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I hear many reasons for the fear:
- It is major abdominal surgery
- It requires a longer recovery time
- They are worried about being able to bond with their baby
- They worry about potential breastfeeding trouble
- They want a large family and don't want to potentially limit the size of their family by having a c-section (most of my clients are first time moms who realize that the first birth will set the stage for all future births)
- They fear missing out on a pivotal experience of womanhood
- They want to experience birth as "it was meant to be" (not my words, just something I hear a lot)
My reasons for wanting to avoid a c-section evolved over the course of my childbearing years.
During my first pregnancy, it wasn't so much that I feared a c-section, but that I really wanted to have a natural birth.
A c-section would be the complete opposite of what I wanted. I'm not proud to admit this, but I was scared that I would feel like a failure if I had a c-section. I had this feeling that people expected me to fail at natural birth. That, maybe, they even wanted me to fail. Of course, of COURSE, I would consent to surgery, if my baby needed it. I just really hoped I wouldn't need to, and I did everything in my power to avoid needing a surgical birth. Luckily, with the support of my amazing husband, I managed to avoid a C-section AND have the natural birth I desired.
For my second pregnancy, I worried about having a c-section for prideful reasons.
By this time, I'd been a birth doula for nearly two years, and I was planning to certify to teach Birth Boot Camp classes, which are geared toward couples planning a natural childbirth. It was no secret that I felt pretty awesome that I managed to have a natural childbirth. Me! A dainty flutist! It was also no secret that I thought natural childbirth was the bee's knees. What would it look like if I, a birth junkie/doula/aspiring childbirth educator, ended up with a Cesarean? Well, certainly it would look like I got what I deserved for thinking so highly of myself for having a natural childbirth and for putting natural childbirth on a pedestal. Certainly " they" would be happy to see me knocked down a peg or two.
Pride. I feared my pride would be hurt.
Recently, during my third pregnancy, that old familiar C-section fear came back. There were a few new elements to this fear, however.
First, I had confidence.
Confidence that if I should need a C-section, it was because it was necessary.
Confidence in my midwife, that she would know when a transport was necessary.
Confidence in my doula, that she would support me No. Matter. What. That she wouldn't be one of the ones who laughed at me for needing a C-section.
Confidence in my husband, that he would advocate for our baby and me.
But mostly confidence in myself, that I would know under which circumstances a C-section was truly necessary. I had confidence in my body that it worked, that it was capable of amazing things, and that a C-section only meant that this baby needed to be born this way, not that there was a defect with my body.
Second, I wasn't worried about the surgery itself, or about the physical recovery. I was terrified of the emotional recovery.
I've seen how heartbreaking it has been for so many women, and I was afraid I wasn't strong enough to handle that aspect of recovery. I've battled a tendency toward negativity my entire life. I was really scared that if I needed a C-section, it would be one more thing I had to work really hard at being positive about. I didn't know if I had it in me.
Finally, the pride was still there.
What if they laughed at me for needing a C-section?
I finally admitted that old ugly feeling to my doula, and she said the perfect thing to help that fear go away for good. This right there, people, is why doulas need doulas too and why I couldn't doula myself. I believe getting all those fears out in the open helped me to have a better birth experience than I would have without it. Processing fears is an important part of preparing to give birth, no matter what kind of birth one is planning.