Around a quarter of births in the UK are via caesarean section. The discussion around cesarean birth is often very negative. However, caesarean births are often very positive experiences. Some people choose a caesarean birth; this is known as an elective caesarean. For other parents a ‘c-section’ was not their chosen birth, but can be necessary, even life saving. Whilst an emergency of any kind in pregnancy or birth is very frightening, good care from care providers that listen to you can mean even emergency caesarean births can be positive.
We wanted to share some stories and reasons people found their cesarean births positive. Neither Jen or I have had a cesarean section so we have reached out to our community to talk to people who have experienced positive care.
Ruth’s positive caesarean twin birth
Ruth had planned a vaginal birth for her twins but opted for an elective caesarean birth late in pregnancy.
Having experienced two very positive singleton births; spontaneous and fast labours, no pain relief and no interventions, delivering in a beautiful midwife led birth centre; I was desperate to have the same experience giving birth to my twins.
Unfortunately their specific positioning relative to each other and to my cervix at 38+4 weeks meant there was a far greater statistical risk of a seriously poor outcome from a vaginal birth compared to a caesarean birth. So, my informed decision was to give birth by elective caesarean. Despite being terrified of surgery It was the best choice for me. However, it was still an incredibly positive experience, the best possible birth for them given the circumstances.
The staff were all fantastic at discussing, explaining and reassuring me at every stage; all was calm, gentle and at a comfortable pace for me. Within 10 minutes of birth both babies were skin to skin and latched on to me, just as my singletons had been. I was especially pleased with the hours of uninterrupted skin to skin we got after birth, which is important for babies born via caesarean in terms of seeding their microbiome. Recovery for me was neither longer nor more painful than after my previous births, it just affected a different part of my body.”Ruth
Laura’s positive caesarean births: planned and emergency
Laura has had two cesarean births, one a planned elective section and one an emergency but views both as very positive experiences.
“My second baby was a planned c-section. To be honest, I was a mess emotionally after a traumatic birth and first month with my first. The caesarean birth allowed me to feel that we were limiting the risks of a repeat of the first experience. I know lots of people recommend hypnobirthing to get that vaginal non-traumatic delivery. I didn’t feel I was in a place to take that chance. None of the things I worried about happened with the planned section; my first caesarean birth was a really positive experience. We came home 2 days later. It was a wonderful happy birth that helped to heal old emotional wounds.
My third baby was an emergency caesarean birth at 33 weeks following heavy bleeding on and off from about 16 weeks. It had been a very tough few months. The last week I was in hospital and really it was a waiting game to see how long we could keep baby in. My caesarean birth happened when my baby became distressed and the bleeding got a lot worse. It doesn’t sound like a positive birth, but it really was.
The hospital staff were amazing; at no point did I feel I didn’t know what was happening or out of control. They talked me through everything and explained the possible outcomes. I felt informed, listened to and cared for, and most importantly that they were doing the upmost to deliver my baby safely. All this contributed to what could have been a horrible birth experience being a really positive one. I think being informed and supported made all the difference.”
Helen’s ‘gentle’ caesarean birth
Helen had an elective ‘gentle’ caesarean birth. Not all hospitals currently facilitate this but it is becoming more widely available.
“I had a “natural” caesarean birth, where I was able to have delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, music playing in the background and we were able to capture our daughters birth on video and camera. I also asked that my daughter be partially eased out. She came out the rest of the way by herself so it wasn’t such a shock to her! Her caesarean birth was a beautiful, positive experience, so relaxed and I’d thoroughly recommend.”Helen
What makes these births positive?
The care and respect is what made all of these caesarean birth stories positive. These women felt supported, listened to and well informed about the choices they were making. They had options and could choose the right birth for them on the day. Any birth can be traumatic; receiving good care, from care providers who listen and respect your choices makes all the difference. This is true for a caesarean birth too; whilst it is major surgery it can still be a really positive birth experience if everyone is supported throughout.