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sadness after natural birth?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Wanting some perspective or feedback about this...


I planned a natural birth for my first child. I went through labour naturally but ended up with a c-section after he seemed to be stuck due to poor positioning. They tried to turn him but it didn't work.


I never regretted my c-section. I read birth stories from other women who had c-sections and felt traumatized by the experience but I never understood why someone would be upset if mom and baby were healthy. My c-section never bothered me. When I became pregnant again, I planned a homebirth but never worried about what would happen if I needed another c-section.


I got my homebirth. In many ways it was the ideal birth. My son was born healthy in the water. Two hours of labour from first contraction to babe in arms. No tearing. Healthy mom and baby. The midwives raved about what a beautiful birth it was. Everyone was very supportive and very positive during the birth, right down to the second midwife who gave me a leg massage while I was being checked for tearing.  But I have such negative feelings about the experience. The recovery is harder than I thought it would be, even without tearing. I can't make sense in my head about what happened to me. I feel like my body is damagd in some way now, even though that doesn't make sense, and even though I scoffed at people who said the same thing about their c-sections. Sometimes I wish I had another c-section- I accepted that birth much easier than I am accepting this one. I'm not even sure what specifically I regret- everything went so well, exactly how I would have wanted things to go if I had been able to script it out. But I have been reduced to tears a few times when thinking about the experience, even while those around me happily ask me if I am "thrilled" about my successful birth.


Has anyone experienced something similar or am I just very weird?

post #2 of 11

You're not weird at all! DS's birth was excellent in so many ways yet i felt traumatized by it. Something about having him moving down the birth canal left me feeling like I'd been assaulted. It's hard to explain honestly. It took me a while to not feel like I had been horribly damaged. On the positive side, when I gave birth to DD it was a totally different experience. I didn't feel the same way at all. I felt so much more in control, not damaged. Night and day difference.


Big hug!

post #3 of 11

Perhaps it will help you process to write yourself the story of what happened and how you felt about it? A short intense labor doesn't give long to adjust to the process, I'll bet it got pretty intense all at once. And it does take a while for endorphin levels to build up, hormones are such a huge part of the birth experience. How long ago was he born? Any signs of depression going on? (I hate to jump to that but it is common). Any actual signs of physical damage, in what way did you have a rough recovery?


My homebirth was anything but gentle in the pushing stage, by body was pushing way too hard. Both my (natural) births had moments that were horrible suffering, and other times that were nice. If I had it all packed into 2 hours I don't know how I would feel about it myself. Probably just glad to have it over with, probably unhappy overall.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

I did get very intense, pretty much immediately. My water broke first and the contractions started shortly after. They were much, much more painful than with my first child (16 hour, unmedicated labour, c-section after three hours of pushing) and the first contractions were coming in at three minutes apart and over a minute long, progressing to two minutes apart a few contractions later. I was berating myself for not being able to cope with the pain- I was never able to get into that "my body is working to get my baby out" mindset- no matter how much I psyched myself up to handle it between contractions, the second the next one hit I was buckling at the knees and crying out in pain. I was so angry with myself for not being able to handle what I thought was early labour (in hindsight, it obviously wasn't  "early"). Because I was so distressed my husband stayed with our son to calm him down- I didn't want him to see me screaming so I didn't want him in the same room as me. So until my parents got there to pick him up, I was dealing with the pain alone. After my son left my husband quickly set up the tub and I got in the water before it was finished filling. I remember crying out that the water was supposed to help the pain and it wasn't, at all, and then suddenly I was pushing. My husband called the midwife and she tried to get me to stop pushing but it was quickly obvious that wasn't possible. She started talking my husband through preparing to catch the baby himself while she drove to our house (my husband said he could hear her GPS telling her to slow down as she was speeding every 30 seconds or so, lol). I ended up pushing for an hour and fifteen minutes so she ended up making it with considerable time to spare, fortunately- neither of us wanted to go unassisted. And then he was born. I had wanted to catch him myself, but in the moment I felt like I had nothing left in me and was just thankful it was over.


As far as having a rough recovery- I think I just had an unrealistic expectation of what to expect. Everyone assures me what I'm experiencing is normal- swollen, tender perineum, pain when walking or sitting down, about eight billion hemorrhoids. My baby is almost three weeks old and things have definitely improved, but I'm still sore. To be expected I'm sure, but I had so many people tell me that recovery from vbac would be way easier than c-section, and I think somewhere along the line I stopped hearing "easier" and just started hearing "easy."


Thank you so much for your support, I appreciate it. I wonder if you're right about endorphins and hormones and such. I definitely felt more "in the zone" when labouring with my first son. I couldn't get there this time around.

post #5 of 11

What I learned the hard way with my first baby was you don't have to get through it gracefully, just getting it done is a great accomplishment. At first I was mostly ashamed I'd screamed and cussed and suffered when labor got painful and intense and I was stuck fighting an urge to push for hours because I was incomplete and swelling (happened again for a while with DS2 as well). My Bradley classes told me I was supposed to lay on my side and moan and breathe abdominally, in this beautiful quiet relaxed labor. But I had to give in to what my body was really going to do, and, in time and with lots of noise, I gave birth. You really didn't have an easy time of it, no need to count your blessings about that. Be proud, though! You did it!


I think a long-ish pushing stage might make the recovery rougher like that, but feeling better in 2-4 weeks after vaginal versus instead of the 4-8 weeks with a c/s is still easier, right? I hope you're getting support at home, keep taking it easy and you should feel much better pretty soon. Don't do any chores until you do.

post #6 of 11

I always wonder if perhaps women with precipitous labors are more susceptible to feeling a little traumatized about the whole thing. My first dd's birth was only 4 hours 50 minutes, from first contraction to baby in arms, but that was plenty of time to figure out what was going on. My second dd's birth was 52 minutes from first contraction to baby in arms. My water broke, labor started a little over an hour later, and I was literally screaming (a very loud, high-pitched moan, not like a terror scream, but a scream by any standards nevertheless) from about 5 minutes after that first contraction until she was born. It was horrible, I kept thinking something was wrong, and I also felt ashamed of myself for being so out of control. I was embarrassed that I was screaming that way when the midwife arrived (baby was already crowning) and the whole experience left me feeling shell shocked. It wasn't what I expected at all

post #7 of 11

I am so sorry you are having a rough time of it. Yes, recovery from natural birth is often minimized "compared to csection" when it really is a recovery in its own right. And a short, intense birth can be overwhelming. I spent part of my short fixated on not calling the doula because "I spent so much money to have this birth" and "I can't call her back after twenty minutes and tell her to run" and a lot of other things. It takes awhile to process. My second delivery was a much easier recovery but my first was much more difficult. It takes time and it isn't easy. And although I wasn't depressed in the traditional sense, those "baby blues" can be real. I felt very bad around 3p.m. every day.


I was in labor start to finish for two hours. My water broker about 12 hours earlier and the baby was posterior. The entire labor was just WILD. The doula missed it. I ended up having an unassisted birth by myself in the bathroom. EMT cut the cord. I now have very positive memories of it and I thank god that I was into hypnobabbies so I never panicked.

post #8 of 11

I've only had one birth, it was 20 hr UC. It was probably as good as can be expected, but I felt like I got hit my a bus, multiple times. I wanted to catch my baby but when she was finally being born I did not have any energy/will to care. I only ended up catching her because DH was busy holding me, which I am glad about now. Everyone was soo excited after she was born and I wanted to crawl in a hole and sleep. I did not allow any photos because I was feeling so wrecked, which I kind of regret. I had a bit of labial tear, which sucked but wasn't too bad. One thing I was way not prepared for was standing up after she was born, I felt like my whole bottom area was so swollen and x5 in size, that freaked me out, but I also pushed for a long long time. 


I think I had some pp issues but did not do anything about it. I know birth triggered my celiac, but did not figure that out for several months. 


One thing that kinda bothers me still was after she was born and I was looking at her, the first moments, I did not have any rush or good feelings or whatever you are supposed to have. My reaction was more "who are you?" I don't know if that is normal. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with her but I guess I was so out of it at the time, I don't know. Right after the birth I did not feel happy or proud, love, anything positive, I just wanted to hide and rest.

post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by linnea27 View Post

...recovery from vbac would be way easier than c-section, and I think somewhere along the line I stopped hearing "easier" and just started hearing "easy." 


I had a c/s for my first and I was really lucky in that I felt like the recovery wasn't bad at all.  I had heard so many women talk about how it takes them weeks to get back to normal, but I never needed the percocet, I just took motrin and I even discharged from the hospital after 2 days instead of the standard 3 days.  I took it easy because they told me to, but I felt normal again within a couple weeks.  I am now a little nervous because of exactly what you mentioned.  I remember my friend who had a vaginal birth for her first and said she felt like she got hit by a truck afterward and her legs shook for days every time she'd try to stand up.  I keep hearing vag births are so much easier to recover from, but because my c/s was so easy, I'm worried I'm going to find the VBAC I'm going to try for much more traumatizing.  At least threads like this help scope my expectations.  Hugs to you mama!  I would think a labor that fast would make me feel the same way.

post #10 of 11
It sounds like you had an intense, short labor and with all the well wishing and congratulations and the fact that this is a VBAC, you now don't feel you can even express to those you trust your feelings about how hard and fast and crazy it was. No wonder you are feeling sad! Plenty of support and hugs for you here, my birth was not that fast, but it was pretty quick and intense and I felt like I was just along for the ride holding on as best I could. When pushing came, it was so different that I was caught off guard and all wrong-footed and I still feel some disappointment about that part especially. So you aren't alone! I hope you can find a friend or family member (or two or more) to confide in so you can get some support from your network too.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

just to update, since I see people are still reading this: I feel much better now, thankfully. I found a few things helped. The first was time. After time, my memories of the pain faded, and that helped immensely. Once I couldn't "feel" the pain in my mind, it didn't seem so bad. I really think I was somewhat traumatized by how much pain I was in, as it really was much more intense than with my first labour. I was looking at a couple of the pictures my husband took immediately after the birth a few weeks ago. There is one immediately after my son was born, and he was placed on my chest. I look awful- some of that is to be expected I'm sure. When I saw it I said to my husband, "I wish this picture had been taken at a slightly different angle so that you could see that I am looking down at him, and not just sitting there with my eyes closed making that weird face" and my husband stared at me and said, "You were just lying there with your eyes closed. For a good five minutes you just sat there and breathed this horrible, slow quiver-y pant-type breathing. You didn't really look at him until you were able to calm down and recover." It makes me sad that I wasn't in a place of mind where I could joyfully gaze down at my son the way you see some moms doing, but I really just needed that time to recover, apparently.


Likewise, time was all that was needed to recover physically. I was sure that I had done some permanent damage somehow, as I was very swollen and sore for weeks and weeks after. I made my midwife check for signs of damage or prolapse a few times during that time because I was sure something wasn't right. It wasn't until about 10 weeks postpartum that I felt that, okay, things really are returning back to normal. Once I felt that I hadn't done permanent damage to my body, I began to feel better.


The third thing that helped was, oddly enough, watching episodes of A Baby Story on TLC. I normally hate that show, but watching the other women's (usually) highly-medicalized births made me thankful for the way things had gone for me. I remember one birth in particular where the woman had a natural hospital birth, but the nursing staff was horrible to her, screaming at her to "PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!" and at the end of it all she was crying, and not happy tears. Something about watching other births made me more accepting of my own, and made me really think that hey, there's not much I would change if I could. 


Finally, your responses above did help. As Quinalla said, I felt that I couldn't talk to anyone about it because so many people assumed I should be so happy, and it was so hard. Reading about other people's experiences and how they overcame it with time helped. So thank you all for your encouraging words. I do believe that the precipitous labour had something to do with it, as was suggested above. I've spoken to a few people on- and off-line who felt similarly after their precipitous labours. If anyone reads this who feels like they're going through the same, or is worried about going through the same: it does get better. Hang in there, and take care of yourself :)

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