Women face intense emotions after having an unplanned C-section, ranging from happiness all the way to regret and guilt. The questions and comments from others only encourage that C-section guilt.
When you have an unplanned C-section, you face a whirlwind of emotions. At first, you might feel thankful that your baby is okay; an emergency c-section may be because your baby was in danger. Later, you start to wonder if YOU did something wrong, leading to intense guilt. C-sections aren't a "normal" birth.
Then, the questions begin. Well-meaning friends ask if your C-section was necessary. What led to that? You join a Facebook group, and they tell you that you did everything wrong. You should've tried harder, changed hospitals in the middle of birth, and other insane advice at times. Rather than simple congratulations, you find yourself having to justify your birth to everyone.
C-Section Guilt is Real
Whether these people mean harm or not is not the issue at hand. Mothers who have an unplanned c-section often feel guilt rather than happiness. Nine months were spent developing an idea of their birth in their head. As your baby kicked in your womb, you imagined the first moment you would hold him after birth. Then, for whatever the reason, all of your dreams crumble when faced with a C-section.
Instead of remembering your birth fondly, you wonder what you did wrong. Instead of looking back on the what should be the best day of your life, you look back with C-section guilt."These mistakes happened because of something out of my control, and I felt extremely ashamed and guilty for allowing. Consequently, I never wanted to talk about it with anyone, so I dealt with all of these emotions internally." - L.
Unnecessary Comments and Questions
Comments and questions made by friends and family further the guilt. Most mothers want to be told congratulations and that their baby is beautiful. We understand well-meaning questions, but many questions elude to the fact that we did something wrong. Rather than asking, "Was your c-section TRULY necessary," try asking "I know you had a C-section. How are you feeling?""No matter how much pain I went through or how his birth had landed me with PTSD, I didn't 'go through childbirth.' The guilt that other women make you feel is unreal because your story isn't like theirs." - C
Give us the opportunity to discuss our experience openly.
What YOU Can Do
Everyone knows the C-section rate is too high in the United States. Efforts need to be made to reduce the statistics, but C-sections are a necessary procedure for many women. That doesn't mean a woman who had a C-section needs to be told she is only increasing that percentage. Instead of questioning, offer congratulations."…A week later, I met with an LC who said she was happy I was breastfeeding to make up for not having a natural birth." - B
Later, if your friend seeks advice, be there to support her in any decision, even if it is a repeat C-section.