What might a cesarean get you? Often more than is bargained for.

This is a  slight re-do from a popular blog post from early 2008. The information is vital and pertinent to the near 1.5 million women (based on previous CDC data) who will have a cesarean surgery this year.

Having a cesarean section will almost always  get you a baby.  Generally there is much more to it and anyone could bargain for or anticipate even in the best of recoveries.

Let me count the ways in no particular order:

  • A scar that in no way makes a bikini look better. Sometimes described as a shelf or a pouch.
  • The feeling of failure, guilt or less than deserving of motherhood.
  • The struggle of living with the huge dichotomy of loving your baby and perhaps hating the birth.
  • Higher probability of losing your ability to have more children either through physiologic secondary infertility, pregnancy complications, self-induced secondary infertility, hysterectomy or lack of sexual intimacy in relationship.
  • Higher probability of difficulty in breastfeeding.
  • Postpartum depression or PTSD, especially in an unwanted cesarean.
  • The feeling of failure as a wife or partner.
  • Having others discount your feelings and needs. After all you “just” had a baby. Really you just had MAJOR surgery, perhaps by coercion, a true medical indication, or completely from interventions and medications.
  • Living with the idea that you failed to pass induction, you failed to push out your baby, you failed because _________ (fill in the blank).
  • Obtaining your records to find what you were told and what was written are different. Could your trusted care provider have lied and cheated you?
  • Simply finding out that no one told you and you didn’t think it would happen to you. That being induced, getting the epidural, allowing AROM, not getting out of bed, etc. is why you had the cesarean. Is maternal ignorance and fear enough to quell what you feel and make it okay?
  • How can you trust yourself as a mother when you ignored your maternal intuition and kept saying yes, because the nurse, midwife or doctor told you to?
  • The way your marriage or partnership takes a turn toward hell or in the least a divided place.
  • Living with dread when a hungry hand sweeps over your scar. Being sexual can be extremely difficult physically and emotionally.
  • Having great fear of becoming pregnant again.
  • Having great fear of going for a VBAC and ending up in the OR at the end.
  • Not being understood and having others say to your face how lucky you are that you got to take the easy way out.
  • Pain.
  • Difficulty moving, walking, getting up, rolling over, coughing, laughing, tending to personal cleaning…. You get the idea. It is surgery.

Though not every woman will experience what is on the list, many do.  For all of these – there a stories layered and interwoven for too many women.

Every thirty seconds a woman is surgically having her baby delivered. Light her a candle. Offer her a meal. Let her speak. Listen to her intently. Don’t judge her. Send her to ICAN. http://www.ican-online.org/.

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