Repeat Cesareans and failed TOLACs: It’s OK to feel like you missed out

 

Pregnancy is filled with all sorts of emotions. One minute can feel overjoyed, and the next minute you may find yourself crying for no apparent reason. You think about and prepare for your birth plan, and if it evolves as you planned with manageable pain and quick vaginal delivery, even better! 

However, many deliveries are anything but what we expected or planned for. 

Many moms try to avoid that first Cesarean section at all costs, but sometimes a Cesarean just can’t be avoided. There are many different reasons why your doctor may recommend a Cesarean. Abnormal position of the baby, abnormal labor, extreme prematurity, the baby just isn’t tolerating labor, or a significant maternal medical condition are common reasons for a Cesarean section, and there is not much you can do about it. 

After a Cesarean delivery, many moms desire to attempt a trial of labor after Cesarean (TOLAC). This is when a mom wants to deliver vaginally after having had a previous pregnancy that resulted in a Cesarean section. Many times a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) is accomplished, but many times the TOLAC is not recommended or fails and a repeat Cesarean delivery is needed. Many difficult emotions can come after not being able to attempt a TOLAC and need for a repeat Cesarean delivery or having a failed TOLAC. 

Here are some common ways that many moms feel like they missed out.

No Labor Pains

While many moms will tell you that feeling a contraction was not their idea of a good time, moms who have never had a contraction long for that feeling. Many repeat Cesareans are scheduled well beforehand, so some moms don’t experience any labor pains before the birth. They often wonder what it feels like to naturally go into labor and miss out on feeling the body doing what it was made to do. Contractions also act as a signal to the mind that birth is near. Missing this step can create a mental disconnect for some moms once the baby is born. 

Missed First Moments

A Cesarean sections is a major surgery, and most moms aren’t able to hold their babies right after birth. There is a lot to do after the baby is born to ensure that the surgery goes smoothly. Moms can miss those first moments to hold and connect with the baby while someone else gets to be with the baby in the nursery. 

After surgery, most hospitals allow newborns in the recovery room while others do not. Not being able to hold your baby while the anesthesia wears off can cause stress. This is a significant way that repeat Cesarean and failed TOLAC moms feel disconnected from their newborns. 

Long Recovery Time

While painkillers are excellent for easing discomfort, many repeat Cesarean section and failed TOLAC moms have a long road of recovery ahead of them. Not only is the recovery time in the hospital longer, but it takes weeks to feel like your body is somewhat back to normal. This can be hard when other moms are walking around and bounce back so quickly after birth.

While any pregnancy can have complications after birth, the risk is greater for those who go through a major surgery like a Cesarean section, especially after a failed TOLAC. These complications can prolong recovery time and add stress to new moms.

Unexpected Birth Story

Every birth story is different, and they don’t always go as planned. With a repeat Cesarean section or failed TOLAC, many moms feel surprised or a bit traumatized by the outcome of their birth story. This trauma takes time to heal from. 

While moms who experience a failed TOLAC are familiar with how a Cesarean works, the process is no less upsetting. For many failed TOLACs, the experience can be even more challenging to recover from than the first Cesarean section because there was so much hope and longing to deliver vaginally.

Limited Family Plan

Those moms who have more than one Cesarean section may be limited on how many children they should have in the future. This has a huge impact on those  moms who have a Cesarean section with their first two or three pregnancies and intend to have a large family. Cesarean sections are major surgery that causes a lot of trauma to the body. Multiple Cesareans can pose a risk for future pregnancies and growing a family.

It is normal to feel like you have missed out on something if you had a repeat Cesarean or failed TOLAC. While others may not have the same experience, they can hopefully understand that there is a loss when your birth plan doesn’t go the way you imagined. 

In the end, the most important thing is that both you and baby are healthy after delivery. Talk to your doctor about whether an elective repeat Cesarean section or TOLAC is recommended in your next pregnancy, but know that no matter how your baby enters this world, your birth story is important and has value!