As a C-section mum there are plenty of post-birth comments that I have received. Most are well-meaning though often a little thoughtless. I recently shared an article on the C-section mums Facebook page that outlined 4 things that C-section mums don’t want to hear, written by Laura Lifshitz on Popsugar.com
I had a very similar post in my draft folder which was based on an old post I published on my Parenting blog Learner Mama. I decided to hold off publishing my draft for a bit. I have since realised that there are lots of posts out there outlining the negative and unhelpful comments that mostly well-meaning (some plain nasty) people have said to mums who have just been through a C-section.
The only thing I can think of is that these people (the well-meaning ones anyway) just don’t understand or know what to say to a C-section mum.
So in the interests of keeping the things positive especially since it is Caesarean Awareness Month, I am outlining some (hopefully) helpful things to say to a mum who has just given birth by C-section.
The woman has just spent 9 months developing a tiny new human inside her and produced a baby out of her body. Congratulate her. It is a massive life milestone. No matter what her thoughts or feelings about the actual delivery she will more than likely be delighted to have made it through the birth and to be holding her new baby in her arms.
How are you feeling?
Rather than focusing on the birth with questions such as “how did everything go?” or “how was the birth?” ask the mum how she is feeling. Don’t assume that all C-section mums are unhappy with their birth. For some this is exactly what they wanted and they will be feeling great. Equally don’t assume that because the mum is delighted to have her baby that she is feeling happy about everything else. She may be feeling sad or disappointed not to have delivered in a particular way or feel traumatised by what she experienced. By just asking how she is it allows her the space to give as much or as little information as she feels comfortable with.
This is where being a good listener and not making any rash comments or judgements really helps. Whatever your opinion about C-sections, just zip it!
Tell me one thing I can help you with?
If anyone else you knew just came out of major surgery what would you do? Probably offer to run some errands, maybe cook a meal to drop in, maybe do some household chores for your friend or family member. Recovering from a C-section is no different. Ask the new mum in your life to name one thing you can help with. Offer suggestions. If you ask in a vague way “Can I do anything for you?” the mum may not be able to think immediately of anything or may feel embarrassed to suggest something. You make the suggestion.
Offer to pick up another child from school, cook a meal, put on a load of washing, change some bedding, run a vacuum cleaner around the house, take her out for a drive.
There are so many things that C-section mums will find difficult and indeed are not indicated for the first few weeks. Getting offers to do them, rather than just visit to see baby and expect coffee and cake to be produced will be worth so much to the new mum. Visitor of the year crown will be yours!