With the rising popularity of social media there are now support groups popping up everywhere for all manner of different things. I’m pretty active in the birth community and so I am a part of a variety of birth oriented support groups. VBAC support, birth trauma support, natural birth, homebirth – every sort of birth group (because I’m a birth junkie and LOVE to talk about all types of birth!). And some of these online forums translate over into “in person” support groups and get togethers. With all my online involvements, it was really just a matter of time before I got involved in helping to run a local support group on a topic that I am VERY passionate about – birthing after caesarean.
Planning another baby after a previous caesarean can present some unique challenges for women and women can feel they want support in a variety of different ways:
Informational: There is so much conflicting information out there about birthing after a caesarean. Questions women often have are: What are the risks associated with planning a vaginal birth? What are the risks associated with planning a repeat caesarean? How can I maximise my chances of a vaginal birth? What policies does the hospital have and are they evidence or tradition based? If I decide to have a repeat caesarean how can I make the experience more positive than last time?
It's important to learn your hospital's policies about birthing after caesarean and whether they are evidence or tradition based. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Emotional: Women often find that many emotional challenges arise while planning their next birth after a caesarean. Women can be worried about complications recurring and the health of their baby and themselves. Women can be worried about the risks associated with the different birth options. Women can feel isolated if they are making a choice that is different to their peers – ie: if they are choosing a vbac when most of their peers chose repeat caesarean. Concerns about whether their body “works” and how they will cope with a labour and birth. Many women also find that, regardless of which birthing option they are going for, they feel judged – by other mothers, by family and by care providers.
Logistic: Women can face several logistical challenges when planning their next birth. Finding a care provider who will support their choices and support their rights to informed decision making can be difficult. Especially if they live in a small town where there are not many choices.
So just what benefits are there to leaving the house, possibly with a toddler, and coming to a support group meeting?
Local knowledge: Online groups tend to be nationwide or international. Therefore it can be tricky to get the specific information you need for your local area. An in person support group is likely to involve a wider variety of people from your local community – women who have had a variety of different experiences with different care providers in your community; doulas who have worked in your community; midwives and other care providers from your own local community may also be in attendance. You will also be able to receive information regarding other local services for pregnant women and new mums.
Being able to sit and just tell your story: I had been a member of several support groups before I first attended an in person one. There was something different and exceptionally special about being able to simply tell my story, verbally, to a group of wonderful, supportive and caring women. Putting your story into words can be challenging, but many women find it very freeing to say their story to others rather than typing it on a keyboard.
We are more likely to be wearing shorts and t-shirts and drinking from a take away coffee cup - but how wonderful it is to get together with a group of other women to share stories and support each other. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Body language: Body language makes up a huge percentage of how we communicate. Being able to see how others physically react to your story can be exceptionally powerful. Watching as other women cry with you or share an encouraging smile or clap with joy for you is an amazing thing to experience.
Sometimes you just need a hug! There is no substitute for a human touch.
So, if you are an FNQ local please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via my facebook page Sprout Doula and Hypnobirthing Services and I would be more than happy to give you the details of our local birthing after caesarean group or help you find a group that suits you.
And if you are not in this area I encourage you to find a group that is in your area. Unsure of how to find a support group: Hop on facebook and look up mothers groups in your area; Contact a local doula or childbirth educator; or a local independent midwife. Keep searching until you find a group that will help you to achieve your goals – it is well worth the time and effort!!