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How long did it take you to emotionally recover from childbirth?

(21 Posts)
CulturalBear Mon 21-Jul-14 15:34:19

Just that really.

When did you get over the emotional trauma of childbirth?

I had a not-great-but-not-horrendous labour - waters broke, inconsistent contractions, on drip after 40 hours, DS's head 'got stuck' and ended up being dragged out by forceps in theatre. Aftercare was pretty crappy but no-one was (physically) hurt.

He's one this week. It still upsets me that I failed (him and me). I've had all of the 'but he's fine, get over it' 'support' from my loved ones and it doesn't really help.

Is this one of those magical time things?

weatherall Mon 21-Jul-14 15:36:16

That does sound like a horrendous labour!

You are justified in feeling traumatised.

Try reading Judith Lewis Herman's book 'trauma and recovery'.

I 'got over' it when I understood what had happened, why it happened, and how it had been nobody's fault, not even mine.

You didn't fail him. You didn't fail yourself.

Have you seen your birth notes? Did you have any chance to talk through what happened with a midwife, or someone else who could go through it and explain what happened and why?

I don't think you can really 'let go' of something like that until you understand it.

People who tell you that it's fine because you both survived without any major scars just don't understand how much it affects you on the inside, to be helpless in the face of something that you had been taught was 'natural' and 'wonderful' and turned out to be scary, painful, and out of your control.

(FWIW 22 hours, oxytocin drip, on my back with stirrups, scalp monitor, scarily dipping baby heartbeat, not knowing if I ought to push, nurses all crowded round the monitor screen, forceps, stitches... TBH 'get over' is a relative term. But you can deal with the emotional upset and feel ok about moving on.)

CulturalBear Mon 21-Jul-14 15:58:41

I'm very much an 'understander' - if I can analyse something and make sense of it, I can deal with it.

I think part of the problem is no-one can give me any answers. Had a birth debrief which helped with some things, but no-one can give me an answer as to why he got stuck. Was it because I was waiting so long to be induced? Was it because I was strapped to a bed being monitored? What could I have done differently? Is it really the case that I wasn't trying hard enough but they're too polite to tell me?

If he really did get stuck, then surely I'm screwed for all future deliveries, too (they say not - but how could they possibly know)?

My DP is at a loss - he keeps going with the 'but shit just happens sometimes' route. He's right, but it doesn't help!

CulturalBear Mon 21-Jul-14 16:01:49

I'm glad you can see past the crap bits now AMumInScotland how long did it take?

Looks like an interesting book weatherall - although I think this falls short of SA and rape. I wouldn't dream of categorising a moderately shit time in that league :/

Iggly Mon 21-Jul-14 16:02:27

Maybe look into the reasons why baby gets stuck. It could be for any number of reasons - you might never know why though. He could have been facing the wrong way, it could have been because you weren't able to walk around during labour, could have been he wasn't in the right position before labour started. So many factors!

My ds got stuck - his elbow was up by his face. Took ages to get him out. Sometimes I think I should have been in a different position, I should have pushed standing up but I tried different ways and none worked. Took me a long time - until dd arrived really - to put it out of my mind. I still get upset about his first few days but it is done now.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 21-Jul-14 16:06:36

I had a similarly bad experience unfortunately - pre-eclampsia, a month in hospital, induced labour, 4 days on a drip in a labour ward, ventouse delivery - but ultimately chose to regard the removal of DS much as I would the removal of a burst appendix i.e. the method was not my personal responsibility, I couldn't have done anything any differently and the end justified the means.

SweetSummerSweetPea Mon 21-Jul-14 16:14:41

How did you fail him, your body maybe, who is responsible for that? your parents, your grandparents? do you feel like you have failed if you get constipation? Its no different.

Anyway, my Labour was supposedly wonderful, but to me it was horrific, it took me 6 years to get over it - when I had a wonderful controlled, and calm ELC seond time round.

You can also talk to birth trauma assct.

* but ultimately chose to regard the removal of DS much as I would the removal of a burst appendix i.e. the method was not my personal responsibility

This is exactly how we should regard birth. its the NCT and others who in my view wickedly make you think its anything to do with you its not, birthing a baby is a bodily function like pucking.

SweetSummerSweetPea Mon 21-Jul-14 16:17:47

he keeps going with the 'but shit just happens sometimes' route

he is right except for the sometimes part - I think you will find the reality of labour for first timers is often not pretty. Horrfic, some nearly die and so on....

Labour is not straightforward.

I really dislike the - if only you could move lobby everything would be fine...

I know plenty of people who moved so much they could have been on stage doing a dance show, the baby still got stuck, they still had forceps, they still ruptured, they still nearly died, and so on.

GretchenWiener Mon 21-Jul-14 16:18:40

i felt really LIED to about the absolute agony that it is.

like a huge conspiracy

SweetSummerSweetPea Mon 21-Jul-14 16:20:33

That does sound like a horrendous labour!

You are justified in feeling traumatised.

Try reading Judith Lewis Herman's book 'trauma and recovery

weatherall just wanted to pick you up there you will find the birth trauma ass recognises, as it should that you dont have to have a horrendous labour - in terms of stitches and forceps to be traumatised.

Labour is traumatic. I dont need to explain why.

No one has to justrify or feel like they have too if they had a traumatic labour....and the degree of horros....

Mine was so called Text book. I was traumatised by it.

ZebraZeebra Mon 21-Jul-14 16:29:46

DS is 20 months and I'm not sure I'm over it yet. Had a very similar labour except the getting stuck part. I felt pressured by the team supposedly caring for me - bullied into an induction and then just left to get on with it. It's left me with a lingering mistrust for the same healthcare authority and I'm pregnant with DC2.

There's not anything you could have done differently. Sometimes the body knows what to do and it's a simple, straightforward labour. I don't think what the NCT put out is wicked - it would be horrible going into labour terrified and expecting a bloodbath. But equally, there needs to be more realism, more managing of expectations - it might not be straight forward, there's a lot of variables in a completely wild situation. Everyone can hope for the best but no one can say what will happen.

It's a wild situation, you did your very best, but there's no time on when you should get over it. It could have textbook and you might still feel overwhelmed by it months later. It's a profound experience however it goes. I believe we should aim for more than "mother and baby alive" and part of that is being open and sharing with our experiences. You're not alone. As much as I believe in the natural straightforward birth, I also think it's a complete lottery.

For me's very personal. I personally can't forgive certain individuals and will be refusing their care this time if I come across them in this pregnancy. So that just shows, I guess, that I'm not over it. At all. It's horrible to not trust the people I have to hand myself over to care for me.

motherinferior Mon 21-Jul-14 16:37:39

I'm really sorry.

In all honesty I only felt better after my first v unpleasant birth after a second v straightforward one. And I was just lucky the second time.

I had a similar experience with dd1. Two years later as I was approaching dd2' s due date and was really anxious in case I "failed" again. I had wanted a proper debrief since coming home with newborn dd1 but wasn't brave enough. I'm posting because I want you to know that it doesn't mean your next birth will be the same, dd2's birth was completely different and has helped me hugely with the feeling of failure I had after dd1.

Rainbowshine Mon 21-Jul-14 16:48:24

Hi OP I had a similar experience and I still get upset about DS's birth 18 months on. I would recommend the birth trauma association too, as a PP did. You need to talk to someone prepared to listen. DPs and others probably won't understand - I think for a lot of people it's about the end not the means IYSWIM. I have stopped talking to people who just give me standard responses like "haven't you got over it yet?" as it's easier not to hear these comments. Especially from NCT friends who had the lovely water births and were home the same day - I am so envious of their experiences and it has caused tension between us. You are not alone. HTH

Halfpastthelegofmyshirt Mon 21-Jul-14 16:51:11

My baby was stuck and I moved about lots and lots. I tried every possible position and pushed so hard I thought I would burst. Babies sometimes are in the wrong position and there is nothing you could've done to prevent it.

I even did a lot of the spinning babies exercises in the last few weeks of pregnancy!

I was upset after his birth at first but managed to be thankful for the forceps eventually. It wasn't the birth I wanted but in my antenatal group we had 1 forceps, 1 ventouse, 2 CS and 3 'normal' deliveries. Being a first time mother means you are more likely to have to have some sort of intervention.

I am planning a homebirth next time - I reckon I'd be very unlucky to have another stuck baby and I think you would be too.

ZebraZeebra Mon 21-Jul-14 16:52:12

Yes to a lot of Rainbowshine's post. I think most people just focus on the result, not the process. But you went through a terrifying, traumatic process. It's OK to not be over it.

KatyN Mon 21-Jul-14 17:12:08

I had a traumatic time and then my son spent 10 days in nicu. Various things helped.

One was a friend (nct buddy who had had emergency c section) said she thought I had had a way worse time than anyone she had ever heard of which let me feel justified in my feelings.

Then I spoke to more and more mums about their experiences. I don't know anyone (except one woman who I don't believe a word she says) who had a good birth experience, like the ones we all visualise before hand.

Then I plucked up the courage and googled what had happened. Once I understood the medical reasons it made more sense, and there is no reason why it would or wouldn't happen next time. I should probably have asked the hospital at the time but was under wY too much stress.

My son is 2.5, I am totally ready to do it again.

On his first birthday I felt very differently. I felt bitter and cheated. I defo did not celebrate when it came to his birth time.


In my case it took a few months to move past to a reasonable degree. But, fwiw the experience is largely why DS is an only (and at age 20 will remain one...) Basically I wrote out what had happened, as best I could remember, trying to make sense of it. Then got a copy of my birth notes and compared that with my own memory.

And it became clear that things had just not been right from the start, and in my case he would never have come out at all without the forceps. Choices were made along the way that didn't help, but the only ways it was going to end up was forceps, CS, or at least one of us dead. Which sort of put things into perspective I suppose.

The 'reason' for me was that the muscles holding him in were a lot stronger than the ones trying to push him out. The midwife commented when they got to the episiotomy that there was just a lot of muscle there.

CulturalBear Mon 21-Jul-14 22:16:52

I really appreciate all of these comments.

It makes me so sad that so many of us feel like this. Why does no-one talk about it?

I'm all for not terrifying pregnant women, but after the fact, we should be allowed to talk about it.

I'm sure even being listened to would make a difference in a lot of cases - that chance to have your feelings validated rather than brushed off.

NotCitrus Mon 21-Jul-14 22:31:55

My first birth was similar - 40 hours, ds stopped breathing after, terrible postnatal care. Him turning one was a milestone and I felt much better over the next couple years, but being pregnant with dd brought it all back. Having a good birth experience and postnatal care helped a lot. I thought I was pretty well recovered over 5 years on, but recently friend had a stillbirth and I was in a doctor's appt when it turned out the consultant's folder on me included all my birth notes, so when he went out for a while obviously I read them. Nothing unexpected, but emotionally hit me with it all again. There's a reason Trusts only usually let you come read your notes with a MW present.

I suspect like other trauma I'll be mostly over it but get affected by it at odd and hopefully more infrequent intervals forever.

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