Having feelings of self-doubt and maternal inadequacy is a tough way to begin life as a mother. Yet for many women who have emergency C sections, the experience of birthing their child is just that. As the many Circle of Moms members who've been through this reveal, recovering emotionally from an emergency cesarean section is often more gut-wrenching and agonizing than dealing with the physical pain caused by having your belly sliced open.
Imagine you've gone into labor thinking they you delivering your bundle of joy vaginally, only to find yourself on the operating table, well into a situation that feels completely out of control.
“It was [the] worst nightmare I had experienced,” laments Circle of Moms member Vicki C.
“Horrifying till I heard my baby cry,” writes Sonali M.
According to statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control, there is a one in three chance that a pregnant American woman will give birth via C-section.
“In 2007, nearly one-third (32 percent) of all births were cesarean deliveries,” according to the CDC’s March 2010 report, Recent Trends in Cesarean Delivery in the United States. The report analyzed live birth rates from 1996 to 2007 as reported via the agency’s National Vital Statistics System.
With those stats floating around the maternity ward, moms delivering via C-section ought to know they aren’t alone. Yet even that head knowledge doesn’t eliminate the things their hearts tell them when they find themselves suddenly giving birth abdominally.
Feelings of Guilt, Failure, and Loss
“I feel like I failed at giving birth because I had a C-section. I look at my scar and I get upset. I know my little girl came out of there and I should be thankful but I’m not. I really wish I had her naturally,” confesses Vicky H. Jennifer D., who had an emergency C after 10 hours of contractions, echos this response: “My son will be eight months old in a few days and I'm still upset and feeling guilty because he was born all alone without his mother or father present." After three hours of constant pushing, Jennifer's doctor told her the baby’s head was too large and that they were prepping the operating room. Her husband wasn’t in the OR when the anesthesiologist decided to put her under for the procedure (she was still feeling the contractions). “I missed his first cry. The first time I saw him was in a photograph they handed me in the recovery room. He was born at 12:06 p.m. and it was almost 4:00 p.m. before I held him or nursed him. I know I will never get over that.”
According to numerous moms, the sadness seem to linger. As Khul says, “It’s been 16 months since my son has been born but I still have that feeling at the pit of my stomach that I failed because I did not give birth naturally."
Others feel cheated out of an experience they believe would have jump-started the bonding process.
“When I first had my daughter in January 2009, I would be taking a shower or something else that would expose my scarred belly and I would cry because I was so looking forward to that moment when she came out and I got to hold my beautiful new slippery baby,” laments Amanda F. “I feel I got cut out of the equation because after the C-section, I was in a room by myself healing and my baby was with my mother. I wonder sometimes if I would have bonded more with her if she had been born vaginally.”
Recovering from Birth Trauma
“Have you ever heard of birth trauma? Many people do not know it exists, but we can be traumatized by bad birth experiences,” shares Trina. She believes it's important for moms "to talk about this, and open up.”
Rachael D. agrees. Her two children were both born via C-section: one scheduled and one emergency.
“Don't think that there was anything you could have done to change things,” she advises. “Let yourself have every feeling in the book from these uncomfortable ones to the best ones when you accept them as just something that happens.”
Stephanie N. adds that “Sometimes our bodies don't always do what we want them to. My daughter is now three and I still think about it sometimes." She advises acknowledging that there will be a natural time of sorrow following an emergency C-section. “It will get easier but right now, it is like a mourning period.”
Other women choose to focus on the positive outcome that a wailing baby born from a C-section represents.
“Just remind yourself that if you didn't have that C-section, you could have very well died as well as your beautiful baby. Sacrifice is the most carnal motherly instinct you have and you did it,” writes Erin L. “You sacrificed what you wanted [— a vaginal birth —] to help your child.”
And last but not least, Amber G. addresses the guilt trip many women who’ve had C-sections feel about not being “woman enough” to give birth vaginally.
“Didn't you still grow a human being in your body?” she asks. Then she answers: “That's pretty incredible, and womanly.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.