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Whichever way you spin it, expelling a baby from your body is never easy. It’s a concept that pregnant women can get quite obsessed over: I know that in both my pregnancies, once I’d got over the surprise and elation of being pregnant, my over-riding emotion was one of bricking myself that I had to get an actual person out of me.
We all know there are two ways to experience the birthing process – the vaginal birth or the caesarian section. Generally the choice is not yours, a vaginal birth is always preferable with a caesarian advised when medically required.
Both of my births were caesarian sections. Elfie was a stubborn footling breech, a position considered dangerous for mother and baby with one of her legs dangling near to the entrance to my cervix. I was desperate for a natural birth and had consumed many tomes on the subject of peaceful hypnobirthing, so being told my consultant wouldn’t even consider an ECV (manually turning the baby to the required head-down position) was absolutely crushing. I tried everything to turn her myself: scrubbing the floor, acupuncture (I fainted), birthing balls, climbing the stairs on all fours.
But she was a stubborn little thing and was whipped out a week early while I was given nine cross-abdomen staples – ACTUAL METAL STAPLES – for the pleasure.
I was just as determined to birth Hux vaginally, and my consultant agreed to let me try a VBAC. GREAT! I thought, as I went into labour.
Four days (and nights) of contractions and one failure to progress later, I begrudgingly agreed to another C-section. I had stitches this time, but the scar was larger and thanks to the two babies I’ve now given birth to through the sunroof, my lower abdomen is a weird kind of numb. Plus I was told by my Consultant during the operation that I had a flabby uterus, which at first I thought was just a badly timed insult but it turns out it’s a condition that can be really quite dangerous.
On both occasions I was distraught to miss out on the births I’d so longed for. I felt disappointed in myself that my body had failed to do the one thing it was supposed to do: deliver my babies through the birth canal, a part of a woman’s body named for expediting babies out of the body.
And yet after two babies my birth canal lies dormant, dusty and cobwebby as if it’s decorated for Halloween.
Which is why I did a big eye roll when I saw Kate Hudson had told Cosmopolitan magazine that “Having a C-section” was the laziest thing she’d ever done.
— Tasha (@TashaMuise) September 11, 2017
The reaction was a bit crazy: half of the internet went wild, calling her out for citing major baby-producing abdominal surgery as being lazy. The other half said “chill! She just thinks it’s lazy that she had a c-section to avoid labour”.
I fall in the former camp.
I know so many women who deeply feel their c-section birthing experience was not what they expected or wanted, was not the Plan A for their child’s entry into the world. So often a caesarian is not the calm and peaceful experience that I was lucky enough to have (Elfie entered to the world to a Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack for goodness’ sake), but an emergent, rushed and scary process. It’s not unusual in this situation for a mother and baby’s life to be at risk, for haemorrhaging to be a possibility, for a painful and ugly scar to be the result.
So often mothers wish their c-section could have gone another way.
Having a c-section to side-step a difficult labour is an incredibly privileged decision to be able to make, whether for convenience or your health. But there’s nothing lazy about such serious abdominal surgery or the subsequent recovery.
A quick recuperation is key – nay, a necessity – when you’ve got a new baby. There’s no hanging out in bed watching box sets, having your meals brought to you with cups of tea.
I had my last caesarian section at 4pm, and at 6am the next morning I was woken by a nurse who hoisted me out of bed for a day’s sitting down in a cold hard NHS chair (she told me it would help…). I was breastfeeding, so every 2 hours I was lifting my 7lb son around, making he sure he got the milk he needed, slashed abdomen be damned.
My shoulders were full of painful gas thanks to the surgery, I’d had the discomfort of a catheter for the best part of a day, and thanks to a spinal block I hadn’t felt my legs for quite some time. Every time I laughed, coughed, sneezed or went to the loo I envisaged my guts spilling out of my wound (spoiler: they didn’t) and I had the indignity of both compression socks and a twice-daily bottom injection administered by my husband for the foreseeable future.
Despite not actually doing any pushing I’d ended up with piles and Hux’s legacy will always live on not just in my shark attack-esque surgery scar but in the shape of a rather bulging varicose vein that appeared behind my knee during labour and never left.
My husband returned to work the day I got home from hospital and so I was back to life as normal with a 1.5 year old, a newborn baby, and guts that may or may not have exploded from my tummy wound alien-style at any minute.
And that was before the chapped, bleeding nipples of breastfeeding began.
So no, I don’t think a c-section is ever a lazy choice. Even if it’s a decision you’re able to make just because, it could be described as convenient at a push but never LAZY.
Lazy is a Sunday spent in bed with the papers, sacking off the gym to eat carbs, summoning your kid to bring you your slippers because your feet are cold. Lazy is getting the lift up one flight because you can’t be bothered to take the stairs, it’s an able bodied person parking in a disabled car parking space, it’s watching the same TV channel all evening because you’ve lost the remote but don’t want to move.
A head emerging from your abdomen that’s been slashed from hip-to-hip? That’s not lazy, that’s badass. And anyone who says any different is wrong.