Warrior Woman Births: Caesarian vs Vaginal

March 29, 2016

Facebook loves a good birth announcement.

“So-and-so is proud to announce the arrival of little Baby Fontleroy, weighing 10lbs 6oz, delivered naturally with only gas an air!! What a warrior Woman Wife is! Mum and baby doing well“

I see it all the time. All. The. Time.

And it’s lovely, it really is, because babies are lovely. I love babies. I’d have sixty babies if my boobs were still pointing upwards by number sixty (as it is, they wouldn’t, so we’ll see).

It does irk me sometimes, though, that women who give birth in a certain way seem to be hailed above others.

Let me break it down. 

There always comes a time in a pregnancy when you suddenly start to think about birth in very real terms. It’s like, holy moly, I’ve done the part where I create the life and grow it and feel it kicking and ooh isn’t this lovely. But now this life has to somehow be pushed out of my body, and that’s an effing terrifying thought.

The scary thoughts begin with scientific fact: the exit route for this baby is very very small, and it’s common knowledge how newborn’s head is. We’ve all seen the crowning scene in Knocked Up, exit routes have to stretch, stretching can be painful. Sometimes a super sized tampon looks big to me, so comparing that to a human-sized head is quite frightening.

I can’t tell you how many times I crossed my legs in my last trimester at the thought of the size of what was about to be forcibly ejected from my body.

9 months pregnant

But if, for some reason, baby can’t come out of their normal escape route, another one must be created. And this isn’t the easy option, either: it involves a really sharp knife cutting through your belly, fat, muscle tissue and uterus until the child is freed.

That also sounds pretty ouchy, right boys?

I have so much respect for women who give birth vaginally without painkillers, I really do.

When I was pregnant with Elfie back in 2010 the vaginal birth was my dream; I read everything I could about hypnobirthing, I bought a TENS machine, I practiced breathing, I changed my pain thought process.

And I was absolutely gutted when I had to give birth via a c-section: she was a dangerous kind of breech so I was to have her a week earlier than her due date, to make sure I didn’t go into labour myself.

I readily agreed with terrifying premonitions of feet falling out of my vagina in the most awkward of places – Tesco, the train station, queuing at the post office. But not before having a failed attempt at turning her (acupuncture: I fainted).

Her caesarian was lovely but yeah, I was sad I didn’t get to be the woman warrior on Facebook, the model of bravery in birth. I had a chip on my shoulder that her arrival into the world was not ‘natural’ enough.

9 months pregnant

I thought about the Facebook announcement that was a bit too gruesome:

“Elfreda has arrived, weighing 6lbs 8oz, delivered via mum being cut open hip-to-hip and belly to back following a massive needle to the spine! What a warrior! Now begins 6 weeks of tough recuperation! Let’s hope her stomach muscles aren’t permanently damaged! Wooh! Never seen strength like it!”

Yes, I wasn’t the woman warrior in the most traditional sense of the word, but hadn’t I proved my pain threshold credentials in other ways?

I felt like I’d let myself and my baby down. Like I wasn’t as good as the women who got to have so-called “natural” births.

I tried again for a vaginal birth with Hux. But after four days in early labour – FOUR – I conceded and had another section.

newborn baby

Bollocks to that, I thought. No ‘warrior woman’ Facebook update is worth that much pain.

But after years of reflection I’ve come to the happy conclusion that all of us, each and every woman who pushes a baby out of her body, whether it’s through the sunroof or out of the vagina, we’re all warriors.  Don’t believe me? I’m telling you: I saw the reflection of my caesarian in my ex-husbands glasses, and it was not a pretty sight.

Birth is a huge big trauma to your body, no matter how we do it. Whether the baby is born in water, needs a bit of help with suction, is gently (ahem) assisted by a pair of massive forceps, is peacefully born in a planned c-section or not-so peacefully in an emergency. WE REMOVE A WHOLE CHILD FROM OUR BODY. Sometimes two children. Or three, or four.

It’s an incredibly humbling and beautiful experience, however we do it.

And you know what? The first caesarian sections were thought to have been performed back in 1500s, which makes it seem pretty natural to me.

All hail the birthing mother, whether you’re left with an abdominal scar or episiotomy. We’re warriors, the lot of us. And don’t let Facebook tell you any different.


You Might Also Like

  • Reply Alice March 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I’m not a mum, so I can’t claim to know anything about this, but I just wanted to let you know, I really bloody loved this post. All mama’s are warriors and deserving of all of the glory and I’m glad you’re shouting about that! X

    • Reply alice March 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Ahh thank you very much Alice! x

  • Reply Susan March 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    Ah yes the ole medals of glory that are bestowed upon us when we enter motherhood, only of delivered naturally, of course. I’m just relieved when I hear both baby and mum have made it through the ordeal relatively ok!
    I’ve always felt it was the women who suffered the most, yet survived that deserved the glory of being a warrior. Surely? My friend just about sneezed and popped her baby out, minus any drugs , yay all delivered naturally. I on the other hand went for full on medical emergency! I had to have a caesarean to deliver my 10 week premature baby safely as my life was in danger due to severe pre eclampsia. ( I wasn’t allowed to labour, body wouldn’t cope )therefore I feel like I’m a warrior and so are the medical team that saved two lives, and so is my friend who delivered naturally. Amazing anyone survives childbirth really!!

    • Reply alice March 29, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      See, I always thought when I was young that by the time I grew up there’d be some marvellous medical intervention that would mean I could sneeze and my baby would pop out. Why has this not happened yet?!

      Pre-eclampsia is bloody scary, thank goodness you got through that in one piece. You’re most definitely a warrior. x

  • Reply Beth March 29, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    “I didn’t even need gas and air”, in THAT tone, with THAT smug face, with THAT judgemental I know you did look. Let’s just all be grateful that we both survived labour and birth and look after ourselves and our babies and our friends who’ve all just grown a baby and brought new life into the world shall we? Couldn’t agree more with your post. Xx

    • Reply alice March 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Ahh I love you for saying that Beth! x

  • Reply EB March 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I had a c section (after 48 hours of labour) and I’m thoroughly pleased about that, with hindsight. I’ve heard about lots and lots (amongst my friends and colleagues) of women waxing lyrical about their lovely, natural water birth that was such a quick, smooth delivery etc etc, with the whale music playing and the scented candles, only to then find out afterwards that they have suffered dreadful third and fourth degree tears which never truly, fully recovered and they are never able to look a trampoline in the eye again. I found the immediate recovery from my section to be absolute agony but after a few weeks I was as happy as Larry and very, very happy with the way things turned out – healthy, happy baby and a happy pelvic floor too! Birth can be brutal either way, but there’s no shame in not doing things the “natural” way (whatever that is supposed to mean)!

    • Reply alice March 29, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      I hear you! I can laugh, sneeze and trampoline knowing my knickers aren’t going to be wet afterwards. Yeah, my scar is always going to be there, but it’s a battle scar! C sections rock x

  • Reply Polly March 29, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Fab post Alice. Birth is birth, and we are all warriors…the thought of a c-section scared the jeebies outta me, def not an easy or lesser option.

    I might have had four vaginal births but I took all the gas and air I could get ;)

    • Reply alice April 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      You’re a warrior, Polly ;)

      I’d rather give birth again than have my eyebrows threaded!

  • Reply Sophie March 30, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I had an induction and epidural and sometimes I still feel bad that it wasn’t natural enough. But I still pushed a person out of my body! So I have to remind myself that I did something amazing. And having an epidural does not make for an easy birth! Love this post Alice. Thanks :)

    • Reply alice April 1, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      Thank you Sophie – and no, an epidural definitely does not make an easy birth! You absolutely did something amazing x

  • Reply Elisabeth March 30, 2016 at 10:34 am

    It doesn’t matter how the baby gets out it’s just that it DOES get out. It doesn’t matter. I had a painkiller free vaginal birth but whatever, we all gave birth, stupid society and it’s weirdness.

    • Reply alice April 1, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      It is weird – whether it’s out our hooter or our belly, having a person exit our body is just INCREDIBLE x

  • Reply MrsB @ Mind over Matter March 30, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I should have had a C-section with my second. 7 years on and I’m still traumatised by what went down with that ‘natural’ birth.

  • Reply Sarah Rooftops March 30, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I love this post. I see so many women beating themselves up because they don’t manage to do the “natural” thing be that conceiving easily, having a smooth pregnancy, a vaginal birth or breastfeeding – we are so, so, so lucky to live in a time and place where none of those things really matter, where there are alternatives and medical support. Ultimately, they’re just the run up. The impressive part is raising a child. It really doesn’t matter how that child was born.

    • Reply alice April 1, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      You’re so right. When it comes to modern motherhood it should totally be ‘each to their own’, as long as nobody’s getting harmed and is always being loved. x

  • Reply iraisa texier March 31, 2016 at 12:53 am

    oh! have you three children? or only two? hello I´m from Mexico!

  • Reply Amy March 31, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I am going to express my opinion on this subject, because like most women, this is a big subject, close to my heart as a mother/woman. Personally, I think that having to go through a C-section (whether by choice, or for the urgent need), is a frightful experience, let alone the extended recovery process too, yet it is still NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE! A C-section birth is far too complicated of a matter for me to have an opinion on, and I can only take my hat of to women who have been through this. I can only imagine, that one will inexplicably experience a little grief and disappointment that your birth happened this way rather than the way you may have hoped.

    I will confine my opinion to birthing via the vagina with and without pain medication only. So here goes…

    Birthing naturally, but with pain medications is a miracle. Birthing naturally without pain medication is also a miracle. However, it puzzles me hearing and reading women say that the woman who opted out of the pain has accomplished no less that the woman who endured the pain.

    I would liken childbirth to running a marathon for which the runners have built-up to for nine months. When the race begins, we all start from the same place and head in the same direction. Somewhere along the way, one of the runners faints next to the road, and another one gives up. They are then carried across the finish line, yet they receive the same medal as those who ran all the way. Yes, we have birthed a baby, and nothing can take away from the miracle that is a brand new life, yet the woman that endured the pain to the end HAS accomplished something else in her own body than that of the woman who was alleviated of the pain. Women who endured the pain of childbirth to the end, should be commended for it. We should stop taking that away from them…

    As women, we all know that we were aptly designed for childbirth, and even though the risks are higher for some, most of us are able to birth naturally. We must bear in mind that doctors consistently err on the side of the patient’s safety, so as to invariably allow for the all too natural measure of error, but this is an entirely new topic…

  • Reply Muddling Along April 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Just creating and carrying a baby makes a woman a warrior in my book – I don’t understand this obsession with one thing being better than another., Nobody signs up for major surgery, major trauma to your bits or bloodshot eyes from pushing – we’d all like it to be painfree and pleasant, preferably supported in a loving way but birth is rarely taht

    And yeah, I had 3 drug free home births so should be a poster child for that being the Best Way (and it was good but birthing the last on our own was so far outside our comfort zone and I’ve heard that there are drugs that can stop it being utterly terrifying painful and you know what I’d have liked those too and my husband not to be traumatised by the whole thing)

    • Reply alice April 6, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Yeah, we made a human from scratch! It’s literally the biggest miracle of them all!

      I always forget about the poor blokes. I think my ex will never forget seeing the inside of my abdomen ;) x

  • Reply Laura April 9, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Thank you for this. I had an emergency c section 11 weeks ago ( 12 days overdue, induced, only 4cm dilated after 13 hours of hard labour and then a back to back baby who needed out quickly!). I felt like a failure for not delivering my baby naturally.
    A “friend” commented on how nice it must have been to “not push”. The whole experience was awful. I had a postpartum haemorrhage in theatre and then a nasty wound infection for a month afterwards. BUT, I’m fine. The baby is fine. I’ve got a cool scar.
    C sections births are real, natural births too. Thanks for this article! xx

    • Reply alice April 9, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      Blimey Laura, what an experience! Glad you and baby are safe, hoorah for those scars eh? x

    Leave a Reply