Myths about caesareans

Evie and Lola, both c-section babies

So, the ever controversial subject of caesareans is in the papers again. This time, refreshingly, it has nothing to do with Victoria Beckham and her latest offspring but the fact the NHS are cutting down on ‘unnecessary’ c-sections to save cash. Oh how the knives are out again for those women who have the cheek to choose a caesarean. Yes it's those pesky elective ones that are apparently draining the NHS millions a year (a planned c-section cost the NHS £2,600 while an uncomplicated vaginal birth £1,200). As a mummy to two beautiful daughters born by elective caesarean this made my heart sink. Frankly I am frightened for all the thousands of women who may not be able to choose a c-section over the next few years.

For a start the NHS is not in the habit of dishing out c-sections willy nilly. Of all the thousands of women who have a caesarean on the NHS each year (they currently account for nearly one quarter of births in the UK) the majority are for health reasons, in order to preserve the life of mother or baby or both whether elective (planned) or emergency. If there is any short fall maybe, just maybe, it is to do with the shortage of midwives and lack of support and expertise during labour. Add to that the fact that women are having babies later, babies are getting bigger and obesity levels are rising and you can see why c-section rates are going up. Interestingly in Holland where ante and post natal care and midwifery is incredible, 80 per cent of women are able to have home births.

Personally, I think casareans are amazing. If only people would stop looking down their noses at c-sections and the women who have them. No wonder some of us are made to feel guilty and inadequate. At worst women can feel like failures, particularly after a traumatic emergency c-section. That's why elective sections are so important; the woman feels in control and is less likely to feel negatively afterwards. My first baby was breech for the entire pregnancy. I have a funny heart-shaped womb (bicornuate uterus) and so it was difficult for baby to change position. Booking my elective c-section at 37 weeks was a highly positive, exciting experience and I was shocked when other women asked if I felt disappointed or cheated in any way. Why would I be when, as my fantastic, straight  talking doctor pointed out if I didn't have one me and the baby 'would probably die!' I was able to read-up on the procedure and plan it all and I was determined to make my birth experience as positive and joyful as I could.

When the day came on 18th May 2009, I was calm and excited about meeting my baby. The caesarean was – shock horror - a wonderful experience. (Kat at Housewife Confidential blog wrote a great piece on joyful c-sections earlier in the year). I was lucky to be in the hands of a brilliant team at UCLH in the new Elizabeth Garrett maternity wing. Seeing Evie peering down at me with her mouth suckling for milk as if to say, where’s my lunch, was the most incredible moment of my life. The feeling of euphoria is hard to describe. In recovery half an hour later, my little pink ball of baby latched on immediately and barely stopped breastfeeding for the next 18 months! That was already two myths about c-sections out the window in a flash; I’d read numerous times that you ‘may have trouble bonding with your baby’ and they ‘may have problems latching on’ (luckily a load of codswallop in my case).

When I fell pregnant with my second daughter, I was in no doubt that I wanted another c-section.  I carried Lola in almost exactly the same position – her head right up by my ribs and my bump and funny uneven shape that perplexed the midwives every time I had a check up. At both scans it took the sonographer over one hour to get all the required measurements because she was in such a odd ( I like to think eccentric) position. When at 37 weeks she was still breech, much to my relief I was able to book an elective caesarean again. It meant I could plan everything and start looking forward to the big day as well as get the family organised to look after my toddler Evie. I felt empowered.

And so the day came and as I was wheeled into theatre they scanned me to find that Lola had rather miraculously turned into the head down position. The consultant asked me to consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). I was in no doubt that I wanted to still go through with an elective caesarean. For one I hadn’t planned for a natural birth. Deep down I knew a c-section would be the least traumatic and most positive birth experience for us. I was well aware that trying for a VBAC isn’t as straight forward as it sounds (there’s an increased risk of a ruptured uterus for a start). We were psyched up for the birth of our little buba, my husband had booked two weeks off work and my brother had booked the day off to help my mum look after Evie. But above all else I just wanted a caesarean. So shoot me. It was my choice. It was how I wanted my daughter to be brought into the world. I am so grateful I had this option.

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

For up to date information on c-sections see the Caesarean Debate blog

Lola latching on shortly after being born on July 22

Joy after Lola's birth. Attractive head gear, eh?

Common myths

You won't bond with your baby - of the many women I know who have given birth by c-section all of them have bonded with their babies.

That they are the easy option - no they are not! It’s major surgery and just sitting up in bed and holding baby for the week after is painful. Add a toddler into the equation and it's even more tricky.

Baby won't latch on – I would love to see concrete stats for this (bet they don’t exists). Most of the women I know who have had c-section have had no problems latching on. Women who give birth vaginally also have problems with breastfeeding and bonding.

Too posh to push – oh what rubbish! Most women have caesareans because they are crucial in ensuring the health – or life - of mother or baby or both.

You won't get the rush of oxytocin you get if you give birth naturally. Really? So the overwhelming flood on love a c-section mummy feels when she clutches her babe for the first time is something else, right?

Baby will be traumatised – what tosh. Both my girls came out in a beautiful, peaceful way.

Feelings of failure/disappointment – it is so sad that some women feel like this, no doubt not helped by other judgemental people. If you view a c-section as the incredible, life-giving operation it really is then you will only feel fulfilment and joy.


  1. NICE post Maggie!
    I had one emergency c-section and one that was planned.
    And I am not feeling I missed out on sth etc... I am just happy my kids are healthy and me too (of course), both were and are happy breastfeeders and bonding was NO problem at all :)

    But I know and heard this nonsense as well, I just dont care I have to say... and I think being comfortable is more important than anything else.

    I am surprised they want to cut back the c-sections to save money because usually they say that c-sections are getting more and more popular because they SAVE money... shorter delievery process than natural births!

    And... about Holland and being pregnant and giving birth here...another BIG topic... another time maybe!:)

    Cute pictures btw... enjoy your girls, they are perfect!

  2. Wonderful post Maggie! After my emergency c-section people often assumed the post-natal issues I had arose from the c-section. But I can wholeheartedly say that they arose from issues that occured during the labour, rather than the c-section, which I found to be the most relaxed and joyous experience of the whole day! And now that the decision has been made that number two will be an elective c-section, I am looking forward to welcoming her into the world, rather than facing the prospect with fear.

  3. Wonderful post. My c-sections were all under medical advice, they may well say they need to cut back but the action needs to happen further back in the process with midwifery and labour care.

    So glad Miss Lola arrived in a calm, happy environment, safely!

    Thank you for linking to me x

  4. Thanks for the comments. It's so interesting to hear other women's experiences. I had tons of positive feedback on Twitter too so it's obviously a very emotive subject. Good luck Rachael, will be thinking of you come October! X

  5. Great positive post Maggie. My best friend had 2 c sections - the first was an emergency section and she still feels bad about them to this day. In my opinion as long as mother and baby are both healthy and happy it doesn't really matter how the arrive into the world.

    I think it gets forgotten that in other countries where no c sections are available women and their babies die everyday.

    I am sure there are many other ways for the NHS to save money but then women and children's health is always an easy target.

    Congratulations on your new arrival. She is beautiful.

  6. Thank you for this post... I get so frustrated with the endless coverage of the high c-section rate... I feel like most of these articles are written by childless 20somethings... My first c-section was an emergency and without it, my daughter would have died... My second c-section was scheduled because my doctor was concerned about the risks associated with a VBAC... I have NEVER met a single woman who elected to have a c-section for any sort of non-medical reason...

    Our infant mortality rate is low precisely because medicine has made such strides in the past few decades... We are quite lucky to live in a society where the health and safety of both mother and child are hardly at risk these days..

    I never had a moment of difficulty bonding with either of my daughters and I'd never heard of the latching on problem.. I was one of the few of my friends who didn't need a lactation consultant after my first child... Both of my daughters exclusively nursed for over a year and actually refused bottles...

    Thank you again for this post and congratulations on your beautiful babies!

  7. 23 years ago I was born a c-section baby. I remember how bad my mom felt that I was a c-section because she had this idea of what my birth would be. I never felt bad because I was born a healthy, non oxygen deprived, fully intact baby which wouldn't have been the case had I been born vaginally.