C Section Foundation Offering Support For Women In Nigeria
The C-Section is not a curse. And a woman is not lazy because she gave birth via C-section
More women are having their babies via C-section today. But that's not to say that the procedure is widely accepted in society. Many Nigerians, and by extension Africans, believe that if it's not natural birth, it's a curse, while some fear having a C-section. In a society where the people see C-sections as an anomaly, one woman is changing the narrative. Read our interview with Oluwajerimi Adewale to know about the good work she does educating women and providing support before and after the c-section procedure.
What Is A C-Section?
A Cesarean section (C-section) is a procedure for delivering a baby through abdominal and uterine incisions. During the procedure, a doctor makes a cut in your abdomen (above your bikini line) and womb and lifts your baby out through it.
"I was a novice on Cesarean section. All I knew was that it is an abominable way of having babies. Everyone rejected it and prayed against it," said Adewale, who is now a certified doula.
According to Adewale, who studied Urban and Regional Planning at LAUTECH in Ogbomosho; in Yoruba land, brides and their families prayed to never encounter C-sections. This is because it was considered a taboo for a woman to go under the knife during childbirth. But the doctors told her the baby was in breech position. And surgery was the answer to a safe delivery. "I was depressed, I lost my confidence and attempted suicide," she said.
But that's all in the past. Today, she spends her time educating women on caesarean sections and counseling them through the procedure and beyond.
Why You Might Be Getting A C-Section
Sometimes, a doctor will opt for this surgical procedure after a woman has started labour and then develops complications. In which case, it's an emergency C-section.
But planned C-sections are different. Your doctor or midwife may have found a medical reason for you to have one, but it's not an emergency. Two examples are in which case you've had a previous C-section; or if the position of the baby may cause complications during delivery.
For Adewale, it was the latter. This and a few other experiences of other mums spurred her to begin the Diary Of A Naija CS Mum Instagram page. There, she educates other mums and mums-to-be on the need for confidence in the birthing room, regardless of what birth method the woman is using.
On her experience relating with these mothers, Oluwajerimi Adewale shared the stories of three women. The first, whose husband said she was lazy and wasteful. The reason being because she made him pay for a Caesarean section. There was another; whose husband refused to name their child because she was born via C-section.
In another instance, the mom fell into depression because her pastor withdrew her church title. He did it when he heard she gave birth via c-section. He claimed she wasn't a true Hebrew woman. The fourth woman died because her husband and mom-in-law refused to give her the okay for a surgical delivery. Adewale says these tragic stories are why she does what she does.
C-Sections In Nigeria: Expensive Death Traps or Totally Worth It?
In Nigeria, many women would prefer to go abroad to have their babies via c-section. This is mostly because of the country's high mortality rate. But Jerimi Adewale doesn't agree.
"Nigerian doctors are better than what we have been hearing," she said. "Just use the right hospital, especially a government hospital. They have experienced surgeons and other professionals there. There is no birth method without its side effects. Everything in life involves a risk. There is the risk of death but it's minimal, especially when it's an elective C-section."
She also says that women are not well-informed about c-sections. " When you operate a woman, you need to let her know what to eat, drink and do the first few days and weeks of birth. How long it will take for her incision to heal and become a scar. What birth options are advisable when she's ready to have another child - whether it's a c-section, or a VBAC."
Some healthy women want the surgery so they can pick their delivery date or avoid a vaginal delivery. Those aren't medical reasons, and their doctors may or may not disagree with that choice.
However, experts from the CDC American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology don't recommend these elective C-sections. They say you definitely shouldn't have one before 39 weeks. And they strongly discourage it if you want more children. On this one, you will definitely need to speak to your doctor.
About The 'Women Delivering With Confidence' Conference
Oluwajerimi Adewale is the convener of a quarterly conference, titled 'Women Delivering With Confidence'. It is a time when women and their supportive partners come together. And they relate with stakeholders in the medical sector. The general subject is how to build confidence for the birthing experience.
Adewale shares her vision for the event below:
- To build the confidence of all C-section mums. They need to understand that the biblical Hebrew woman birthing experience people talk about is for mother and child to be alive and healthy.
- To erase the notion that C-section is abnormal, for lazy women or wasteful wives.
- Most importantly to normalise it as a birth method and not just an alternative. So that if a woman chooses C-section from day 1 of her pregnancy, she won't be insulted or punished for her choice.
On challenges to this cause that she has championed, she highlights the following:
- High cost of performing the procedure.
- Lack of enlightenment, as hospitals only teach about vaginal birth. Nurses sing songs of delivery and subtly shame the other birth method. When the women need to undergo a C-section, they are ignorant and scared because all they know is that it's a taboo.
- Lack of postpartum counselling. A woman who undergoes an emergency C-section is prone to postpartum depression.
Adewale is working with health providers to proffer solutions to these challenges.
To mark the Ceasarean Section Awareness month in April, she is hosting two events. The first one between the 13th and 18th of April in Lagos and the other on the 24th and 25th of April in Enugu. The event is a celebration of mums who have undergone C-sections and is tagged Belly Birth Moms Are Warriors.
"When people hear c-section, they start rebuking, casting and binding. So if women who birth naturally are called vaginal birth mums, we are abdominal birth mums or belly birth mums!" Adewale explains.