7 Ways to Cope With The First Year After CBAC
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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 here’s 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, don’t overdo it, rest when / if you can.
2) Don’t make any big decisions about your family:
A Beautiful Comforter Rest and Heal Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Don’t swear off more children or send hubby off for a vasectomy. Conversely, don’t start trying to conceive as soon as possible. There’s 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. “At least you got a healthy baby”
is probably the top offender here, but there’s also such gems as “You’re LUCKY you had a caesarean”
and of course the age old “Women in Africa DIE giving birth!”
. So unless you can guarantee that the person you’re telling won’t come out with lame placations and pointless distractions which will only trigger you, don’t tell them. Reach out to the women in a birth trauma group either in your community (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or online.
4) Have no expectations of how you will feel:
In the early days it’s extremely common for women to feel “at peace” with a CBAC. That’s good! It’s some breathing space to adjust to mothering a new baby. It’s 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, it’s ok, it’s 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, it’s never your fault
5) Be kind to yourself and your body:
Good Food to Assist Healing on the Inside And Outside Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Although you may feel as if your body betrayed you, don’t 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) Don’t have a timeline for emotional healing:
There’s no rush to heal, and healing is a process of ebb and flow. Some months will be easy and it won’t 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. Don’t expect yourself to “just get over it”, and don’t 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 baby’s first birthday could raise a range of emotions, from joy, to grief, to confusion, and loneliness. It’s common for women to have flashbacks around the first birthday too. Take time to honour the part of yourself that is troubled, don’t expect yourself to soldier on through it. It’s 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, don’t panic. It’s hard emotionally, it’s 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.
Growth and Healing Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
258279 - 2023-07-20 01:20:29