C-section is a life saving procedure when used for medical necessity in situations where the risks outweigh the benefits. While some women are thankful for the procedure and what it did to help them and their babies, the reality is that for many women who have experienced a cesarean there is also a grieving process. What is to be grieved you might ask? This question is not a simple one to answer because for many women the affects of surgical birth go far beyond the obvious and changes their lives in real ways. For some it is grieving what could have been with a vaginal birth. For others it might be that they feel their body failed them in some way. Other women might have learned that their cesarean could have been prevented or wasn’t necessary altogether, and they become angry, resentful, and sad because what they thought was truth no longer is, and who they trusted to deliver them safely through birth did not meet their expectations.
Women who have received a c-section for either medical necessity or other reasons, often hear – “You should just be happy you have a healthy baby.” It is true. The grief that a mother feels at the loss of the birth experience she thought she could have had is not ungratefulness for her baby or her baby’s health. It is a grief of an experience that was hard for her to live through, or was traumatic for her. It will take time for mothers experiencing this grief to process it. They should not feel alone during that process, and no one should ever make her feel like what she is feeling is contrived or that she should feel guilty for it. We should also be aware that c-section has side effects for both mother and baby that might not be apparent to the casual observer. There are support groups for mothers who have experienced c-section. ICAN – International Cesarean Awareness Network is the largest and has chapters throughout the United States. It is best to discuss your feelings with others. Also, Mothering Magazine hosts a discussion community that has forums for Birth Trauma, Cesarean, and VBAC.
I wrote this post today to especially share with you this art display:
I hope you can take the time to view it. It speaks to the feelings many mothers have about cesarean. Yes, there are women who have a cesarean and have no regrets or hard feelings. That is ok as well. We all respond in different ways. The important thing is to acknowledge your feelings and give them a place for expression no matter how you feel about your birth experience.