Quite a few times, I have been told I “took the easy way out” by birthing my children via caesarians. It always amuses me, because I didn’t exactly select caesarians out of a friggin’ birthing catalogue while reclining and sipping an iced tea. It isn’t a selection to preserve the integrity of your crotchfruit and save you a few hours – it is a serious operation used when mother or baby’s safety is in question.
Caesarians suck a bit of balls. During a caesarian, you are paralysed from the waist down, and the surgeon makes an incision about 15cm long, slicing through four layers to reach the uterus, which is then cut open to retrieve the baby. Serious whoopsies can occur such as perforations to the bowel/bladder/blood vessels. Even when the surgery goes perfectly, recovery is very painful, healing takes months, and you are often left with significant scar tissue causing ongoing pain and risks for future pregnancies.
So, do I think that giving birth vaginally is easier? F*ck no! Bloody hell, no. During a vaginal birth you PUSH A BABY OUT OF A VAGINA. Even though this function is part of its amazing repertoire of abilities, this is one hell of a task. It is exhausting, very hard on the body, and things can go wrong such as haemorrhages and tears, and you can end up with a vulva that temporarily looks like Hiroshima with a solid requirement for a donut pillow and a bat to club away any eager penises for the next couple of months.
Five mothers who have experienced both caesarian and vaginal deliveries kindly shared their thoughts and birthing stories with me. They all agreed that both methods have pros and cons, and its not just as simple as a busted-up-abdomen versus a busted-up-fanny. The consensus was that vaginal births are much harder on the body on the day. This does not surprise me. I find it hard to stuff a sleeping bag back in its cover: it simply does not fit without a very intense tussle, and the size discrepancy is even more radical when an infant human exits one’s privates. Sometimes physics is just not on our side, people.
The pain of vaginal birth was the worst of their life, unforgettable and extreme. Again, no surprises there. The pushing was exhausting, but most mentioned some euphoria and triumph when the baby entered, bringing an exhilarating sense of achievement. This feeling is often absent in the very medical caesarian birth, which most found stressful and traumatic in comparison. In a caesarian you are helpless. It’s like taking a shit with two broken arms: you’re not happy about it but you really need some bloody help.
Its not just as simple as a busted-up-abdomen versus a busted-up-fanny.
Birth isn’t just about the day though, its also the time that follows. All of the mothers found recovering from a caesarian was longer, more painful and difficult. It’s a big ol’ surgery with a big ol’ cut, and it feels as though your entire abdominal contents could burst out of it at any moment. While vaginas certainly cop a few dents in birth, interestingly, everyone I asked would choose a vaginal delivery over a caesarian if they birthed again. That is not to say it was ‘easier’, perhaps just a richer experience.
The “who has it harder” game never ends well, and is totally unnecessary amongst mothers. We are all doing our best; we all have struggles. While caesarians and vaginal births are very different experiences, either way you have given birth, either way you become a mother. One mother I spoke to put it so perfectly: “No matter how we give birth, these experiences are profound and life changing. We all fear the same things and toss over the same thoughts, but in the end we all come out with a unique birth story. Why do we need to categorise and shame each other when, in fact, we should be talking more about it, reminiscing and applauding each other?”
So, vaginal birth or caesarian section: which is harder? They both f*cking are!
Did you have a vaginal birth or C-section?