Monday, May 30, 2011

After a C-Section

Both of my boys have birthdays within these 2 months, and I have been reflecting on their birthing experiences, which were both very different.  With Micah I had a c-section, and with Jaden I had a V-BAC.  Just today a friend of mine had a c-section, and it brought back my own memories again. I hope that this post is helpful to those of you who have friends having c-sections, as well as those of you who might have just gone through one.  In reading this, please know that not all experiences are like mine or all the same, so this is just from my own experience.

What To Understand About C-Sections

-A mom who has a c-section may be suffering from guilt in the days and weeks after her c-section. It is normal for her to wonder if she did something wrong to have to have a c-section, especially if it was unplanned or she hoped for a natural birth.  It does not help to say things like, "Oh, what a bummer!!  Too bad you had to have a c-section."  Although that sounds... consoling at first, it could make her feel like everyone sees her birthing experience as negative and unfortunate, when in reality, a beautiful baby still was born!

- Here are more things not to say:
   - "I WISH I could've had a c-section. You don't even know how bad it hurts to have a baby the regular way!"

   -"Did you really have to have one?  Wasn't there anything else they could have done?"  Again, not helpful.  You are not a doctor, and neither is she. What's done is done, and the baby is here.

   -"At least you didn't have to wait anymore".  Again, sounds consoling, but many moms would rather wait and have a natural birth than have to have a c-section.

   -Bring up statistics about how you read that way to many hospitals are giving women c-sections who don't really need them. Again, not helpful.

   -It is also important to understand that a woman who's had a c-section may not want visitors for the first day or two (or longer).  She is recovering from major surgery and could be in a lot of pain.  For me, I felt drugged up the entire first day and was shaking uncontrollably from coming out of the anesthesia.  I actually started to get mad that so many people were coming to visit me when I wasn't even...present.  Again, some people may not react like this - but it is best to text first (avoid calling the mom if possible that first day), so that she can have the option to say "no" to visitors.

   -It is also normal for a new mom to be very emotional the first few days, depending on how the anesthesia affected her body.  I was sweating and crying for 3-4 weeks. I remember someone came over to drop us off a meal, and I hid in the bathroom sobbing, and I didn't even know why.

What you CAN do is this:

-DO call or text before visiting to see if it's okay.

-DO bring her a meal.  It is very hard for (many) moms recovering from c-sections to walk around and get in and out of bed.

-Offer to come over and watch the baby so she can just sleep.  Again, moms recovering from c-sections often need more sleep than someone who had a traditional birth, at least for the first 2 weeks (but up to 6 weeks). Everyone is different, but I found this helped me heal more than anything.

-DO ask how she's feeling. Check in with her.  Let her know you are there to listen and help her in any way possible.

-DO focus on the baby, instead of the way she had the baby.

What you Shouldn't Do is this:

-Do NOT - I repeat, do NOT - come visit if you are at ALL sick or someone in your family is sick.  Not only will a new mom freak out about you contaminating her baby, but if she got sick while recovering from a c-section, it could be very bad for her (especially if she gets sick with a cough while healing from her stitches).

-DO NOT come visit her in the hospital if she's not ready.  I know I already mentioned that above, but as I stated, recovery from a c-section is radically different and she may not want visitors seeing her in that state.  Check with her first.

-DO NOT ask to see her scar.  Um, humiliating.  Unless she offers to let you see it.

-DO NOT put expectations on her to be at an event for at least 6 weeks.  Be very understanding of her healing process, and do everything you can as a friend to protect her during that time.

I hope these things are helpful to friends and others who know someone going through a c-section.  While some people have planned c-sections and will respond very differently than this, others will have a very hard time with it.  Now it's your turn - former c-section mommies, did I miss anything?


  1. EXCELLENT post! As a matter of fact i'm gonna pass it on to my friends...I had a CSection my 1st pregnancy and in just a month i'm hoping to have a VBAC. the csection was awful! i dont even remember my baby the first 2 day i was so out of it!

  2. Please tell me no one asked to see your scar! That's just wrong!! :)

  3. Great advice! I think what kills me (still!) is when people go off on how bad c-sections are and how there are too many of them and all this negative stuff, not even giving consideration to c-section mamas who WISH things could have been different. But the fact of the matter is, c-sections DO save lives--of mamas and babies, and sometimes they are best. This coming from a 3x c-section mama, failed VBAC and uterine rupture mama. I've done it all! LOL

    And yes, any comparison of your natural birth to her c-section birth within the first few months is just torture! It's apples & oranges.

    And I'm still thrilled for every mama who has a successful VBAC.