Have you seen my perineum?

I belong to a forum that generally chats about mommy related issues.  Sometimes they speak about driver’s licences and domestic workers wages, but that no doubt, is another story for another day.

The one very contentious subject which keeps coming up is the vaginal birth versus a c-section birth.  This one gets the guns smoking in no time.

No matter how the question is posed, or the reason for the start of the thread – and there are literally dozens –  it always ends up the same way.  Someone says something stupid, and then someone wants to give them a cyber-space bitch slap.

The conclusion that always seems to be formed is that c-section moms are judged for having c-sections – no matter how subtle the judgement.  I am not an overly sensitive person and I to tend to tread where angels fear to go and all that, but I have noted that the more threads I read, the more apparent this feeling.

The reason for why you have chosen a c-section is always prodded, like there is something wrong with you and you need to defend yourself.

The c-section moms often explain the trauma of the birth process that they have been through.  The risk to the baby.  They make it clear, that they did not choose this route, but ended up having to have an emergency c-section.  Usually they are bashfully apologizing “I tried natural but ….” I can almost hear the desperation in their voices.  Pleading not to be shunned by the vaginal-birth crowd.

There are a minority – at last count two – but no doubt more who just have not commented who elected to have a c-section.

We have no history of complications.  We chose not to go through a trial of labour.  We consciously elected to have c-sections as our choice of birth method.

It was not chosen because we are “too posh to push” – it was chosen as a healthy method of bringing our baby into the world – alive – without limited (if any) risk to him or her.

At 8 weeks pregnant – first scan, I looked at my OBGYN and said “I’d like to have a c-section.” He said “okey-dokey” or something of that nature, and that was the end of the conversation.

I felt no pressure to defend my choice with him, and the choice felt very natural to me.   We had the birth date set, and then the questions (almost accusations) started.

Some of my family thought there was something wrong with me.  Why would  I choose to have such a hideous invasive surgery done when I had a healthy v-jay just waiting to spring into action.

I felt quite strongly that for me, this was the safest route.  The only risk I could ascertain would be carried by me – the mom.  My baby – barring other complications – would come out of the birth process, pretty much risk free, subject to the correct EDD calculation (early c-sections clearly have their problems, but that is another subject).

I had Connor more than 8 years ago, and then I knew very few people who had experienced a c-section through choice – most were emergency or medically advised.

I had researched the topic and weighed up the pro’s and con’s of a vaginal birth versus a c-section.   I was open to either at the beginning of my research.

As I looked and delved in to the subject, the decision to opt for a c-section had fewer risks for my child.  There was also a good chance that my perineum would continue to separate my wee area from my poo area for eternity – which a vaginal birth could not guarantee, and listed as a possibly complication.

I had unfortunately read one too many reports of women who were experiencing serious problems in their nether regions following a vaginal births.  I realized that it was not everyone, but there was a risk of trauma to my perineum tearing which did fill me with a bit of concern.  Sure there are good tears – aren’t there always, but it was the bad ones that did raise my eyebrow a bit!  Again, nothing could be guaranteed it was more wait and see decision making.

One of the main motivators for my final decision was the control aspect – the one that tipped the scales shall we say.  I knew where it was going to be, I knew who would be there, I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen on that day.

The option with a vaginal birth is that there were a lot of “let’s wait and see how it goes” answers to my queries.  Not having a list to tick off causes me huge anxiety, and stress.  I need a list and I need a pretty ink pen to tick things off – that is the way I am programmed.

As time has gone by and I have gone through the process three times, the feeling of “attack” by the vaginal birth crowd is becoming more apparent.  There really is a feeling of two camps on this issue.  You are either for the one and against the other.  There does not seem to be much in the way of fence-sitting on this subject.

Things started to bother me – as I became a little more jaded and maybe a little crabbier, and maybe a little more inclined not to suffer fools.

Vaginal birth was always referred to as “natural” while c-section was well, just a c-section.   By one being natural, surely it would make the other “unnatural” …

The vaginal set seemed to laud the fact that they did not take drugs for the pain or preferred not to take any pain relief. They were really proud of it, and sort of announced it to all and sundry, like a Girl Guide equivalent of pain endurance.

I have yet to hear a vaginal birth mom say “listen it was so much fun, no pain, it was brilliant – my fanny feels great after that!

At the end of the day they do admit that squeezing a +3 kilogram mass out  of your v-jay-jay, no matter how cute the mass is, can get pretty sore.  Even once the endorphins have worked their way out of your system, it is still pretty sore.

The labour preceding the actual pushing seems to be excruciating too, and I have seen many women lose thier sense of humour during the 12 – 36 hours of gritting thier teeth through that.  They are always quick to say “it was all worth it.”

So why no drugs? And why is it a badge of honour to not take drugs or some pain relief?

There are a lot of things which are “natural” which are not good for you.  Naturally occurring elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium are toxic in various concentrations to both plants and animals.   No one seems to have a problem with avoiding those at all costs even though they are natural.

As humans there is stuff that happens to our bodies that are natural – teeth rot, we lose vision, we develop a bit of Alzheimer’s, we might even develop a bit of leprosy or gangrene if left out in the Amazon for too long.  Rabies is pretty natural too last time I checked.

Medical advances has given us some wonderful options to prevent us going through all this rather excruciating trauma.  Either taking anti-biotics (not natural) or having operations (not natural) to relieve us of this pain, or even to make our lives better seems to be the way to go, judging by the amount of time we spend at doctor’s offices.

And here is the rub for me …..

We do let medicine intervene in lots of things that make us feel better, or reduce our pain.  But why – oh why – do women insists on going through child birth, which no one disagrees is really painful, without medication, and then announce it like it is a badge of honour that they let their fanny stretch to all time size without asking for pain relief!

If that same women went to the dentist and had a filling or root canal work done and opted to not have medication and then proudly announced it afterwards.  Her family and all her friends would view her as a freak and have her committed to the nearest psychological observation clinic post-haste.

But all this birth and no drugs viewed as natural – puts all this pressure on soon to be moms to think that this is what they must aim for, anything less is well just not good enough.

I realize I am not being as eloquent as I should regarding this subject, but it is one of those things that baffles my mind, so I am just having a little vent here.

But tune in later as no doubt I will have a similar vent at a later date.

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25 Comments

  1. One comment…goes in as a cucumber comes out a pineapple! Viva caesar VIVA!

    Reply
  2. Tammy

     /  May 11, 2010

    I am a fence-sitter on this one. (Yes we exist!) So much of a fence-sitter, in fact, that when offered the choice of an elective caesar or induced vaginal birth I spent three days crying hysterically on the phone to anyone who would listen trying to find a solid reason to go with one option over the other. I didn’t care how, I just wanted it out!

    In the end I did the (omigod-I-don’t-know-how-you-can-call-this) natural thing, albeit with much help from every weapon in the pain management arsenal. I figured that way I might have the opportunity to experience both methods… ;) Next time, hmmm, I’ll decide if/when I have to.

    Giving birth has zero to do with being a mom. Any adoptive mother could testify to that. Giving birth is about being a woman. And how YOU decide to do that is basically the same as how YOU decide to style your hair. Other people may not like it, but if it makes you smile when you look at yourself in the mirror then who cares?

    (BTW: I’m new to your blog and I like it. A lot.)

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  May 13, 2010

      Thanks I do appreciate your input – I like this to be a topic that women can discuss and think about.

      Reply
  3. Sue

     /  April 28, 2010

    Save the beaver, have a caesar! I am SO getting one of those t-shirts! Oh my gosh but that was funny. And yes I did squirt my mouthful of tea out of my nostrils when I read that!

    Reply
  4. Jana

     /  April 26, 2010

    I am one of those women who stretched her vagina while holding my baby saying how wonderful it all was when I did not (get) drugs but clearly needed it.
    I always wanted to go the “natural” route. I don’t know why but I was dead-set against a ceaser.

    I’m with Mum’s Love on this one. I had a vacuum delivery with no drugs. I still felt like a huge failure for not being able to push the baby out myself.

    Why did I have to put myself through the horrific pain I honestly don’t know. It’s like an animal urge. :-) The worst part is, I want to do it all over again!

    Reply
  5. Kirst

     /  April 14, 2010

    I’m about 6 months pregnant, first child, and very keen on a caeser.

    I’ve been a bit worried about my decision, not wanting to be judged, but this weekend I was chatting to my sister’s friend, who happens to be a doctor. She told me that there’s no other choice for her – she is going for caeser. And so is every other female doctor she knows. It’s apparently basically a given in the medical community.

    It made me feel a lot better. I would rather trust a doctor’s professional opinion over someone who just has a personal feeling one way or the other.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 15, 2010

      I tend to also chat to my doctors like I know them and I have been to their homes for dinner – which I have not. They do not volunteer the information, but when you really starting talking to them, and they are being honest, they do tend to opt for a c-section as a given. I must respect that there are other women who may be wid-wives who would only consider a v-birth, and no doubt they have their reasons, but at the end of the day I am looking for the the least pain, the less chance of a complication and a healthy baby – when I weigh up those issues my choice was clear.

      I think the only issue which becomes subjective is the pain – some women cope really well with c-sections – especially if you are younger, fitter and this is your first child. So you heal quicker, the longer you are in the tooth and the less fit you are does make the healing from a c-section a challenge, especially when you have little imps at home already and arrive with a new one.

      But good luck and congratulations on your pregnancy – I hope my horror stories do not scare you too much.

      Reply
  6. Mandy

     /  April 14, 2010

    This is such a sensitive subject and really shouldn’t be. As women, we are given the gift of having the body to carry your child until birth…and when that day happens, the most important thing is that it is a healthy little bambi with 10 fingers and toes. That’s what everyone wishes for. I think we all need a “Hero” award for ourselves no matter if we had a c/s or VB. I have had to have 2 c/sections and I have the 2 most healthiest little angels today who would have turned out exactly the same if VB. Hey man, whatever, think of the baby and the bigger picture. People should leave one sided bitter comments out of social sites like this.

    Reply
  7. ttcnot2easy

     /  April 14, 2010

    My personal feeling on the judgement that is passed on those making the decision to do an elective caeser is archaic! My MIL feels strongly AGAINST elective caesers, and I can honestly say that I am now grateful from that point of view that I may never have to cross this bridge with her. At the end of the day – it’s completely YOUR decision. Their bum!

    Reply
  8. It sucks that anyone is judged for anything. But that’s the world for you! I knew, right from the word go, that I’d be having a caesar. My motto, from years before even being pregnant, was, “Save the beaver, have a caesar!” I am proud of the decision I made. My baby boy is perfectly healthy and beautiful, I breastfed successfully and enjoyably for 6 months, I did not suffer from PND … AND my va-jay-jay remains perfectly in tact and pretty. Viva caesar, VIVA!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 13, 2010

      “Save the beaver, have a caesar!”
      Oh my goodness, that must get put on a t-shirt soon!!

      Reply
  9. The friend that made you do this..

     /  April 12, 2010

    I can’t think of a single 10 year old that has a badge on their forehead saying “I was born by c-section” or “I’m a V-birth baby”. Come to think of it I haven’t seen a single baby that has “I was breastfed” or “I was a bottle-baby” tatooed on their foreheads either but that’s another whole can of worms… try explaining that you elected to bottle-feed your baby. So much of my feelings of inadequacy as a mother came from my PEERS, other women. Why do we do this to each other?? I must really be the bottom of the food chain… c-sections AND bottle-feeding. You’d never say so if you see the two wonderful, intelligent, funny kids I have….

    Reply
    • Hilary

       /  April 13, 2010

      That is the saddest thing. The fact that it is other women that cause you to feel like you took the easy way out. What kind of person gets joy out of making someone else feel like crap? Just thinking now, I wonder if men even have a clue about this ‘silent war’ between mothers. They probably wouldnt give a toss either way as long as the kid’s there with 10 fingers and 10 toes.

      Reply
      • Kennith

         /  April 13, 2010

        Absolutely, guys do not feel strongly one way or the other, and the benefit of a planned c-section is that you can still schedule your game of golf for the afternoon…

        Reply
        • reluctantmom

           /  April 13, 2010

          And some people should be banned from making comments on my blog

          Reply
  10. I left those mommy forums because of issues like this!

    I had both kids elective caesar – I just wasnt prepared to suffer for hours!

    Reply
  11. mums-love

     /  April 12, 2010

    hi Reluctant Mom. I think a lot of women would agree with the previous poster about being ‘woman enough’. I think deep down inside all of us we would like to experience a vaginal birth but all the ‘horror’ stories some ladies tell cause fear and all sorts. I dont believe anyone should do anything out of fear. That goes said for both sides. But whatever decision one makes should go unjudged. Whether viginal or c-section – both needs recovery and healing. I think the focus should be towards the healthy baby at the end of the day and not on ‘how’. – i had an assisted (vacuum) vaginal birth (the fact that it was ‘assisted’ at first made me feel not as ‘strong’ as other women who went 100% vaginal with no pain relief) and it wasnt the worst experience ever – if anything im just glad me and baby are well and healthy. But i do strive to have a naturally pain-free tear-free unassisted vaginal birth in the future. :) im a very optimistic person :)

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 13, 2010

      Thanks Natalie for sharing your story. I am fine with women exercising choice, my issue is more that there is this peer pressure to be “enough of a women” that really irks me. It is there, and for me it was not much of an issue, but there are tons of women who feel quietly bullied in to it, because they need to measure up, and that is really wants get my goat and my giraffe!

      Reply
  12. I stay away from those forums, most of the time, because believe me, things get bitchy way too soon to my liking.

    I had two C-sections – it was not my first choice. The first time around, I thought it would be a good experience – but I wanted all the drugs possible, natural labour. She was lying so wrong, and I was sick, that there really was no option. Once I reasoned that one out, I settled for the nice planning of a c section.

    The second time around I wanted V bac – not because of some honour thing, but because I hated how sore and useless I was after the previous C section. I reckoned one day of pain VS 3 weeks was a bargain. With twins, it was not to be.

    And you know what – it does not make me any less of a mom. Hec, you choose what works for you, and what works for baby and the situation. That’s the bottom line. Your honour badges is raising your kids well, not how you birthed them. Many babies are born “naturally” and not raised well.

    Then I am hearing more and more of births going wrong, at home, in birth baths, with incense and chanting etc – and then baby is brain damaged. Sometimes I think the focus is moving too much to what mommy achieves than the safety of the baby.

    Reply
  13. Nicky

     /  April 12, 2010

    I’ve commented on this very thing, on this very blog once before. Having a child come out of your stomache(one that you’ve “naturally” fed and nurtured and protected in there) is natural, regardless of how it got out. I always get alot of flak for having a C-section, and for months afterwards, I felt like I had “failed somehow”. Let it be known that I had a 4 kilo baby in a (formerly) 49 kilo frame, and had already gained nearly 30 kilos at 36 weeks, plus developed high blood pressure, just for added drama. My doctor suggested we do a C-section to get that baby out, because he felt that an induction would be traumatic for all involved, and most probably end in C-section anyway. And at that point ( when I could barely get off a bed without assitance) I had to say “yes please”.

    People of course dont know all this- they only assume that I did this because I was not strong enough, or (for the more “pro-natural” ones out there) too “selfish”. Selfish my ass.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 12, 2010

      For some reason I just was feeling quite worked up about this subject – if I read one more thread about these women and thier stretched bleeding vaginas while they were lying thier holding thier babies saying how wonderful it all was because they did not ask for drugs (when clearly they needed it) I thought I was going to scream. So I thought I would vent on my blog instead!

      Reply
  14. Hilary

     /  April 12, 2010

    I had my son in March 2008 via emergency c-section. I have to agree that there is a huge stigma, especially on the forum, when it comes to this topic. Women are made to feel that they’re ‘woman’ enough to have had a baby the way God intended. I’ve heard my own mother make commments (years ago) that you’re not a real woman until you’ve had the experience of vaginal birth. Imagine my horror when 1 week over my due date my doctor mentioned the ‘C’ word. I cried my eyes out and felt an immediate sense of panic. I had not prepared myself emotionally and was really upset at the mere thought of not having a VB. I tried everything to induce labour, floor mopping, etc. When I eventually went in to hospital with labour pains I was still praying that I’ll go ‘natural’ until they did a scan and told me that baby was in distress and I had to make the decision based on baby’s safety. 2yrs+ down the line and TTC no.2 I’m still, yet again, hoping that I can have a VB. I suppose, sadly, there’s still a little part of me that believe my mother’s words.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  April 12, 2010

      Hilary, thanks so much for your honesty and sharing your story. With my 2nd pregnancy I was not in a good head-space and got caught up in so much that just added more stress to me. I was about 20 weeks along and suddenly wanted a midwife, and a home birth and a VBAC and I might have even suggested a pool in my lounge. Somehow I panicked and started feeling all this social pressure that if this baby did not come out my v-jay-jay then I had failed. The entire experience was harrowing and traumatic. Fortunately – kind of – I was just so sock during my pregnancy that eventually Kennith stepped in and asked the OBGYN if we changed our mind, coudl we please just do a c-section. I was so ill, I did not even go home, I went straight upstairs from the practice to the hospital, and they took Georgia out about 5 hours later. But at the time, I felt such an overriding pressure that I must have a v-birth, even though the consequences were possibly going to be not-so-good. So really, if anyone knows the feeling of pressure, it is me, so I totally understand how you must feel. Good luck which ever way YOU decide to go.

      Reply

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