8 things mums who’ve had a C-section want you to know

There are many misconceptions about C-sections. We set them straight with expert inputs and real opinions from mums.

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Deciding to deliver your baby via a Cesarean (or C-section) is a personal choice. It’s also one that’s painful, frightening, and unfortunately invites backlash and unwarranted opinions.

The most common one: Some feel women are taking the easy way out by having a C-section instead of a vaginal birth – a completely wrong and unreasonable assumption. There are plenty of reasons why a woman chooses to have a cesarean. It can be due to health reasons, the position of the baby, or complications during a vaginal birth. Other times women just prefer to have a C-section and it’s not our place to judge them for it.

Certain assumptions about C-section births also stem from misconceptions, which is why SmartParents spoke to a medical professional, and real mums, to clear the air.

Here are eight things you may not know about Cesareans that mums who have gone through it want you to know!

1. C-section is major surgery

Sure, having an epidural-free, vaginal birth can feel like a major accomplishment, but being cut open in an operating theatre is no walk in the park either.

Like any major operation, C-sections are nerve wrecking and carry risks for both mother and baby. Some women choose to be awake during the entire procedure, which is even scarier. Plus, it also comes with it’s own set of risks.

"C-sections occur in the operating theatre and require the use of general or regional anaesthesia. Two lives are involved so this is regarded as a major surgery,” says SmartParents expert and gynae Dr Christopher Chong. “While most cases are uneventful, complications or risks from anaesthesia and the surgery can occur, so it’s regarded with great respect.”

“C-sections occur in the operating theatre and require the use of general or regional anaesthesia. Two lives are involved so this is regarded as a major surgery.”

2. A C-section is still considered childbirth

Bub may not taken that long journey down the birth canal and popped out of your lady part, but a Cesarean is still childbirth! Some people have the impression that getting a C-section means missing out on the delivery experience. It’s not true – you still gave birth to a baby, get to hold him or her in your arms and most importantly, don’t forget that these mums also went through the entire process of pregnancy.

3. Having a C-section may result in mixed emotions

Every mum will react to a Cesarean differently. While some may feel proud and happy post C-section for bringing baby safely into the world, others may feel disappointed, especially if the procedure was a last minute decision. Having mixed feelings is normal, but it’s also helpful to process your feelings by talking about it with someone, a friend or a professional.

4. C-sections don’t stop you from bonding with your baby

Some people think that getting a C-section will mean less bonding with your newborn. This isn’t true at all! A trip down the birth canal doesn’t determine how much love you will have for your baby and vice versa. When you start holding and interacting with your little one, you’ll undoubtedly form a bond with them – you are their mummy after all, and nothing will change that. “I personally don’t think a C-section has anything to do with bond”, adds mum-of-one Kumari Revi, 37, who gave birth via C-section. “There are so many ways to be a mum or parent – whether it’s through C-section, vaginal birth, surrogacy or adoption”.

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5. You can still breastfeed

Having a C-section in no way means you’ll be unable to breastfeed. However, breastfeeding may be delayed after a C-section because the anesthesia may cause mum and bub to be sleepy, which may delay breastfeeding initiation and skin-to-skin contact, all the things that help with breastfeeding. Sometimes, breastmilk production may also take longer.

“Early initiation of breastfeeding – irrespective of how mothers deliver – has a positive relationship to breastfeeding success,” says Dr Mythili Pandi, lead trainer at Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group in Singapore. “It’s all about early skin to skin and having baby close to mother’s breasts.”

Want to ace at breastfeeding after having a Cesarean? Dr Mythili shares these top tips:

* Breastfeed while lying on your side, so it doesn’t interfere with your scar

* Co-sleep with your baby to make it easier, especially in the early days when they need to feed often

* Create a supportive environment with your husband helping with the rest of the household chores and having nourishing meals available for you

* Attend a prenatal workshop so you’ll feel more equipped with breastfeeding information and also have place to turn to for help if needed

6. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a vaginal birth in the future

Vaginal birth after cesareans (VBAC) are possible if everything goes smoothly during the next pregnancy, and if your doctor deems it’s safe to do so. According to the National University Hospital’s Women’s Centre, the success rate of women who attempt a VBAC in Singapore is between 60 and 80 per cent.

According to Dr Chong, the possibility of a VBAC depends on the reasons for the previous C-section. If it’s life threatening condition that might reoccur during your next pregnancy, such as placenta praevia (when the placenta is covering the cervix fully or partially and causes serious bleeding), then a VBAC is off the cards.

But if it’s a less dangerous condition or has been resolved and you had a relatively smooth C-section previously, there’s no reason why you can’t opt for a vaginal birth for your next delivery.

That said, Dr Chong adds that a VBAC is usually also not undertaken if it’s after two previous C-sections.

“It's been three years since I had my Cesarean and I don't feel, remember or see the scar – especially under all the folds in my tummy!"

7. The scar will become less significant than you think

This is usually one of the biggest concerns women have when they decide to get a Cesarean. At first the scar, in all it’s raw glory, might look scary and you may worry that your body will never look the same again. However, once it starts healing, it will get less noticeable.

“It's been three years since I had my Cesarean and I don't feel, remember or see the scar – especially under all the folds in my tummy!" jokes mum Samantha Chan.

8. Your opinions aren’t welcome

Mothers do whatever is best for them and their babies. Kudos to you if you decide to give birth vaginally. Opting for a C-section instead? More power to you, mum! Whichever birthing route they choose, everyone else should keep their opinions to themselves, because at the end of the day it’s all about her and her baby.

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