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For those who had a difficult birth and/or stressful first few days, how did it affect you?

(10 Posts)
aamia Sun 23-Sep-12 20:00:23

Just wondering. I had nothing drastic go wrong but lots of little complications, from waters breaking early and labour stalling at contractions every 10min for 2 days, to being induced (that bit was fine - epidurals are amazing!), then baby getting stuck and needing forceps, followed by him being ill and having to stay in hospital for a worrying few days until he picked up and improved. Then there were bf issues...

I thought I was fine, in the haze of new baby amazement, but am beginning to feel the effects as we settle into our new lives. Wondering how others have been affected by issues with birth etc and whether this will pass on its own really.

ShowOfHands Sun 23-Sep-12 20:12:08

I suffered from birth trauma first time round. I went through a whole range of emotions. I was angry at my body for not being able to do what was natural, I felt let down and robbed of the experience I'd planned, I was resentful of other people and started to struggle to watch birth programmes or to hear positive birth stories. I was a bit silly really and didn't ask for help or really admit it. I ended up having nightmares and flashbacks, realised I was blocking out bits of the birth. I was anxious and nervous. I felt like I couldn't ever be myself again, like the birth had irrevocably changed me and I'd lost something of myself.

I did get help eventually but not until dd was 2 and I clearly had pnd and ptsd. I was foolish for not getting help sooner.

At the very least get a debrief, talk to anybody who will listen. Go through the experience in your mind. Don't feel that you have to have experienced a certain level of trauma or have to meet certain criteria to feel traumatised a bit. Somebody once said to me I should just be grateful I had a healthy child. The two things are separate. You are of course grateful. But you can be hurt too.

The birth trauma association is good and your mw or hv should be able to refer you for a debrief.

It's also normal to feel a bit shocked by a straightforward and non-traumatic birth. Allow for hormonal adjustments and sleep deprivation too. Keep talking on here and elsewhere.

And congratulations! It gets better. Promise. I even had a 2nd.

ShowOfHands Sun 23-Sep-12 20:17:58

It can also help to understand exactly what happened too. It might help you to know that waters breaking early is often a sign of the baby being in the incorrect position, which can have a knock on effect. You often see a pattern of a long labour and then intervention at the end.

It helped me to know the above (with both dc my waters broke early and I had two long labours, lots of intervention and an emcs because the babies were stuck) and to understand that that one simple thing (malpositioned baby) can cause all of the other stuff. That I did nothing wrong iyswim. I wasn't crap at labouring.

There were two of you there that day. One of you had probably read the books. The other one was probably doing what the heck they felt like at the time and bugger the consequences.

I say this all the time on birth trauma threads but one day your ds will be old enough to talk to you and ask questions. And you'll be surprised. Because you will have been through an upsetting and scary time but he'll bypass all that and ask 'did I cry?' or 'tell me again about when I pooed on the nurse' (dd's favourite bit) or 'did you cuddle me?' and you'll realised that it's just the story of the day you met. And he won't blame you, he'll just like hearing about the first time you saw him and the funny tiny details of your first hours together. And it's a bit amazing as stories go isn't it?

secondseverncrossing Sun 23-Sep-12 20:22:37


I just came onto post that yes I had a bad birth and start with my firstborn and if affected me quite a lot in my second pregnancy (ended up arranging an ElCS, which was wonderful and things are all good now)

But now I want to say to ShowofHands that I'm absolutely floored by your post, almost to the point of tears. That was so beautifully written, and so so true.

TheWalkingDead Sun 23-Sep-12 20:33:40

Hi aamia - sorry to hear you had a difficult time and congratulations on your new arrival!

My first pg and birth was horrible. I ended up with an emcs after an induced labour due to pre-eclampsia. I recovered fairly well and DS1 was ok, but there was the constant fear of infection hanging over me - the hospital took blood samples as I developed a very high temp. during labour - and there was talk of 'the lab growing something in the blood we've taken and we're worried you could get a bad infection' at every check.

I was terribly anxious and exhausted due to the labour, birth and hospital stay. I had to go back into hospital a day after I left, as a community mw took my temperature at a home check and as it was 37.2 she declared I was getting a fever and 'could die' if I didn't go back in.

I left DS1 with DH as I couldn't face spending any more time alone with him, struggling in and out of bed with my CS wound. I was so happy to get out of hospital, finally, that when everything settled down and I came off the high, I was a bit of a wreck - really anxious and replayed every little detail which made me even more angry and anxious. I spoke to my HV and GP and due to PND as well, I took anti-depressants for a year and was very open with everyone about how I felt. I'm lucky that I had family who would just listen to me - maybe you could have a talk to your DP about how you're feeling?

Or you could mention how you feel to a HV or your GP as ShowOfHands says and have a look at the birth trauma association here?

I, too, had a second child a couple of years later and had moments where I felt all at sea even when I was prepared and had a straightforward ELCS - don't underestimate how much sleep deprivation and the hormonal shift can make you feel off kilter.

DialMforMummy Sun 23-Sep-12 21:13:07

I had a real shit time with DS2. I felt traumatised by it and the day that should have been one of best days of my life, became one of the worst days I have ever lived. The magic of this wonderful event was gone.
I decided to be dead open about it and would talk about it openly to family, friends. I thought that talking about my feelings would be the best way forward to move on.
I found bonding with DS2 not as obvious, natural (I am not sure what the right word is) as with DS1. And felt terribly guilty about it. I felt sorry for DS2 because of that. It was pretty shit.
I had one of these birth debrief with a MW going through my birth notes. It did help a bit. I also begged asked to be referred to a psychologist to make sure that these feelings I have had are truly behind me now.
5 months down the line, I feel better and feel bonded with DS2. I am still waiting for the referral to come though and even though the negative feelings seem to have gone, as I said above, I am want to make bloody damn sure they are gone .
Talking to people about it made me realise how many have had a negative birth experience and made me think that we really need to be open about it, for our sake. But it is not always easy.
I hope you feel better soon. Insist for MH support if you think it might help you.

cravingcake Mon 24-Sep-12 13:23:07

My DS was a difficult birth, and i am still healing from it 11 months on. Similar to you, waters broke early, induced, forceps. I had a 4th degree tear, episiotomy (which tore also), pph and shoulder dystocia.

The emotions/feelings will not just go over time if you dont deal with them. I was diagnosed with PTSD and PND, although I have had depression in the past so I was very quick to pick up the signs and ask for help. I had 8 weeks of counselling and it was great. A real opportunity to talk about what happened and to validate that it was traumatic for both me, my partner and my DS, and it wasnt just me being a wimp and not being able to cope when others may have in the same situation.

I'm still not 'over it' and those memories will stay with me for life but I am working through it and can cope better when I think back. The counselling has helped me be able to move on from it IYKWIM and I can now focus more on enjoying my DS as he grows rather than getting upset/distressed about how he arrived.

Flisspaps Mon 24-Sep-12 13:42:52

DDs birth had a much deeper impact on me than I acknowledged at the time. Induction, syntocinon, epidural, forceps, episiotomy that extended into 3a tear, and a 750ml PPH. I had a manual placenta removal which makes me feel physically sick even now (2.5years on). I felt her birth was done to me rather than me doing it IYSWIM? I regretted getting on the conveyor belt like a good girl against my instincts.

I planned DS's birth like a military operation. I was awkward (in their eyes) through pregnancy and didn't do things just because they were routine but did what suited me and DS. They assumed my blood results were lost (not refused). I planned a HB against medical advice (because clearly a medicalised birth in hospital did me the fucking world of good first time hmm!) and refused VEs in labour. This time, despite being blue lighted in (DS not moving), more forceps, episiotomy and a 1500ml PPH, the cloud of DD's birth lifted. I laboured myself, I stayed at home, I did everything I could possibly do and I had help - it wasn't done to me. I remember DSs first hours (I don't remember DDs as I was in theatre with a registrar doing a James Herriott reenactment) which helps massively.

So it took me 2 years and one month. But I'm still wobbly about the MROP.

aamia Mon 24-Sep-12 15:16:45

Thank you so much for all the replies - it helps a lot to hear of people who've been through similar and that it's ok to find things a bit much! Interesting to hear that others who were induced also followed a similar pattern: induction with syntocinon leading to forceps and episiotomy, then pph (mine was small but over their limit and there was the 'joy' of having the doctor called back to investigate, add a few more stitches and check all was 'clean' inside), then lots of extra drugs on the drip to make sure the bleeding stopped. The staff at the hospital were great throughout so it didn't feel as bad as it could have done, but still not at all pleasant!

oscarwilde Mon 24-Sep-12 18:13:32

Gosh - some of these stories are grim. Had a long labour (somewhat exhausted drug haze by the end of it when had EMCS for failure to progress). Technically emergency but both baby and I were fine and could have carried on for a few more hours I suspect if I'd wanted to. Had some bf issues which was v stressful at the time.
Had a post birth/pre second child consultation recently with a senior midwife some two yrs after when I discovered my DC was back to back and then stuck sideways [3 separate midwives never mentioned it to me once] plus a series of written comments about a narrow pelvis [difficulty establishing how dilated I was].
I can honestly say that while the birth was not particularly traumatic, I did feel like a failure compared with the friends who "did it with a tens machine and some gas and air". It was an education to realise that it had bugger all to do with me and was just one of those things so I would recommend that you arrange to review your birth notes when you have time and understand what happened.

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