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How to Recover from an Emergency C-Section — Emotionally

How to Recover from an Emergency C-Section — Emotionally

Having feelings of self-doubt and maternal inadequacy is a tough way to begin life as a mother. Yet for many women who have emergency C sections, the experience of birthing their child is just that. As the many Circle of Moms members who've been through this reveal, recovering emotionally from an emergency cesarean section is often more gut-wrenching and agonizing than dealing with the physical pain caused by having your belly sliced open.

Imagine you've gone into labor thinking they you delivering your bundle of joy vaginally, only to find yourself on the operating table, well into a situation that feels completely out of control.

“It was [the] worst nightmare I had experienced,” laments Circle of Moms member Vicki C.

Horrifying till I heard my baby cry,” writes Sonali M.

According to statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control, there is a one in three chance that a pregnant American woman will give birth via C-section.

“In 2007, nearly one-third (32 percent) of all births were cesarean deliveries,” according to the CDC’s March 2010 report, Recent Trends in Cesarean Delivery in the United States. The report analyzed live birth rates from 1996 to 2007 as reported via the agency’s National Vital Statistics System.

With those stats floating around the maternity ward, moms delivering via C-section ought to know they aren’t alone. Yet even that head knowledge doesn’t eliminate the things their hearts tell them when they find themselves suddenly giving birth abdominally.

Feelings of Guilt, Failure, and Loss

 “I feel like I failed at giving birth because I had a C-section. I look at my scar and I get upset. I know my little girl came out of there and I should be thankful but I’m not. I really wish I had her naturally,” confesses Vicky H. Jennifer D., who had an emergency C after 10 hours of contractions, echos this response: “My son will be eight months old in a few days and I'm still upset and feeling guilty because he was born all alone without his mother or father present." After three hours of constant pushing, Jennifer's doctor told her the baby’s head was too large and that they were prepping the operating room. Her husband wasn’t in the OR when the anesthesiologist decided to put her under for the procedure (she was still feeling the contractions). “I missed his first cry. The first time I saw him was in a photograph they handed me in the recovery room. He was born at 12:06 p.m. and it was almost 4:00 p.m. before I held him or nursed him. I know I will never get over that.”

According to numerous moms, the sadness seem to linger. As Khul says, “It’s been 16 months since my son has been born but I still have that feeling at the pit of my stomach that I failed because I did not give birth naturally."

Others feel cheated out of an experience they believe would have jump-started the bonding process.

“When I first had my daughter in January 2009, I would be taking a shower or something else that would expose my scarred belly and I would cry because I was so looking forward to that moment when she came out and I got to hold my beautiful new slippery baby,” laments Amanda F. “I feel I got cut out of the equation because after the C-section, I was in a room by myself healing and my baby was with my mother. I wonder sometimes if I would have bonded more with her if she had been born vaginally.”

Recovering from Birth Trauma

“Have you ever heard of birth trauma? Many people do not know it exists, but we can be traumatized by bad birth experiences,” shares Trina. She believes it's important for moms "to talk about this, and open up.”

Rachael D. agrees. Her two children were both born via C-section: one scheduled and one emergency.

“Don't think that there was anything you could have done to change things,” she advises. “Let yourself have every feeling in the book from these uncomfortable ones to the best ones when you accept them as just something that happens.”

Stephanie N. adds that “Sometimes our bodies don't always do what we want them to. My daughter is now three and I still think about it sometimes." She advises acknowledging that there will be a natural time of sorrow following an emergency C-section. “It will get easier but right now, it is like a mourning period.”

Other women choose to focus on the positive outcome that a wailing baby born from a C-section represents.

“Just remind yourself that if you didn't have that C-section, you could have very well died as well as your beautiful baby. Sacrifice is the most carnal motherly instinct you have and you did it,” writes Erin L. “You sacrificed what you wanted [a vaginal birth ] to help your child.”

And last but not least, Amber G. addresses the guilt trip many women who’ve had C-sections feel about not being “woman enough” to give birth vaginally.

Didn't you still grow a human being in your body?” she asks. Then she answers: “That's pretty incredible, and womanly.”

Image Source: Tammra McCauley via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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EleniKaltsiki1371162532 EleniKaltsiki1371162532 2 years
I had an emergency C section after 45 hours of hard labour; to this day I feel angry and cheated as I think that the experience could have been very different had I received the appropriate care. My waters broke at midnight on Sunday night. We went to the birthing centre so the midwife could check that it was indeed was waters that had gone - pretty unmistakeable if you ask me, but there you go. We were told to come back when the contractions were 5 mins apart or if not to go to the hospital after 24 hours for induction. Fool that I was, I went home. My contractions were strong but never got closer than 6 minutes apart. And they were irregular. As this was my first baby, I had no confidence in what my body was telling me. When I got to the hospital on the Tuesday morning to be induced, I had had no sleep since Saturday night and no food either (I kept throwing up if I ate). But the thought of getting the process started kept me going, until I was told that the labour ward was busy, so I was going to have to wait on the Antenatal ward. And I waited through more irregular contractions that lasted for more than 2 minutes and were so strong that I couldn't stand or speak during them. I waited even though I felt like pushing. I waited and not one of the midwives there examined me or offered any support other than advising me to walk around to speed up labour. When I asked for some pain relief, I was told it was too early for Cocodamol- by a midwife who hadn't examined me. I have never felt so disempowered in my entire life. When a doctor finally came to examine me at 4 that Tuesday afternoon, he found that I was 10cms and had been for a while in his opinion. By this time of course, my labour had ground to a halt. Suddenly a room on the delivery ward became magically available and I was put on a Pitocin drip and given an epidural. My contractions started up again and I tried to push my son out! Oh boy did I try! But another little tidbit of information that had been missed by no one examining me was that he was back to back. Which further complicated things. I was exhausted, hungry, dehydrated and scared. After pushing for 2 hours, we tried ventouse and forceps and finally had to go with a C section. He was born at 9pm on Tuesday night. By the time my baby was out I was pretty much out of it too. I had got very shaky physically due to the epidural and couldn't hold him for a few hours. Emotionally I felt flat, that flatness I associate with having survived something very traumatic. I felt a rush of love towards him around 6 hours after he was born and that was when I first thought that we might be ok after all. I tried and tried to breast feed my son exclusively but he was not latching on properly nor getting enough milk. Feeding difficulties are apparently not uncommon in babies born by C section, or after traumatic births. So along with feeling that I failed at giving birth 'naturally', I also feel a failure at giving him the best start in life through nursing him. As I said at the beginning, I feel cheated of a more straightforward birth, which I think might have been achieved had I been taken seriously and examined upon arrival. I feel angry at the midwives on the Antenatal ward for not doing their job, but also with myself for not speaking up and demanding that I be taken seriously. In my everyday life I am able to speak my mind and be assertive, but I wasn't then. As I work with disabled children I am well aware of the potential effects of birth trauma on children's development. I am grateful that my son was born healthy and without any disabilities. He is now 5 and the joy of my life. However I still can't watch programmes like 'one born every minute' or 'maternity hospital' without feeling a bit sad and envious of the standard of care that other women appear to get as a matter of course. Sorry for the long post but this is the first time I have expressed what has been eating me inside for the past 5 years. Thanks for reading it, if you got this far! Xxx
EleniKaltsiki1371162532 EleniKaltsiki1371162532 2 years
I had an emergency C section after 45 hours of hard labour; to this day I feel angry and cheated as I think that the experience could have been very different had I received the appropriate care. My waters broke at midnight on Sunday night. We went to the birthing centre so the midwife could check that it was indeed was waters that had gone - pretty unmistakeable if you ask me, but there you go. We were told to come back when the contractions were 5 mins apart or if not to go to the hospital after 24 hours for induction. Fool that I was, I went home. My contractions were strong but never got closer than 6 minutes apart. And they were irregular. As this was my first baby, I had no confidence in what my body was telling me. When I got to the hospital on the Tuesday morning to be induced, I had had no sleep since Saturday night and no food either (I kept throwing up if I ate). But the thought of getting the process started kept me going, until I was told that the labour ward was busy, so I was going to have to wait on the Antenatal ward. And I waited through more irregular contractions so strong that I couldn't stand or speak during them. I waited even though I felt like pushing. I waited and not one of the midwives there examined me or offered any support other than advising me to walk around to speed up labour. When I asked for some pain relief, I was told it was too early for Cocodamol- by a midwife who hadn't examined me. I have never felt so disenfranchised in my entire life. When a doctor finally came to examine me at 4 that Tuesday afternoon, he found that I was 10cms and had been for a while in his opinion. By this time of course, my labour had ground to a halt. Suddenly a room on the delivery ward became magically available and I was put on a Pitocin drip and given an epidural. My contractions started up again and I tried to push my son out! Oh boy did I try! But another little tidbit of information that had been missed by no one examining me was that he was back to back. Which further complicated things. After pushing for 2 hours, we tried vetnouse
deborahwhite37202 deborahwhite37202 4 years
I have a question abt the c-section my daughter is 7 mths old and i still did receive my period yet and im not breast feeding but i did have surgery on top of my c-section they pulled out a sist so do u think that my might a late menstral ..
LauritaGodwin LauritaGodwin 4 years
i had a terrible time giving birth to my 1st child. it ended after i pushed for 2 and a half hours to meet my 9 lb 7 oz baby girl. i had a 3rd degree tear that still gives me trouble, but my now 2 almost 3 year old girl is totally worth it! They said if they had known she was going to be so big they would have suggested a section. When i found out i was having a baby boy, i went into panic mode- what if he was going to be even bigger?! i was scared of a section, but scared to do my damage to myself, too! ultrasounds at his due date put him at about 8 lbs and i was induced the following day, dreading a repeat of my first experience. I went in at 9am and was 7 cm at about 12:30 pm when the midwife told me i was going to need an emergency section because my son pinched his cord in his fingers and prolasped it. my hope for a perfect, all natural (no epidural or spinal) birth was done! because i had no epidural or spinal, i had to go under general... my sone was born some 12 minutes later and i woke up screaming in pain, totally confused. i think it scared my husband worse than me though lol. i was so relieved that my baby boy was ok, with no long term damage i was on cloud 9- as soon as the drugs wore off and i could think straight again. he was only 8 lbs 6 oz! but then i became depressed because i had a hard time with bleeding (inside) and i couldnt do anything. i kept thinking that everything was going so much better than last time, he was so much smaller- it was going to be a piece of cake... now i have a scar, and i'll never have another shot at a natural delievery, because i'm too afraid something will go wrong if i attempt a v-bac (given my track record and the time it took me to recover). it has been 9 months now tho and i'm ok with it all finally. I see God's hand in the experience, protecting me and my son, and it has added to my faith. Things could have ended badly for my son, but he is fine and that's what matters. He just owes me a big mother's day gift for the experience ;) lol
ErinBell93764 ErinBell93764 4 years
I honestly don't understand these feelings. I tried to have my first son naturally for almost 18 hours and was elated when they finally let me give up and have a c-section so he could just be BORN already. My mother had 5 sections and my sister had 2 -- I was pretty sure there was no way my baby was going to come out the natural way. But since it wasn't planned in advance, it was still termed an "emergency c-section". But I was awake for the whole thing, heard him cry, watched them clean him, and held him right away. And when I was pregnant with my second son, I was thrilled that I would be allowed to actually choose the method of birth that would allow him to be born quickly, safely, and with little danger to either of us: a c-section. I absolutely DO NOT feel that I am a failure as a woman: I grew those children inside MY body, gave them MY nutrition and MY love for the entire ten months they were there. Their method of birth was one day out of such a long time, and so long as they were safe and healthy, I honestly didn't care.
MayRepalda MayRepalda 4 years
I had C-section twice...for me it doesn't matter wether I gave birth naturally or not, what matters is all of them are all healthy and safe, my first born were twins, they're now 22 yrs of age, both girls...and the second one is a boy now 18 yrs old...I don't think giving birth by C-section affected me in terms of not being "woman enough", I just thank God for giving me three beautiful children...whom I will love and cherish for the rest of my life.
WendyYehia WendyYehia 4 years
I understand very well what these mothers are going through! For my first born daughter in 1999, I was all psyched up to giving birth like I was meant to...but after 32 hours labor, she would not come out...her head was in transverse (to the side a bit), the doctor even forced the forceps on me and I pushed and he pulled at the same time..I thought he was going to rip my whole body in two! Then when my daughter's heart started to drop, soon after I was on the operating table...I was soooo tired from all the labor and the cramps that I was falling asleep as they took her out...I too felt robbed and cheated from the dream of having her vaginally! That experience scarred me certainly the forceps..that I still have night mares about and my daughter is 12... My 2nd one was a vaginal birth and that was amazing!! and then my 3rd ended up being yet another emergency C-Section. We don't always choose what how we have our children...but we are still blessed that we have them! :)
BeccaFitzpatrick92845 BeccaFitzpatrick92845 4 years
I had an voluntary emergency c/s- the doctor said my son had to come out tonight or else risk oxygen loss and possible brain damage, so I did what I had to do for my baby. But I had to be put under for the c/s because my epidural didn't work and my doctor (w/o consulting me) had me put under because of my stress levels- yes I agree with my doctor now, BUT I still get very upset that I missed out on my sons first cries and not getting to see him for another 4 hours later... Thankfully my husband got to stand outside the door and he recorded my sons first cries- I got to hear them, just not first had.
JodieHurst JodieHurst 4 years
i had an emergecy c- section though not planned after a great deal of hours being induced brought on by my son being in distress doctors said this was the only way ...i was just SO thankful he was born with no complications aside that and is now a very healthy 20 mth old, with saying that i was also told any future children would need a c- sec as well, i can say however i never felt less for that just wanted my baby in my arms safely!! however quit tire of people who have never had one saying i "got out of it easy"!!!!!!!!!!! any one that has had one will tell you different
KellyHarris8055 KellyHarris8055 4 years
i had to have two emergency sections and i am currently pregnant with my 3rd child and i will have to have a c section with this one as well
CoMMember13629280039326 CoMMember13629280039326 4 years
I do not understand all this hype about not being a woman or whatever if you have a c-section. I had an em csection with my first son and he would have died had I not done that. I was 23. Not saying it was not scary but I would rather be scared and have my baby then to have him die. You get the same prize at the end whether you deliver vaginaly or c-section reallly. That is the same with an epidural. REALLY why suffer when you can have help. That is what it is here for. Do I feel less of a woman for getting a spinal NO! I was induced 8 days late and was in labour for 11 & half hrs to have to have an em c-section. I am greatful for the opportunity. I will be having a repeat c-section on sept 28th. No worries here. Its just a quick surgery that the drs do every day. Just quit worrying so much and enjoy the new life you have brought into this world. congrats to those that can have vaginal but please do not shun the ones of us that have no choice and would otherwise loose our baby at the very end. Do you really think that is the right thing to do......It is noones place to JUDGE!
DorothyAndress DorothyAndress 4 years
While I felt like a failure when the doctor told me it was required I got over that feeling very quickly once I seen my daughter. I will say that as soon as she came out & they did their little cleaning & tests she was placed next to me. It was within minutes of her birth. When I had my son via scheduled c-section I was also given my son within minutes of him being removed from my body. Maybe that is why I don't have any lingering guilt. At the end of the day God blessed with 2 beautiful, healthy children and it doesn't matter how they got here it just matters that they are here. I strongly urge those of you that are still suffering with the guilt & disappointment to focus not on the time that was lost but the time that you are enjoying now.
JenniferLappin JenniferLappin 4 years
I had an emergency c section. I was just glad she was born alive and healthy. I didn't care how she came into this world.
FaithGaubault FaithGaubault 4 years
I delivered both my boys by C-section: I tried for a vaginal birth with the 1st one, but had to have the c-section because his head was too big to deliver naturally. Then when it was time for #2, I automatically knew I'd be having a c-section since I had one previously. But with #2, I had lots of complications on the operating table. My son was delivered at 9am and I didn't see him until 4pm. I almost bled out on the table while my mom and husband were meeting our 2nd son for the first time--and no one even knew!! I spent the rest of the day being wheeled around to various departments for tests and x-rays to make sure my organs were functioning properly. Not exactly how I envisioned welcoming our 2nd son into the world. When I finally got to hold my baby, I was so drugged up and tired, I don't remember holding him. I snapped at my mom and was in a drug induced trance for most of my stay in the hospital. It wasn't until I got home that I was able to care for my baby and bond with him. But 1 1/2 years later, we are doing great! :)
aniaschietzelt aniaschietzelt 4 years
C-section is a major surgery that should be used as a last resort. Unfortuntaly this health care system every 3 rd woman is having it. If we were able to walk eat and drink during labors and push in positions we desire there would be less c-sections. Even though I had a vaginal birth and I have to admit it was an easy one, the pushing position that was forced on me made me extremely angry, I was put flat on my back which make pelvis smaller and harder for the baby to get out, also baby was crushing me I could not take enough breath in to push out it was horrible, that's why no more hospital births for me. Next time I'm going with midwife and someone that will respect the process of birth and me as a mother. I'm not an incubator that you can just cut open and take the baby out. I'm a person with rights and feelings and it is my right as a woman to give birth to my baby naturally and vaginally with support not yelling of the dr that I didn't know well
RobinPritz RobinPritz 4 years
I, too, had an emergency C-section after 22 hours of labor because my body was just not working right and I was more concerned about the health of my baby. I wanted to have a "normal" birth but when my baby came out healthy and I heard her first cry, the fact that I had her by C-section never mattered to me. I was just happy that she was very healthy. I don't doubt that some women feel sad about a C-section but I was one that was just happy to have my daughter.
PaulaChillery PaulaChillery 4 years
The only sadness i feel about my c-section was the fact that i had to have General so wasn't awake when my son was born and my husband wasn't allowed to be there either. I have big blanks in the first few hours of my sons life which is very hard to deal with but i know that if it hadn't been for the general or the c section both me and my son wouldn't be here to tell the story.
Kirstycandler Kirstycandler 4 years
i had a em c-section after 57 hours of labor and nearly lost my son, i did go on to have a second baby but had panic attacks even thinking of having a vaginal birth, so ended up going for a planned c-section. I am pregnant with my 3rd and will have to have a c-section with this one but at least i know what im going to get.. I do get the feeling the i have failed as a woman as i could not have a vaginal birth..
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