When Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned

In this post, I am going to talk about births that end with a healthy parent and child, where things did not go according to the birth plan, or had a different method of delivery than planned.

In our society, we love to plan. We plan weddings, graduations, parties, entire futures, often down to minute details to get everything perfect. Birth is no different. Birth plans are an amazing resource for women, and they can help caregivers provide the parents with the kind of care they are hoping to receive.

Most times you can not plan a birth with any kind of reliability. Labour may start earlier than planned. Or later.

Things may go awry, and a planned for home birth turns into a surgical birth.

You may get a natural birth, but you may have been treated with unkindness or even rudeness.

“But you have a healthy baby! That’s what really matters!”

Oh boy. I have heard these words uttered so many times, I want to scream. Of course you’re happy that the baby is healthy! No one should be implying that you aren’t.

It is perfectly valid to be disappointed, upset, or even angry, at how your birth turned out. Your emotional state regarding your birth matters just as much as the health of your baby. It is cruel for people to think otherwise.

But dealing with those feelings in a productive way is vital to feeling better about your birth. Spend time with the feelings and memories of your birth. This can be especially difficult with a newborn, but even thinking about your birth while nursing the baby can help.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or midwife about your feelings. They are helpful to get more information about your birth, but also to help you understand what happened. They will also be able to help assess if your feelings about your birth may be contributing to post-partum depression.

From my own experience, ignoring these feelings and trying to “fake it til you make it”, only makes thing harder. Talk about your experiences. Grieve the loss of your perfect birth. If you were treated badly by staff, take steps to confront those people professionally. This could be a charge nurse, or patient relations at a hospital, or the lead midwife at a birth center. Speaking out will only help you come to terms with your birth.

Most of all, talk to the people around you. Partners, friends and family are great supports to have. Make use of them for your feelings surrounding your birth as much as you would for help with the baby.

Your feelings are valid. Pain isn’t a competition. Just because someone might have it worse than you, doesn’t mean that your pain isn’t valid.



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