How to Move Past a Bad Birth Experience (and Prepare for a Better One)

Babies are blessings, and it’s always wonderful to hold your baby safely in your arms. But sometimes birth doesn’t go the way you wanted. Or you realized, too late, that you weren’t prepared for the intensity of birth… or the number of interventions you’d face. It’s OK to grieve the birth you lost, even while you celebrate the baby you have.

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Everyone faces regrets in life: situations where we feel pressured into something, where we feel the odds were stacked impossibly against us, where we feel like we failed. Those regrets can haunt us. But regret and guilt are devastating.

You’ve got to learn from your experience(s) and move on.

Finding Peace

Students often come to MamaBaby Birthing classes with regrets about how a birth went. It’s something we take the time to work through. It’s not easy for these women, but they find a lot of peace – and a lot of strength – by learning from their experiences.

One of my students had a planned home birth turn into a cesarean section because of the baby’s presentation. Not only was it the outcome she never wanted, she also feels her midwife essentially abandoned her.

Our discussions first centered around the courage to examine what happened. To face the raw, aching pain this mama still felt. Then slowly she moved on to look at her feelings about how she reacted to the situation, and her feelings about how her midwife and the hospital midwives behaved.

She’s come to realize that the extremely rare presentation probably confused everybody, and quick decisions were made based on uncertainty and fear. In the end, the hospital staff did what they felt safest for her and her baby. She can feel a measure of peace that she could have never planned for these exact circumstances.

She also feels empowered that she’s never likely to see them again, and that things can be different for the birth of the baby she and her husband are preparing to conceive. She also feels empowered to find a midwife who fits her personality better and is ready to support her in a beautiful VBAC.

Working for Change

Another mom I’m working with felt like she lost control during transition with her second baby. She felt like that memory haunted her as she started preparation for the birth of the baby she’s pregnant with now.

Facing that memory and examining it gave her the strength to explore how she can do things differently for this baby. She’s explored how her own body works during transition and pushing and how she can work with that amazing, intense power to help her baby move through her body and into her arms.

Her experience reminds me of my own – I felt like I “lost it” as Honor’s head was crowning. Looking back on that experience, understanding it, and working toward making things different really worked for me. Corwin’s crowning and birth was very peaceful and I felt in control every moment.

You Are Stronger

You have regrets about a past birth experience. You’re not alone. Many women have regrets and want things to be different. And all parents have regrets about decisions they made or ways they reacted to parenting situations.

But just as the women I work with find, it’s best to have the courage to look at that birth situation and learn from it.

Then let go, and move on. Your experience has made you stronger. Embrace your strength, not your regrets.

This may be ongoing. It’s painful to remember a bad birth, to remember even a moment you felt like you really messed up. It’s painful to remember your choices, or your lack of knowledge, led to something you didn’t want for you or your baby. But you can move on, even if it takes time.

The women in my classes don’t find peace and strength overnight. You don’t need to either. But do realize that you can and will work through this, that you can find peace, and you find the strength to prepare for your new baby’s birth. The strength to make the choices and do the work needed to have the safe, satisfying experience that you really desire for yourself, and your new baby.

You, Mama, are stronger now than you ever were before. You are strong.

Photo by aturkus