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Support after traumatic childbirth

(26 Posts)
mrsflux Thu 27-Aug-09 08:13:48

I don't want to go into the details as I'll start crying but I had a c section which was the exact opposite of the birth plan I wrote. I'm having real trouble getting over the emotional side of this experience and wondered if anyone could suggest where to look for support.

Many thanks ladies!

Tangle Thu 27-Aug-09 08:18:35

Sorry to hear things were so different to your hopes and plans I've heard the Birth Trama Association can be very helpful.

Hope you find suppot you need and find a way to be at peace with what happened.

daisybooo Thu 27-Aug-09 08:21:04

Oh poor you. I had a very similar experience with my first. Your hv should be able to advise you, as should your gp.
Are you and baby physically well? How recent was this.


tiredemma Thu 27-Aug-09 08:22:01

Thereis a book by Sheila Kitzinger called 'Birth Trauma'. You may find it very helpful

mrsflux Thu 27-Aug-09 09:06:55

I had ds 5 months ago almost. He was monitored through most of labour and was fine and is a lovely laid back little man. I'm fine physically although still waiting for the numbness round my scar to go.
I have had a birth after thoughts meetng with a mw. She went through my notes explaining everything but couldn't tell me why he got stuck or why I failed to progress. It was just one of those things apparantly. She seemed satisfied her job was done once she had made me cry. I found this made me feel even worse about the whole experience.

ShowOfHands Thu 27-Aug-09 09:18:36

Oh mrsflux.

I'm 2yrs on from where you are now. Everybody on MN has heard me rattle on about DD's birth. I wanted a home waterbirth and after 6 hours of pushing she still hadn't moved a millimetre. I transferred in for an episiotomy, 3 ventouse attempts, a manual rotation attempt and an eventual em cs when they couldn't move her and she became distressed.

I can't even begin to list the myriad feelings and questions that came out of it. I felt guilty. Guilty for the bruising and tears on my child's scalp, guilty that I had hated giving birth, guilty that I had failed. I was confused. I had questions that had no answer. DD was stuck so hard that they couldn't even push her back up where she came from, let alone pull her out. But why? What's wrong with my pelvis? Am I not designed to give birth? Did I do something wrong? Should I have tried pushing a bit longer? Had I been robbed of my only chance of giving birth? Was everybody judging me? Had I let DH down? Would DD bond with me?

I couldn't talk about it in rl, still can't really. I certainly can't watch birth on television or read about it.

I wish I had got help sooner as it's meant I can't have more children through fear and that's something that's having a ripple effect through my marriage, our family and beyond.

Please talk to your GP, HV, anybody who will listen and get some support.

I'm so sorry you feel sad about this.

mrsflux Thu 27-Aug-09 10:02:40

Showofhands- that is me! While my birth was not as medically traumatic as your experience I feel exactly the same.
I have no idea how I'll cope with these feelings if we have another- I would love another but 40 weeks of pregnancy waiting to go through it all again makes me sick with worry.

I do thnk I had some pnd at first as the birth my failure to bf for long and a struggle to bond left me cold. I wished lift would go back to how it was before and sometimes thought about leaving.
I'm over that now but all aspects of childbirth leave me feeling sick tense and anxious.

tethersend Thu 27-Aug-09 10:23:47

Sorry to gatecrash, just wanted to say that a had my dd by elcs (breech), and it was a really beautiful, calm experience.

I have never had an emcs; a friend who has had both told me that she couldn't believe the difference between her first, incredibly traumatic emcs and the elcs of her second. She was not exhausted from labour and pushing, and felt prepared as she knew what to expect from recovery etc.

I have to say that I cannot imagine having a cs after labour, and am really not qualified to pass comment (just admiration!), but an elcs (which you would be offered for a subsequent baby) can be a very different, calm, and almost pleasant experience. It was for me.

You won't have to go through the same (as the emcs) experience again.

Again, sorry to intrude...

ShowOfHands Thu 27-Aug-09 11:02:35

tethersend, you're not intruding at all and it's a salient point. For me, the key thing I came back to over and over again was the point of delivery. The emcs itself wasn't traumatic. It was the first time I had been pain free in two days, the recovery (physically) was very easy indeed but I'm so disappointed and sad and full of guilt for the moment of delivery. They announced it as 'she's here btw' so I missed it, they whisked her to the other side of the room and I couldn't see her. So many pairs of hands touched her, so many eyes saw her before I did and when they brought her back she was wearing clothes. It was almost like I hadn't given birth at all and all I could think was I had let down this clothed and cleaned up baby. I had wanted to cuddle her naked little body and let her hear my voice but when the time came I couldn't speak for the sadness.

mrsflux, PND I cannot imagine on top of this. I do have PTSD but the nightmares and flashbacks are lessening a little recently.

I had a little cry this morning reading your OP and dd came over, stroked my hair and said 'I make you all better my mummy, give me a big cuddle and a kiss and everything all better'. smile

daisybooo Thu 27-Aug-09 13:19:06

ShowOfHands I had a similar experience in that dd was whisked away, didn't cry and nobody even told me she had been born. DH was sitting with me and said " I think the baby's been born" but nobody spoke to us. I can see now that they were concerned with dd and wanted to check her over as she was distressed. As she was silent we thought she hadn't made it. When they did bring her to me she was wearing a tiny hospital gown. I was really spaced with shock and said to dh "oh look, there's someone's baby." I had to ask what sex the baby was as she was dressed so I couldn't see. I too wanted the skin to skin contact immediately afterwards and it felt all wrong.

Happily she is very healthy now and I went on to have ds 2 years later. However I spent the whole of my pregnancy worrying about giving birth to him so I feel I lost something there too. I regularly begged for an elcs but got nowhere. They kept sending me away asking me to think about it. In the end I was extremely lucky and had a very fast and manageable labour and although I needed a ventouse delivery + episiotomy I felt on top of the world. Could have danced around the room after he was born.

Don't let fear stop you having another baby if you feel you would regret it in the long run. You may have to fight for an elcs but I know a couple of women who have had them.

I really hope you find the help you need and that you get some comfort knowing you are not alone.

mrsflux Thu 27-Aug-09 16:00:58

tethersend - i know an elcs is an option and like you say i may have to fight for it as the mw who went through my notes afterwards said there was nothing stopping me having a vbac next time. (reading between the lines makes me think they'll push for that)
i do agree with showofhands though as the moment of delivery/ the actual physical bit being missing got me down a lot. i felt like a failure because my body couldn't cope and that i'd been robbed of something that had been built up by everyone friends and HCP alike so that i think i was almost grieving for it being gone!
i really don't know what to do but think i'll talk to HV when i get DS weighed next week and see that she says.
i has a look at thebirth trauma website but don't feel worthy enough as all of the stories there are much more distressing than what i went through!

mrsflux Thu 27-Aug-09 16:02:26

showofhands - your DD sounds gorgeous! what a sweetie!

Mamulik Thu 27-Aug-09 20:37:52

what exactly was wrong? are you sure it was that bad?

MrsHappy Thu 27-Aug-09 21:34:17

Birth Crisis - you can call and speak to someone who will listen.

Birth Trauma Association.

I feel sad for you, Mrs Flux, I've been there too. I had a long labour during which I was told in no uncertain terms to stay on the bed, epidural, stuck baby, failed forceps and section. I came away looking like I had been in a car crash and not convinced that the baby they had given me was mine at all.

It impacted on so many things - every time I had more than a couple of drinks I would bend the ear of whoever was closest and I was scared to get pregnant again. even when we started to TTC I reckon I somehow managed to will it to not happen! In the end, thanks to a nosy lady who asked me about it and let me cry I began to realise how upset I was about the loss of control and all of those hours (the ones when I was in labour - the CS was fine) spent feeling frightened. I also gave myself a break by realising I would be offered a section next time (it is pretty rare, from what I hear, not to be). In fact, I did get pregnant again but lost it. And the next two, and that made me realise that there was something worse than a bad birth, and for me that is not being able to conceive a viable pregnancy. At that point I lost my fear.

I'm now pregnant again and planning a VBAC after all of that (with the support of lovely MWs who will listen to me!) so what I am trying to say is that it can and does get better. One way of making it better is to think about what you want to do differently if there is a next time and then focus on that, I think.

mrsflux Fri 28-Aug-09 13:45:35

Mamulik - are you serious? I don't think suggesting someone is over reacting is very helpful.
Perhaps I should just pull myself together?!?

Mrshappy - thank you for your post. I can understand your issues with ttc. I do want another but can not imagine how to do this without having to re live my first experience for 9 months. I admire your courage at choosing a vbac and wish you every success!

Mamulik Fri 28-Aug-09 15:03:30

mrsflux sorry, if I upset you

shootfromthehip Fri 28-Aug-09 15:28:36

I was exactly the same after the birth of my DD. She was posterior and it took 3 1/2 days of contractions every 10 mins for me to even start dilating, 24 hrs of active labour and 3 1/2 hrs of pushing before I ended up with failed forceps, VT and eventually had an EMCS. Not quite the water birth in the midwife birthing unit I anticipated either.

I too was gutted that lots of other people got to hold her first, a right that I felt was mine.

I struggled with a real sense of guilt and also dreaded getting pregnant again. I took over a year to conceive and this helped my raise my spirits until I started thinking about the birth.

My local hospital refused to give me an elective section and I was totally horrified at the prospect of being left to labour for days and then have to have another EMCS. I was truly terrified of it all happening again.

As a result I ended up with ante natal depression and saw a psychiatrist through out the second half of my pregnancy. Most of my issues were about having a lack of control over the birth. Eventually the hospital agreed to book me in for a section a week after my due date.

My DS was born on his due date! It was a VBAC and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a 3 hr labour and I had no pain relief. It was the most painful and scary 3 hrs of my life but it has left me free of guilt for not having 'tried harder' to get DD here safely. She was stuck and it was not my fault. As a result of the VBAC I know that now and it has given me such a sense of peace.

I am blessed to have my LOs but will not be having anymore. My pregnancy the last time was utterly heartbreaking and I couldn't go through it again even though the end product is pretty wonderful.

Anyway, sorry for the length of this story but I hope you can get this horrible memory out of your mind. All babies are blessings but some are just harder to get here than others!

Good luck x

Tangle Fri 28-Aug-09 18:03:18

MrsFlux - I know there are some truly awful stories on the Birth Trauma website, but they also have the quote "Birth Trauma is in the eye of the beholder". From reading other people experiences I do believe that they are there to support women who have been traumatised by a birth experience, not to judge whether it passes some criteria and so qualifies for their help.

That said, you need to do what you feel comfortable with - fingers crossed the HV can give you some support, but don't rule out other organisations if you feel options closer to home aren't working.

Thinking of you

McSnail Sat 29-Aug-09 15:17:07

Thanks for the Birth Trauma link - I didn't know the organisation even existed.
I had a pretty terrible experience - had my baby on Sunday after a 36 hour labour, morphine, epidurals, stuck baby, failed forceps, full blood transfusion then eventual emergency c-section.

I keep having flashbacks and scared the hell out of my partner the night we came home by having a screaming fit - he was in the living-room, I was in bed. He thought I was bleeding to death, but I was having a nightmare - my psyche trying to make sense no doubt about what it had just gone through.

Sorry for all your bad experiences.

MrsHappy Mon 31-Aug-09 20:20:28

McSnail, that sounds a scary experience.
One thing that might help you is to speak to someone at the hospital about how things went and to go through your notes. You might not be ready for that yet (or even for months) but it is worth bearing in mind if you need it. You can find out who to contact through PALS if your maternity dept does not run an "afterthoughts" service.

I hope it gets easier for you soon.

vanloadtovenice Sat 05-Sep-09 23:12:04

I was there too, 5 years ago now. It brings a huge lump to my throat to read these posts.

The pressure we are all under as 1st timers is huge. The 'natural birth is best' brigade do us no favours. Sometimes, with the best will in the world, and an idyllic natural birth firmly in mind, it just doesn't work. We are then left feeling like failures.

I was utterly traumatised by dd1's birth. For that reason, I chose to have an elective with dd2 - it was beautiful.

All I can suggest for now, is to focus on your baby. That is what I did. Was in pieces, but at least bubba was okay - it made a huge difference.

BTW Did you know that Kate Winslet told people that she'd had a natural birth because she was too ashamed of having a section to fess up? We are losing the plot, the important thing is to get baby out safe and well, and for the mother to be safe too. It shouldn't matter how - it's not a competition.

Love to you. I promise it will be better next time if you can bear to go there.

Peta100 Sun 13-Sep-09 19:03:48

Like everyone i guess, i too had a very long, bad childbirth experience. Finally organised a de-briefing this week and have to say it was the best thing ive done all year.

Though nothing will ever change my experience at the hospital, i feel so much more informed, in control, positive about future births and generally better than ive felt for a long, long time.

Good luck and all the best.

Henry73 Thu 17-Sep-09 10:23:59

Have you considered getting a postnatal Doula in to help you a few days in the week so you can get some rest and support in caring for you and your baby, also they are experienced with births that dont go to plan and understand how important birth is a a womans life! Doula UK is an excellent place to start looking, where do you live I could help you find someone as I am a member? Let me know?

Be kind to yourself though and keep talking to anyone who will listen! xx

Henry73 Thu 17-Sep-09 10:26:27

BTW Birth Trauma is an excellent book, and the birth trauma site understand that every womans birth experience is indivdual to them and so give them a call it would def help!!

Ema x

Henry73 Thu 17-Sep-09 10:33:18

Book is called birth CRISIS not Trauma !!! Sorry! x

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