This was supposed to be a column comparing the "natural" births of my first two children to the planned c-section of my third.

I say "natural" because, as much as it is, I haven't met many people who actually found it a "natural" process.

Something unexpected generally comes up, one way or another. So I prefer to use the word "regular".

After two reasonably uneventful, regular births, I was almost looking forward to being able to experience birth both ways and share this with people.


I'd asked lots of people about it and so many who'd experienced both said their c-section was better.

I have a high pain tolerance: I had two drug-free births with my first two (apart from a few half-hits of gas I was given in the last 10 minutes before our second child was born, to stop some involuntary pushing).

I assumed I would fare better than most in a c-section.

I did not.

Basically, I was told a "natural" birth could have killed us both, due to a complication called placenta praevia, where our baby's placenta was covering my cervix.

In some ways, I reasoned, a planned c-section made things like childcare for our other children, then 5 and 3, much easier.

But things didn't quite go to plan.

The surgeon accidentally punctured my bladder (which was sort-of stuck to my uterus with endometriosis despite this having been removed twice previously). Then, because of the placenta's problematic location, I lost between 1.5 and two litres of blood.


Both were always possibilities - planned for and professionally handled with so much compassion by every single one of the amazing staff at Tauranga Hospital who looked after me.

However, I was not as mobile as I'd expected: For nine days I had a catheter to help my bladder heal. it was irritating and painful and of course I was weak from the blood loss.

I was left thinking: "How could all those people say a c-section is better than regular birth?"

Then I realised - I had never asked them how their "regular" births went to know what they were comparing this to. Some of them must have had horror stories - emergency c-sections that were quite scary.

Some of them would have had surgery at the 11th hour after being in labour for hours - or days.

Some may have been anxious about the pain or the less predictable outcomes of regular birth versus the quite prepared-for worst case scenarios of a c-section.


And now there is me, with a couple of complications most people wouldn't have thrown in the mix.

If someone asked me now, I'd probably choose natural birth over a c-section - but I had two uncomplicated births and I have probably forgotten how hard they were anyway.

Pain does that. It makes you forget.

It is impossible to compare because it's never an "apples with apples" situation. It's different for everyone and from one baby to the next.

The truth is, it's not easy whichever way it happens. But you get through it.

You can seek all the information you want, but you're truly never going to know until you go through it yourself.


And of course, the people you are asking have most likely forgotten what it was really like.

That, and the love for their kids overrides even the worst experiences so even if it was really, really bad, they're still going to tell you it was worth it – which it is.