When your heart is set on VBAC and then you end up having an unwanted CBAC it can take a huge toll on your health, both mental and physical, your self esteem, your relationship, and your ability to care for a new baby as well as other children. So hereís some tips to get you through the first year after an unwanted CBAC.
1) Prioritise physical health and comfort for as long as you need: The most important thing in the early days is that you are as comfortable as possible. If you need medication to help cope with the pain, take it. Treat your body gently, donít overdo it, rest when / if you can.
A Beautiful Comforter - Rest and Heal (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
2) Donít make any big decisions about your family: Donít swear off more children or send hubby off for a vasectomy. Conversely, donít start trying to conceive as soon as possible. Thereís no need to rush into decisions about the size of your family until you are good and ready - and when you are grieving for birth you are unlikely to be able to make the best choices anyway.
3) Choose your supporters wisely: Be wary of telling anyone that you are grieving over a lost birth because they might say insensitive things that trigger you. ďAt least you got a healthy babyĒ is probably the top offender here, but thereís also such gems as ďYouíre LUCKY you had a caesareanĒ and of course the age old ďWomen in Africa DIE giving birth!Ē. So unless you can guarantee that the person youíre telling wonít come out with lame placations and pointless distractions which will only trigger you, donít tell them. Reach out to the women in a birth trauma group either in your community (if youíre lucky enough to have one) or online.
4) Have no expectations of how you will feel: In the early days itís extremely common for women to feel ďat peaceĒ with a CBAC. Thatís good! Itís some breathing space to adjust to mothering a new baby. Itís extremely common for women to start questioning that as the months go by (month four to six seem to be the worst). Whether you feel ok about it or whether you feel rotten, itís ok, itís just how you feel, and there are no wrong or right feelings. Feel what you feel without being critical of yourself, remember that women can not fail at VBAC, and no matter what happened, itís never your fault.
Good Food to Assist Healing on the Inside And Outside (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
5) Be kind to yourself and your body: Although you may feel as if your body betrayed you, donít betray your body by being critical of it, or by physically punishing it. Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a friend with birth trauma, and treat your body the same way you would advise someone else to treat theirs when they were recovering from major surgery. You are a human being, and you deserve kindness.
6) Donít have a timeline for emotional healing: Thereís no rush to heal, and healing is a process of ebb and flow. Some months will be easy and it wonít cross your mind, but then you might have days that you have to take one at a time, days when your mind is a fog and you want to cry. Donít expect yourself to ďjust get over itĒ, and donít minimise your pain. Although you might feel desperate to overcome your grief and trauma, you can not rush through it, so just be patient, the day will come when you have no need to focus healing energy on it, and in the meantime you are safe with your feelings, even when they seem overwhelming.
7) Managing the First Birthday: Be aware that your babyís first birthday could raise a range of emotions, from joy, to grief, to confusion, and loneliness. Itís common for women to have flashbacks around the first birthday too. Take time to honour the part of yourself that is troubled, donít expect yourself to soldier on through it. Itís a good idea to host any birthday parties a week before or after the actual date to give yourself room to process your feelings privately. This is especially true if you have less that sympathetic family members or friends who are likely to attend the party.
So if you find yourself in recovery from an unwanted CBAC, donít panic. Itís hard emotionally, itís horrible physically, but you can get through it. You really can! In the long run you are going to be ok, you will find a place in yourself that accepts this as a part of your journey.