Processing the Cesarean Birth

While you're in the hospital or at home, you may feel a variety of emotions related to your birth experience. If you had a strong desire to have a vaginal birth, you may feel a sense of loss. Though medical circumstances dictate the reasons for a cesarean birth, you may blame yourself for "doing something wrong." Like many women, you may experience guilt: "I didn't exercise enough," "I didn't eat right" or "I gained too much weight." You may feel anger -- at yourself, at your partner or at your doctor.

Many cesarean mothers go through a grieving process for the birth experience they didn't have. These feelings are typical, and you need to work through them. If, after a few months, you are still angry or sad much of the time, seek counseling to help you understand and cope with these reactions.

You may be able to ease some of your physical and emotional pain by talking with other cesarean mothers who have had similar experiences. A cesarean support group or post-cesarean class can be a great help. Ask your childbirth educator or your hospital's community education department for the names of local parenting groups that offer discussion sessions.

As you work through your own feelings, keep in mind that a cesarean is a sensible alternative, a form of birth that helps deliver the healthiest baby possible. Be proud of yourself, your partner and your baby. You have successfully coped with many difficult things. Right from the beginning, you've made a decision to do what's best for your child. Celebrate the birth of your baby and the beginning of your wonderful new life!

Ann Carol Wyman, RN, LCCE, FACCE, teaches cesarean childbirth classes at Fairfax Hospital and Fair Oaks Hospital in northern Virginia. She is also the Maternal/Child Health Coordinator of Prince William Hospital in Manassas, VA.

If you'd like more information, you may find these articles helpful:
-- Basic Facts About Cesareans
-- Cesarean Birth: What to Expect
-- Breastfeeding After a Cesarean
-- Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean

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