Caesarian Section (C-Section)

By Modupe Akinyemi

Create a discussion on Caesarian Section in a gathering of African women and the varied opinions you will get summarizes C-Section as a wrong, bad and abnormal thing that should not be done and when it is done, should not be spoken about. Most of these opinions are driven by cultural and religious beliefs rather than a detailed knowledge of the topic. You often hear things like:

  • ‘Only weak women give birth by C-section
  • ‘In my family, we don’t do it!’
  • ‘Give birth like a Hebrew woman’ (whatever that means)
  • ‘God did not design C-Section as a delivery model for a Christian/ Moslem therefore only women who have done something against God does he allow to give birth by C-section/ C-Section’ is a punishment for your wrong doing’
  • Animals (goat is most preferably used) don’t get cut before putting to bed why then a human? And on and on and on…

I find this funny as pregnant women are generally encouraged to give birth naturally as this qualifies them as a whole, strong and complete women and their delivery is normal. My question is: ‘Will a child delivered by C-Section have 2 heads or what exactly defines abnormal’?

This ideology is unfortunately promoted by the general society but expecting mothers get the heat more from those closest to them- mothers, mother-in-law (who claim to have childbirth experience therefore, it is no big deal), friends with and without delivery experiences religious homes and their leaders.

You will think this only happens amongst women in rural communities with little or no exposure. But you will be shocked as women of ‘class’ with several certificates and degrees which show their level of education and exposure are also caught up in this web of being regarded as a strong woman because of the mode of child delivery they adopted.

Several cases both reported and unreported have also been found where the lives of the mother and/or child have been lost as a result of the refusal and delay in accepting C-Section for a woman in labour. This is a major factor in the high mortality rate in Nigeria. 

I have heard of scenarios where women in labour even though they are Nigerians would insist on giving birth like a Hebrew woman because this is what they have been groomed and encouraged to be. Stories of women who held on strongly to their religious leaders giving spiritual oils, handkerchiefs, water etc as symbols for quick natural delivery or those who waited strongly for their arrival/permission before medical personnel can do anything.

While there are also cases where the women do not mind the procedure but the decision is usually not in their hands to make. Their husbands and families make these decisions which most times is never in support of giving birth under the knife rather so much pampering, cajoling and encouragement to push!

So much of the lack of interest in undergoing a C-Section lies in the hands of medical practitioners too. Very little practical detail is provided to pregnant women when being given C-Section as an option. Most times, when people who have undergone the procedure share their experiences they talk about how they were unsure of what to expect as their physicians ended most if not all their questions with ‘don’t worry you will be fine’.

This is not to discourage natural vaginal birth or conclude C-Section is the ultimate best delivery method; it also has its downsides. Rather, it is to discourage prioritizing a myth over a life. The life of every woman/mother is more important than fulfilling religious and cultural beliefs. We should encourage women to make informed decisions in their lives and also provide them with accurate information. Society should be conducive and accepting for women whose choice differs from the norms. 

We should not be comfortable losing our women for a myth. The myth will remain but life is gone FOREVER!

Source: Above Whispers

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