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TT#2 and terrified after traumatic first birth - Positive Stories Please!

(13 Posts)
ShowOfHands Wed 29-May-13 14:39:03

I had a bad time first time round. Long labour, 2 days, 8hrs of pushing, bluelight transfer, lots of intervention, emcs.

I ended up with ptsd and pnd and couldn't contemplate having another for years. I felt all sorts of things, guilt, anger, disappointment, resentment, loss and it caused flashbacks and panic attacks and I swore I'd never do it again. I did do it again because I appear to have two children. grin

The most important thing I can tell you is that the way to have a positive birth is not to pin your hopes on certain outcomes. When I was pregnant for the second time, I obsessively read stories of easier 2nd deliveries, shorter deliveries, uncomplicated 2nd deliveries and I realised quite quickly that they wouldn't actually help if I had another complicated delivery. What if it was longer? More difficult? I realised that what I had to do was work out why I was traumatised and try and stop that happening again.

When I was pregnant first time round, I had this notion of having a home water birth, it was going to be a lovely, positive and bonding experience. What actually happened that I had an intervention heavy, painful experience and the trauma came from the loss of control. I just hadn't contemplated that it could be so far from my expectations and in the end I just felt like the labour was happening to me, like something was being done to my unwilling and hurt body and I had to endure it. Plus, the pain was excruciating and I couldn't control my breathing, let alone my reactions to everything that was happening.

I realised that instead of hoping for a perfect birth, or even a better birth than first time round, I would remove a lot of the anxiety by having a better and more informed approach. I managed this a couple of ways. I had a debrief to understand better what happened first time round. That way I could stop feeling guilty and blaming myself because what I found out was that my dd was unbirthable due to her position. I could not have prevented that. I also made myself consider how I would handle things next time. So say that the same thing happened again, instead of lying there terrified and helpless, what choices could or would I make? You can't control what happens during a delivery but you can exercise control over the variables. So if you were induced last time and that happens again, instead of entering it with panic and fear, what parts of it would you do differently? If pain was an issue, what pain relief will you consider and when will you consider it. Would you consider an elcs instead? Who will you have with you when giving birth? Would a doula help? Support is very important.

You also have to forgive yourself. Don't ever believe that your experiences first time round, during labour or afterwards were your fault or deserved. You aren't a wimp, pain thresholds are irrelevant, you didn't fail yourself, your baby or anybody else. You were traumatised and that has a ripple effect.

I had my 2nd child 20 months ago and labour was a carbon copy of first time round. Only longer. BUT... I went into theatre laughing and I came out laughing. It was such a positive experience. I look back with a smile, not a grimace. And first time round I had the back to back contractions, no break, no let up, constant, crippling pain. I thought I would die. Second time round, it didn't hurt a bit. Not a smidge of pain. I can't tell you why that happened but I know that before I went into labour I KNEW that if it was as bad as last time, I would NOT be doing it on gas and air alone. Not being in crippling pain for hours was a revelation. I don't believe that any woman should have to endure such terrible pain for so long. You don't get a medal at the end of it. Only a baby. And you have to care for that baby. You deserve to do it without the weight of PND round your neck.

Can I also say, that I was shocked by having ds in another way. After having dd, I felt so altered. I was anxious all the time. I was frightened I would never feel like me again. Not laugh or cry spontaneously or enjoy anything. The world contracted down to this black hole of anxiety and only the baby. I couldn't believe I'd ever feel normal. After ds, I felt like me. No more no less. Nothing was different. I just had another baby. I was floored by this revelation. I assumed that having a baby would always be something which rocked the foundations of my existence. Nope, it was just a positive experience and our family growing. Of course it was exhausting and difficult at times, I think it has to be, but I was never anything other than me iyswim.

They do have dedicated midwives who help with birth trauma and our local hospital has a chap who does birth trauma therapy. There is help out there. Avail yourself of it.

Having ds is the best and most healing thing I've ever done.

prissyenglisharriviste Wed 29-May-13 14:20:11

Most consultants are more than happy to deal with women after traumatic first births - a lot of women are dealing with subsequent pregnancies with disabled children at home, and consultants do understand how stressful it is to be facing (however unlikely) a similar scenario.

Do ask for a debrief about your first birth, and go through where things went wrong in detail, and discuss openly about likelihood of recurrence.

In cases where brain damage was caused by hypoxia etc, often the consultant will recommend an ELCS anyway, to reduce maternal anxiety and put a 'plan' in place.

badchat Wed 29-May-13 14:15:40

Yes, I really think my doula was worth the money (£800 for two antenatal visits, each of about two hours, attendance during whole of birth (c8pm - midnight in my case I think), and a follow-up visit, plus unlimited phone/email contact if you wanted it and loan of TENS machine.

However, it does depend what you personally want/need and whether you can find a doula you really feel comfortable and happy with.

For me, the most important things were the chance to talk about/process my first birth experience and get myself in a really good mental space before the birth and being able to trust that someone else would sort everything out and all I needed to worry about was labouring.

She was also a really calming presence and really helpful at getting me to listen to myself. For example, when I started panicking that contractions were getting close and I ought to be doing something, my doula recommended I stop timing and asked me what I felt like doing - I realised I felt like lying down, even though I thought I 'ought' to be going to the hospital, so I did that and instantly felt better. Then when I realised I wanted to go to the hospital she dealt with all the notes, talking to midwife about my birth plan etc. and all I had to do was make myself comfortable and get on with it. I felt protected and supported.

It's probably worth talking to a couple in your area to get an idea what they think they offer and see if you warm to them. If it doesn't feel quite right it might not be for you, but it might be that it makes sense when you meet one you like. I think most doulas would meet up to chat through what they would do so you can get to meet them before deciding to hire.

I don't know anything about independent midwives, so not sure what that would be like.

TACrazy2 Wed 29-May-13 11:30:05

Thank you all for taking the time to post your stories. It's so lovely to hear that you have had much better experiences the second time around.

This has given me renewed faith that I can have a positive birth, even if I end up getting induced like last time...

badchat - is a doula worth the money do you think? I've also thought of an independent midwife, not sure which is more useful. The main issue I had was that the hospital was too busy to look after me so I was more or less left alone for long periods, even though I was in excruciating constant pain, with no real gaps in-between contractions and only gas and air.

tasmaniandevilchaser Mon 27-May-13 23:11:38

Hi I had a difficult tho not traumatic birth with DC1, so i don't know how useful my story is but just in case - here it is. l1st labour was long and painful. I had done lots of yoga, listened to hypnobirthing CDs but I was induced with the drip and baby was posterior so I just needed an epidural. I was really frightened for a lot of the labour, even with the epidural it was still painful. This time I was nervous but again listened to a hypnobirthing CD and read a brilliant book by Juju Sundin called something like 'birth skills'. The labour was a really powerful, amazing experience. After the 1st time I really couldn't have thought birth could be like that. It was a lot quicker and i was totally in control, calm, even though I was induced again and hooked up to monitors in the triage for most of the labour. I didn't push at all, DC2 just kind of came out with the contractions! It is possible for it to be totally different. Good luck

badchat Mon 27-May-13 19:50:01

I would second that about talking thru your first birth with someone. I hired a doula 2nd time round and we spent several hours before the birth talking through everything I was scared of and what I hoped for. It was SO helpful - I got to park my baggage from the trauma of 1st birth and really feel clear about what I wanted instead of just blindly panicking.

My 1st birth was quick (4hrs active labour) but it was absolutely agonising and I felt humiliated, patronised and not listened to. I took many weeks to feel recovered and months to feel like I could ever consider doing it again.

My 2nd birth was about 1-2hr active labour, very manageable pain and I felt in control and respected the whole way through. It was a really positive experience. I was feeling normal and as active as normal within a day or two (despite more stitches than first time).

Having had a bad experience first time round definitely helps you clarify what you don't want to happen, what you need, what helps and doesn't and I think also going into it expecting the worst can be better mentally that being blithely optimistic and idealistic as I was first time round.

Areyoumadorisitme Mon 27-May-13 10:38:39

My advice is to ask for a referral to a midwife counsellor.

I had a traumatic first birth which ended in crash section under general after forceps. The recovery from the section was awful and I was still holding my stomach when I sneezed a year later. Despite everything I was determined to have a vaginal birth next time so asked for a birth review with the consultant.

I went to see him and he referred me to a midwife counsellor. I ended up seeing her three times although could have done more if I'd needed to. We went through my medical birth notes and talked through each stage of it, to be honest it was very upsetting as I hadn't been fully aware of how close it was to DS not making it just of the general panic in the room. But it was also very very useful as it really helped me to deal with each stage of it, and realise there was nothing I could have done differently. We also talked through strategies for the next birth (I wasn't yet pregnant at the time). With ds2 I made detailed plans but ended up with a 'planned', I can never use the word elective as I didn't choose it, section at 42+2 as I showed no sign of going into labour.

Seeing the midwife counsellor was a really useful process to go through and I would definitely recommend, even though I am not generally a pro-counsellor person.

Good luck.

Lisatay25 Mon 27-May-13 10:21:33

1st birth - went 10 day over when my waters broke no contractions so debt home went bk in baby's heartbeat was scatty nxt day had meconium so they started piton drip then nearly ended in emergency section as heartbeat was unstable pushed for 3 hours 2day after water broke hemoraged badly had a 3rd degree tear and bad pnd then 2nd baby no complications 5 hour labour hardly pushed everything went brill best experience of my life smile)) xxxx

DogandBeth Sat 25-May-13 20:55:40

Hello, I think it does tend to be quicker/easier with the second baby. My first was also long and quite traumatic and I was in a bit of a state down there for a while but with dc2 it was really quick and much less painful and I was able to sit on the floor the next day without too much pain (not that I'd particularly recommend it though). I know everyone is different but I thought it might be helpful to hear about another untraumatic 2nd birth.

inadreamworld Thu 23-May-13 23:38:46

1st baby 12 hours, epidural, induction, pushing stage 1 hour, in pain 'down there' for two weeks!
DD2 - 4 hr labour, pushing stage about 5 seconds, one puff of gas and air and nearly gave birth in hospital corridor as didn't feel I was really in labour when in fact I was ready to push! Would love to have a 3rd child and pray the labour is like number two. Oh and recovery time.....was up and about the same day annoying hospital staff so they sent us home.

I realise my first labour not as bad as yours as didn't have pnd but I think most 2nd labours are easier than 1st ones.

Good luck x

milk Wed 22-May-13 19:01:13

Every labour is different, but this is my story:

My labour with DS2 was the same as DS1, except so much quicker! 8 hours instead of 24 grin As I was less tired, I found it so much easier to push him out. I had an epidural which made the whole experience blissful grin

MrsBarlow Wed 22-May-13 15:55:38

Am afraid i have no advice but going through the same - traumatic first birth/pnd and was definitely never going to have anymore children. We're now ttc no.2!

TACrazy2 Wed 22-May-13 12:24:43

Hi all

After a traumatic first birth and PND with my DS, I have surprised myself by deciding that I would like to try for another baby. Of course there are no certainties that I can get pregnant again, but I am trying to be as positive as possible and I would love to hear any stories from peeps who had a bad time but then a more 'enjoyable' birth and a better second experience.

What worked well for you in approaching it again? Do you have any tips for getting through that anxiety?

Thank you so much xxx smile

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