Approximately one in three babies in Australia are born via caesarian section. Whether planned or emergency, an overwhelming number of women give birth this way, and yet many of us have no idea what it feels like or what the experience entails.
While the rate of caesarian births has steadily increased in the last few decades, the current zeitgeist seems focused on the idea of a c-section being the ‘easy way out’ of labour and childbirth. If you didn’t birth a baby from your vagina – did you really give birth at all?
Of course, surgical births are anything but ‘easy’. Having major abdominal surgery brings with it a unique set of risks, and an extended recovery period. The decision to deliver via c-section is often based on signs that indicate a vaginal birth will be risky to the health of the mother or baby – signs like the baby being in a breech position, being very large, or not moving down the birth canal. The priority then, is far more about ensuring a safe and positive birth experience than anything else.
As someone who’s never given birth, I cannot fathom that there is an ‘easy’ way to get a real, human baby out of your body and into the world. So I asked five women to share what it really feels like to have a c-section, and their stories were astounding:
“It feels like nothing I’ve ever felt before – like stomach muscles are missing from where they should be.” – Amelia*
“I had an emergency c-section about three weeks ago. The process was daunting, especially preparing for a natural birth and getting to 9.5 cm dilated and the doctor telling you an emergency c-section was needed.