Reasons for performing a caesarean are many and various often mothers who have had a previous caesarean birth will continue to have children this way; the umbilical cord may be wrapped around the baby's neck; the baby may be in breech position; the placenta may become detached… Occasionally, parents may opt for a caesarean section as well although rather unkindly dubbed "too posh to push", this is a choice that you, your partner and your doctor alone must make.
Will a caesarean hurt my baby?
The chances of the operation hurting your child are extremely small. Obstetricians have years of practice at performing this procedure and, in the majority of cases, caesareans are only performed in case of medical need that is, giving birth vaginally would be more likely to adversely affect your baby, and possibly you.
Sometimes babies born by caesarean section will have excess mucus in their lungs and windpipe (this is normally squeezed out in the birthing process), but it isn't normally serious and can be dealt with by nursing staff. Most babies born by caesarean section are normal, healthy and need no special care over and above a baby born vaginally.
Will a caesarean hurt me?
Ultimately, a deep incision through the abdominal wall is going to cause some pain at some point. During the actual delivery, however, anaesthesia will be administered to remove the pain this may take the form of a general or a localised anaesthetic. Unless it's a severe medical emergency, doctors usually try to use a local anaesthetic so that the mother is awake to see her child being born. As Helen, one mother who had a caesarean pointed out, "The actual incision didn't hurt me as I was too busy being sick into a bowl: topping up my epidural made my blood pressure drop and this is one of the things that results from that".
Your recovery period may take a few weeks though you should remember that vaginal births also take it out of you. Helen says, "I was walking around the next day but it definitely hurt to laugh or cough for a few days. I took the painkillers regularly even if I didn't have pain and I think that this helped my recovery. I was extremely mobile by the end of the week, but I couldn't lift or bend very well for about six weeks afterwards and it was a little dodgy driving until the six weeks were up".
What about my bonding with my child?
Many hospitals will allow the mother to be awake during the birth and to hold the baby as soon as the usual checks are complete. You may be too tired to do this, but then, it wouldn't be unheard of for a mother giving birth vaginally after a fifteen-hour plus labour either.
Some mothers may feel angry or resentful about not giving birth naturally, or they may feel that they're not "good enough". The majority of work in bringing a child into the world is done prior to the actual birth, however, and a caesarean birth is by no means a "failure". You may feel that you are not bonding quickly enough with your baby, but it's a myth that every woman is besotted with her child from the minute it's born (naturally or in the operating theatre). Deep love takes time to develop, and it's more likely to happen when your baby starts to show his or her personality and you're awake enough to see it, rather than in a moment of deep exhaustion immediately after birth.