I Had TWO Cesarean Sections <em>& I Still Hurt</em>

March 15th 2010 / 2 minutes to read

It’s slowly getting better, this anger, this sadness. I can now find beauty in everyday life (aside from my kids) where I couldn’t a few months ago.



It’s hard because sometimes I almost feel shame or guilt that BOTH of my c-sections were medically needed. Daniel was a footling breech and with Tristan, my placenta abrupted. That makes people not understand WHY I suffer from PTSD or why I am still coming to terms with fighting so hard to not have it matter in the end, because gosh darn it, I “needed” those surgeries for valid reasons!

In the birthing community (not the medical community mind you!), I feel like there is so much support for those wanting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) but not enough support for those who TRIED and ended up with a CBAC (cesarean birth after cesarean). I fought SO hard.

I did go to my first ICAN meeting last month and thought it was great, but even then, I have problems talking to people who have had successful VBACS or planning a VBAC.

I feel broken. I have very hard pregnancies (hyperemesis and SPD) and end up with major abdominal surgery to “birth” my children. I was screamed at, ridiculed, put down, shamed, lied to, and traumatized by the medical industry for even trying to birth my second son WITHOUT having my abdomen sliced open.

It’s hard to not think, “What was the point? Why did I fight so hard to have the outcome THEY all wanted?”.

Would I try for a VBA2C if I ever became pregnant again? Yes. Keith and I already discussed it and determined we would have a homebirth (HBA2C). Not only was the pregnancy and birth tortured enough by the medical profession but then the hospital stay was just as bad.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one that feels this way.

I need a hug.

This post is over a year old which means the content may be outdated or no longer accurate.


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Oh sweetie!

The biggest hug from me to you.

Your feelings are perfectly perfect and I think it would be hard for anyone in any circumstance to sort out, forget about in a time like this where the relations between the medical community and pregnant/birthing women are in distress.

You deserve respect and love and understanding. From those caring for you and from yourself.


Thank you so much! It’s amazing to me that not only was I “told” what I was “allowed” to do, but the fear tactics and THREATS during my pregnancy were insane. All because I wanted to do what my body is supposedly, should have NO problem doing and is MADE to do (give birth vaginally). There’s no middle ground between the medical profession and natural birth.


I’m so sorry that you have had such a hard time. I had a CS with my DD (breech- attempted external version, which failed- Ext Vers cause placenta abruption- lead to CS) and am in high hopes to VBAC with this next baby but i dont know how my birth will play out in the end. You did everything you could, as do so many of us- but not everything is in your control. I know no words can heal your hurts but do know that you are no less than anyone and you are an amazing mother and human and a fighter. In the end, we all do what we can and fight as best as we know how to at that time. ((hugs)) I hope with time your hurts will heal some.

Reply to Bess

Thank you so much for your kind words! With Danny I was 38weeks when it was confirmed he was breech, too far along to try and turn him. It’s hard because in the back of my head I will always wonder if he still would have turned in time for actual labor / birth.

At least I can sleep at night now where I couldn’t for MONTHS after the 2nd c/s.


Big bad bear hugs miss!! I completely understand and support you feeling as you do. It was a traumatic experience and you have every right to take your time recovering from it. To have fought so hard for something and still “lose” (whether for valid or invalid reasons) is definitely heartbreaking. It wasn’t all for nothing though! You are firm in your beliefs and should never question your decision to stick by them.

I definitely think trying for a homebirth, if you become pregnant again, is the best choice. Find yourself a great midwife and do everything on YOUR terms, not some doctors or nurses. <3

Reply to Keeshia

Thank you Keeshia! It’s so hard because I am terrified of becoming pregnant right now but I am completely uncomfortable with hormonal birth control. Stuck between a rock and a hard place sometimes.


I honestly cannot function without my BC. I even just got a low does of Prozac to try out for two months to try and keep my PMDD and depression in check. Hoping it goes well, tired of being miserable.

MORE BIG HUGS! (what can I say, I’m a hugger)

Reply to Keeshia
Samantha @ Mama Notes

I can’t say “I understand” because I’ve never had a C-Section…. so *hugs* to you. I hope you feel better mama!

Reply to Samantha @ Mama Notes

Just having the hug and support helps!


I think the issue of medically necessary c-sections for the purpose of protecting the mother and baby is largely accepted. Endangering yourself and/or your baby by not having one would be horrible. You should just ignore anyone who tells you otherwise, because they’re being unreasonable.

Reply to Audrey

In my case, both were medically needed however the MAJORITY of c-sections are NOT medically needed. I’ve never had anyone criticize me for having the c-sections however the way the MEDICAL industry treated me BECAUSE I had a prior c-section was deplorable.


This was on NPR just the other day – and the push from the hospitals/doctors against VBAC is horrible, I agree!

Reply to Audrey

that sounds really full on! *hugs*
Hope things get better for you soon.

P.S. Love the new layout, it looks great!

Reply to Lisa

{{hugs}} Thank you!

Big hugs for you. I know how you feel. It is smashing to fight for/against something and then ending with not what you want.

I can feel your pain. You have my support. Hug!

Yes exactly!! Thank you!


*hugs you*

I’m so sorry, hun. I really wish that things could have gone the way that you wanted them to go. You have every right to feel the way that you do and I unfortunately can’t even begin to understand how you feel. I just wish there was something that I could do or something that I could say to help. I feel so bad that you are feeling so miserable. I can give you lots of e-hugs, though.

Oh, and tell you that your photos are absolutely phenomenal and gorgeous.

Reply to Caity

I don’t think I would be suffering SO MUCH still if it wasn’t for how badly I was treated by everyone around me regarding the situation. If I was treated with even an ounce of respect from ANYONE I would most likely been more able to accept the repeat c-section emotionally.

Oh and thank you!! I’ve been trying to shoot more lately!


I think I understand how you feel. I “only” had one c-section though. I had prepared myself so much for a natural birth that it was really hard for me to cope with the fact that I have had an emergency c-section, even if it was needed for my son’s and my safety. Now I am still unsure whether to try for a new baby or not, because I am not sure I feel able to go through that again if I have to. I think only time will help you. You don’t have to feel alone. I know a lot of people feel just like you. But the acceptation process is tours only. Hugs Sarah.

Reply to Lea

Thank you so much for your support and your story! It’s amazing how the way a woman births can alter us emotionally/mentally as well as physically.


Aww hun *hugs*

Reply to Damita


Sarah, I think your being too hard on yourself for having a c-section. Having one doesn’t mean your any less of a woman because you couldn’t deliver vaginally. I see it as a mother doing everything possible to bring her child into the world alive and its mother alive to hold that child. You need to seee it as a blessing that your child is here no matter how he came into the world. Ive had both kinds of births and they both scared the crap out of me, but I just wanted to bring my babies into the world and be able to be there for them and that ment doing whatever I had to do. Your children arent going too look at you any different, they love you cause you made them, carried them and did what had to be done during that time and then you did what you had to do to bring them into the world alive and kicking. And they love you for it, enjoy your boys and love yourself for doing what needed to be done… You’re a wonderful mother, and big HUGS to you…

I don’t think of myself as any LESS than a woman, however having what I went through be ignored, belittled, have people spout the party line “at least you have a healthy baby!” well sure, but what about a healthy MOMMA? To have “trusted” family/friends/medical people lie to me, threaten me, tell me I was killing my baby, that I was stupid, and MORE simply for wanting to give BIRTH… that’s what (in part) caused my emotional downward spiral regarding the c-sections.

My oldest WAS traumatized by the c-section of his brother. Seeing the way the doctors/nurses treated me, how HARD just physically the recovery was… he understands that it was how he was born, why it was needed for both him and his baby brother, however SEEING and living it is another thing for him.

I’m sorry that people did that to you especially medical people… I happen to have found a very good and down to earth doctor but do to the area I am in even if I wanted to vbac with this pregnancy I would have to go 2+ hours away and I would be totally alone in recovering till going home and I understand why they dont do it here the hospital is just poorly situated. Like I said I was terrified with both my deliveries having done both, granted my 1st was induced due to gestational diabeties. And my c-section my doc right down to before I went down for surgery did an ultrasound before to see if she wasnt still sideways (pigheaded in the womb and out lol) if she would have been in position I would have been induced again. When I got down to the or I was shaking so badly and when they had to give me the spinal my doc and two nurses had to hold my legs down I was shaking so badly. Having my husband there helped but living in a small town one nurse was related, the anestisia (sp) guy was a family friend, and the hospital I go to just has super nice people. I lucked out, I have heard so many horror stories from friends who havent and I thank the goddess for having such good people in the area. I hope that if you do have another child you finally get to have the birth you want so you can experience both. I hope you didnt think I was putting you down in my post I wasnt, with all you have gone thru and how you feel I wish I was closer to give you a hug, your posts bring out so much emotion in me and I just want to make you feel better… HUGS


Wow, I’m sorry :( /hug

Reply to Jenny

Thank you Jenny!


(((big hugs)))

I followed your birth story as it was happening, and I certainly know how hard you fought. You did what most women don’t have the strength to do, and I hope that you know that.

But I also think that you deserve a safe space to grieve the loss of a vaginal birth. I do know that there is a *private* CBAC support board connected with Babycenter’s VBAC support board, and the women on there are extraordinary. You might also try checking to see if ICAN has any off-shoot yahoogroups dedicated to CBAC mamas. Something tells me that they do…

Reply to Kristen

I try to take solace that at least I went into labor on my own, that I DID give my best, that I didn’t just “accept” a repeat c/s.

I am going to head over to the ICAN boards and to the BabyCenter board and try and connect more!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama

You have the absolute right to your feelings. The condescending, authoritarian attitudes of so many medical staff = not cool.

I transferred from a home to a hospital birth, willingly, for health reasons. I got some attitude from family members — well, you had a healthy baby, and that’s all that counts. That counts, but our experience counts, too. I think it’s horrible to tell a woman she’s not allowed to grieve the loss of the birth she wanted.

Reply to Lauren @ Hobo Mama

Exactly! You put what’s in my head into actual WORDS!


I’m so sorry Sarah. I remember feeling like you after my cesarean. If I had had to have another one I may have ended up feeling the very same way you do now. Mine was absolutely 110% medically necessary too and knowing that helped me recover from the trauma somewhat but not completely. I ended up having a HBAC for my second birth and it helped close the wound a lot. If you’re ever feeling in need of support for an HBAC when you get there or have any questions or anything, I am happy to help you anyway I can.

Reply to Melodie

I really feel if I was respected more I would NOT feel so traumatized from the experiences I had. Part of me wants another baby just to fight a billion times harder and another part of me is just terrified. Sucks!


You aren’t alone and I am sorry.

Reply to Becky

{hugs} thank you Becky!


I know all to well the feeling you are having. Although my second wasn’t Medically necessary like yours was. I was coerced with my first son. With my second I fought a good amount of people who said I couldnt vbac and it was dumb. Its a terrible feeling. I honestly thought I was a weirdo because I had trouble hearing a person share their vaginal birth much less the vbac I had worked so hard for and felt like I failed at! Good luck to you mama. As you have, my fiance and I have also decided when it comes to ttc we will shoot for a hba2c!

Reply to Allie

Oh yes, the ONLY support I had was my boyfriend. My friends, my family, all thought having a VBAC was “too risky” and were FULL of mis-information and scare tactics. I have no idea if we will ever have another baby, but if we do, HBA2C for sure!

You have an absolute right to feel however you feel about your birth experiences.

Here’s a big to help you along your healing path.

Thank you so much, I am just glad to finally be able to BE on a healing path, previously I was just so full of rage and sadness.


I have read your birth experience and am incensed that a mentally competent labouring woman could be treated in such an inhumane way

You did everything you could and more to try and ensure the best birth experience for you and your son and were failed completely by the medical system

I am appalled on your behalf

Reply to Hannah

Oh it was insane. I was treated as LESS than a human being, more like a host body really. They had no concern over MY health or the baby’s health. Just financial really. Oh and THEIR “precious” time and energy.

Hard for me to get over the bitterness I feel. I don’t see how I can trust the medical profession when they failed me in every single way.

HUGE HUGS!! I feel the exact same way and sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine there are others who feel the same way as I do. My first (and only, so far) “birth” was a c-section (an unnecessary one) and I too can no longer stand hospitals or medical staff–I was lied to and demeaned and taken advantage of. There was zero compassion in that hospital and I will never go back! I want a VBAC and I think the only way to do it is at home. Good luck and lots of hugs!!!

Yes exactly! I wish I went for a HBAC in the start, even now Keith says we should have. It just didn’t occur to me actually. I kept thinking I had medical insurance, it didn’t cover a homebirth, so I needed to have a hospital VBAC.

Funny enough, I ended up without a doctor AND insurance in my 7th month! Should have been a sign!

I was just reading some of your comments above and wanted to say that I agree with you.. if I hadn’t been treated SO badly, with such little compassion… I may not be so angry. But then again, if the medical staff cared more, cared enough, to treat me well, I probably wouldn’t have ended up with my c-section in the first place. I also feel like I want to get pregnant again asap just so I can fight harder, be stronger, and prove I can do it. BLAH!

Oh yes, if I had even ONE NURSE or DOCTOR show me the slightest bit of compassion I think my emotional state wouldn’t be so damaged right now.


I met you at the ICAN meeting. I was the one planning the HBAC. I ended up with a second c-section after a hospital transfer. I suffered with back labor again, which I could not tolerate. I had 2 failed epidurals then elected a c-section after that. I am mourning the loss of ever having the opportunity to truly birth a baby. I hope you know that you are not alone. I also question how I can be a believer in natural childbirth even though it is something that I will never experience. Still come to the meetings and surround yourself with caring people who know your pain. I wish you well.

Reply to Anne

I remember you! It’s so hard because not only are you healing physically, but emotionally as well.

{{big hugs}}

I can relate to your pain. My second was a VBAC turned CBAC. Your hurt is very real and no one should ever doubt that. You are strong to have come this far… And that is amazing.

Thank you so much, the support I’ve received since posting this is… more than I can express in words!

It helps knowing I am not alone!

You know, I was there once. I had fought so hard for my VBAC — I dodged just about every single scare tactic the OButcher could pull out. She even threatened that my uterus would never shrink back down, that I would probably need a hysterectomy. I avoided the knife that night, but when it came down to it something felt off. I don’t know what it was, why I had something nagging inside that I needed to get the baby out ASAP, but it was there. I got to the hospital at 10cm — TEN WHOLE FREAKING CENTIMETERS! And it was the worst feeling ever. Did I consent to a repeat, or did I opt to ignore what could’ve been my instincts? I erred on the side of overly cautious, and I consented to a CBAC. Was it a better experience than my primary c-section? Kind of — I was more informed and knew my rights, so I got to bond with my daughter better. Still, it does hurt horribly to fight so hard and then not get that VBAC.

I highly recommend that any future VBA2C aspirations be the HBA2C kind. It’s a significantly easier battle to win, and it’s a much nicer experience. Hang in there! ::big hugs::

Oh yes, I got the hysterectomy threat as well!

I also KNEW there was something wrong, not only from the sheer amount of blood but the contraction never ended, I couldn’t even breathe.

Still, doesn’t make it any easier does it?

Oh yes, homebirth all the way!


I think this is hard for a number of reasons. I cannot imagine all the medication I’d need to be on if I didn’t get my VBAC. I’d be hurting very bad. But I was also VERY LUCKY that I had super healthy pregnancies, and that I was able to labor for 38 hours in a hospital without showing any serious signs of distress. But that totally could have gone the other direction, and I could easily have been a CBAC mom.

I personally think one of the reasons it feels like it’s harder to get support for a CBAC is because it’s hard for other people to deal with as well. Your birth is yours, but I know as an ICAN leader it’s hard for me to know what to say to a mom when she ends up with a CBAC. In many ways I feel like I failed her. I always want to be supportive, but there’s hardly anything *right* to say. You can say “well, at least it all worked out” (we HATE that line) and you can’t say “oh, maybe next time” because a lot of times the mother is DONE having children after a second cesarean. All anyone can do is say, “I know, it fucking sucks, and I’m really sorry.”

Reply to TheFeministBreeder

I wish I had gotten involved or KNEW about ICAN sooner. It may not have changed the end result but perhaps I would have been better prepared EMOTIONALLY to deal with a CBAC.

Just knowing people like you CARE, does help. Knowing I am not wallowing alone, helps!


I know I’m very late on this one but I was just trying to catch up. :)

I’m sorry for the rough time you had with your pregnancy and birth. I can’t imagine what it was like since I was insanely lucky.

I just have one question and I really don’t want it to come off the wrong way, but what if you run into complications during labor again? Would you have an unassisted home birth or would you have a midwife present “just in case”?

Reply to Ashley

Oh I am not looking for a UBA2C. It will be a HOMEBIRTH lol. Not unassisted! I will have to hunt down a homebirth midwife that will do VBA2C.


Sarah- I’ve just stumbled across your blog while researching HBA2C. I’ve had one probably necessary c/s (although the induction that led to it was unnecessary) and one unnecessary c-section. They both have been difficult to heal from, for different reasons. I’m sorry you understand the pain I have from my birth experiences but reading your post has given me hope that I’m not alone. I echo a lot of your feelings. I really haven’t slept well the last 6 months because it’s come time for me to face the future and make a choice about whether to welcome a 3rd child into our family. I’m also stuck between wanting a fabulous 3rd birth experience and NEVER EVER EVER wanting to meet my newborn and be in an Operating Room on the same day. At this point I can quite assuredly say that if I knew my 3rd birth was going to be a guaranteed c-section, I’d probably choose not to get pregnant again. I wish the medical community could spend 5 minutes inside our bodies and minds so they could understand the emotional pain we go through and how a “healthy baby” is NOT all that matters. I’m not sure what I’m saying just that I agree it sucks to fight so hard (and against mainstream) for something and then in the end, prove the naysayers “right”- that my body COULDN’T do it and that I WOULD have another c-section.

I’ve been researching my plans for an HBA2C since moments after my 2nd section and I can’t say the pain of my sons’ births (4 and 2 years ago) has dulled as much as I hoped. Thankfully I’ve found several supportive HB MWs in my area who are very willing to have me as a client. I wish us both the best in our future positive birth experiences and if anyone ever starts treating you like you’re crazy, remember you are definitely NOT alone and that you’re feelings are very normal!

Reply to Krista

Even now, when the baby is 8 months old, I still suffer from nightmares. It’s ridiculous in some ways because you would think I would be able to process this a bit better!

I also feel like you in that if I KNEW that my 3rd possible future baby would be another c-section, I would not want to get pregnant ever again. I don’t think my mind or my body could handle it.

I’ve had 4 c-sections. With my second pregnancy I planned a HBAC and when I had another c/s I was devastated. I cried and cried. It was a full year before I could even talk about that birth without breaking down. I remember this because I said to my husband, “It has been a year, when am I going to stop crying about this?!”

I have since come to terms a little bit with my births but it’s been hard. I wish there was a bit more focus on VBACs that don’t go as planned. With my second birth I was so sure that I would have a VBAC that I just wasn’t prepared for another c/s.

I did try again, my third pregnancy, I tried for a VBA2C but my fourth was a planned c/s. I talk about it a bit here:

I hope that eventually you can find a bit of peace.

Thank you so much for commenting! I am feeling that way lately… it’s been 8 months since the CBAC… when will I sleep without nightmares again? When will I be able to say “vaginal birth” without a bit of anger in my voice?

I also wish there were more resources for “failed” VBACs. It seems like it’s ignored a lot of the time and I really felt a bit let down afterwards. Like where is my cheering section now?

Michelle Potter

I just wrote a long, fairly angry post about how badly you were treated and how angry it made me when I first read the post. But then I considered that a) I took my meds pretty late in the day and am probably experiencing mood swings; and b) you probably don’t want to rehash it all right now if you are starting to recover somewhat emotionally.

Suffice to say, you have EVERY RIGHT to the way you felt (and feel). You were treated awfully by people who SHOULD have been there to help you. You were a COURAGEOUS and WONDERFUL MOMMA BEAR who fought tooth and nail to make sure your baby got the best possible start in the world (first by avoiding what WAS initially UNNECESSARY surgery, and then by INSISTING that your genuine medical issue be taken SERIOUSLY), and YOU SUCCEEDED. You did not fight for nothing! You avoided having a c-section just because you’d had one before, or just because you were “overweight,” or any other STUPID reason, and you MADE them help you and your baby when you needed it, even though it meant giving up something that mattered to you. They were JERKS, but YOU WERE AWESOME AND INSPIRING. I am in tears over what a GREAT MOMMA YOU ARE. I hope you can see it!

Reply to Michelle Potter

I feel similar about my births. My eldest daughter was born very prematurely and extremely small (428g/15oz) so she really did have to be born via a classical c/s because a vaginal birth–especially an induced one–would have most likely killed her. For a very long time and even now sometimes I felt/feel like I failed her. Why, when most women can carry their babies to term and have nice vaginal births could I not?

As a result of the classical c/s I was not able to have a VBAC with my second daughter, part of me feels like my body really is broken.

Anyway, I hope you’re feeling better about it all now.

Reply to Bec

Sarah, I am a CBAC mom, too, so I really hear where you are coming from. Please know that there are CBAC support resources out there. There are support boards for CBAC moms at:



In addition, there is a session at the next ICAN conference (in St. Louis) in April 2011 on CBAC support.

I hope to see you there. Please hang in there. It takes time to really process difficult experiences like these.

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