THERE’S new guidance about to be issued to the NHS which will allow all pregnant women to request a caesarean – even if they don’t ‘need’ one.
It appears that a growing number of first-time mothers think that having an elective ‘pre-booked’ caesarean – rather than having to have one on medical grounds – will help avoid the pain of natural childbirth and keep their figure.
I’ve been lucky enough not to need a caesarean having any of my babies (if I knew then what I know now, they’d ALL have been home-births).
Therefore maybe I’m not best placed to try to deter any new mums-to-be from thinking elective c-section is easier and safer. (But you know me, I’ll have a go).
Everyone I’ve known who has had to have a caesarean has said how frightening it was. After all, it’s a major operation.
You have to sign a consent form, and there are several people in the operating theatre, including surgeons, an anaesthetist, theatre staff, midwives and a paediatrician.
You’ll probably need a spinal injection; an epidural, and have your pubic area shaved for the incision. After experiencing the strange sensation of having someone rummaging around in your insides, you get to meet your baby.
More rummaging occurs as the placenta is removed and then your stomach has to be sewn up again, which, because it involves layers of muscle, fat and skin, can take around 40 minutes. The final layer is either stapled or stitched.
Either way, it’s a major, painful wound that will take several weeks to heal. For this reason most mums who have had to have a caesarean are kept in hospital longer than those who don’t. You will find it difficult to bend and lift, and will have to take painkillers for the first few weeks at least. You’ll still get the agonising ‘afterpains’ that come after all births as the uterus contracts and have to wear pads for bleeding. Did I mention that internal surgery also gives really bad wind?
You aren’t allowed to drive for six weeks after the operation, and if you do, your car insurance is likely to be invalid.
The World Health Organisation estimates that only ten per cent of women should be having c-sections yet in some areas of the UK it’s up to 30 per cent, notably in the ‘wealthier’ South East.
There’s a distinct difference between ‘too-posh-to-push’ and mothers who have experienced a very traumatic labour and have had to have an emergency c-section. These mums have some insight into whether a caesarean would be a better option, in consultation with their midwife, for any further births.
So why are so many first-timers so taken with the idea of caesareans? Is it really the image touted by the celebrity media?
Are we really now a generation refusing to even contemplate any pain, any inconvenience to our schedules, any changes to our body-shape by life experience?
How come women are so willing to undergo the surgeon’s knife and the associated pain and scarring of plastic surgery for their looks, yet not even contemplate at least trying give birth the way nature intended?