Friday, April 17, 2009

Emotional & Physical Impact of Cesareans

As I've mentioned previously, April is Cesarean Awareness Month and I would like to share a couple of more related thoughts before April draws to a close.

Midwifery Today recently published a two part article by Pam Udy. The first article addresses the physical impact of cesareans and the second article addresses the emotional impact of cesareans. As the author notes, a cesarean "can scar her heart, as well as her uterus."

Among a variety of physical effects, "Mothers who have cesareans are less likely to breastfeed, for many reasons. Often mother and baby are separated, which means a delay in getting baby to breast. The mom is dealing with pain, fatigue, possibly stress, and even trauma. The incision itself causes the mom difficulty in finding a comfortable position in which to nurse. The baby may have respiratory issues." You can read an excerpt from the Physical Impact article here.

I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Emotional Impact article (which you can read a longer excerpt from at Midwifery Today):

In the continuum of life, pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period are milestone events. These experiences profoundly affect women, babies, fathers and families. They have important and long-lasting effects on society.

When a woman give birth, she has to reach down inside herself and give more than she thought she had. The limits of her existence are stretched...As she does it, she becomes someone new: a mother. If the birthing process is skipped or occurs in a hostile situation, or if the interventions become overwhelming, she becomes a different mother that she would have been if she had only a supportive, midwifery model of care.

The transition to motherhood is challenging on its own without adding in a host of additional physical and emotional recovery factors. Obviously, we are glad for cesareans when they are necessary, but as a country we can definitely do better than launching so many new mothers into an intense new role while they are simultaneously trying to heal in body and mind.

CfM Blogger

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