C-Section: Not What They Were Expecting

by Ann Douglas

c-sectionThe advice that mothers receive upon discharge from hospital following a cesarean birth needs to prepare them for the weeks and months ahead. It also needs to reflect the realities of their lives as new mothers.

Those are the key findings to emerge from a recent study of mothers and caesarean birth. The study ("Recovery after caesarean birth: a qualitative study of women's accounts in Victoria, Australia") was published in the medical journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

The researchers interviewed 34 new mothers about their experiences of giving birth via caesarean section. "Few women were prepared for the wide range of physical consequences of birth by caesarean, and [many] were both surprised and frustrated when pain hampered their day to day activities beyond four to six weeks," the researchers reported. Some of the physical complaints that the new mothers experienced after their caesareans included abdominal wound complications, heavy vaginal bleeding, and severe backache.

The researchers also found that new mothers felt guilty -- like they were not being "good mothers" -- if they failed to follow their postpartum discharge instructions to the letter. "Women understood they should avoid lifting heavy loads of laundry, refrain from lifting the toddler and desist from driving. They also knew that in order to care for the baby's and family's needs they must undertake these "prohibited" tasks."

The researchers concluded, as a result of their research, that, "The advice women receive prior to discharge from hospital after cesarean section needs to be revised to consider the context of women's and their families' lived reality."

Did your discharge instructions and information prepare you for life with baby following your c-section?

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.