean is a dangerous symptom of obstetric culture.
Who only knows how or when it all got started. Maybe it has something to do with the fact obstetricians spend very little time with women who are recovering from a caesarean. They neatly stitch them up, wheel them into recovery and the nursing staff take over.
Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that birth in an obstetric setting can be traumatic, and dehumanising, particularly with the overuse of interventions which include – but are in no way limited to – episiotomies and forceps.
Unhindered birth can also be traumatic, it goes without saying, however …. that doesn’t make caesareans easy.
Some women love their caesareans, they never have a single vaginal birth, and have no regrets. Others have a difficult vaginal birth and opt for caesarean surgery to welcome subsequent babies, and are glad of that choice. Some women yearn to experience vaginal birth after they’ve had a traumatic caesarean.
The most important acknowledgement we can make here is that all of these experiences are subjective, and despite the fact that many are based on the very real physical and emotional experience of meeting your baby in an operating theatre, none can truly, adequately, explain what is happening inside the body, completely unseen.
Hospitals and care providers don’t ask you to sign a consent form before a normal vaginal birth, nor do they send you to a surgical recovery room afterwards, but they do both if you have a caesarean. The average stay in hospital after a vaginal birth is 24 – 48hrs, but after a caesarean it’s 3 – 4 days. A woman may not feel great discomfort after a caesarean but …. we can’t see what’s happening inside her body.
The complications after a caesarean include pain, constipation, infection, haemorrhage, blood clots, hysterectomy, complications from the epidural or spinal, trauma, and others as well. Furthermore, a caesarean carries risks over into future pregnancies as well. These include, but aren’t limited to placenta accreta, fertility difficulty, and of course the feared uterine rupture.
Complications after a vaginal birth include haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, soreness, constipation, emotional trauma, and other, complications from epidurals etc.. However it’s important to note that our bodies are designed to recover from unhindered birth, our bodies are not designed to recover from major surgery. It’s a testament to their remarkable endurance and modern technology that we can infact recover after such an enormous procedure, but the fact we recover, doesn’t make caesareans easy.
The Caesareans Are Easy mantra is a myth. Plain and simple. Birth is difficult, however it happens, and bodies take time to recover, but major surgery isn’t a walk in the park. Caesareans are major surgery, and vaginal birth is a normal function of the human body which we are designed to recover from. Let’s not forget that whilst recovery may FEEL easy, we have no idea what is happening internally. Let’s also be mindful of the fact that some women have an easy physical recovery, but struggle to come to terms with it emotionally.