C-Section: The Lies, The Myth, The Truth

LAGOS – There are so many wrong impressions about a woman giving birth through Caesarean Section.

In order not to face criticism from fellow women or be marked as a woman who is not ‘woman enough,’ many babies and mothers have gone to early graves.

Most religious houses have also not helped in this regard. Giving birth through Caesarean Section has been painted by many churches and mosques as an abomination. So much so that it has become a major prayer point for pregnant women.

The story of a hairdresser who almost lost her life giving birth was an eye-opener to some of the ‘CS naysayers’ in Oke Aro community. According to the hairdresser, Kemi, who was six months gone in pregnancy, she moved from her home to her white garment church where she was told she has to live and pray until her pregnancy reaches nine months. The main reason was to rid her of evil eyes and prevent the devil from allowing her give birth through operation.

Kemi went into labour eventually. She pushed and pushed until her strength was gone. The baby’s head was the only thing that could come out after many hours of pushing. She was transferred from the church maternity home to a hospital where the already dead baby was forced out. In the process, her uterus was ruptured and the surgery she dreaded became unavoidable. A birth journey that would have taken her a maximum of seven days if she had gone to a proper hospital, turned into months in the hospital.

A doctor, who spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT, shared a story of a woman who is using her experience to educate other women. The woman in question went to another hospital after her doctor in a previous hospital insisted she gives birth through C-section.

“The woman’s pelvis was too small for her baby to pass through which is why the doctor in the previous hospital gave her the option of giving birth through CS. The second hospital allowed her to go into labour and push. Eventually, they had to pull the baby out. The baby did not cry for two days and from there developed what we call ‘developmental milestone’, which simply means the baby cannot develop normally. For two years now, the baby has not crawled or talked and can’t feed himself. It could be that while pulling the baby out, oxygen that was meant to go to the brain was cut short. That one to four minutes cut off oxygen to the brain caused permanent damage that cannot be cured,” she said.

This and more is the real story of what many women go through just to avoid being seen as ‘not woman enough’.

A writer, Obianuju Kenneth recently felt the need to let women know that giving birth through CS does not make them less a woman than other who goes through virginal birth.

According to Mrs. Kenneth who is a mother of three, she is tired of listening to other women make gossip out of the fact that a fellow woman gave birth through an ‘operation’. In all her pregnancy years, she has come across women who are supposed to be happy after giving birth but are depressed because they worry about what their friends will say because they gave birth through CS.

She stated that at many occasions when she visits her friends who just gave birth, when the normal question of how the journey was popped up, they come close to her ear to whisper, ‘it’s through CS’, showing utter lack of confidence in the mode of delivery and not rejoice at the miracle of seeing their baby and themselves alive.

“It is depressing, to say the least, that we women will batter our fellow women with words like ‘she is not a real woman, she could not push her baby and that is why they cut her to bring out the baby’. Women have been their best and worst critics from time immemorial,” she said.

Mr. Steve Ameh, a law correspondent told Saturday INDEPENDENT how sad it was when his wife that just put to bed found out that he told their landlady that his wife delivered through CS. “I never knew it was a topic of gossip for women. My wife told me the landlady was spreading the gist that mummy David (that is my wife) was not able to push and that is why they brought out the baby through operation,” he said.

Speaking with Eseigbe Chioma, a general medical practitioner at Ancilla Catholic Hospital, Lagos, she revealed that the notion and myth are real especially when a patient’s life depends on performing a Caesarean section.

Dr. Eseigbe, who mostly deals with pregnant women, told Saturday INDEPENDENT that as a doctor, she has made silent enemies just because she insisted the patient go through it.

In a lay man’s language, she said that Caesarean Section in common language is delivering a baby by making a cut on the abdomen. It involves going through the different layers to get to the womb, opening the womb and bringing out the baby and then closing up also till we get to the skin.

On why she thinks women are not confident to say they gave birth through CS, she said:

“If I pretend to know the answer to this question, then I am not being realistic, but I have been exposed to that over time. It boils down to culture, belief or whatever else that makes women not confident of giving birth through CS. We will also want to know the reason why some women find it difficult to say they are married to an older man or a younger man. I think it has to do with some kind of idiosyncrasies. Most people believe that if you have to go through Caesarean Section, it is an abnormal mode of delivery and that I think conditions how they react to CS.”

In a situation where a woman has no other option than to have an operation to give birth, Eseigbe stated that it is not easy convincing patients to accept the option.

“The word cajole is almost close to what we do to convince them because sometimes we spend hours trying to explain to a patient. In some other situations, we have to call in the relatives because we found out that the basis of how they feel depends on what the relatives, friends and what people in their social circle think about CS. We encourage the relatives to talk to the patient so as to get a consent. It is not possible to do a CS without consent. Convincing them is an enormous task for the doctor because you are dealing with an obvious risk to somebody’s life and the doctor still has to deal with series of thought before the patient agrees with the term. Another obstacle I see is lack of information and maybe communication. Sometimes, the patient does not understand. I have found that in my practice, sometimes, you have to come down to the patients level, either by speaking the patient’s local language and also don’t get tired of explaining until they understand the situation because you may have to do it over and over again. The communication has to pass through the beliefs and culture that have been abounded into the person’s memory. In a few cases, surprisingly, it’s not just the financial constraint which is another aspect that worries patients because CS is not as cheap as the other option.” She explained.

Sharing her wealth of knowledge, the following are some information on why doctors insist on CS.

The Indications For Caesarean Section

The first is cephalopelvic disproportion. It simply means that the baby coming is too big for the passage area, which is the pelvis where the baby will pass through. So when there is a disproportion, it’s foolhardy for anyone to insist the baby must pass through there because obviously, nature has taken its course. In such occasions, most women have lost their babies; have given birth to babies that have what we call developmental milestone. Sometimes I have heard one or two cases where the woman had pelvic disabilities. She was unable to walk for a while because the baby was pulled out from a pelvis that was obviously too small for the baby to pass through.

Another indication is when the pregnant woman is bleeding, which is called placenta previa. If the woman continues bleeding, the baby may die and the mother will be at risk. There are stages in placenta previa. The grade determines if it is absolute CS or gives the woman some chance of virginal delivery.

There is fetal distress: a situation where the baby’s heartbeat is not normal. It is either beating too fast or too slow. In most cases, the umbilical cord may have tied around the baby’s neck and once there is contraction, the cord tightens around the baby’s neck.

High blood pressure is not an absolute indication for a caesarean section. There is a level of blood pressure that can determine the patient goes through CS. There are some blood pressures that can be controlled, and the woman will deliver without operation, which is preeclampsia. If it is eclampsia, where the woman may have convulsed, she may be conscious or unconscious. If you are looking at an unconscious woman to pass through labour, you are deceiving yourself.

Surprisingly, some people ask for CS and that is patient’s request.

Risk Rate Of CS

Is it so risky for women to be scared?

I have answered this question with most of my patients many times. For me, I see Caesarean Sections as a controlled risk. It is a controlled risk because all the procedure you want to do, you are already aware of it. You know the time and duration. Although in every surgery there is also the risk of anesthesia, they are so minimal compared to a woman that you know has a cephalopelvic disproportion or bleeding and you are waiting that labour will lead to the delivery of the baby. In such a situation, you don’t know what will happen in the next minute. But in CS, you know that once you cut open, you know that the time has started ticking.

The post C-Section: The Lies, The Myth, The Truth appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.

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Author: Ifeoma Ononye