Massive guilt over lack of skin-to-skin following birth

(32 Posts)
u32ng Tue 12-Mar-13 20:24:56

So my DS was born nearly 6wks ago & I have been feeling so guilty & down about the fact that I didn't get much skin to skin after he was born. I swear it was less than 5mins before I felt like throwing up from the drugs & he was handed to my DH to hold. Then I was getting stitches for a 2nd degree tear so didn't hold him again for ages.

Then breastfeeding didn't work out as he had a poor latch & I thought he was getting fed but wasn't (my 5 day stay in hospital is a whole other story).

Anyway, DS seems such an unsettled thing most of the time & I swear he favours my DH over me. When I think back to the delivery I feel so sad & guilty that I didn't get that first skin to skin & wonder if it affected breastfeeding & affected how he is on some subconscious level.

And i feel like a bit of an idiot as well because I read all the pregnancy/childbirth stuff & had read how important that post-birth skin to skin is, but on the day it was like I forgot everything sad. Is ridiculous but I just wish I could go back in time & do it the way I would've wanted.

I'm not really sure how to get over these feelings.

gimmeanaxe Tue 12-Mar-13 20:32:41

Have you spoken to anyone about these feelings? It would be no good me telling you it really doesnt make any difference - 2 of mine were in scbu and both are lovely young men now despite me not holding either for hours in one case and days in the other. You really need to talk out the feelings to help with the guilt inside and your feelings about the birth going differently to how you planned.
Sheila Kitzinger runs a helpline.
here They are great at listening.

Carolra Tue 12-Mar-13 20:34:40

Do not feel guilty, you are doing an amazing job! Your son will still benefit from skin to skin now, so jump in bed naked with him at every opportunity, bath with him too if you feel up for it. Have you got a sling? A wrap sling will keep him nice and close and really helped my unsettled dd when she was that age.

I felt terribly guilty as I was unable to breastfeed as well, it really clouded my first few months of being a mum, so please try not to allow the guilt in too much, it's not worth it. You love him and you're his mum!!

Have a look at the Babies Know website, it has lots of useful info about bonding and connecting with your baby. We did one of their courses with was a bit too hippy-esque for me but the website is useful!!!

Good luck and keep talking about how you feel, it's the best way of dealing with it xxxx

randomtask Tue 12-Mar-13 20:38:17

I'm so sorry to hear that.

With DS2 (now 2) I had emergency C-section after 3 days of labour, infection, drugs, the lot. Couldn't hold him when he was born (was placed next to me on the theatre table for a minute), can't remember first feeding him, couldn't pick him up for over a week, etc. Then he wouldn't feed (both drugged up due to infection, then lost weight, etc) ended up expressing and top up feeding after a week in hospital. Felt awful and depressed over the failure to give birth but more the lack of contact with my first born, lack of remembering, just didn't feel like a Mummy.

Now the positive; after 3 weeks of not latching and me expressing he just 'got it' and from then on fed well until stopping at 9 months (helped my feelings), he is a happy confident child who needs his Mummy and is very affectionate despite me thinking I'd never have the relationship I wanted. He comes to me for comfort before DH, etc.

So, my advice is, firstly you can still do skin to skin-he'll love it and it isn't too late (DS2 still calms if cuddling my skin rather than clothes). Secondly, I know they say that the first few days are the most important but they're also forgotten very quickly and you can move on from them (otherwise all DS2 would know is a Mummy who cries and feels pain if she holds him). Thirdly, write a list of the 'crap' stuff you are going through and then tick it off as it goes (we had all the drugs, feeding problems, pain, etc, it felt amazing to know we were 'getting there'). Fourth, you just had a baby in not perfect conditions and you have to stop blaming yourself. I know it's hard, it took me a long time and it still makes me a little sad even though I've now had DS3 (also emergency C-section) in much better conditions, did the skin to skin, immediate feed etc and (in hindsight) I think I probably bonded better with DS2.

Good luck and please don't feel bad, it's an awful place to be in-speak to your DH too, it'll help.

HPsauceonbaconbuttiesmmm Tue 12-Mar-13 20:38:52

Let it go! Skin to skin is nice and has some benefits, but it is not the be all and end all. Plenty of mums don't even get that 5 mins when baby is scooped of to scbu.

Motherhood is one guilt trip after another, but this really isn't something to worry about.

Breastfeeding is difficult and doesn't work for lots of people. I believe less than 5% manage past a month, or so my HV told me. Babies are hard work and some more than others.

Being a mum is not abut those few minutes after birth, it's about the months and years to come. A 6 weeks you're still in the hell zone of new baby, it will get better and easier. Drop your expectations and give yourself a break!

chickenyhead Tue 12-Mar-13 20:39:24

Hi,
I feel for you deeply. I have been there and I know exactly what it is like. My DD was not given to me at all and I didn't get her for 4 hours due to being stitched up etc. She is 7 now and adores me and we never had any bonding problems in retrospect EXCEPT she was my first child.

With your first child you want it all to be text book, it never is and doesn't have to be. You have just been through the single biggest change in life and the old you no longer exists, you are now mummy, full stop. This is such a confusing time as all your emotions are pickled, just tell him you love him and cuddle him, they pick up on your feelings so try to express what you wish you had.

I only held my second for 5 minutes but it was plenty, I was much more relaxed about being a parent, my way.

I hope you start to feel better about it soon but if not you may be better going to the doctor.
xxx

louschmoo Tue 12-Mar-13 20:41:31

Oh please don't feel down. Skin to skin, like all aspects of pregnancy and birth, is only a tiny part of the bonding and mothering process. So you didn't have that one part - it really won't have caused your baby any harm. There is no need for you to feel guilty. Your relationship with your baby will be defined by the days, weeks, months and years to come. You have all the time in the world to bond and connect with him. Breastfeeding is great if you can do it, as is skin to skin. But they are not what makes you his mummy.

If it helps to know I didn't have skin to skin with my DS until way after he'd been born, as i had an EMCS and was shaking from the drugs so couldn't hold him until i'd been stitched and taken into recovery. I BF him for 6 months - i think i was just lucky that it worked out and i had good support available. I really don't think skin to skin would have made any difference to how that worked out. Please don't beat yourself up about it.

If you are feeling really down about this maybe you could talk to your DP or health visitor, they may be able to help as well. Also please remember most newborns are unsettled, they cry and sleep and wriggle and do things erratically and it can be impossible to work out what they want sometimes. This is normal!

1944girl Wed 13-Mar-13 01:06:51

Please don't worry

I had both of my two DS by EMCS under GA. I never saw or held either of them until they were 2 days old.
Then, in '69 and '72 the words skin to skin were never used.I never had any bother bonding with my babies when I eventually met them and it never seemed to do any harm that there was no skin to skin.
Birth itself is just the beginning.You will understand what I mean in the years to come.

brettgirl2 Wed 13-Mar-13 06:36:20

I think that at the very least you need to talk to your health visitor about how you are feeling.

I didnt manage to breastfeed either of my daughters and I remember with DD1 I spent ages researching what had gone wrong, while feeling like a complete waste of space as a mother sad . It totally ruined the first few months of her life.

The same thing happened again with DD2 and this time I realised:
- It is ok to be upset about it and to tell people who say 'dont feel bad, I didnt bf' hmm like I care if you breastfed to shove off.
- Guilt is a negative emotion that needs to be dropped.
- Being a mother is a lot more than skin to skin and breastfeeding, these are only 2 parts. As your baby grows there will be lots of opportunities to do other bits well (and badly)
- It is ok to not let other people feed baby if you want to do it yourself (yes with Dd2 I said no to mil)
- I didnt mixed feed because I hated it and it made me feel worse. Thats just how it was and me spiralling into despair was unlikely to be good for anyone.

I blamed the bfing first time round on pethidine. I had exactly the same probs second time without it. You didnt have skin to skin straight after birth - thats what happened and it cant be changed.

What everyone else said really. I couldn't have skin to skin with DD for first 2 hours, being stitched up and didnt think to ask and I felt really guilty about it at the time but it doesn't make any difference in the long term. Definitely do lots of skin to skin now; have duvet days, get in the bath together. It'll be fine.
P.S. DD is definitely a mummy's girl wink

Oh and if he's fretful it might be worth going to see a cranial osteopath, he may just have a few kinks of his own from the birth to iron out. Being born is the single most traumatic thing the human body goes through so he might just be a little out of sorts and need some very gentle manipulation to make him feel right - search cranial osteopath on MN

KatherineKrupnik Wed 13-Mar-13 07:04:15

What everyone else said... There is actually little evidence on the benefits of skin to skin but I suspect it's not really about that. Finding someone to have a chat to would probably be beneficial, whether your HV or a helpline.

EssieW Wed 13-Mar-13 07:13:19

I've been there. Didn't manage it with either of my two. I end up a shaking wreck after giving birth so wasn't actually capable of doing skin to skin. I also completely forgot I wanted to do it.

I felt awful about this after DS but fine about it after DD. I think I realised that my births don't necessarily allow me to do it. I need to lie down, stop shaking, eat and recover.

I did plenty of skin to skin afterwards.

Definitely talk to someone how you're feeling.

exoticfruits Wed 13-Mar-13 07:21:00

I would talk to someone about your feelings. All the stuff that you can read these days does such a lot of harm because it leaves mothers feeling so guilty if they don't achieve it. When your DC gets older they may throw all sorts of things at you that you got 'wrong' as a mother but I can guarantee that it won't feature not having skin to skin contact at birth! I am as close as possible to my mother- I haven't a clue whether we had skin to skin contact- it isn't relevant so I wouldn't even ask her. Have it now - plenty of time.

Please try not to worry too much about this. DS3 wasn't even brought to me for a cuddle after my section, they whisked him off to SCBU and then sent me back into theatre to fix some bleeding from the wound.

By the time I saw him it was the next day, and by then he was all wired up in an incubator.

I did find it harder to bond with him than his twin sister, but within a couple of months I had a lovely relationship with him.

Eight years on, I am as close to him as I am to the others.

Try not to be hard on yourself.

WipsGlitter Wed 13-Mar-13 07:26:08

Same as everyone else, I had practically no skin to skin with DS2 as he was unwell. Didn't even attempt b-feeding. Are you maybe a wee bit down? Is there anyone else you can talk to?

Bakingtins Wed 13-Mar-13 07:42:34

I didn't get any skin to skin with Ds2, had a massive PPH and was taken to theatre, was unconscious most of the first day and then unable to do anything for DS because of how poorly I was. DS had some skin to skin with DH, the benefits for the baby don't depend which parent is doing it, so you can stop feeling guilty about that aspect. I did feel that DS2 was imprinted on DH (we called him Zachary Quack after the little duck in the Hairy McClary books for a while) but that was partly because DH did a lot more for him than he had for DS1 whilst I was recovering. It hasn't affected our relationship in the longer term, it didn't prevent me breastfeeding.
There is so much pressure to have everything perfect and the reality is that things go wrong that are outside your control. You can have a fantastic mother-child relationship despite that. Have you tried having a bath together? Lovely way to bond and cuddle - just have someone on hand to get slippery wet baby out safely. Or have a baby moon day and cuddle up in bed. You have years to develop that bond, all is not lost if you have a slightly rocky start. Don't entertain the guilt.

u32ng Wed 13-Mar-13 08:06:25

Thanks - your comments have helped a lot.

I think I'm just finding motherhood a lot harder than I anticipated & am a bit down on myself about a lot of things. Perceived failures are seem to be so much easier to find in this frame of mind!

I will do skin to skin again soon but am a bit scared as last time it just frustrated my DS as he decided he wanted to root for the boob but when there he doesn't really want to latch on so ended in tears on both sides when it was supposed to be relaxing!

exoticfruits Wed 13-Mar-13 09:04:39

I think that with any problem ask yourself whether he will care when he is 15yrs old-if the answer is 'no' then you don't need to worry.

378 Wed 13-Mar-13 14:47:12

Hi, I was the same as you - for my first I had read all about the importance of skin to skin and was determined to do everything 'right' then ended up with an EMCS, was up to the eyeballs on heaps of medicine, and only realised when I got home from hospital 6 days later that I hadn't really had any proper skin to skin time apart from breastfeeding.

I realise now that it was more to do with me having the baby blues and feeling completely thrown by what motherhood was actually like (so much harder and anxious than I had ever imagined) and fixating on all the things I might be doing wrong.

I have a completely attached and bonded 2 year old and while I don't regret the lack of skin to skin, I do regret the upset and worry I felt at the time and wish I could reach back and tell my younger self that everything would be okay.

Oh your post nearly made me cry!

I didn't have much skin to skin after birth either. Gave birth. Held very drugged baby. Threw up. Had shower. Got dressed. Got back into bed and fell asleep for 2 hours. Got in car for 40 minute drive home. Got home. Sat and looked at baby. Seriously. I must've only held him for about 15 minutes on that first day. No wonder he lost weight! I was so drugged up from the birth and so tired I was shaking and didn't want to hold him.

Have you tried having a bath with your baby? Make sure the room is nice and warm, bath is not too hot, and someone is on hand to help you get out! When LO was tiny, we used to spend ages lying in the bath, him on my chest, curled up like a little snail, his head nestled in my boobies. In fact, having a bath is what got BF back on track for us after 10 weeks of struggling and using formula.

I also use to wear just a bra, pop him in the sling with just a nappy on, and walk around the house like that. Lying back on a chair with plenty of cushions was comfy, but walking up and down used to soothe him to sleep. Remember doing this a lot at 3am!

He is now 10.5 months old, and clings to my legs while I wash up. He follows me when I leave the room and calls out for me to come back.

You don't have to be completely topless for skin to skin - I used to also wear a cardigan and a bra, so when lying on the couch watching rubbish telly, I could pop LO inside the cardigan and do it up over him to keep him warm and snuggly.

AmandaPayne Wed 13-Mar-13 16:37:57

I haven't had much skin to skin with either of my babies. First was forceps, so whisked away for checks and wrapped up before I saw her. Second was born at home, but second stage was a bit sudden and we both got cold fast when I needed to get out the pool (stubborn placenta, not sure how much blood I was losing, yadda yadda).

Please don't feel down on yourself. These things matter far less than we think they do in our post natal exhaustion, and particularly in the shock of becoming a mum for the first time.

DD1 is totally confident and bonded (nearly 4). DD2 is a total screaming tantrum cling-on (nearly 2), but I don't think it was the skin-to-skin grin.

Smudging Wed 13-Mar-13 17:06:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smudging Wed 13-Mar-13 17:09:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheeseStrawWars Wed 13-Mar-13 17:32:08

It could be that he's quieter for DH as he can't smell milk on him? Not preference for him, as such. Could you do skin to skin with a bottle to hand to slip it into his mouth when he's trying to latch on, so he doesn't get cross? Has he been checked for tongue-tie?

I had DD, then had a PPH, so they whipped her away and stuck her in a plastic tub. DH wasn't even holding her. sad

And then she wouldn't latch, or rather she'd latch but wasn't getting anything out so I spent 12 hours a day 'breastfeeding' and watching the weight fall off her.

Breastfeeding felt like such a failure. I thought if you try hard enough and persevere it would just work. And it didn't. So I thought it was me. (Second time round, DS fed fine, which actually made me feel better, as I did nothing different. I think DD had tongue-tie which wasn't diagnosed.)

I resented DD for making my life so hard. I felt I was in no way up to the job. I felt I was letting her down constantly. And letting down DH, for being so useless. I could actually understand why people left their babies on hospital steps. I think I may have had PND. I couldn't imagine ever bonding with her like people said, and that didn't change til around 9 months. It was like walking through treacle to get there. But I got there. And I wish I had been more honest about how I felt at the time, but the overwhelming sense of shame stopped me - I felt like a freak of nature for not instantly bonding with my child. Now, I think why didn't I just ask for help? It was there if I'd asked for it.

DD's 4 now, I love the bones of her, and she shows no signs of the early days having adversely affected her in any way. She's confident and social and loving. Do get some help though. I wish I had.

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