Embracing the Unexpected - C-Section & Depression

Embracing the Unexpected - C-Section & Depression

You are nearing the end of your third trimester of pregnancy and the doctor mentions you must have a C-Section (Cesarean Section). This is where they perform a procedure by cutting through the walls of your abdomen to deliver your baby. You’re devastated because you were looking forward to the labor pains, the pushing and deep breathing. You wanted to experience the full nine yards of a vaginal childbirth. Depression settles in and overwhelm your thought process, and now you’re questioning, “What’s wrong with my body?”

While many women who experience vaginal deliveries comes out feeling proud, nearly 25% of women who undergo an unplanned c-section end up feeling disappointed by their birth experience, with 15% believing they have failed because a c-section, to them, isn’t really giving real childbirth, be it scheduled or emergency.

Let’s take a brief minute to talk about schedule c-sections and emergency c-sections. Studies show that women who knew in advanced that they will have a scheduled c-section were far more at peace than those who were given emergency c-sections. Why is this so? Could it be that a planned labor and delivery, ending in an emergency c-section leads to disappointment? Or is it that a spontaneous procedure that involves no sense of choice, allows the woman to become overwhelm with negative emotions? Studies show that 26% of women having emergency c-sections believe that they have caused it to happen, perhaps from working too hard during their pregnancy, terminating a previous pregnancy, past STDs, bad diets, and even stress during the pregnancy. The challenge is how do we get them to reframe from these negative feelings?

  1. Although the goal is for the woman to have a vaginal delivery, discussing with her from the start, that with any pregnancy, no matter how healthy she may be, there are always odds of an unplanned c-section. By knowing ahead of time what lies ahead, this gives her a feeling of resistance toward negative feelings in every stage of pregnancy from labor and delivery to recovery, in the event of an unexpected c-section.
  2. A woman should always ask her doctor why a c-section is recommended. She should expect a detailed response so in this case she can discuss the situation with her partner or support members.
  3. The woman’s husband and/or support members should always be prepared to empower her with words of encouragement. Mantras such as, “You’re more than a conquer,” “You’re not a failure,” “You are doing a tremendous thing,” helps her to overcome and ward off negative feelings.
  4. There are C-section support groups that offer help in women who are having a hard time bouncing back from postpartum depression. Information can be provided through their prenatal manage care.

So remember, although you didn’t experience the vaginal childbirth you planned, none the less, your body has still done an amazing and beautiful thing, and it doesn’t make you not one bit less of a woman.

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