April is Cesarean awareness month, and we would like to spotlight all you awesome moms who have experienced a cesarean birth. Whether it was part of your plan or totally unexpected, this birth experience became yours. Whether you had a tough recovery or a relatively uneventful one, you experienced the cesarean recovery. Whether you had a difficult time emotionally dealing with the trauma, or were able to mostly overlook it due to your gratefulness for modern medicine, you were cut. You have a scar, and a beautiful one, at that. We want to celebrate it, because of the strength it represents. We want celebrate you, because this strength of yours is deserving.
Cesarean births presently occur in approximately 1 out of 3 births here in the United States, which means that this experience is much more common than many might believe. They occur for many reasons. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary and can save the life of mom or baby--or both. Other times, it isn't necessary and was performed out of a lack of patience of the medical staff. Sometimes, it is completely by choice of the mom. Whatever the reason for the cesarean birth, women are having to recover from them. What so many that have not experienced a c-section do not understand is how trying the recovery can be. It can be painful both physically and emotionally. Those who have gone through it usually come out on the other side with new strength they had not previously discovered within themselves.
The physical recovery of a cesarean is challenging and very different from its vaginal delivery counterpart. This is no walk in the park....we are talking MAJOR SURGERY! Top that off with having to care for a new baby, that sleeps precious little, and the task seems doubly daunting. The best thing doctors tell you to do in recovery from surgery is to rest; kind of hard to rest well when you are up....a lot....feeding and caring for your new baby. In a vaginal recovery, sometimes the most worrisome task is that first bowel movement. A cesarean recovery, on the other hand, taunts you with every laugh, sneeze, or cough that you dread....repeatedly. You need help to get up, or sometimes even to get back in bed. You are supposed to be walking in order to help the recovery process, but you loathe the moment of getting up to start the walk. Did I mention that after surgery there is some serious gas to deal with? Hopefully this delightful post-op gift will bless you with its presence when no one else is around, but that is not always the case. When it does rear its ugly face, control is hard! Just let. it. go. (As if you had another choice!). Additionally, that beautiful scar needs extra care and can become quite itchy. But you, cesarean moms, you didn't let all of this get you down. You rock! You have dealt with the recovery and have survived and all while taking care of you AND your sweet baby!
The emotional recovery can be even more difficult to some than the actual physical part. Many women went into their pregnancies assuming that the culmination would be beautiful vaginal births. Some want an all natural, drug free birth and come out with completely the opposite. Their expectations, hopes and desires seem to have deserted them. They feel robbed. They feel as if they have somehow failed as a woman. They may feel let down by their own bodies or by people they trusted. The emotions can take months, even years to deal with and accept. Cesarean moms, you have journeyed through many of these valleys. You are stronger for it, although you may not realize it. You deserve a sash and a crown!
Later, down the road, a cesarean mom will have to think of the future. Will she try to VBAC? Will she have a repeat c-section? Will she continue to have children? Whatever her decision, it probably will come after much mental wrestling and internal debating. Her decision can have the backing of the whole family or none at all. Whatever the case, there is a lot of support out there for you. There are doulas, who are trained in all kinds of birth experiences to help you on your next birth, to assist and to encourage you in all your decisions. There are support groups such as ICAN where women with previous cesarean births can share their stories and gain the love and encouragement of others with similar experiences. Maybe you have made that decision and have achieved your desired birth, perhaps with a doula, or perhaps with a bit more knowledge. Maybe you are already drawing upon your own strength to help others in their own experiences.
Whether cesarean rates increase or decrease, there will still be women who experience them, therefore there will always be beautiful scars and beautiful women to celebrate. You, you cesarean birth goddess, overcame!! Your unique birth experience has put a beautiful baby in your arms! Your birth story is that baby's journey into the world and is unlike anyone else's on earth. Embrace it--the joy, the pain, the trial, and the victory. Embrace your story. It is beautiful and so is your scar. WE CELEBRATE YOU!!!!
Blog Post Written by Mekelle Daniel VBA2C Certified Birth Doula