“I feel like I did everything wrong.”
Those are the words from a new mom who was so traumatized by her birth experience, that it took her 4 months to reply to my emails and phone calls and write down the details and tell me, her natural childbirth teacher, all about it. She blamed herself, when none of it was her own fault.
It breaks my heart to learn that someone regrets her birth experience, or is upset, angry, or grieving because of it. Though I teach natural childbirth, and advocate natural childbirth as the safest and healthiest way to give birth, life sometimes gets in the way. The medical system in the U.S. is the biggest roadblock to achieving a natural childbirth. Sew seeds of doubt and fear into expecting parents, and you have a recipe for a typical birth in the U.S.-one that does not support or encourage the mother. We need to remember…
“There is no wrong way to have a baby. Every single birth is a miracle.”
“I hope to instill a non-judgmental mindset so if they have their dream birth they are grateful and if they don’t they are grateful too. Either way I hope women would respect their work, their body, their baby and each other.” Rosie Curtis-doula
After a 36 hour first stage labor with one problem after another and 3 and half hours of pushing, this woman began motherhood exhausted, and feeling as though every choice she made was wrong.
What were the issues that blocked her path to their goals?
Choices out of their control and choices made for and by them
Dr. recommended they go to the hospital
CDC recommends that antibiotics be given every 4 hours, starting more than 4 hours before birth. Since birth usually takes more than 4 hours, staying home in early labor seems like a safe option.
Keep garlic or chlorhexidine
Dr. planning his family vacation during your EDD time
Because the doctor was scheduled to leave for vacation during the EDD, she ended up with “5 different doctors by the time the baby was born.”
Her doctor was there at the beginning but had to leave while she was in early labor. Causing lack of support, decreasing confidence, interrupting progress.
Hire a doula so that you are surrounded by both your coach/partner/husband,
36 hours of labor with no sleep
Going to your birthplace in early labor is a guarantee you won’t get sleep, “I tried to
Sleep in early labor,
Stuck at 5 CM for 12 hours & No sleep for 24+ hours
At 7 AM and at 7 PM dilation was checked and
When you’re exhausted, sometimes an
At 7 PM “contractions were anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart but some of the contractions were lasting
Tell family & friends you’re in labor
Despite asking everyone to wait at home
The pressure to “perform”, and the chaos of family arriving at the hospital interfered with
“Ina May Gaskin’s Sphincter Law
by Liza Janda
It’s obvious this mother had no control over her birth experience, She was supported by her coach/husband but staff and family were not respectful of their wishes. Circumstances out of their control caused her to blame herself. Clearly none of the things that happened were within their control.
Steps to healing from a traumatic birth
1. Recognize that if you feel emotional pain, regret, lack of support, during and after the birth, you experienced trauma. If you feel traumatized, you were traumatized!
2. Acknowledge that “Yes it is important that the baby is healthy,” but good, positive, supportive birth experiences are just as important to mothers’ emotional wellbeing.
3. You are not alone in this experience and you deserve support. It is okay to feel confused or rattled by it all.
4. Do not blame yourself.
5. Surround yourself with nurturing people. Ask for help emotionally, and get help with the baby.
6. If you have feelings that blame the baby (directly or indirectly), get help through www.postpartumhealthalliance.org/; http://www.solaceformothers.org; www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk
Most women’s deep reserves of physical and emotional strength are tested to the limits during labor. Labor is a demanding physical and emotional ordeal that can affect mothers for months and years after. Acknowledge that you have created and grown a person, and brought a baby into the world.
Acknowledge what you lost. Have empathy for yourself. Then, praise and cherish yourself for the hard work you have done. You deserve it.