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PPD or PTSD after Cesarean?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm wondering if I'm alone in this...has anyone else felt this way after a cesarean?


My youngest (now 13 months) was born via ERC 3 days after his due date. I felt like I was being pressured by my doctor, family and friends to "hurry up and have a baby", so after my 40 week appointment when my doctor told me I wasn't making any progress, the c/s was scheduled. I was so relieved at the time, to know that I would soon have a baby and everyone would stop badgering me to "have" one. The surgery came and went...everything went great (as far as c/s goes). We began nursing and haven't stopped and we've never had issues in that department. 


I went to my 6 week checkup asking about VB2C...my OB said, "It's controversial". After that, I wasn't sure if I would continue seeing him or not. He's a really nice guy, has a great bedside manner ect...but I wasn't sure if I could trust his judgment with a future pregnancy.


So here I sit being haunted by my cesarean experience, even though at the time I didn't think it was...it just kinda kicked in months afterward. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my son's birth. There are several times a day where I replay the experience over and over. I feel like I've invited my OB, the anesthesiologist and the 2 nurses into my home...that's how much I think about it! I've had nightmares, panic attacks revolving around my son's birth. It's so crazy to me and I don't know WHY it's turning out this way. It didn't bother me at the time...but it sure does now! I've been compiling research on vbac, home birth, ect for almost 3 years now. I really think that the only way around this anxiety and fear of the operating room is to have a vaginal birth, with someone that I know without a doubt I can trust wholeheartedly.


I'm wondering if I should seek counseling? The thing that makes me nervous about that, is I don't want to me medicated.

post #2 of 16

No, you are not alone!  I felt I had to respond, as your posted sounded so much like I felt after my daughter's birth by c/s, 7 months ago.  It was an un-planned c/s, and very soon afterwards, I felt really upset about the c/s - a lot of anger and sadness. Within a few months, the birth / c/s was almost all I could think about - I had to try NOT to think about it and distract myself.  It was like being a detective, watching a crime scene video that was slightly fuzzy, hoping that if I watch it enough times, it would make sense, some lightbulb would go off, and I would finally understand what happened and why.  It never helped, and I would start again - replay.  It was all-consuming, and I felt like I had to make an effort to focus on my baby, which felt awful.  I told my family dr that I was having some difficulties, and she referred me for counselling.  I found out that I have ppd (mild to moderate).  I really didn't think I did, I thought I was just having trouble accepting the c/s.  I continued counselling hoping to avoid taking meds.  I really didn't feel any better, and finally agreed to meds about 2 months ago.  It made such a difference!  I still have some bad days, but they are not nearly as bad, nor as frequent.  I have lots more good moments, and things aren't such an effort anymore.  I am really enjoying my baby now, and that feels wonderful.  The thoughts still come, but they don't consume my mind like they did before - I can let them go.  I was really against meds, and concerned because I am still breastfeeding.  There are meds that are safe to take while breastfeeding.  Mood disorders such as ppd are debilitating.  It was worth it to me to do what I needed to do (counselling and finally meds), so that I could be a healthy and present Mom for my baby.  I consider it compassionate use of medication to relieve suffering.  I would not have felt this way, had I not had this experience.  PPD can happen any time during the first year post-partum.  I would suggest seeking counselling, at least to have another person to bounce your ideas off of, or to give you a different perspective and to process feelings around the c/s. If it is ppd or ptsd, it may or may not involve medication, and that choice is up to you.  Good luck and take care!

post #3 of 16

I had both after my oldest's birth. I don't feel comfortable sharing the story on here but if you want to talk about it, feel free to PM me.

post #4 of 16

I can't type a ton right now but i wanted to say you are not alone.  It took me years and therapy to be pretty okay with my cs.  I have had 3.  The first i had such bad PTSD that it was hard to function.  almost 7 years later i went into the hosp where i had the first cs to visit a friend in the icu and i had a panic attack but i was able to work through it.  I ended up doing EMDR and it was so helpful to me.  The techniques helped me get out of the bad mind space i was in.  I never had to get on meds - having a kind counselor help me through was enough.  Good luck.

post #5 of 16

Another person chiming in: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Your experience sounds really similar to mine. Coerced into a c-section when my baby was 2 weeks overdue and the induction failed. I really have struggled with accepting the experience. Personally, I fell into a deep depression/anxiety within 3 weeks of delivery. I don't know if it would have been the same no matter what type of birth experience I had. But I do know that the experience was definitely a trauma, and it can take a long time to heal that.


I started therapy at 7 weeks postpartum, as well as medication ( i was unable to function, sleep, eat etc. ) Things improved pretty quickly for me. I am still in therapy (off and on) and on medication, and my son is now almost 4. I understand myself so much better now that I have given myself the gift of therapy. When we do talk about my birth (it still comes up once in a while), I can tell that i'm getting much closer to accepting what happened and being ok with it. Letting the trauma go some.


Anyway, definitely seek out a counselor. They will not try to persuade you to try medication. You are in control of that completely. I think it would help so much to be able to talk it through with someone...over and over and over again if you have to! Try to find someone who has experience treating postpartum women, as they will probably have loads of good information about birth trauma.


check out Postpartum Support International for resources in your area.

post #6 of 16

If you are having flashbacks and its taking over your days like that its very very likely PTSD.  I'm so sorry Mama. 


I am in counseling for PTSD.  I believe I had it before, but after my second cesarean I really suffered to the point that it was unmanageable-becoming ComplexPTSD.  Major control issues, inappropriate responses, flashbacks, nightmares, freaking out at an unexpected touch from dh, oh man thinking about it is upsetting =(


If you can find a therapist who knows about PTSD, possibly one who has worked with battered women (PTSD is common there) that would be good.  PTSD is more like an actual brain injury than an emotional disorder, there really isn't a medication for it though sometimes people take things for the anxiety and depression it can bring.  I do not take medications but do EMDR and am very careful with my nutritional intake.  I've read that PTSD can be helped with good nutrition and worsened with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 


Homeopathics can help with the grief and loss also.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much ladies! 

I've been talking with a home birth midwife about my experiences and kinda interviewing her for my next pregnancy/birth. It's helped SO much. The past month has been the first month since my DS was born (14 months ago) that I've not thought of my c/s or those that were present. It's SO FREEING!

post #8 of 16

I think I am struggling with PTSD as well.  I just had my baby in December and every day I am consumed with anxiety and flashbacks about the csection...wishing I had a time machine so I could turn back time and prevent it.  I cry some days and have trouble focusing on my daughter because all I can think about is how I should have had a natural birth.  Also, all I can think about is getting pregnant again to kind of "recitfy" what went wrong the first time.  I also keep thinking about what could go wrong in my next pregnancy because I had a csection with my first child, or that I may not even be able to have any more at all because of the section.  I feel like I have irrational fears, but most days they seem to overwhelm me.  I know it has only been two months, but I feel that I am just going to keep worrying and reliving the past until I get pregnant again.  I feel like I was struggling with prenatal depression and anxiety also during my pregnancy and was pushed into the csection by my doctor and husband when I was emotionally vulnerable. 

post #9 of 16

I had PPD with #2, and I currently have something akin to PTSD from my 2 c-sections. I am trying to arrange the providers I need to birth the way I want to with my upcoming VBA2C. I had a bad appointment and it sent me into an awful tailspin. I am a wreck. I feel like I did when I was being coerced into my first section -- powerless, devastated. gloomy.gif


I really don't know what to do. I have a great therapist who has helped me a lot with some family issues, but she has never given birth and I just don't think I can talk about birth to her. Maybe I am being narrow-minded.


OP, I am glad you are starting to see some progress. thumb.gif

Edited by Ms. B. Sprout - 3/1/11 at 3:36pm
post #10 of 16

Emotional Freedom Technique is what ultimately helped me. It takes away the negative charge that your experience left you with.  Neutralizes the emotions and heals so quickly.


post #11 of 16

Dear mrsundreamed,

I just read your post and had to respond to you.

I had my first child in December 2008. I was 40 years old. I had a terrible pregnancy, was 2 weeks over-due, had to be induced, was in labor for 15 hours, and pushed for 2.5 hours.  I DID have a vaginal delivery.  This was all 2 days before Christmas, so I was feeling all kinds of pressure from my family and my OB.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is that when I FINALLY had my baby...I got hit with PPD (which now I'm realizing was PTSD) like you would not believe.  I denied it to myself for 4 months.  I could not eat, could not sleep, could not focus, could not leave the house, and could not enjoy my baby.  I cried, had flash-backs and panic attacks, and my hands would shake uncontrollably. I lost 50 pounds in 4 months.

I'm not sure what my point is (it's very late right now!) but I just want you to know that if you think you are struggling with PTSD then you probably are. After 4 months of torture I finally started counseling and medication. The medication took about 6 weeks to kick in, but it did help.  I can tell you that I have been in some very deep, dark places.  I was literally begging God to give me my life back.  Pretty sad.

Even though I did not have a c-section, I feel like I can relate to what you're going through.  It took me 4 months to realize that if I'm happy, I can be a better mom and actually ENJOY being a mom.

Please let me know if I can help you in any way. 

post #12 of 16

Same here.... I had an unplanned c-section after 24 hours of induced labor (and THREE epidural attempts before it finally worked.....). I didn't mind the c-section as much (I guess at that point I just wanted it over with), but my mind does go back to the delivery a lot and I still don't understand the women who claim that "all the pain is forgotten once you see your child" .... To me it is still very much there & I remember it vividly. I love my daughter, but I want to scream at people asking me when we're having the next one! Ugh! Gimme a break people.


Also turns out I was allergic to the surgical tape they used on my back and on my c-section scar, so I had blisters all over. 


All in all, birth was not a fun experience and I wouldn't be surprised, at this point, if my daughter becomes an only child.


Good luck with finding counseling, I've thought about it too but I'm on medication at the moment & they seem to be doing ok (although as I stated in another post here, going back to work seem to have caused a regression of some sort.... that's an entirely different issue.)

post #13 of 16



Birth Trauma, I'm finding, is really triggering.  The more people asked about it, the more details would come to me. I wanted to just not remember, but little things set me off.


If you can combine some energy psychology with your meds, it would really help.


Praying for healing for you all.

post #14 of 16

Sometimes I wonder how we poor humans can be so vulnerable evolutionarily to trauma from what every animal does all the time.  But we SO are!!!  I had a perfect storm of disasters at the birth of my son--the c/s, getting a male doctor when because of a sexual assault I am TERRIFIED of male doctors (I'd been at a birth center but had to be transferred), and then the news that my precious and beautiful baby had Down syndrome.  And then, as with so many of you, came the nightmares, chills, shaking, flashbacks, etc.  Breast feeding was a tremendous help, but counseling did absolutely nothing for me.  Now we're coming up on a year, and I am so afraid the memories will overwhelm me.  I almost think I'd rather be a zebra with nothing to worry about in birth but lions.

post #15 of 16

 I had diagnosed PTSD... I had a lot of the sadness/grief after my first c-section, but it wasn't until after my SECOND that the PTSD really hit. And it was because my second c-section was handled so much better that I really understood how much I had lost the first time around. I went to see a wonderful counselor and it helped so much!

post #16 of 16

This thread is quite important because it shows how birth experiences can cause PTSD.


I also had/have PTSD from my birth experience with DS1 (induction at almost 42 weeks, but rather than letting me labor for more than 5 hours, OB told me a bunch of BS and coerced me into c/s only to write in my file it was due to FTP), and while I was aware of the trauma the experience caused me, I'm still working on accepting it, and I am still very angry.


I've been in counseling for about 2 years now, and I had moderate to severe PPD almost immediately after DS was born. I took meds for a year, and I sometimes think I should have continued taking them, but I felt so much better than.


Now I'm pg with DS2 - due in late August - and as I am planning the birth, I realize how much I have not processed the first birth. I've found a provider who is supportive of VBAC, etc., but I continue to be worried that the same things are going to repeat themselves or that somehow this birth is going to be just as traumatic as the first one. I've been discussing my fears with my counselor, who encourages me to bring this up with my OB, but I find it incredibly hard to talk about all the emotional baggage I bring with me.


Anyway, OP and everyone else: thanks for sharing your experiences and I hope you're all on the road to healing.

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