A: Don’t beat yourself up over the way your birth played out—C-sections happen surprisingly frequently. I, too, thought that I would have a birth with a just-right amount of medical intervention, but after four hours of pushing and absolutely no progress, that went out the window. Afterward, even with a beautifully healthy baby, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something had gone wrong, and healing from major surgery was a very unpleasant surprise.
You are not alone in what happened. One in every five first-time moms has a C-section when they aren’t expecting one. Only 1 out of 10 new mamas ends up with a natural birth with no complications or side effects. It’s very hard to predict what will happen in the delivery room, and the doctors and nurses really want to make sure you and your baby have the best outcomes. Sometimes, that means being flexible, letting go of what you had dreamed of, going with what’s medically necessary and remembering it isn’t anybody’s fault.
Focus on your recovery, which is tough with a vaginal delivery and even more challenging with an unplanned C-section. The first week after serious abdominal surgery is difficult, and it can take a month of healing to get back to sitting and walking somewhat normally. The doctor will tell you to not pick up anything heavier than your baby. Some people find that a small pillow held against the incision helps, and others like wearing a belly band to hold things in. I highly recommend getting cheap granny panties, so the waistband isn’t rubbing against your incision.
Be kind to yourself, take good care of your little one, and enlist help around the house. Everything will be OK, and with time, both your body and spirit will recover.
—Jocelyn Lin, author of The New Mama Guide: Taking care of yourself in the first 6 weeks after birth