'C-sections are not an easy way out'

Raye Lee/Facebook Image copyright Raye Lee/Facebook
Image caption Raye Lee said her Caesarean "was the most painful thing I have experienced in my life"

Giving birth by Caesarean section, as opposed to 'natural' or vaginal delivery, has been a subject of popular debate for years.

Remember the term 'too Posh to Push'? It came to popularity in 1999 after Victoria Beckham (then known as Posh Spice) faced criticism, from some quarters, after revealing that she chose to give birth to her first child through surgical assistance (or a C-section). Beckham's other three children were also delivered via the same method.

Then last year Frankie Bridge of the British-Irish group The Saturdays spoke up about the reaction she had received after revealing she had a C-section. "It really annoys me how everyone has an opinion," the singer said. "There's enough pressure on mums and it's scary enough as it is - just leave everyone to it."

The issue flared up again on social media this week when a US woman from Missouri published a Facebook post challenging people who believed that her emergency C-section, for medical reasons, didn't count as "actually giving birth". Raye Lee, who works as a professional fire juggler, included photos of her surgical scars to help make her point. Her strongly worded accompanying message seems to have resonated with many people and has been shared tens of thousands of times.

Image copyright Raye Lee/Facebook

With heavy irony, Lee wrote: "Ah, yes. My emergency c-section was absolutely a matter of convenience. It was really convenient to be in labor for 38 hours before my baby went into distress and then every contraction was literally STOPPING his HEART... Oh, and that surgery is super easy peasy to recover from."

Then changing gear, she admitted that her earlier words were "all sarcasm" and that the Caesarean had been "the most painful thing I have experienced in my life."

The remainder of the post described in graphic detail the pain of having "a shrieking infant pulled out of an incision that is only 5 inches long" while (and don't read the next part if you're squeamish) her internal organs were moved onto the table next to her. She concludes that the pain and scars were worth it once she held her newborn in her arms.

More than 30,000 people have reacted to the post and hundreds have left supportive comments. Some women also shared photos of their own scars in solidarity.

Image copyright Facebook

According to Childbirth Connection, which looks into maternal health, about one in three women in the US gives birth by C-section. Globally, the C-section rate is around 19% according to analysis of childbirth in 194 countries.

Research from 2008, which reviewed 620,000 births in England, said that was "unlikely" that women undergo Caesarean sections to avoid the pain of childbirth.

In the UK pregnant women are allowed to request a Caesarean delivery on the publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service, even if there is no medical need. The 2011 guidelines said that if anxiety about vaginal birth is cited as reason for a C-section, the woman should first be offered counselling from a healthcare professional. "If after discussion and support you still feel that a vaginal birth isn't an acceptable option, you're entitled to have a planned Caesarean," the guidelines state.

The World Health Organisation said in 2015 that Caesarean sections should only be carried out when medically necessary as the surgical procedure may put the health of women and their babies at risk.

Blog by Megha Mohan

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