I’m so glad you found us. I’ll save you the trite platitudes—you’ve likely heard them all, and instead congratulate you on the upcoming arrival (or recent arrival) of your littlest love. Whether you scheduled an elective caesarean section early in your pregnancy, or it was recommended later in your pregnancy; if it was a hasty decision made in the midst of an emergency situation, or something you feel you had plenty of time to think about—weighing carefully the risks and the benefits—I hope (with all of my heart) that you feel supported here, that you feel listened to here, and that your feelings, whatever they may be, are validated here.
Here are a few things I wish I would’ve known before my c-section.
Listen to your Doctor.
A caesarean Section is major abdominal surgery, your doctor is the expert here—not the moms in your mom group who have had previous c-sections, not your cousin’s friend who had a wonderful recovery from a c-section. Every circumstance is different. Rest, recover, and follow your doctor’s orders. Doctor says no driving for 6 weeks? Don’t get behind the wheel. No vacuuming or sweeping? Even if you’re feeling a million times better, don’t do it! It’s not worth the risk. I had my staples removed 1 week post-op, and I felt like a million bucks. I owe my successful recovery to my family doctor who brought me back down to earth and reminded me it had ONLY been one week since surgery.
Every day will be a little better than the last and before you know it, you’ll begin to feel like yourself again. Take care of yourself—and let others take care of you.
Don’t kiss your birth plan goodbye just yet.
I wish I would’ve known that most hospitals are open to immediate skin to skin after a c-section, assuming everything is okay with both baby and mom. Before resigning yourself to what is known as the “standard of care”, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if there is anything in your birth plan that can still be done—especially those things that promote bonding for you and your newborn.
People say the darndest things.
My daughter was breech‐I scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees, spent most of my day bouncing on my exercise ball, put peppermint on the top of my belly, spoke gently to her and begged her to turn, took a homeopathic recommended by my midwife, floated on my belly in a warm bath, positioned myself upside down on an ironing board reclined against my couch—she never turned. My husband and I extensively researched all of our options: ECV (external cephalic version, where the baby is turned manually by a doctor in a hospital), vaginal breech delivery, and caesarean. After weighing the risks and benefits, and after meeting multiple times with my midwives and an OB/Gyn, I felt most comfortable proceeding with scheduling a caesarean. I was told by multiple people that I was CRAZY for even considering the alternatives (as if “crazy” is what you want to call a pregnant woman), I was told that I was giving up to soon, that my baby would turn, that I just wasn’t standing on my head correctly. After our baby was born, and I felt overcome by sadness because her birth was nothing like I’d imagined or even planned, I was told that I was ungrateful: because my baby was healthy, and some women never have healthy babies. The guilt was consuming. I could barely stand up straight, but managed to make it to church on Sunday‐my incision was still fresh and pink‐and I was approached by multiple people wanting to know when we were having another baby.
A few other ridiculous things I heard:
- ”...yeah, but I actually delivered my baby.”
- ”I wish I would’ve had a c-section.”
- ”You’re breastfeeding? I read that c-sections really hinder bonding with your baby. Hmmm, good for you.”
- ”Well, you were a c-section baby and you are pretty well-adjusted.”
I wish I was making this up. Here’s the thing: regardless of how your baby is born, people have this incredibly misguided desire to give you their opinions. The truth is that while they are totally entitled to their opinion, it’s only that: an opinion. The biggest one I want to address is this awful misconception that being unhappy with the fact that your plans changed, or that you had to have a c-Section automatically equals you being unhappy with the outcome (which is that hopefully, you have a healthy baby).
Let me make that super clear.
I have a healthy baby ≠ I have to be happy about the birth of my baby
The same way that:
I’m unhappy (disappointed, upset, etc.) ≠ I’m ungrateful for my healthy baby.
What people think doesn’t make you a better or worse mother.
You are strong, intelligent, and completely capable of making decisions for your family, for yourself, and for your baby. However you welcomed your baby into this world, it was nothing short of a miracle—and you should be so so proud. And if you aren’t in a place where you can be proud just yet, I will be proud for you.
Doulas can be incredible c-section support.
I assumed (incorrectly) that doulas were for home births, or vaginal births at the very least. The truth is that doulas are trained to support YOU, regardless of the birth you have.
Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you know that it’s perfectly fine to be exactly where you are.