Can you really honor mine?
I will always honor the process which
brought forth flesh of my flesh.
I honor your births too.
Can you ever honor my experience, or will I
forever be a part of your statistics on
the way things shouldn’t be?
I have sometimes felt at a loss in how to help women cope with their feelings about their cesarean birth experiences. Jackie Singer, the author of Birthrites, writes about her own preparation for a cesarean (after a previous vaginal birth) and includes this “meditation” suggestion (to use at any time—while walking, sitting, preparing for sleep, stuck in traffic):
The practice is simply to nod the head, and say inwardly, ‘Yes.’ Whatever is going on, whether it be delightful, or thoroughly unpleasant, breathe into it and think, ‘OK, this is what is happening now.’ Pay attention to each sense in turn: what can you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Notice your thoughts, and remember that they are not you, they are just thoughts. It becomes quite a liberation not to hold on to your judgements about things, but to witness instead how sensations arise and then pass away.
When you find yourself feeling anxious about the coming operation, just remind yourself to nod and say, ‘Yes.’ When you are putting on the ridiculous surgical stockings, think, ‘Yes,’ and allow yourself to smile. When the epidural needle is going in, breathe deeply and think ‘Yes, this pain is like a contraction and will pass.’ When you are numb from the chest down, being lifted onto the trolley and wheeled into the operating theatre, just think, ‘yes, yes, yes.’
Because I had made a birthing necklace in advance of my first baby’s birth…I brought this to the hospital and hung it on my wall. Even though I couldn’t see it during the operation, it helped me to remember that this would still be a birth: a challenging and yet joyous event, and one for which the qualities of love, going with the flow, majesty and a sense of humour would be just as important as during a natural labour…
She goes on to describe how she visited with a friend who is a hospital chaplain and they did a little ceremony:
…it was a relief to feel a hand on my belly that spoke of love and wonder and beauty, rather than the functionality of the body. Tess rubbed my forehead and belly with scented oil and laid flowers from her garden on my bump. We shut our eyes and she asked Mother Spirit to surround the baby and me, to keep us safe through the operation, to bring blessings on the hands of the surgeon and the skill of the midwives. This brought me peace in the hours leading up to the operation, and helped me to face it with quiet confidence, feeling protected.
This post is part of a short series of posts from the book Birthrites by Jackie Singer. The first was about ritual and the second about birth as a rite of passage.
Past posts related to cesarean birth:
Cesarean Awareness Month
Cesarean Birth Art Sculptures
Cesarean Birth in a Culture of Fear Handout
Becoming an Informed Birth Consumer (updated edition)
The Illusion of Choice
ICAN Conference Thoughts
Helping a Woman Give Birth?
Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Awareness Month Round-Up
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This is a very moving post, thank you for writing on this subject. I have been thinking a lot about birth trauma, the loss of vaginal birth – all in terms of a spiritual experience. It has been for me, the prism through which I view myself.
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