So yeah, I had a C section. There were many reasons, and I won't be going into them here. It's not easy to decide between a normal vaginal delivery (NVD) and a C section (CS). NVD is the "natural" way to go... but also involves torn vaginal walls, a lot of pain, bleeding etc. Unless you plan on giving birth in a barn, it's not truly "natural" either... drugs such as oxytocin are given to kick start and maintain the contractions, and pethidine or even an epidural is given for the pain. This is because :
a) no woman should be in unnecessary pain (unless she wants to)
b) prolonged labour means loads of risks to both mother and baby
Almost always, an episiotomy cut is done, effectively widening the vaginal passage in a manner that will not affect the muscles controlling the bowel. So you end up with stitches, whether you like it or not.
CS is basically abdominal surgery... you get sliced open, there's a lot of blood and pain once the anaesthesia wears off.
NVD is safer for the mother, riskier for the baby. But it's better for the baby because the brain gets "moulded" and extra water is squeezed out of the baby lungs. CS is riskier for the mum, but the baby is born all pretty and rosy, not having gone through the trauma of being squeezed through a bony passage. NVD is unpredictable, you never know what might go wrong at a god-awful hour when no doctors are immediately available. CS offers a measure of comfort for the control freak.
I know a lot of people think that mothers going for C sections have it "easy". A couple of months ago, some of the Sinhala blogs on Kottu were discussing if mothers who deliver "normally" (NVD) love their children more. This offended me even then... how can pain be a measure of affection? I can't compare the two, since I didn't go through both*, but I can assure you that the C section is by no means easy.
The actual delivery is like the proverbial piece of cake, but afterwards, the mother has to deal with the contractions of the womb, since it is now going through the process of getting back to size (this happens naturally with NVD and is mostly complete by the time the baby is out). The process is helped by hormones that are secreted in response to feeding.
The difference? After a C section, the womb has a large surgical cut along the lower part... so with each contraction, the raw edges are squeezed tight against each other.... over and over again. For 2 days, every time I fed my child, I could feel the contractions one after the other, pain rippling through my insides in relentless waves. Sometimes it would make me moan with agony, tears dripping down onto the innocent little face nestling at my breast. The nice doctors offered me pethidine, but I refused, because I knew it would make the baby sleepy and make breast feeding more difficult to establish. And there's the pain from the surgical skin cut as well... a burning red gash across my lower belly.
I know it's not a competition, but on behalf of all the much maligned mums who go through a CS, I'd like to place on record that it's certainly not an easy piece of cake to eat!
* I need to ask my Sis-in-law or my friend T who both went through hours of labour and then had to have emergency CS, yipes!