A B C-section D-pression?
Updated: Apr 8
I get it now. I always wanted a water birth. They just looked so beautiful and serene. I think I’ve only really seen 3 in my life, if that, online but still my mind was made up. I’d even started looking at cute bathing suits for me to give birth in. Something black, slimming and that. So when the doctor told me I couldn’t have one because I was considered high risk I felt like I’d let not only myself down but my baby too. I wanted him to have the most peaceful entrance into the world and because I was overweight I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I remember being inconsolable in the hospital (after I’d left the doctor’s office of course). After being comforted I accepted that I was going to have a vaginal birth. I was then determined more than ever to do things naturally. I had always been against the epidural because I know of people who are in a wheelchair because of it. No joke. When I think about motherhood and labour now, I see it so differently. Dramatic as it may sound, mothers are warriors – many go to battle for their children, some lose lots of blood and some lose their lives, all in the name of love. I was determined to do this naturally; I was not going to let my baby down.
The C-section definitely impacted my start to motherhood. Whilst I will say I don’t think my super low moments were a depressive episode I completely understand why many mothers may feel depressed after a cesarean; after labour in general. I remember being told not to lift anything heavier than my baby after the surgery and that’s when it kind of sunk in, but still not really. They took me to the “recovery section” and literally said we’ll be back in 5 minutes and “want you to show us you’re breastfeeding when we come back”. I said wow, so we’re really doing this now? In my head of course because manners lol, but the pressure genuinely frightened me. I had 4 people watching me as I tried to get him to latch on. At this point I was still quite sedated and couldn’t really feel anything. Numb physically but definitely not mentally. I failed. I couldn’t do it and tbh I just wanted to scream for everyone to leave me alone. I was exhausted. I had spent the last 3 days in agony trying to give birth to my son and had hardly slept and now I had to show I was this capable mother and I wasn’t. I just wanted my baby and to sleep.
The night was much harder. The pain was there in full force. Our little boy cried and I couldn’t pick him up from his little cot bed to my hospital bed. So I cried too. His father was asleep and so I woke him up and got him to help but all that did was deepen my sense of inadequacy. Why couldn’t I feed my child properly? I thought back to the fact that I didn’t even get to have a proper skin-to-skin moment with my son because it was all so fast. When they pulled him out of my stomach I saw him in the air then they took him to be weighed. He cried for about a second and that was it. Literally. I started crying and said it was because I was “overwhelmed”. I was of course, but I also hated that I had fought so hard not to have that outcome and yet there I was. All that gas and air, 3 days’ worth to no avail. And then the most precious moment that I had waited 10 months for was tainted; the first touch with my little boy. My midwife saw straight through me and recommended therapy before my next baby. She saw how it affected me, among other things that were happening in the hospital at the time which I’m sure we’ll discuss as we get to know each other more.
My reflection from my labour experience was that "if you don’t learn to adapt; life moves on without you”. I was still stuck with the fact that I didn’t have a natural birth, that I had to have an epidural and I had to have an emergency C-section. So much so that I just couldn’t shake how bad I felt and it effected my ability to breastfeed. Partner that with the pain and it felt impossible. So my son started on formula milk from day 1 – another “failure”. Whilst I know many other mothers have enjoyed their C-section (some even calling it the easy way out, which is okay, if that's how it felt for them) but I cannot say the same. However, mentally it’s made me realise I cannot go through the same ordeal again and self-care is bigger than just bubble baths now. For me it is prayer, it is working out, it is staying in therapy, it is accepting the things I cannot change and not allowing them to affect my mental health (as much as possible of course).
God willing my next experience will be different but I am glad I can say I am no longer in the head space of inadequacy. I can actually pat myself on the back now and that is major. Very major. I think exhaustion got me to this point, more so than anything else. This blog will feature a lot of my reflections on the things that impact my mental health, mummy and the mental and that. I suppose my mental health tip for mothers struggling with their mental health after a c-section (and labour in general) is to acknowledge the extremely intense situation you have just been in to have your child. It is an experience that is so unique to you and so don't beat yourself up if you can't just pull yourself back together. You need you now, more than ever. It is okay to take your time in finding out exactly what that looks like. You have evolved and so the level of your self-care will need to too. Your baby needs you to love you, just as much as you love them.
Love and Light,