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After the cesarean

I hear:
  • Everybody tells me I should just be thankful I have a healthy baby. 
  • I wish I hadn’t taken a single class or read any books.  I wish I hadn’t known so much.  Then I wouldn’t care. 
  • Could I have made different choices? 
  • Would this have happened with a different provider?  Different place? 
  • Is there something wrong with my body?
  • What if [fill in the blank]?
A couple of times a month, I get emails from women who have had cesareans –usually for their first baby.  Some have just given birth.  Some gave birth years ago and contemplate pregnancy.  Some are soon to birth again.  They tell me their stories.  And they ask their questions.  I do not have answers.  I am not qualified.  But I’m the one hearing the questions and the grief from these mamas who are healing from their cesarean births.       
The mindful women, the ones who educate themselves about birth, the ones who make good choices during their pregnancy–these women, after having a cesarean birth, often mourn. 
And there is little space in our culture for mourning such an experience.  Because, after all, you had a good outcome; a healthy baby.  Why should you feel sad or disappointed?  It is challenging to find the language to express these feelings.  Many women lose faith in their body.  Some lose faith in the medical system.  Some get angry.  Some give up. 
Perhaps the first thing to do is to begin processing these feelings.  Surround yourself with stories of vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC).   Watch VBAC clips on youtube.  Create space to mourn and to heal through writing, art, or ritual.      
And then, when your spirit is renewed, find the research and information to plan your next birth. 
ICAN is a good place to begin.  Find your local chapter and reach out to these supportive women.  The Greenville group is full of resources and incredible stories.
I’d love to hear from you on this one.  Thoughts?

One response »

  1. You told me shortly after Rowan’s cesarean that there would be a grieving process. You didn’t tell me to allow myself to feel this or that emotion, just that it would happen. And it did. It was hard, but I knew when a new emotion surfaced it was normal, and that I just had to ride it out. It was something I was going to work through, and all the healthy babies in the world or books, or subsequent VBACs was going to make those feelings go away. I wish I’d known you 10 years ago for my first birth 🙂 Recognizing and validating the grief and the anger and all those things really helps the process along.

    Also, my favorite inspirational VBAC video!:


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