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23rd Feb 2017

Pat Kenny asks if women who’ve had c-sections feel ‘proud – or a bit mortified?’

Amanda Cassidy

Many of you will ask why we are talking about this again.

And it’s because everyone who has given birth has so much to say on the issue. And because the medical community is concerned over the dramatic rise in c-section births.

There are those who feel strongly that vaginal births are what Mother Nature intended, and others who believe delivering your child via c-section is the safer option, and then those who had no option at all.

Here, and on the back of acclaimed broadcaster Pat Kenny asking some tough questions earlier this week on his popular Newstalk show, HerFamily writer Amanda Cassidy has penned a raw and honest account of her own experiences of caesareans…

I had three c-sections myself and honestly, I simply saw the birth as a means to an end – yet my sister (who also had a c-section) mourns the loss of the entire labour experience and felt cheated out of the biological experience she felt she was made to do.

Earlier this week, Pat Kenny was speaking on Newstalk about this spike in c-section deliveries. He did an in-depth interview with Dr Ray O Sullivan from St Lukes Maternity Hospital in Kilkenny.

This hospital has the highest rate of c-sections out of all the hospitals in Ireland – at one stage it was 60%. That’s three times the national average and four times the recommended rate by the WHO.

He believed the reasons for Ireland’s high rates included maternal age, bigger babies and fewer consultants. Dr O’Sullivan said fear and confidence was also at the heart of it. He felt perhaps Irish women didn’t entirely trust the maternity services here and so opted for c-sections as a more ‘fail-safe’ option.

Then Pat asked O’Sullivan what women’s attitudes were to having had a c-section:

“Do we know anything about the attitude of women to c-sections… I mean, at the dinner party or down at the creche or whenever they are talking to other women do they admit to having a c-section? Are they proud of it or are they a bit mortified they didn’t go the natural way?”

And this is the crux of the issue.

There is a perpetuation that having a c-section is the easier option – that you somehow ‘escaped’ the true experience. Asking if we “admit” to it is completely unhelpful – especially by someone who will never truly understand what it means to give birth.

The reason people feel so strongly about anything to do with giving birth is because this is the biggest experience they will ever have in their entire lives. And it is the biggest shock to the system you will ever have.

In fact, I think the reason why many of our HerFamily users comment on birth articles is because we have been deeply affected by our experiences. Perhaps more deeply that we think. And that’s why it is just so personal. Just look at some of our Facebook reactions:

We have lists and lists of women who kindly share their experiences – mostly because they want to help other women (and the few who feel their way is the best way) but suggesting there may be an element of shame is unforgivable.

Sometimes despite a mother’s carefully laid plans – the doctor will perform a c-section to save a baby’s life.  Of course, she shouldn’t feel “mortified”

And as for the proud part – hells yeah! – no matter which way junior travelled to take his very first little breath.