I’m a woman of small stature. I’ve never been in the ‘above average’ category for anything really… except during pregnancy, and possibly my aptitude for food consumption. You see, I’m one of those anomalies. One of those women that somehow manages to grow babies that are too large for their bodies, and no matter how many times someone says to me, ‘Your body won’t grow a baby bigger than it can handle’, it doesn’t change the fact for me, I just do.
Now to be fair, I’m not yet at the end of my third pregnancy, so time will tell, however, all the usual indicators are there. The ones that point towards another gigantic offspring growing in my ever-stretching uterus. The growth scans are on par with the OB’s best guess, and the fundal height is off the charts… as per usual.
Up until this point though, everything was smooth sailing, and we had a plan. Together with my OB, we were confident that it could still be done, we would work on an early induction. Hoping to ensure a slightly smaller baby, and a somewhat natural delivery (just to clarify, my second was born suffering mild shoulder dystocia at only 39 weeks gestation).
Except suddenly, all of that changed. Suddenly the ‘C’ word was being thrown around… Suddenly I was being faced with the prospect of a Cesarean delivery.
I’m not sure what it is about that word that insights such fear in me… and I don’t just mean fear for the physical. I mean, fear of judgment, shame, and guilt… but why do I feel this way? Why does the idea of birthing a baby this way bring up such negative feelings? Given the facts, and the risk factors I could be facing, why should I even be giving it a second thought? Why is birth shame even a thing in this day and age? Haven’t we progressed past this, to a point where we are free to choose (or not in all cases) to birth the way we want to?
Isn’t bringing a baby into the world safely, enough? Without having to worry about the ‘how’?
I come from a family of ‘birthing machines’. Women that pride themselves on the fact that they can have quick, relatively uncomplicated labours, without the use of, or need for pain relief. Yet, somehow my body missed the memo. I didn’t get the quick, uncomplicated labours, and I certainly haven’t made it through them without the use of pain relief. I wear the badge of two induced, heavily managed, drugged up labours… certainly not what one might think of as the ‘ideal’ labour by any stretch.
I feel like there’s such a pressure on women to be birthing pros. We’re constantly being told things like,
‘Women have been doing this for thousands of years’
‘Women don’t know how to deal with pain anymore’
‘We’re losing the ability to give birth naturally’
And, many of those may in fact be true. Yet, the more I think of it, the more I realise how lucky I am, to be living in 2017, with the options that I do have in front of me. Even though I have these underlying fears relating to how a Cesarean birth is perceived, I’m glad I have an option that doesn’t leave my baby at the kind of risk that it could potentially face.
Decisions are yet to be made. I still have a number of weeks to go, we’ll just see what cards we’ve been dealt when the time comes… but I feel like I should be able to face this decision without fear of any kind of emotional backlash. In fact we all should. We should all be able to birth our babies in whichever way we can, safely.
The Mumma’s that have the drug-free water births should be able to birth without fear of sounding smug to others for their achievement. The Mumma’s that don’t want to feel a thing, and opt for that blissful epidural, I salute you (and totally feel your pain… or lack there of), you should be able to enjoy that pain free labour. To the Cesarean Mumma’s that may have given up a dream of that empowering drug free birth because things didn’t quite go to plan, you’re so much braver than you’re given credit for… and I praise you.
I’m working on a plan to own whichever route we choose to go. After all, there are many things worse than ending up with a beautiful baby, and a healthy mum at the end…. right?
May 9, 2017