I’d like to consider myself a mostly healthy young woman. Sure, I’m not perfect, but I eat my veggies, my blood pressure is great, and I have stayed active for the majority of my life. In fact, my OB praised me throughout pregnancy for not gaining too much weight; reminding me that I was seemingly set up for an easy birth. Oh boy, was she wrong. Labor was terrifying and what we didn’t know is that I seem to have a overly narrow birth canal. (We found out much later.) I ended up having to have a c-section – which left me with this strange feeling. This raises the question: what is c-section guilt and how do you cope with it?
You May Also Like: A C-Section Mom’s Birth Story
C-Section Guilt is an emotion not often talked about but is a common occurrence in mothers having cesarean deliveries – especially if it were unplanned.
I remember “SO” pulling me into his arms as I cried. All I could think was “I went through all of this for nothing.” 16 hours of labor. 5 hours of pushing. Giving into having a c-section is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Guilt. That’s the first emotion I felt following my decision. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but I recognize it now. That lump in the back of my throat. That feeling of failure.
What they don’t tell you is that this feeling is totally normal – but it feels like the whole world is crashing down. People give c-section moms so much trouble with things like, “your baby was never actually born” or “you’re lucky you didn’t have to go through real labor.” And while these statements all completely untrue, it definitely contributes to that guilty feeling.
I’m almost two months postpartum and that feeling hasn’t really gone away. Some days I feel stuck in it, like gooey residue I can’t wash off. My doctor says that maybe getting out of the house and going back to work will help me to feel less anxious about everything – but it doesn’t.
The thing about my situation is that I know I’m not the first mom to feel like this, and I won’t be the last. And that’s why I wanted to send a little message of help to the ones that feel the same thing I’ve been going through for the past few weeks.
5 Steps to Get Rid of That Guilt Feeling
1. Confirm When It Started
For me, it started the moment I agreed to having a c-section. The feeling washed over me like pouring rain. 4pm on a Tuesday, I was so tired from being up all night and pushing all day. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
The first step to getting rid of c-section guilt is to pin point when you started feeling it. Maybe it was instantly, like me. Or maybe it was 6 months later. When was the moment you truly felt it? Start with that.
2. Say It Out Loud
This one is the one I’ve been having trouble with. I’m a firm believer that saying things out loud makes it true – so I keep most things to myself. But healing starts with admitting that it’s there. And sometimes, admitting it is more than just saying it in your head – it’s stating it matter-of-factly. Acknowledge it as a passing emotion that allows you to see where your values currently lie and examine whether those values belong to you or someone else. (Or if you feel this way by standard.)
I tend to go through spurts of journaling. Some days it helps, and other days it doesn’t. But it helps to answer a series of questions. Searching your own brain for the answer to your own troubles. I mean, no one really knows you better than you know yourself, right? Try some of these:
- Why am I feeling this guilt?
- What advice would I give myself from another person’s perspective of the situation?
- Does the way I gave birth change my outlook on motherhood?
- Was this a situation you could have controlled? Why or why not?
I would also recommend to try making a list of things that have made you happy since you’ve become a mom. I’ve done this that way whenever I’m feeling guilty about things, I can stop and remember all the good things that have come out of it.
I am a firm believer in affirmations – though I rarely use them for myself. But some days I know when I need them. I’ll be shortly making a post full of them and I’ll link them back here. But I wanted to quote from “The Multitasking Woman” when she said: Living with guilt, particularly when it’s unwarranted, is no way to live and anxiety-inducing. The “could haves” and “should haves”, the blame, the overanalysing, the people-pleasing, letting go of guilt can be empowering because learning how to deal with guilt means you can take control.
UPDATE: Affirmations for C-Section Moms is up now!!
5. Forgive Yourself
This seems like a “well, duh” thing to say. And perhaps it’s the hardest step of all. The truth is, c-section guilt isn’t something you can look to someone else for forgiveness for. You didn’t do anything wrong. You made a decision that was best for you AND the health of your baby.
Motherhood is hard. Especially as a new mom! You have a new role, a new daily life. New feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, and yes, even guilt. All of these new experiences and feelings – even the good ones – can start to wear you out and drag you down. But take it from me, you don’t have to be stuck in it.
I also want to recommend following @csectionstrong on Instagram!
I hope this message finds you the moment you need it.