CBAC Support DOs and DON’Ts

CBAC Support DOs and DON’Ts

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts that birth workers, caregivers, ICAN chapter leaders, and friends and family should consider when trying to support women who have had a CBAC.

CBAC Support DON’Ts

  • DON”T Monday-morning quarterback her birth experience
  • DON’T analyze or judge the experience for her
  • DON’T judge her choices or use her as a cautionary example for others to learn from
  • DON’T tell her she can always plan a VBA2C next time. There may not be a next time. Or the trauma of a long labor followed by a cesarean may make her want an ERCS next time. Don’t make assumptions about her plans.
  • DON’T take things personally; it may not be about you so much as about their own grief and anger and processing

CBAC Support DOs

  • DO hold a safe space for a CBAC mom to tell her story fully. 
  • DO just let her talk and talk an talk about it. A safe space for talking is the most valuable thing you can give her
  • DO let her process the experience on her own timeline
  • DO love her, listen to her, and validate her feelings, whatever they are
  • DO grieve with the mom
  • DO ask open-ended questions that let the mother fill in the blanks about how she is feeling
  • DO remind the moms who labored before being sectioned that it was not “all for nothing.” They gave their baby the amazing gift of labor, and that is not “nothing!”
  • DO give her tools to help ward off Post-Partum Depression (diet, exercise, sunshine, journaling, etc.). Do contact her frequently if you think she’s at risk for PPD or PTSD. Have a list of PTSD and birth organizations ready if needed
  • DO have a list of other resources available if the mother needs more support (birth therapists, online support groups, books, etc.). Have it in both print and digital versions so it is ready to give/send at a moment’s notice
  • DO listen to and believe a CBAC mom if she tells you that something is hurtful or not helpful
  • DO promote awareness of CBAC in members who are planning a VBAC. Having a plan in place for a CBAC can help ease the experience somewhat (if it happens)
  • DO remember that one woman’s CBAC truth may not be the same as another woman’s CBAC truth
  • DO let a CBAC mom draw her own conclusions about her experience
  • DO tell her it’s okay to feel however she feels
  • DO hold the space, try to make it as safe as possible, and let the moms set the direction and pace.  Just be there for whatever they need
  • DO pair her up with another CBAC mom, if you can ─ someone who “gets it,” someone who’s “been there, done that”
  • DO help her through the “what if I…” questions that may arise in time. Verbalizing these when she’s ready is a very important step in healing, but some women may prefer to do so more privately
  • DO remind her that any decisions made ─ even the ones you regret ─ were made out of love. And that, by definition, makes you a good mom
  • DO talk to her partner. Let him (or her) know what might be ahead on the road to CBAC recovery. Let him know that she may need to hear or talk about her story more than he is comfortable with, and that it’s important that she do so. Give tips on how to support her wide range of emotions. Listen to HIS birth story.  Remember that partners can be traumatized too
  • DO be careful of how you speak to VBAC moms, remembering that CBAC moms will hear what you say and apply the opposite to themselves
  • DO acknowledge that it’s okay to not want to try a VBAC again when you’ve already attempted and not gotten a VBAC (perhaps multiple times). Some CBAC moms will get over this feeling and some won’t, but it’s a perfectly normal response to a CBAC
  • DO let her know that moms who don’t get VBACs are still very welcome at ICAN, but also pass on information on CBAC support groups so that she can choose the support she prefers/needs
  • DO understand that CBAC moms may need to move on from birth groups because they can’t heal if they keep opening up old wounds, or because they simply need to focus on new things  
  • DO “try on” a CBAC for a while and explore the feelings that result. This will help make you more empathetic to the experiences of a CBAC mom