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Finding it hard to forget about traumatic pregnancy/birth. Is this normal?

(8 Posts)
MargeryDaw Mon 26-Sep-11 21:55:59

My DS was induced at 35 weeks due to my waters leaking at 32 weeks. I spent 3 weeks on the antenatal ward before the induction, a further 5 days whilst my DS was in NICU/SCBU and 3 days with my DS on the postnatal ward.

On the day of my induction, I experienced very bad back pains which the midwives dismissed as they were not in my tummy and it was only when they put me on the monitor for the baby's heart rate 7 hours later that they realised I was contracting and in labour. They were an hour late monitoring the baby and found that he was extremely distressed and I was rushed down to the labour ward for an EMCS.

The whole hospital experience was horrible, from doctors disagreeing for a week after being admitted about whether I should be allowed to go home or not, to long lonely days on the antenatal ward listening to other women either starting labour or going through pregnancy difficulties, to the postnatal ward where I received zero help or support with my premature baby (my first night alone with him after he was transferred from SCBU was spent totally sleepless and crying listening to him screaming with cold and hunger under the UV lights treatment for jaundice, and the following two days I barely saw a midwife).

After the EMCS I was not able to see my DS for 18 hours, and did not hold him for 2 days as he was not well enough. We also had difficulty establishing breastfeeding (though we've overcome that now and 6 months on he is still being exclusively breastfed).

He's a happy, healthy baby and day to day I am fine: I get out and meet up with other mums, go to mum and baby groups, get loads of support from my DH, family and friends, and yet I can't stop thinking about everything we went through to get here. Many evenings I find myself getting upset, thinking about what might have happened if his heart rate hadn't been monitored when it was, feeling so guilty about not being able to do skin to skin straight away, about him having to be born early, about the feeding difficulties in hospital, that awful night helplessly watching him screaming....and yet I know how lucky we are compared to a lot of people.

Sorry, this is long...but is it normal to feel like this 6 months on, and will I get over it?

paranoidandroidwreckmyownlife Mon 26-Sep-11 22:05:14

You had a horrendous experience, so yes it's normal to think about the what ifs. Have you had a debrief from the hospital. Your chance to ask questions and see what went wrong and how they might manage another pregnancy.
If you think about it v often you may have PTSD. Google Sheila Kitzenger birth trauma. Great helpful website.
Well done on persevering with the BF, after a traumatic birth I was determined to succeed there too.

MargeryDaw Mon 26-Sep-11 22:12:56

I drafted a letter of complaint but never ended up sending it: I kind of decided it might be better to try to forget and move on. I've now missed the window of opportunity (it has to be within 6 months) - another thing I have been dwelling on as I feel stupid for not acting on it.

Thanks for the PTSD reference - I'll google her.

At the moment there's not going to be another pregnancy!

An0therName Tue 27-Sep-11 15:56:20

there should be some support from your hospital - they often do a service where you go through your notes which I found v helpful
talk to your GP as well about how you are feeling too
you could raise some points with your local MSLC as well

Flisspaps Tue 27-Sep-11 16:02:59

It is perfectly normal, as it would be with any traumatic experience.

I'd think again about sending the letter in - even if it's outside 'their' window it will still be cathartic, and will allow you to say your piece. Also, you can request a debrief with the midwives and if you like, you can ask the HV about counselling.

kblu Tue 27-Sep-11 16:07:46

What you are going through is perfectly normal. I had a traumatic birth and i'm still not over it three years on but I am more able to understand now exactly what happened after having a recent birth de-brief at the hospital that dealt with me. I definitely wish i'd not waited all this time to have one and I recommend if your hospital has this facility that you take it up with them as soon as you feel able.

I also drafted a letter of complaint at the time but I never sent it. It did feel good to get it down on paper though.

Also I wouldn't rule out another pregnancy just yet. I said exactly the same as you, it was a closed book even to the point of my dh talking about vasectomy but glad he didn't as we are now trying for another.

breatheslowly Tue 27-Sep-11 16:13:09

You haven't missed the window of opportunity for a debrief - you can have this any time. Just ask the PALS service or call up one of the wards.

You might also want to consider specialist counselling. I saw a specialist perinatal counsellor and found this extremely helpful (and I don't think that my experience was nearly as traumatic as yours). Because she focusses on women/couples who have had this type of traumatic experience, she was able to put things in perspective for me and acknowledge that a lot of the feelings that I had were very common but not expressed by those around you. For example I had birth injuries that took a long time to heal and I am not the only woman to have wondered whether she would prefer not to have her baby and not to have her birth injuries.

I don't know whether I am "over it" - the time after my DD's birth will always be with me, getting a dimmer and dimmer memory, but now I can think of it and just wish that I could go to see myself then and reassure myself that it would all turn out ok.

I don't know where you are, but if you are in my area then I would strongly recommend my counsellor.

MargeryDaw Tue 27-Sep-11 20:10:59

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm going to look into a debrief/PALS service at the hospital. I haven't really considered talking to a HV as I've had such little contact with any and those that I have met with to talk about any issues (i.e. weight of DS etc, not this problem) have given me conflicting advice or acted like they had no time to talk, so I'm afraid I have little faith in them!

Sounds like some of you have been through some horrible situations too. It's good to hear that it is normal, and that some have even found the strength to have another DC! Never say never, I guess, though I can't imagine it right now.

My DS really is a lovely baby so I'm hoping that time spent with him will be a great healer too - I'm lucky not to have felt any sort of resentment towards him as I know others often do in this situation.

Breatheslowly: I'm in London. If you're in the region too, I'd love your recommendation for counsellor if you're able to PM me - thank you x

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