Recovering from a difficult birth experience

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Medical Conditions

GraceA dear friend of mine had her first baby last week. As I slowly started to get the details of the birth from her husband in hurried conversations while they were in the hospital, I started to realize that this was an enormously difficult birth experience all the way around.

Everything that happened was punctuated by the fact that they had originally hoped for a home birth. My friend was raised Sikh, and she wanted as pure, as non-invasive a pregnancy and birth experience as possible. And she knew that this might not be possible. She was realistic about that. But what ultimately happened was a brutal way to bring a child into the world. And I know this because almost the same experiences happened to me with my first child--only hers was just a little bit worse.

When I tell people about her experience, because our friends have moved now and told me I can fill people in here, they have been remarkably unsympathetic. "Well, they're okay, right? That's the most important thing." "Well, things don't always go as planned." Yes, it is. And we all know that. But that doesn't change the fact that a joyous outcome is paired with exhaustion and disppointment, and yes, violation. It makes the recovery that much more difficult. It makes your first days with your baby tremulous and more fearful and more painful.

Here is the story: The baby was breech. The mama blood pressure was high. The mucous plug came out. Contractions were five minutes apart for 24 hours. An epidural was given, and doctors tried to turn the baby. It was immensely painful. The mama was rushed into surgery, whilst telling the doctors, "I can still feel things. I can still feel pain." Fortunately, she didn't feel the incision-- just every stitch when they were stitching her up...

Her brand new baby girl was taken immediately to a NICU with low blood sugar. When the 23-year-old mama finally got to see her baby, hours later, when her hospital bed was wheeled up, the NICU nurse told her not to try to breastfeed, and after ten minutes, told the mama to leave because she was overstimulating her baby. She was basically told that every instinct she had as a new mother was bad for her baby.

Maybe this doesn't sound very traumatic in quiet black and white. But I've been there, and it is very traumatic. It's frightening and painful and invasive and horrible. It will take some time to recover. Time, and their beautiful baby girl. You can read the father's firsthand account of the experience here. How did you recover from your awful birth experience?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.