With about 30 percent of women in the United States delivering by C-section, it is important to be able to separate fact from fiction when it comes to this method of delivery. Whether you know ahead of time that you are having a planned C-section or you are reading this in the hospital after undergoing one after an attempt at a vaginal birth, vetting these myths can help you know what to believe and what to ignore.
- Having a C-section doesn’t count as giving birth. Yikes! Can you believe this (ridiculous) opinion makes its way around social media?! Any way you birth your child – vaginally, by C-section, with or without an epidural, via use of a gestational carrier – counts as birth. No one is better or less legitimate than the other.
- You can schedule one if you want to avoid a vaginal delivery. Known as “cesarean delivery on maternal request” in the medical world, this is not encouraged. C-sections should be reserved for when there is a medical reason for them, considering they are a major surgery. You can read more about why this isn’t usually recommended and how it is handled here.
- You will be completely numb during the surgery. Often this is not the case. While most women will have an epidural or spinal to control their pain during their C-section and these will make the procedure not painful, it is very normal to still feel pressure and touch. This means that at certain points during your surgery you may feel intense pressure, especially at the moment your baby is being born. If you feel any pain, speak up! Your anesthesiologist can definitely help with that, so let him or her know.
- You won’t get to see your baby for hours after your delivery. This should definitely be a myth, but it is important to check with your hospital before you deliver. Skin-to-skin is very important for mom and baby in the first hour after birth, and women who deliver by C-section should get to see and hold their babies within minutes after delivery so they can have this time. Some hospitals still may be using older policies where the baby is immediately taken out of the operating room and increased separation time occurs. Confirm that your hospital doesn’t do this, so you know you’ll get to see your little one as soon as possible.
- It is just as safe as giving birth vaginally. While C-sections are very safe, this is unfortunately a myth. Birth complications such as increased blood loss and hemorrhage, infection, and the formation of blood clots which can be life threatening are all more common when a woman undergoes a C-section. This is why they should only be done if necessary.
- You’ll always have to have C-sections for the rest of your deliveries. Thankfully for most women this is no longer true, and the option to try for a vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC) is a viable one. You can read more about VBACs and what they entail here.
- Using scar creams and abdominal binders help you get your body back more quickly. Unfortunately there is no data that scar creams make scars less visible or that abdominal binders help your muscles heal more quickly. However, some women still want to use them, so just be sure to check with your doctor first to make sure you are using them correctly and they do not interfere with your healing.
- If you have a C-section, you won’t be as successful with breastfeeding. It is true that women who undergo cesarean sections may have higher rates of breastfeeding issues, but often it is not related to the surgery itself. Having the help of a lactation consultant who can show you comfortable nursing positions can be very helpful, as can making sure you are staying well-hydrated and getting plenty of rest during your recovery. Many moms who’ve given birth by C-section have been successful with meeting their breastfeeding goals.
- Many myths about cesarean sections exist.
- Knowing what is true and what is false can help put your mind at ease if you need to deliver by C-section.