There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding this procedure – leading to misinformation and a lack of education that can cause confusion and anxiety for expectant parents — as if there wasn’t already enough of that happening! So let’s explore some of the most common myths about c-sections, while providing evidence-based information to help you make informed decisions about your childbirth options.
What exactly is a cesarean?
A cesarean or c-section (also known as a belly birth), is a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through incisions in your abdomen and uterus. Scheduled c-sections may be suggested if your baby is breech, you have placenta previa, you are expecting multiples, or you need a guaranteed delivery before you reach full-term gestation. Unscheduled cesarean sections are when there is a reason for imminent birth and it is necessary to have a surgical birth within the next few minutes to hours. For unscheduled cesareans, when babies are required to be born within minutes, there is a chance you will be put you under using general anesthesia, so that they can perform the surgery more quickly (this is very rare, and only done for specific reasons). Like any kind of birth, there can be a lot of fear and anxiety about pain, recovery, negative birth outcomes and long term effects, but we hope with the right education, tools and information you can feel confident in understanding your options and rights as a birthing person. Learn more about cesareans, what to expect, how to prepare, right after and support for your healing and after care here.
Now, let’s bust some of the most common myths about c-sections!
- Cesareans are easier than vaginal births. No! C-sections are not the “easy way out”! They are major abdominal surgeries that many families consider to great extent. With the understanding that all births are impactful and require careful preparation and recovery, with the potential for long-term health impacts for both the parent and the baby.
- It’s unsafe or discouraged to deliver vaginally after having a cesarean. No. VBACs (vaginal birth after cesareans) can be a safe and viable option for many folks who have had a previous c-section. If you are considering a VBAC, be sure to prepare with your care provider and know that you will likely be monitored and consideration will be based on individual risk factors. Talk to your healthcare providers to decide what’s right for you, and remember that doulas can be a great addition to your team – to further support you and your care team in achieving your birth goals!
- You won’t be able to have skin-to-skin contact after your baby is born. No — you can! While skin-to-skin contact may not be possible immediately after the delivery, it is still an important bonding experience that can be facilitated as soon as possible. Many hospitals now encourage skin-to-skin contact between the parent(s) and baby(ies) as soon as it is safe and practical to do so. This can help promote nursing, regulate your baby’s temperature and heart rate, and support your emotional bond.
- Cesareans reduce the risk of pelvic prolapse. No, unfortunately, c-sections do not prevent pelvic floor damage or prolapse, and in some cases, they can increase the risk of pelvic floor disorders, such as urinary incontinence. If you can, see a pelvic floor physio before and after your birth for support!
- You don’t have as much bleeding post birth, after a cesarean. No! People who give birth via belly births will also experience their lochia (which is a pelvic discharge that typically occurs after childbirth). Lochia consists of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue and lasts for several weeks after delivery. The amount and duration of lochia can vary depending on individual factors, such as the type of delivery and activity levels during postpartum healing.
- You cannot nurse if you’ve had a c-section, or it will be much harder. Nope. Nursing and lactation after a surgical birth is entirely possible, and there is no evidence to suggest that c-sections have a negative impact on the success of your lactation and baby feeding journey.. There are many ways you can promote lactation, like practising antenatal hand expression ahead of your surgery.
- You don’t need a doula or a birth plan if you have a c-section. Nope! Hiring a doula for a c-section can provide emotional, logistical and physical support during your surgery and recovery period. A doula can help ease anxiety and fears, advocate for your needs and preferences, help facilitate communication with your healthcare team, and provide ongoing support during the postpartum period.
- Cesareans aren’t “real” or “natural” births. Um, nope! Regardless of the way your baby was brought into this world, it was a birth. Many folks who end up having c-sections are made to feel as though it happened to them, whereas a vaginal birth is an accomplishment. This is a gentle reminder that all births are real births.