*Disclaimer. Everything I write on this blog is from my own experiences and interactions. What I am sharing here is as I’ve heard it and am sharing on. This is in no way, shape or form medical advice or guidance. Each individual needs to make their own choices about their health based on the specific medical advice provided to them by qualified professionals.
“May I ask, are you having a c-section because of your back?”
“Can I ask you a personal question … are you having an elective caesarean for medical reasons?”
“Is it ok to ask you why you’ll be having the c-section?”
The answer to all of the above is – because I can and because I choose to.
Some dear friends have politely and kindly, as above, asked me why I’m giving birth abdominally. And this is my reason – because I want to and because I do not desire at all to give birth vaginally.
The terms abdominally and vaginally are examples of positive birth language that I learnt through the Mindful Birth Group hypnobirthing course and it’s helped me a lot on my journey.
I am choosing here to use the terms vaginal birth and abdominal birth because I believe that all birth is natural. A “natural” birth with no intervention whatsoever is so rare and I want to help remove this stigma for women. Babies grow inside a human body (our own or sometimes a surrogate) and then they come out into the world in one of two ways – through the vagina or via the abdomen.
Or as my friend likes to say, out the front door or via the sunroof! And I bloody love this and have owned it!!
So I’ve chosen the sunroof option, I do live on the Gold Coast afterall.
But please do not think this is because it’s the easy option. All births have inherent risks and possibility of complications. I’m choosing the known risks of abdominal birth because that is what feels right for me,my body and my baby.
I’ve been advised by some friends and family members that perhaps I should tell others, if they ask, that I’m having the abdominal birth (c-section) due to my back.
No, I most certainly will not!
Fun fact: I broke my back in 2009. T11 and L1. Two vertebrae in my back and I was hospitalised for 8 days and had a back brace for 10 weeks. I’ve since climbed mountains around the world, snowboarded, gone horse riding etc and so on. My back, although at times slightly tender after a lot of activity (as it would be for anyone), does not restrict me in any way.
So why would I use that as an excuse? It’s not true and it’s not honest and it is not helping this narrative about abdominal births which already get a bloody bad rap.
“Well in my day there was no choice”.
This was one comment I got when I openly declared I’m having an abdominal birth.
My response … “well now there is and that’s my choice”.
Some people take issue with the fact that we are planning and scheduling the exact time of our births. Like why should we not just leave it up to nature for when the baby comes?
Well, because sometimes the baby doesn’t come when they are supposed to. Sometimes the body has complications. Sometimes the anxiety of not knowing when this massive life changing thing is going to happen is altogether too much.
And why not in all that is unknown and uncertain about birth and the birthing process should I not be allowed one certainty? One thing I know will happen.
Of course, it’s not absolutely certain because little humans do have a mind of their own and can still come early, but at least having a clear idea of what will happen on that day and how the surgery will take place, it can take a huge weight off an expectant mothers mind. And I speak from experience as that has been one MAJOR decision and element I’ve not had to worry about throughout my pregnancy.
I knew what I wanted, I was clear to my medical professionals and they have respected and supported me in my birth plan. And for that, I am so truly grateful.
The kind and beautifully phrased questions at the start of this piece were from women who are yet to take on the pregnancy journey. And they might be feeling apprehensive about birth and about that process. They simply didn’t know there was an option for them.
I am writing this in Australia where it is an option. It does require having a private obstetrician, though you can still give birth in either public or private hospitals while having a private obstetrician. This is from my experience and from first accounts of other mothers in Australia who have had elective abdominal births.
I will not be shamed for my decision and I feel completely confident in my birth choice. This is a beautiful gift in this journey and I’m grateful to have it.
For some, the choice is not there. Due to where they live, due to the circumstances of their pregnancy or due to the changing situation once birth has occurred. Or due to the prohibitive costs that is the nature of having a private obstetrician. For some, the decision has to be made ahead of time and this can be challenging and complicated for people, I fully respect and understand that.
Personally, I’ve heard too many stories of friends and family going in for a vaginal birth and it going quite pear shaped and emergency situations occurring, often after many many (24+ hours) of labour. I did not want that for myself and so I chose the known risk. I have also heard positive vaginal birth stories but it simply isn’t something I can connect with or feel I need for my birth story.
There’s a misconception that NO ONE wants an abdominal birth. That it’s the medical profession who is forcing it on women so that they can have a neat little schedule and know when the births are happening. This is not true of ALL doctors or ALL hospitals. It might seem the case for some, but it is certainly not the case for all scenarios. And as above, it is still viewed by many as “unnatural” when in actual fact, abdominal births have had to happen for centuries – there are just a lot better procedures around them now as medicine has advanced.
My medical professionals have not once forced me or tried to impose on me what I should or shouldn’t do. I went to them with what I wanted and they supported my decision. I’ve heard of a few other friends who had positive stories such as this too.
There are going to be good and bad cases on either side. There will be wonderful births that went close to or just as the mother wanted, but there may also be many that aren’t what the mother wanted for her or her baby. Birth is SO unpredictable and this isn’t really talked about enough. A birth plan is a guide. A wish list. And the way it happens – well that’s when nature and the body take over and tell us how it’s going to happen, all we can do is manage best in the scenario.
I feel that we as women who are going to give birth should be free to speak up for what we want for our bodies and our babies and to choose whatever birth plan we feel is best for us – with the guidance and support of our medical professionals. But most importantly, free of judgement from our friends, family and the wider community.
So again, I choose to have an abdominal birth. It feels right for me and I cannot imagine having my child any other way. I feel supported and confident in my birth choice. And I wish the same for every other woman.