Facts and Myths about C-Section
Roughly 25% of pregnant women will undergo a Cesarean section. That’s one in four women who become mums via this method. However, despite how common it is, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions around the C-section.
If you have been struggling to separate the facts from the myths, this article will try to clear things up a little for you. Let’s dive right in!
What is a caesarean section?
A cesarean section, or C-section for short, is an operation where a doctor makes an incision in your abdomen (usually slightly above the bikini line) and lifts your baby out through it.
When is a C-section recommended?
Cesarean sections are recommended in several situations, including:
- Concern for the baby’s well-being based on data obtained by monitoring them
- Labor complications such as failure to dilate
- The baby presenting abnormally (sideways or feet first)
- The mother’s history (birth complications in the past or a history of C-sections in the past)
- When the baby is too large
- Placenta previa
- Cord prolapse, where the umbilical cord protrudes out to the cervix during labor
Because labor can be very unpredictable, while it is always recommended to aim for a vaginal delivery, a C-section might be needed at any point during your pregnancy as the safest alternative depending on how your pregnancy or labor goes.
Planned vs emergency c-section: what’s the difference?
If you know you will need a c-section before you go into labor, it is called a planned or elective c-section. Elective c-sections are usually done after week 39 for normal pregnancies or a little earlier in cases where there is a reason for having your baby sooner. For example, in cases of multiple pregnancies.
You can choose to have an elective c-section delivery even if no medical reasons necessitate one. Some women do this when they feel they can’t cope with vaginal births or if they had a difficult previous delivery. However, c-sections are not risk-free. You should, therefore, talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns first before making the decision.
If you or your doctor decides on short notice that a c-section is the best way to ensure successful delivery, it is called an emergency c-section. Most times, though, emergency c-sections are not last minute or rushed. It also doesn’t mean that you and your baby are in any sort of danger.
Will your c-section scar go away?
The cut that the doctor makes is usually less than 10 cm slightly above your bikini line, just above your pubic bone. Most women get horizontal cuts. However, in some cases, a vertical incision may be done. For example, if you had a previous vertical incision, that’s what you will get again.
Your c-section scar will look and feel better after about 2 weeks. It will completely heal after 6 to 12 weeks, after which it will start to fade on its own over time.
Common myths about C-section
Next, here is a closer look at a few popular myths about c-section deliveries.
Myth 1: You won’t be able to do skin-to-skin
Fact: You will still get to do skin-to-skin with a c-section. In fact, it is encouraged. Skin to skin promotes bonding and helps facilitate breastfeeding. Immediately after the delivery, the doctor will hand over your baby to a midwife for cleaning and stimulation. The nurse will wrap your baby after that and bring them to you within about 2 minutes after birth.
Myth 2: C-sections are less painful than vaginal births
Fact: C-sections may cause more pain than vaginal deliveries. A c-section is a major surgery, which means you should expect some pain afterward at the incision point and from inflammation. On the flip side, you won’t have any vaginal tearing or pain. Plus, compared to women who have long labors with no epidural, an uncomplicated c-section will result in significantly less pain.
Myth 3: You won’t have any vaginal bleeding
Fact: Women bleed because the uterus is shrinking back to its normal size while also healing from the placental separation. This will result in bleeding for all births, including cesarian births. Therefore, you need to make sure that you stock up on maternity pads.
You may also want to invest in a good quality pair of postpartum underwear. Get a reliable set that will hold the pads in place while also keeping you feeling fresh by facilitating the maximum level of air circulation.
Myth 4: If you had a c-section you will never have a vaginal delivery
Fact: It is possible to have a vaginal delivery after a c-section. The main concern for such situations is uterine rupture, which can be potentially life-threatening for both mother and child. When a uterine rupture occurs, an emergency c-section must be performed.
Generally speaking, if you have had two or more c-sections, your uterine walls are weaker, and it is recommended that you get another c-section to prevent uterine rupture. If you have had only one c-section, it is possible to have a vaginal delivery. However, this will depend on how your previous c-section was done, why you needed the c-section in the first place, and if you are a candidate for vaginal delivery currently.
Myth 5: You won’t be able to breastfeed after a c-section
Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most moms can start breastfeeding within minutes after their operation. When it comes to breastfeeding, the only difference between c-section deliveries and vaginal births is the discomfort that comes with trying to sit up to breastfeed when you have an incision.
A great workaround for this is to use a postpartum pillow. It will allow you to be able to breastfeed painlessly in a sitting position. It works by reducing the pressure exerted on your abdomen, making you more comfortable as you breastfeed.
Myth 6: Doctors get paid more for a C-section
Fact: There is no financial incentive to perform c-sections. Most doctors won’t even want to do the surgery if they don’t have to.
Myth 7: You can have as many c-section deliveries as you want
Fact: After 3-4 cesarean deliveries, there is an increased risk of placenta accreta. This is a condition where parts of the placenta and blood vessels grow through the previous c-section scar. Placenta accreta will require a hysterectomy and blood transfusions during delivery due to blooding.
Myth 8: You will be bedridden for days
Fact: It is actually encouraged to get up and walk around after your c-section to get things moving and to prevent complications. It is normal to need a little help from your nurse at the beginning, but you should be able to walk around on your own within a few hours.
Consider getting a postpartum belly band to help accelerate your healing process. Designed for women after a c-section, it will help strengthen your excessively stretched abdominal walls and decrease the risk of abdominal hernia. It also helps alleviate post-surgery incision pain.
Please note that as you use your postpartum belly band, you need to combine it with recommended exercises to get the best results. Not moving around while wearing the belt could weaken your abdominal muscles.
You should be able to fully recover from your c-section within 4-6 weeks. You’ll need to see your GP within 1 or 2 weeks after your surgery, and also on the 6th week to make sure that everything is healing well.
Hopefully, this little guide has helped clear up a few myths and misconceptions around the subject of c-sections for you.
Please note that the information provided here is not meant to be treated as medical advice. Be sure to consult your GP if you have any concerns or if you need further clarification on anything. Good luck!