9 things never to say to a mum who's had a C-section

Bite your tongue and don’t ever say these insensitive things to a woman who’s just had a Caesarean...

So, a good pal has just given birth and all her loved ones and friends are excited to visit. Everyone is eager to coo over bub and hear about the little one’s birth story.

Some birth experiences are quick and uncomplicated, while others take a little longer to tell. For some mums, their birth experience wasn’t quite what they were expecting.

Like in the case of Sharleen Lee, mum to Mia, 2, and Raven, 4, who had to have an emergency C-section during her first pregnancy. Her baby was in distress after a 12-hour labour that didn’t result in Lee dilating.

“It was disappointing as I think every mum has this idea of what giving birth will be like, or a plan to go through a natural birth. And when things don’t go according to plan, it can be upsetting,” she recalls.

Lee says that she was very emotional during Raven’s first month, because she felt like her body had failed her by not being able to give birth naturally. This was in addition to the stress of looking after a newborn. “Because I’m a usually active and fit person, I thought I would have no problems giving birth naturally. I guess Raven had other plans for her entrance!”

In Singapore, about 40 to 45 per cent of babies are delivered via a C-section. Some mums opt for C-sections because they are afraid of painful contractions, or perhaps want to have their baby born on a specific date.

In other cases, doctors advise mums to undergo a C-section because of possible medical complications, a breech baby, or if the baby is too big.

 “When things don’t go according to plan, it can be upsetting.”

While some C-sections are planned, it’s important to note that some aren’t. But that doesn’t mean that the birth experience is any less than a vaginal birth.

Says Lena Tijono, mum to Sal, 3 months, “I remember when I told a friend that I had to have a C-section, she immediately looked sad and said, ‘oh no, what happened?’ It’s disheartening to hear that when what you expect to hear is ‘Congratulations!’”

Among other ridiculous, insensitive and downright hurtful things that C-section mums have heard, here are some of the worst.

1. “I’m so sorry.”
This is a common reaction, according to mums we spoke to who had a C-section. Says Tijono, “It really puts a downer on a happy event. If the baby is healthy, and the mummy is healthy, there really isn’t anything to be sorry about!” Ultimately, as a mum who got the job done (and done well!), the last thing you want is for others to feel bad for you.

2. “You’re lucky you didn’t have to go through labour pains.”
So, what exactly were those 14 hours of pushing, just to be wheeled into the operating theatre because you weren’t dilating fast enough, called? By the way, it takes longer to recover from a C-section as it’s after all a major abdominal surgery. Unlike vaginal births where some mums are up on their feet just hours later, a C-section makes it harder for the patient to walk, turn over, and even nurse baby.

3. “Do you feel like you missed out on giving birth?”
Last we checked, a new mum plus a new baby means a birth did take place. Everyone’s birth experience is different. Your baby may have been born in the hospital, or at home; in the middle of the night, or in the late afternoon; via a vaginal birth or a C-section. “My birth experience may have been different from yours, but it was also a magical and unforgettable experience. And I’ve got my beautiful baby to show for it,” says Nina Feroz, mum to Yani, 10 months.