Some years back, one of my friends gave birth to her first baby through caesarean section and I went to visit her in the hospital. As soon as she saw me, she burst into tears saying “I’m not a real woman; I’m a failure; I didn’t do it the normal way.”Those words sounded strange to me at the time and left me thinking. But over the years I’ve heard more and more women who had babies through C-section saying the same thing.I always ask myself “Is there anything wrong with the way or method a child is birthed?”“Can one method of childbirth be called normal and another abnormal?” “Does the fact that you had surgery make you less of a woman or a mother?”
Come to think of it, what do we mean by normal? Would you prefer to be normal at the expense of your life and that of your baby?Would you forgive yourself if something had gone wrong (like death of your baby) in a bid to be normal? Who are you trying to please or exhibit your prowess in childbearing to?
Every pregnant woman hopes for a short labour and delivery with no complications — manageable contractions, some pushing, then a beautiful baby. But it doesn’t always work out that way.Sometimes an emergency C-section is required where there is an immediate danger to a woman or her baby, or if labour is not progressing as it should.
Remember, just because you had a C-section does not make you any less of a woman, a bad mom or anything anyone else would like to tell you. When this risk is weighed against other circumstances, it can be the better choice.
However, where you find yourself depressed and traumatised after a C-section, there are lots of things that you can do to help yourself:
- Ask for help after you get home. Talk about your feelings; suffering alone in silence will only add to your depression. Some mothers recover on their own, but recovery tends to be faster and easier with help or treatment.
- Your body has been through an arduous process, so try to sleep as much as possible after giving birth.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Accept that labour is unpredictable. As a natural process, it is largely uncontrollable. In fact, the only part that can be controlled is appropriate intervention to ensure that you and your child are safe. C-section intervention is not failure but success, because it means that you have achieved your goal – healthy baby and healthy mother.
- Ask for a birthing review. This will give you answers and explanations as to why you couldn’t continue labour naturally.
- Stop being hard on yourself. Be proud that you did the best thing for your baby.
- Do not despair. It’s not the journey but the destination that counts.