Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Emotions Surrounding C Sections

Emotions surrounding C sections:
Many women recover fully physically and emotionally from a caesarean birth, others do not. Little attention has been paid to the psychological impact that a surgical birth may have on women’s emotional well being. Their personal experiences have been at times trivialized, misunderstood, or ignored by the medical community.
The medical industry, as well as the general public, does not put enough emphasis on the fact that a caesarean birth is a very traumatic event to happen physically as well as emotionally to a woman.  A woman is expected to recover from the surgery in 4 days…. 4 DAYS!!!!  Then, they are expected to take care of themselves as well as another person.  Most people focus on the baby, not the mother. 
I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “well the most important thing is that the baby is safe” or “the Dr’s know what is best”.  When my husband went to the waiting room to give his parents the news that I was going to have a c section, they said “Whatever gets that baby out safe.”  To this day, these words still haunt me.  To think that even my own family was so carefree about my MAJOR surgery, my physical wellbeing, and my emotional well being.  I do realize that people mean well when they say these things.  However, what they do not realize is that they are doing more harm than good. 

Emotions that one might feel after a c section:
Fear, sadness, devastation, depression, helplessness, failure, jealousy, anger, un-womanly, broken.
Fear, sadness, devastation, failure, and helplessness (for me) were the first emotions that I felt.  I was devastated that I had to have a c section.  I was scared and helpless during the surgery.  I was scared and helpless after the surgery.  I felt like a failure…I felt like I failed myself and my baby.   
After I left the hospital, I felt a bit of depression.  I was unaware of it at the time, but now (2.5 years later) I realize that it was depression.  I had a hard time bonding with my son.  Thankfully, we both took to breastfeeding flawlessly. 
A few months later, my friends were having babies….It was then that I felt anger and jealousy.  I’d like to stress that I do not feel bad for having these feelings, now that I realize that they are normal feelings / common feelings.  At the time, I thought that I was a terrible and crazy person for feeling this way.  I WAS NOT happy for my friends when they had normal births.  I was jealous that I wasn’t able to have a normal birth…..Their bodies worked, mine didn’t…..  I had to deal with these feelings on my own.  I was scared and embarrassed to tell anyone.  Since then, I was able to have a vbac.  This is what has healed me.  I think this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone that I had felt this way, and it is very freeing.   
It was at this same time (a few months after the birth) that I also felt “un-womanly” and broken.  I felt like my body didn’t work right.  I didn’t dilate like a “normal” woman (i.e. 1 cm an hour).  I felt like I was not a woman…..meaning, I couldn’t “birth” a baby.
Having feelings of self-doubt and maternal inadequacy is a very tough way to begin life as a new mother.  However, for many women who have had emergency c sections, the experience of birthing their child is just that.  Many women have said that recovering emotionally from an emergency c section is often more “gut-wrenching” and agonizing than dealing with the physical pain caused by having your belly sliced open. 
I am so very very grateful for this Birth Circle that we have started.  I do not want anyone to have to feel the emotions that I felt “by myself”.  If I/we can help one woman overcome these emotions, then the purpose of this group is fulfilled.  Please remember that it is very normal to feel these things.  We are here to help you get through these tough emotions.