April is Cesarean Awareness Month, and with the prospect of my fourth c-section coming in November, I did not want to miss an opportunity to encourage my fellow c-section moms, especially since I will be having my fourth in November.
I know, most of us do not love c-sections.
But we do love moms and we love healthy babies. And I love supporting my fellow mom-friends, especially when things are going rough.
The fact is that most moms did not choose c-sections. Those decisions were made for us through a series of events, often completely beyond our control. Yet so frequently, it’s judgment that a c-section mom feels instead of grace.
Instead, let’s look for ways to actively love her, especially if this is her first surgical birth.
If you’ve had a c-section, reach out to her. I am eternally grateful for an old college friend who reached out to me after my first c-section to tell me about (of all things) poop! Yep, I just said that! BMs are one of the worst parts of a c-section, and she had the guts to tell me all about her solutions for it (black tea, among others).
Other friends have reached out to me as well after my babies have been born. Many of them have never experienced a surgical birth, yet their kindness has blessed me more than they can know.
6 Ways to Support a C-Section Mom
Ask her about her birth story.
Don’t let your c-section friends just sit there quietly when moms are swapping birth stories. Encourage her to tell her story. Because trust me, there is one! And like yours, it’s probably a mix of drama, beauty, and a little mess.
Grieve with her if she’s grieving.
One friend confessed “I felt like I had been raped.” Her emergency c-section was that dramatic and unexpected. And it was the opposite of what she wanted.
My experience was different. When I found out my baby was breech, I knew then I would have to be induced or have a c-section, so I grieved the loss of my ideal birth then. I had imagined timing contractions, waking up during the night, and my husband was prepared to coach me through child birth. It hurt that the stereotypical birth story would not be mine. It’s funny how a lifetime of watching sitcoms can set us up for disappointment, isn’t it?
As I called a friend to tell her (and cry!), I realized that my friend had several miscarriages and empty arms. And yet I was complaining to her. It put it all in perspective and I was OK with either outcome.
A few days later, my doctor attempted an ECV to turn our baby in the womb (at the hospital!) and when that didn’t work, I ended up with a c-section. But by then, I had completely accepted it. Birth was a complete joy to me, even if it wasn’t the story I had always dreamed of. All I could think of was the little blessing in my arms, and the pain of surgery melted away each time I held my baby.
Celebrate with her.
It’s not just a surgery. It’s the birth of a baby. That is precious.
If she tells you about her story, be sure to focus on the positives. Refrain from asking any questions that feel like judgment, especially since postpartum hormones might be at an all time high.
Romans 12:15 gives us the best rule of thumb: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Support her decisions for future pregnancies.
VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) and repeat elective cesareans are incredibly controversial. Lately, the pendulum is swinging towards VBACs in popularity and I often hear quite a bit of judgment regarding the choice for repeat c-sections. Regardless, it is her baby and her body. She has to take into account the safety concerns with both choices as well as a million and one factors that you (and I) can’t possibly understand unless we’re in her exact identical situation. And we are not.
When I find out a friend is going for a VBAC, I am incredibly happy for her. She knows I choose repeat c-sections, so there’s no need to remind her of my decision. I feel sure she has read the same articles that I read and I trust that she has prayed about it. So I pray for her too and rejoice when things go as planned. Mom friendships are a beautiful thing when we support each other.
Share stories of success.
Have you had one? Give her all the dirt! Tell her how you overcame those challenges so that she knows what to expect.
Know a mom who had 6 c-sections? Tell your friend about her! Don’t tell her about someone whose doctor only permitted them to have two babies because that might crush her dreams. My doctors have always assured me that I could have more, and that has been a great comfort to me.
Do you know someone who was able to breastfeed well after a c-section? Get them in touch, especially if your friend is having a hard time nursing. I feel like the cards are stacked against us with a c-section, but it’s completely possible to breastfeed after a c-section. We just have a few more hurdles to jump. Share with her about how we can really make the best of a c-section.
Help her out.
For me, it takes about 5-6 weeks after surgery to feel like a human again. Laundry is impossible for weeks, due to the bending and the weight of carrying the clothes. That’s why I never plan on using cloth diapers until I know I can handle the laundry. I’m no fool and I know my limits.
So be a good friend and offer to help with chores or care for her other children. Pick up one of her kids to go to the park!
Bring a meal or even several. One friend brought me four freezer meals after the birth of my first baby, which was amazing.
Find ways to be a blessing to her until she’s feeling great again.
Moms with c-sections, what made you feel loved after having a baby? Let’s share some ideas!