One of the most common responses given by mothers when asked (in this birth survey) why they are thankful for their caesarean, is that surgery saved their life and/or ensured their baby was born safe and healthy. Here are some examples from the Celebrating Caesarean Week press release:

18-Aug-13 Caesarean Celebration Week press release - examples of mothers' answers

In our book, there is a wonderful quote by Professor Kypros Nicolaides from the Fetal Medicine Foundation in London, which stresses the value of timely medical intervention:
We cannot sit back and let nature overcome our babies.

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Dr. Jason Collins, author of Silent Risk: Issues about the Human Umbilical Cord, explains:
One hundred percent of mothers cannot deliver vaginally for a variety of reasons. Some need assistance, such as help with forceps or other devices. When used appropriately, caesarean birth is a proven and safe surgical procedure. Not too long ago, many mothers did not survive a difficult vaginal birth, and they would labour for weeks and die of exhaustion. Even today, many babies die during childbirth when there are unidentified cord complications, such as knots or entanglements. It’s important to recognise the value of a timely caesarean.
CMSUK - Charlotte Nugent - Quote - emergency breech
Mine was an emergency c-section due to unidentified footling breech presentation, and he started coming toes first while I was at home. Scary for a while but the surgery itself went smoothly and recovery was quick and quite easy! This is one of a couple of pictures my partner took of my c-section and they are my favourite.

cmsuk-katie-christian-emergency-cs-cord-neck-relaxed-calm-safe.jpgOur beautiful baby boy born by emergency c-section after induction and a very long labour. He decided to turn and get the cord wrapped round his neck. Even though it was emergency, it was all very relaxed and calm and I felt so safe at all times.

CMSUK - Laura Brown - Quote - emergency here is what matters
As a result of an emergency section under general anaesthetic, this is the moment we met, and something I will cherish forever. My beautiful rainbow baby, No matter how they come into the world, they are here, and that’s what matters.

CMSUK - Tina Coventry - Quote - emergency reduced movements - cordEmergency section at 38+2, reduced movements. He had managed to tie the cord in a double knot around his neck. My teeny tiny little boy had to be resuscitated, and I lost a lot of blood, but we’re both here to tell the tale…

EMAIL - Siobhan McNamara - not choice but needed emergency CS
My baby was “stargazing”. I had a massive build up of fluid in my pelvis and I wasn’t dilating properly. A natural birth just wasn’t an option in the end. I’m so glad things happened the way they did, even though it wasn’t my choice. I now have a very healthy 7 month old; who knows where we would both be if I hadn’t had a caesarean.
As I wrote on Day 1: Maternal Satisfaction, all of the births above are defined in the majority of hospital and research data as “adverse outcomes“, but when I look at these pictures and read mothers’ comments, I see very favourable outcomes, and somberly reflect on all the babies and mothers who do not have the same support and access to life-saving caesareans.

Consultant Obstetric Anaesthetist Dr Felicity Plaat, agrees:
I have long argued that the caesarean rate is not an outcome, let alone an adverse one. It should not be used to measure the success or otherwise of units or obstetricians; it is a process to facilitate birth that is safe for baby and mother. It is no coincidence that in resource poor areas of the world where the caesarean rate is extremely low, maternal and neonatal mortality is unacceptably high. I have never in all the time I have practiced, met a woman having a caesarean birth who did not believe it would be the safest thing for her and her baby. These women are stoical, they are brave, and many are terrified. This is not the birth that the vast majority would have wanted. In my unit, we developed the so called natural caesarean because we believed it was our duty to try to improve the experience for these women and their families. I am delighted that finally we are celebrating an operation that has saved so many lives around the world and thoroughly support Celebrating Caesareans Week.

Finally, I’d like to add, with thanks, a personal story from Kathleen, a 74 year old great grandmother who wanted to share her perspective after reading this page yesterday. She says:

I am a survivor of two emergency caesareans, both under general anaesthetic, which was routine in 1969 and 1972. I say survivor because the first birth almost killed my son and myself. I only wish elective sections under local anaesthetic were available then. Those lovely photos of smiling, happy, awake mothers having a section made me very envious! None of my two sons’ five grandchildren and two great grandchildren would be here today if I had not given birth by c-section.

  • Produced by author and journalist Pauline Hull