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trauma from painful homebirth? anyone?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Both of my babies have been born at home. My daughter's labor was very hard. I had a very long pushing phase, and she was large. I had tearing and a rectocele, and a challenging recovery process, and many more things. But somehow the birth was not traumatic for me.

My son's labor was beyond painful. I really cannot come up with words to describe the horrible pain I experienced. I had a short active labor followed by 10 hours of excruciating 'prodromal' labor (this is what my MW put in the chart). My contractions were only 10-20 minutes apart through this time but I felt like I was dying during them. I just kept BEGGING to not be in labor. Finally my labor became 'active' again and within 2 hours I gave birth. I felt like I was screaming the whole time. My MW called it vocalizing but it felt like screaming to me, if that makes sense. It was horrible. The 'ring of fire', the pushing, it was all just mind-blowing.

I truly feel like I had one of the best midwives...she is amazing. Her care was phenomenal. I also had a doula who is a good friend and my husband to support me. What went wrong? I am a doula and a MW's assistant, and a childbirth educator. I hardly know anyone who has had this kind of experience at a homebirth. I feel uncomfortable even talking about it. It is not supposed to be this way. I thought my endorphins were supposed to kick in and help.

I thought my memories of it would fade but they seem to get worse. Sometimes I lie awake at night in the dark and have panic attacks thinking about it. I had considered someday having a third child but there is no way I could birth again like that. But what would I do? I also can't imagine birthing in a hospital, I don't feel that I would have a vaginal birth with an epidural successfully.

What is wrong with me? What is wrong with my body? Does anyone else feel the same? What are your plans for future births if you plan to have more children?
post #2 of 51

wow, that's ME almost

Hugs, mama. I have been there. Am there.

Could have written your post. Got to make this short, but will write more later -- maybe we can help each other? In sum: former doula then homebirth apprentice midwife. First birth was planned HB which was INTENSE. Went from moderate cramps to WHAM -- slammed with 2 minute long pushing contractions in an instant when my water broke at 1cm (immediately dialted to 4). Involuntary pushing followed. Felt like my body was going to explode. "Vocalized" non stop for 9 hours. Cervical swelling at 7 cm. Swelled down to 5. Transfered, had epi, dialated to 10. Pit, monitors, the whole shebang, but a vaginal birth in the end.


My current thoughts, a year later, is that I need to be alone next time. I couldn't listen to my body (which was trying to turn a posterior babe) with 2 MWs and an apprentice present. I couldn't get out of my own way.

Are you a bit type A? Were your attendants your friends/collegues? Did you care too much what they would think of your birth? Did you care how you "performed," since you were supposed to know so much about birth already? This is ME in a nutshell. I instinctively wanted to UC but was worried they would think I had a big ego, etc etc.

I'm planning on talking to Laura Shanley soon to process some of my feelings about my body "not working" last time in preparation for next time. Are you familiar with her?
post #3 of 51
Did your MW mention anything about the baby's positioning? That could be another reason why this one felt so much different than the first time.
post #4 of 51
For me, having another baby was very healing. My initial thought after reading your post is that you might know a little too much. I think sometimes it's hard for "pros" to give over and surrender.

Also, don't worry about the fact that you don't feel like having another baby just yet. After my first I wanted another baby RIGHT NOW so that I could prove that my body worked properly. I wanted a do over. (I'm a leeeeetle bit of a perfectionist. )

But after my second I was very worried that I didn't want another one. My only advice is to give yourself time.

Panic attacks, nightmares, etc. are a signal that you have some psychological work to do. Do it. You can process this...you will either figure out what happened or you will make peace with NOT figuring it out. Talk about it ALL THE TIME if you need to. We are always here to bounce ideas back to you. Revisit it. Work through it. And I promise that one way or another, you WILL heal. You might not forget, but you will heal.

post #5 of 51
Oh my god, I'm in this place right now. Ds is 2 weeks old, and I cry everytime I talk about the birth. My first labor and birth were long and intense, but very wonderful. Pushed for 3 hours, in active labour for 12 hours, and only a bit of freaking out during transition. I was exausted but extremely happy with my birth experience. With this birth, it was so painful. SO painful. Active labour for 4 hours, water broke and irreg. cntx for 9 hours before that. During the 4 hours before pushing, I never stopped vocalizing, even tho my mw kept telling me to be quiet and "give my voice a rest." I couldn't, it hurt too much.

I'm also traumatized by the treatment I received. The first vag exam I received made me sob and scream and when I asked the mw why it hurt so bad she didn't answer me. By the second exam I was terrified of my mw touching me, and during pushing she held back a cervical lip and I begged her to get her hands out of me. I was so scared of her that after I pushed ds out she and the other mws were examining me for tears and I was shrieking asking them what they were doing trying to get away from her, worried she would hurt me more. She ignored this, and I was too exausted and upset to properly voice my fear, concerns and problems with this behavior. It was also the way she spoke to me, harsh and uncompasionate. I didn't know the other mw or apprentice, and felt really uncomfortable with my nakedness (very unlike me, usually I don't care) with some poop during transition/pushing (even tho I KNOW it happens) etc.

I have wanted a huge family forever, and now I never want to birth again. I was told I have a narrow pelvis and this is how I give birth and I will never have an easy time birthing. Hearing that makes me feel I am inferior and that I did a bad job somehow.

I too am a doula and birth assistant. I expected this birth to go "easier" and "smoother" than the first birth. That was my only expectation. Obviously a bad one, but everyone including the mws told me to expect an easier time now that my body knew what it was doing.

sigh. It feels good to write this out, like the op I feel like I'm only suppose to say positive things and advocate hb.
post #6 of 51
This topic came up on the Solace board recently and one of the members wrote about what she's learned about preventing painful births. There have been a few women there who have been surprised by the level of pain they experienced, and that is where most of their trauma comes from.
post #7 of 51
I had some horrible experiences at home before tranferring to the hospital (it was a planned homebirth that ended in emergency section). Eight months later I still have flashbacks--I think that having the bad stuff happen in my home makes for more flashbacks because I'm of course here all the time.

I can't imagine trying to do a homebirth again. I also can't imagine enduring a c section again. I can't figure out any good way to get another baby out. IF I ever have another baby, my plan is to plan for everything and simultaneously be very flexible. I think that UC might be best for me because I don't know if I would ever trust a midwife again. But I can also see myself freaking out that something is/will go wrong. So I would have nobody but me actually inside my house, but have a midwife outside in her car or around the corner or on the porch available if I should want her assistance. But then again, homebirth might end up now working well for me and so I would not want to expect to count on having a homebirth. So I would have an MD(family practice) that I like who I would also see for prenatals as back-up and a well thought-out VBAC hospital plan. I would give myself permission ahead of time to go to the hospital if that seems best and even have a repeat section if that's what my intuition says.

By preparing for UC, MW-assisted homebirth, hospital VBAC, and repeat section, I would feel like I was ready for anything. Then when the time came I could just trust my body to do what it's going to do or not do and choose whatever seems best. This might be overkill, but I think it's the best I've come up with so far.

I think you just have to give yourself permission to do whatever is best for YOU in YOUR situation and try not to worry about the elusive ideal wonderful dream birth.
post #8 of 51
My homebirth was so painful.... I thought I was dead. The whole experience defies description.

I did everything I was supposed to do and had total confidence in my body and the birthing process. But I got dragged to hell and back. The pain was far worse than my three previous unmedicated births COMBINED.

I had epidurals with my next two births and have no regrets. I was lucky to have no complications from those epis. It was like a miracle to have those babies with zero pain. I had the epis put in right before transition, around 6-8 cm.
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by tree-hugger View Post
Eight months later I still have flashbacks--I think that having the bad stuff happen in my home makes for more flashbacks because I'm of course here all the time.
Yes!!! I still can't get in my bathtub without feeling this deep sadness and dread. --- five years later!!!!!

:s::
post #10 of 51
I could have written your post too. I too, don't have the words...there are no words...."mind-blowing" is a phrase i use also....but really, the pain was just indescribably awful.
After my first, i had ptsd bad, it took 18 months or so for me to think about birthing again.

and, not to depress you, but i was SSOO expecting the second birth to be so much better..I was so better prepared, better nourished, and hey...everyone says how much quicker and easier the second birth is, right?
Words can not describe how much MORE awful it was.
The mind-blowing, indescribablt level of pain I had that completely traumatized me from my first birth....was NOTHING compared to the pain of the second birth....I can not even begin to put it into words....it very nearly just shredded my psyche...I honestly believe I came within about a contraction of literally losing it and just ending up in a loony bin somewhere for the rest of my life. There is no way to explain it.

I want more kids...but I can not fathom how on earth i can go through that again. After 2 homebirths (UC's), I can honestly say that my next birth is quite possibly going to be a planned epidural hospie birth.

this, what you wrote here

"I hardly know anyone who has had this kind of experience at a homebirth. I feel uncomfortable even talking about it. It is not supposed to be this way. I thought my endorphins were supposed to kick in and help."

i get this. i really do. I've been speking out for a little while now, and have found so many more women who have had this experience. Prior to my births, NEVER, I swear, i had never heard a single person descibe their HB as awful...now I have run across SO MANY. The hea;ing birth trauma tribe here helps.

what i have found out as well, is that a LOT of women experience EXTERME pain in labor..(not all by any means, but WAY more than I used to think), but the difference seems to be that somehow, some of these women, despite the extreme pain, they are able to put a positive "spin" on it, and for some reason, they remember their births as wonderful, despite the pain.
I can't think about anything other than the pain.
It consumes me. I fixate on it. I often describe my birth experiences as being kidnapped and tortured....i was so helpless, it hurt so bad, there was nothing I could to do make it stop, nothing I could do to make the pain go away...I honestly felt tortured, like I had been taken, physiucallt tortured with excruciating pain, and then given a baby and sent on my way.
My mind had/has no way to cope with the pain of labor.
None.

I am so sorry.
Hopefully, you will get to a better place, odds are you will.
I will say taht even though it took a long time for the memory fo my first birth to fade, the second birth (though much worse) has faded so much more quicxkly....I mean, I still remember that I was in horrible pain, but I don't really remember what the horrible pain feels like, you know? It's like remembering watching a movie, if that makes any sense.

It will get better. you are taking a great step in trying to work thoiugh it.
best wishes, and you are absolutely NOT alone.
post #11 of 51
<raises hand>

I don't post on MDC much these days, but I feel I ought to at least check in here. I've had two extremely painful natural births, the second of which was a home waterbirth that was absolutely undescribably unbearably horrifically painful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandjess99 View Post
and, not to depress you, but i was SSOO expecting the second birth to be so much better..I was so better prepared, better nourished, and hey...everyone says how much quicker and easier the second birth is, right?
Words can not describe how much MORE awful it was.
The mind-blowing, indescribablt level of pain I had that completely traumatized me from my first birth....was NOTHING compared to the pain of the second birth....I can not even begin to put it into words....it very nearly just shredded my psyche...I honestly believe I came within about a contraction of literally losing it and just ending up in a loony bin somewhere for the rest of my life. There is no way to explain it.

I want more kids...but I can not fathom how on earth i can go through that again. After 2 homebirths (UC's), I can honestly say that my next birth is quite possibly going to be a planned epidural hospie birth.
Aaaaaaaand that's very similar to how I feel, too. There really are no words for how awful it was. I'm very torn on what to do, because I'd like another child (or two or three), and so would dh, but I'm just not sure I can do that again. So I'm thinking about a planned epidural birth. Right now I can't even really think about it - I'm just not ready to face those questions yet. I'm not upset, I just don't have the time or energy to figure out a hypothetical pregnancy right now . . . and I'm not planning to get pregnant anytime soon.

It's a tough place to be. s to all the mamas who've experienced this kind of birth. If you're still working on it/processing it, give yourself time. It's not an easy thing to do.
post #12 of 51
Ramona, I'm glad you checked in here. When I first read this post, I thought of you. :
post #13 of 51
I am in this boat, my first was born at home and I still have some lingering PTSD there. It was less an issue of simple pain and more the intensity and speed of labor, and some stuff that happened when pushing, and some meanness/incompetence from my midwives. I don't know that I feel comfortable posting about it in detail here (public, plus afraid of being judged on "crunch" crap due to the venue.) But you're definitely not alone.

Although I have been terrified my whole life of surgery and of anasthesia (even dental work weirds me out) surprisingly my second birth, a c-section, was not anywhere near as disturbing to me. It was actually a pretty pleasant experience, funny as that sounds. And labor this time wasn't as scary, I guess probably because I never got to the point of pushing but I don't know.
post #14 of 51
As a homebirth midwife, I find this thread very enlightening. I will keep this in mind- that this could be one type of mother's experience.
What could have helped you? Would you have wanted to transfer to the hospital for pharmacologic pain relief? How can a midwife know that this is what you are experiencing when so many women feel overwhelmed in labor but are not traumatized?

For healing I can recommend some energy techniques like EFT or TAPAS, flower essence therapy, energy healing with a practitioner, gentle bodywork, some sort of ritual of your choice to release the pain.
For future births perhaps something like hypnobabies.

My heartfelt caring goes out to you all.
post #15 of 51
Me too. I laboured at home for 20 hours before being coerced into transferring to hospital where it all got even worse. But I feel that a lot of the reason why I was so easily coerced was the awful pain of labour.
I fully trusted my body and even when it started hurting like nothing else I've ever felt, I surrendered myself to it and gave myself over to concentrating on working with the contractions, visualising etc. At no point did I even consider pain relief - that just wasn't an option for me. But I had no breaks between contractions - I do remember fairly early on thinking that that was strange. All the birth stories I'd read described the intensity of contractions, but all talked about having space between them to eat, drink, talk etc.
And that was my problem - I had continuous excruciating pain with no breaks. I couldn't eat or drink, because I just didn't have time to ( if that makes sense) But worst of all, I couldn't talk. I had given myself over to labour, but I couldn't just access myself again when I needed to, and that really scared me and led to the worse trauma I suffered.
I had read and prepared so much, and I knew all the stuff to ask about, but I just couldn't speak.
I think the only thing that might have helped me was if my birth attendants (husband and midwife) had asked me simple yes/no questions. e.g. "do you want a drink?' "Do you feel the pain in your back?" etc. It would also have helped if either of them had had faith in my ability to get through it or if the midwife had checked baby's position.
It turned out (from what I can understand from the hospital notes - see this thread for more details) that baby was posterior and asynclitic, which probably explains the awful pain. I know I would have coped with it much better had I known that she was malpositioned - just knowing there was a reason why it was hurting so much would have helped, as would more help to find different positions to encourage baby to turn.
I hate that I have to live here now - every day I'm reminded of all the pain and humiliation. Every time I go to the toilet I remember being forced to labour there for hours after being given an enema by the midwife when I got stuck at 10cm with a cervical lip. Like a PP I'm washed with a feeling of sadness and regret every time I have a bath, because that's where I wanted her to be born.
It's worse when you have to live with the reminders every day.
I also find it difficult to cope with the fact that I experienced labour as so painful. I have a pretty high pain threshold ( probably from years of living with a mean AF with cramps that would bring me to my knees and have me throwing up with the pain) I honestly thought that labour couldn't be much worse than bad AF cramps. That's how I'd heard it described by lots of other women, so I figured I could certainly cope with that. But it was so much worse - I was shocked.
Having said that if I were ever to have another baby I would UC. I think that I was coping with the pain in my own way and it didn't help having totally unsupportive birth attendants - I would be better off on my own.
The one ray of light I'm clinging to is that I read somewhere that mothers who've had previous posterior births often don't even realise they're in labour til they're pretty much pushing because it's so mild compared to what they went through with the posterior labour.
I imagine that women who experience excruciating labours are probably unlucky enough to have malpositioned babies. You might never know about it if the malpositioning was resolved by the time baby came out, but it's certainly something to consider. What I don't like is the inference from a lot of the NCB group that it only hurts because you're afraid, or because you don't trust your body, etc. That's just blaming the victim - like "It's your fault you got raped for walking there/wearing that.."
Most women aren't traumatised by the pain of NCB, but that doesn't mean that the women who are did anything wrong. As I said, it's more often than not probably a positioning issue, even if you never know it for sure.
post #16 of 51
Is there anyone here who has had a very traumatic homebirth and then went on to have a better experience with the next homebirth? If so, did you do anything differently or prepare differently during your subsequent pregnancy that you feel might have contributed to having a better outcome?

And for anyone who became pregnant after having a traumatic homebirth how did you deal with knowing that you can't control what kind of labor/birth you end up with and that it could be just as bad as your previous one?

I am 33 weeks pregnant and basically doing okay, but my PLANNED pregnancy has been a total emotional rollercoaster. I have went from planning a homebirth, to deciding to have another cesarean (I had one with my 1st child because of breech pres.), to wanting to have an abortion, back to planning a homebirth again and finally deciding on a birth center. I am not even joking either. It has been horrid. I would really like to believe that this birth will be better than the others because the others have been pretty bad, but reading this thread doesn't give me a lot of hope...
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by wumanh View Post
As a homebirth midwife, I find this thread very enlightening. I will keep this in mind- that this could be one type of mother's experience.
What could have helped you? Would you have wanted to transfer to the hospital for pharmacologic pain relief? How can a midwife know that this is what you are experiencing when so many women feel overwhelmed in labor but are not traumatized?

For healing I can recommend some energy techniques like EFT or TAPAS, flower essence therapy, energy healing with a practitioner, gentle bodywork, some sort of ritual of your choice to release the pain.
For future births perhaps something like hypnobabies.

My heartfelt caring goes out to you all.
A lot of the trauma I experienced was at the hands of my mw. I loved these ladies, had my first birth with them and it was wonderful. This time the secondary at my first was the primary. It started with her internal exam hurting me so bad that I screamed. I was handling labor really well up to that point. When I asked her why it hurt so bad to have in internal exam, she didn't answer me. That upset and scared me. So kind compassionate communication really would have helped.

Then she pretty much ignored me other chatting with the other midwives except to tell me to give my voice a rest. (I couldn't I was in so much pain I needed to vocallize the entire time.)

The next three internal exams HURT so bad and I was scared of her. Terrified. Absolutely animal about it.

I dunno if this helps. I'm sure you are a very compassionate person, so this is probably already stuff you do.
post #18 of 51
I am appalled at this behavior by the midwife. A midwife should always treat a woman with gentleness and respect and communicate with her. Some procedures may be painful but then the need for communication and love is even greater. I am so sorry you were treated this way!
When I teach students I stress this relationship with the client.
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by wumanh View Post
I am appalled at this behavior by the midwife. A midwife should always treat a woman with gentleness and respect and communicate with her. Some procedures may be painful but then the need for communication and love is even greater. I am so sorry you were treated this way!
When I teach students I stress this relationship with the client.
This helps. It helps to know that I'm not wacko for feeling like I was treated badly. Thank you.
post #20 of 51
I had a horrific labour with ds2. It was better than my cesarean recovery (which took over a year of agony), but excruciating & very traumatic. Ds2 was malpositioned (he came out LOT), he got stuck for several hours, I nearly ruptured, I basically had 2 very long transitions & because I didn't know he was stuck for quite awhile, I wound up pushing for at least 10 hours of my 20 hour labour.

I'm desperately hoping this next one is better. I really don't see how it could be much worse.
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