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I'm feeling guilty...

(19 Posts)
mumwithdice Wed 01-Jun-11 17:42:50

I posted this here because I thought maybe others might have felt this and if I dared to post it anywhere else, I'd get a right pasting. I may get one here too but maybe it will be cream buns rather than flames?

This may sound strange but I'm feeling guilty about having had a very straightforward birth that went better than I'd hoped. I had a short labour at home and ended up with a lovely DD who is snoozing next to me. I am grateful for that, but every time I hear a story about how another woman had a difficult time, I feel like I did something wrong somehow and that if I say anything, I am showing off which I don't want to do at all.

At the same time, I sometimes feel resentful that my straightforward birth is put entirely down to luck, and not down to anything I or my supporters did. I'd like to believe it was a combination of luck and work.

Still, things even out, I suppose. I was 'punished' , if you like, by having trouble establishing bf. We spent a week in hospital as a result. She's a fine bf-er now, but I was terrified then.

I haven't articulated this very well, but maybe some of you might understand. Or am I a totally unreasonable, arrogant cow?

ShowOfHands Wed 01-Jun-11 17:53:23

I'm afraid that while you can make the 'right' decisions and have an army of loyal supporters, it's a distant second to luck. You can't give them equal status or what you do is you imply a criticism of those for whom it all went wrong. I think what you can have that's partly a choice, is an attitude to delivery, regardless of how it pans out. You don't choose the method though.

In an ideal world we would all be proud of what our bodies can achieve but it's not that simple sadly and far more complex than deciding you are going to have a straightforward delivery (I know you know this).

I would perhaps question which part of you thinks you should feel guilty about having a straightforward and short labour and whether it's interfering with your enjoyment of your dd. It's normal to feel shocked by the most textbook of deliveries and it's quite strange how bound up motherhood is in guilt as an overriding emotion BUT I see no concrete reason from your op why you should feel this way.

Don't feel that it should be a struggle. You don't deserve a bad birth because you had an easy pregnancy or an easy ride bfing because the labour was tough. There are no such rules.

knittakid Wed 01-Jun-11 19:49:11

I am just the person you say you are feeling guilty to, I, like you probably, did everything to prepare and be ready to bring my ds into the world the best way possible, which for me was the natural way. Still, it didn't work. I can only blame luck, as blaming myself has been terribly damaging and exhausting, and to think I got or didn't get what I deserved doesn't help either. Anyway, I just want to say that I would envy your delivery, but not 'blame' you for it at all and if we were friends it would not interfere at all in our friendship, even if I dreamt at night of being you for that wonderful day...

ShowOfHands Wed 01-Jun-11 19:54:41

knitta's right. I had a bloody awful time of it with dd (not my fault, I have to believe it's luck because years of blaming myself has been exhausting and upsetting) but I want everybody to have an experience they can be happy with, not just me. I would be so, so, so pleased for you in rl. And you should feel proud and happy and content with your wonderful little baby.

gourd Wed 01-Jun-11 20:36:02

Don't feel guilty! I had a great birth experience too - but I don't feel guilty. I did everything I could within my power to make it a good experience. Obviously sometimes things can happen that are outside your control and I guess I was lucky to avoid anything unexpected. However, I don't feel "lucky". I feel glad to have had a simple straightforward and speedy delivery at home (labour was 2.5 hours in total), but I also feel proud of myself that I kept fit and healthy to try to achieve this, as well as investing time and money in pregnancy massage and techniques to get my baby into the right position for birth, then I took care to relax whilst in labour and keep control of how I dealt with the labour, all of which my midwife told me, helped it be speedy and straightforward.

ohmyfucksy Wed 01-Jun-11 20:40:37

You don't need to feel guilty at all.

But it IS down to luck. You're lucky that your pelvis was the right shape, and that your baby didn't get distressed and need whipping out quickly. Of course it's good to prepare, but ultimately it's down to luck. The rest is mostly fluff.

ShowOfHands Wed 01-Jun-11 20:59:07

I kept fit and healthy, I stayed at home, had done optimum foetal positioning for the entire pregnancy, plus yoga, was upright and mobile throughout a 2 day labour, accepted no drugs, breathed, panted and though positive thoughts.

But dd didn't know any of this and entered the birth canal in a LOT and asynclitic position and I ended up with a lot of intervention, an emcs and a baby with muscle damage.

This was luck. For it to be anything else implies I did something wrong.

I think you can be proud of your delivery whatever happens, as long as you take care not to assume that anything you did guaranteed you the outcome you got.

theborrower Wed 01-Jun-11 21:07:47

showofhands I always find your posts about childbirth and trauma so eloquent and spot on. I had an EMCS and didn't realise how traumatic and upsetting I actually found it until I started counselling to make sense of everything that happened at my birth and postnatally. Your posts always make me think and you talk total sense - thank you for your excellent posts.

mumwithdice not sure what to say, but don't worry, I'm certainly not going to give you a pasting! I would also be happy for you in real life, it's great that things went well. Don't agonise over it and feel guilty. You had a good experience, be thankful for it.

But I also believe it's down to luck. Sure, you can have a healthy pregnancy, attend antenatal classes, practice breathing techniques, have an active birth blah blah blah (I did, and thought things would go fine) but when it comes down to it - there's two of you going through it and Baby will do what they do. You can't control that.

QTPie Wed 01-Jun-11 21:11:24

Don't feel guilty! Just get on and enjoy your new family smile

I had an ELCS (breech) in a private hospital. I hate an amazing birth - loved it, no pain (just a little discomfort getting in and out if bed). Then I went on to breastfeed with ease (no bleeding or cracking, DS had a perfect latch from birth).

During the following months, I heard the rest of my NCT group's birth trauma stories. I also saw many of them struggle with breastfeeding, many painfully. Then you read things on here....

Do I feel guilty? No. But I do feel INCREDIBLY LUCKY! I thank my lucky stars every day!

I think that it is good for people to read that things can go very well - birth needn't always be traumatic.

Congratulations and enjoy smile

ShowOfHands Wed 01-Jun-11 21:19:53

theborrower, thank you. blush I do hope you've found it helpful getting some help to deal with the emcs. I know I waffle on about birth trauma a lot but always, always hope that sometimes it helps other people to know that they're not alone and that the guilt, shame and regret of birth trauma isn't indicative of any need for you to feel that way. It took me a long time to understand that.

And you're utterly right. There are two of you going through it. And I've talked about it recently, but having an older child now, we talk about the day she was born and it's not a story of trauma or shame anymore. It's the story of the day we met and that's helped me reframe it in a way that nothing else has. That she looks at me with love when I tell her about the day I first held her reaffirms what I logically know to be true: I did not let my baby down.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if none of us had to feel guilty? Sadly, I think motherhood and guilt are frequent bed partners.

PrincessScrumpy Wed 01-Jun-11 21:29:30

I had a traumatic birth - nothing I did wrong, MW was not supportive but dh and I did all we could to get our message across. DD came in 2 hours 5 mins (Which people think is something they should be jealous of but after 37 stitches I would disagree). However, I'm not annoyed with anyone who had a fab birth - I'd like to think I'm in the moinority and others get listen to far better.

I don't get why you are so against calling it luck - by not including luck you are inadvertently acusing people with less straightforward births of doing something wrong. You were lucky - that your labour progressed well, dd wasn't breech or back to back, dd didn't have the cord round her neck etc. You were also lucky that your support was good - unless you went privately and chose your mw. That doesn't mean you can't take some credit too.

Congratulations on the birth of your dd.

PrincessScrumpy Wed 01-Jun-11 21:31:31

sorry for typos - very tired and pg with twins.

Checkmate Wed 01-Jun-11 22:36:37

There is no need to be guilty.

Of course, every woman can up their chances of getting a natural birth, by being informed about their body and the whole process. Many, many mumsnetters do this. Unfortunately, This alone is not enough - more of an impact is made to every woman's chances by her having supportive people around her; a clued up birthing partner/advocate, and most importantly excellent medical carers in pregnancy and birth. This is often the thing that is lacking. Every day on these boards there are women who are being denied a homebirth for spurious reasons, or have an induction booked for them when only 10 days overdue, or aren't given the option of a vaginal delivery for a breech baby, or whatever it is that can sometimes lead to a cascade of intervention.
Of course there are also babies who aren't going to make it out vaginally And it is excellent that we have highly trained surgeons prepped and ready to save the lives of those mother and babies.

I have had easy births and complicated births. I'm heavily pregnant with dc5, and for the first time have an Nhs midwife who will lead my care in pregnancy, birth and postnatally. I know that his gives me the highest possible odds of getting the natural home birth that I want. But high odds don't mean a certainty.

mumwithdice Thu 02-Jun-11 10:52:08

Thank you all. This helps immensely.

PrincessScrumpy I'm not at all against luck, I'm aware of how incredibly lucky I was that things all came together well for me. I'm aware that luck is, as ShowofHands said, the prime factor. But I also feel that I dealt well with the labour I had just as all of you dealt
well with yours.

Ultimately, I think every single woman who carries and births a child in any way has done something amazing.

And I've just realised something which I hope doesn't sound patronising. If it does, I really don't mean it to. If it's all down to luck, then how can I use my experience to help increase the odds of others getting the birth they want ? Does that make any sense?

On a related note, I should like to thank this section of Mumsnet because something someone said on here really got me through labour. They said "Every contraction brings you one step closer to meeting your baby."

I don't normally let thinking about this interfere with enjoying DD who is, actually, nearly 6 months old and investigating my scientific calculator. It's just that yesterday I met a lot of women who had had traumatic births and it got me thinking.

ShowOfHands Thu 02-Jun-11 11:37:05

I think you can help other people to have a positive experience, but this isn't about the actual specifics of their labour necessarily, but an attitude towards it. A good friend recently had what in general terms you'd describe as a very traumatic labour and delivery but she's very positive about it. And I know people who've had textbook labours who've been in such terrible shock and pain over the whole thing. You hit the nail on the head with your admission that you dealt well with your labour but you're wrong about me I'm afraid. I did NOT deal well with mine because it was abnormal from start to finish and none of the prep I'd done was relevant. Each contraction took me closer to dd being wedged in my pelvis with her muscles damaged. It was unproductive.

I always advise that you go into labour with an ideal. You think about what you'd like to happen. You think about how you might maximise your chances of this, what small things you can do that will help (such as active, mobile labour, keeping fit, ofp etc). You also think about every other possibility that may come up and what you'd ideally do in that situation. And then accept that you don't know which one you'll get but that you've thought about them all.

mumwithdice Thu 02-Jun-11 17:19:25

Thank you, ShowofHands, that's really helpful. FWIW, I think you have dealt with the aftermath of a difficult birth wonderfully well. Your DD is lucky to have you as a mum.

Spudulika Thu 02-Jun-11 17:29:36

"I always advise that you go into labour with an ideal. You think about what you'd like to happen. You think about how you might maximise your chances of this, what small things you can do that will help (such as active, mobile labour, keeping fit, ofp etc)"

Also perhaps the bigger things, such as thinking about WHERE you're going to have your baby and WHO will be with you when you give birth, as these things impact on outcomes more than anything else.

Spudulika Thu 02-Jun-11 17:32:35

OP - expedite your guilt by being positive about your birth to any pregnant mothers you meet, who get more than their share of labour horror stories heaped on them as soon as anyone can see they're pregnant.

Confidence, optimisim and positivity can be catching - in childbirth and in breastfeeding!

And for god's sake, don't go around apologising and implying that normal births are as rare as hen's teeth. They're not!

chocolatecrispies Thu 02-Jun-11 19:08:03

As so many others have said, there is absolutely no point in feeling guilty, nor in feeling that you have to have a struggle somewhere - there will be enough struggles ahead in parenting for you to earn any stripes you might feel you need!
However, I'm another who thought she had prepared for a natural delivery, spent hours practicing OFP, self-hypnosis, kept active, did yoga, picked a birth centre and planned a water birth - and ended up with every intervention going and an emcs. And the people I did find most upsetting to talk to afterwards were those who had had straightforward natural deliveries and who said things like 'but I kept active throughout' or 'I think it was all to do with my attitude'. I had a couple of friends who reduced me to tears with comments like this - they are still my friends but we avoid talking about birth! I think that if you had a straightforward delivery you don't actually know what it's like not to, and it's very very easy to feel judged by comments which aren't meant to feel like that. I wish I'd been lucky but I wasn't - but I actually feel like I am now in a good position to talk to other women who are making decisions or who have also had traumatic deliveries. It may be that you can't help others by sharing your experiences because you don't know what it's like to plan these things and have them all go wrong.
However, I wouldn't worry about any of this, just enjoy your DD and appreciate the things that went right. In my case the breastfeeding was a breeze so I got lucky there, but I don't put that down to anything except luck, would not occur to me to advise others on it because my physiology just seemed to produce lots of milk!

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