Giving birth is a powerful experience no matter how it happens. One day you’re pregnant with a baby inside you, and then the next day you have a child outside of you that you can hold in your arms. And because it’s such a powerful experience, women usually have some idea of how they want their child to come into the world. Some women spend many hours researching hospitals or midwives. Then there are hospital tours, birth videos and stories, and birthing classes — all which give different perspectives on how a child, specifically your child, could come into the world. And even if you don’t write down a meticulous birth plan, many women have some way they hope their delivery will go.
But what happens when nothing goes the way you planned or hoped? When the one way you had not wanted to bring your baby into the world is the very experience you end up with?
This is a more common scenario if you have been pregnant this year. Your best laid plans may end up put aside and completely changed due to COVID, for example. Add to that the many obstacles that arise naturally and unexpectedly: the baby doesn’t come and you have to be induced, labor doesn’t go smoothly and you end up with a cesarean when you didn’t want one, the baby comes so quickly you’re unable to have the epidural you were counting on to manage the pain, and the list goes on.
So here are three things to keep in mind when you end up with a birth experience you didn’t want.
It’s okay to grieve
All of your research and hopes count for something. Maybe the way you hoped the birth would happen would have meant a better experience for you and the baby. Or maybe the only way you could have had your baby was the way it happened because of things way out of your control. Whatever the case may be, you lost something, so give yourself permission to grieve it.
Write down what happened
Maybe your birth was traumatic and terrifying the whole way through. Maybe you had some okay moments, and some not okay moments. Wherever your experience falls, from the worst case scenario to the slightly more frustrating than it should have been, it’s important to write down what happened and how you felt about it. Writing it down will help crystallize the experience in your own thoughts, and will be very helpful in trying to process and work through it.
Talk about it
Talk to women who can be supportive. Find a counselor. Not only can you work through anything that happened at the birth of your child, you can also work through the transitions you are going through in your life with your baby — whether it’s your first or your sixth. If you’re not sure whether you should go to counseling or not, think about how much you’re struggling. If you are pretty bitter and resentful about the process, and that bitterness hasn’t gone away or lessened much, definitely find someone to help you work through it. And honestly with the number of changes a new child brings, and the craziness of the world, a tele-health counseling session or five may be the best thing you can do for your well-being and your family.
Don’t expect a huge event like birth to be an experience you can just gloss over and get over. Having a baby to hold at the end of the day is huge, but the way the baby got into your arms is an experience that is important, too. St. Gianna Molla, mom, doctor, and saint, pray for us!
The story of your baby’s life from conception to birth — in images