I had an interesting experience with a friend recently whose baby was in a breech position, approaching the 36 week mark, despite acupuncture, moxibustion, chiropractic adjustments, sound therapy, cold packs, and hanging half upside down off the edge of the couch. The mom was determined to turn the baby so she could have the all-natural waterbirth she was planning. But the baby had his own plan: he was staying bottom down no matter what mom wanted and that was that.
So in those last few weeks of pregnancy, when it was becoming clear that a cesarean birth would be the only option, the mom had two choices: to become angry about her fading waterbirth vision, or to begin the process of accepting that her baby would enter the world in a different way than she had originally planned. She chose the latter.
Over the last few weeks of pregnancy, she spent time learning about the logistics of a cesarean: the prep, the surgery, the recovery, who could be there at what stage, etc. She also looked at her birth preferences and found a number of options that would still work for a cesarean birth. She reviewed all of it with her caregivers and found them to be open to her needs and wishes.
With knowledge, understanding and support from her family, friends and caregivers, the mom eventually found a place of full acceptance, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and so was able to welcome her baby with love and joy, as well as with gratitude for the safe surgery that brought him to her.
With help from her mom and husband in the first few weeks, my friend recovered remarkably quickly; her pre-pregnancy workouts and regular prenatal yoga classes definitely helped! There were no complications from the surgery and after six weeks and an okay from her doctor, she was back to doing some light workouts.
Many women have cesarean births that are unexpected due to an unforeseen complication during pregnancy or labor. For those new moms, the cesarean experience can be filled with trauma, anger and grief over the loss of their planned birth experience. But for this new mom, who embraced and prepared for the experience, the Serenity Prayer rang true: “Let me accept the things I cannot change.” She did indeed.
For more about cesarean births, read Henci Goer’s book “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.”