My intention is to inform women about common, often unnecessary interventions that stray from the belief that as women our bodies are designed to give birth.
I hope to draw attention to the risks associated with specific pieces of the “managed” birth pie including using Pitocin to induce or augment labor, epidural anesthesia and lastly, cesarean sections.
Interesting fact - the rate of cesareans performed are higher amongst those who have been induced or received an epidural.
The first half of this series is about birth management & common medical interventions used during labor.
I hope to provide information so that if induction, edpidural use or cesarean section come up, you feel more educated about these topics and more comfortable discussing your options.
But what, other than the physical risk factors of using Pitocin to induce, an epidural or c-section, does all of this information have to do with the birth “experience”?
Well, I’ll tell ya. Let’s talk about the emotional risks of overly-managed, medicated labor and delivery and unnecesareans.
Post-Partum Depression Pertaining to Negative or Traumatic Childbirth
Every expectant mother hopes for a safe birth.
Beyond that, we plan for a birth that is not only safe, but hopefully beautiful, challenging and rewarding.
When circumstances arise that inevitably prevent the “perfect birth” from playing out the way we envisioned, it is natural to feel a little let down (or a lot let down).
When this happens, when the birth experience is less than perfect and mom feels upset, she should be treated with care.
Mothers need to be helped and taken care of after pregnancy.
That feeling of being let down or disappointed can turn into sadness and depression remarkably fast.
Perhaps she planned a natural birth and ended up “caving-in” by accepting an epidural. It is common for first time moms to feel unprepared for the level of pain they felt during contractions.
In other scenarios, the ob might tell a mother that her pelvis with too small to birth her baby vaginally and orders an c-section due to CPD (although true CPD is quite rare).
When birth doesn’t go to “plan,” a mother may feel as though she (or her body) failed her and her baby.
There are cases when through research after birth, some discover the various positions or coping mechanisms they could have tried to progress labor.
Thus a disappointing or traumatic birth experience leads to feelings of inadequacy, failure and/or resentment. That can have extreme consequences for mom, baby and their immediate relationship.
Approximately 15% of mothers suffer from some type of post-partum depression.
The symptoms of post-partum depression are lack of interest in your baby and other activities you once enjoyed, feeling overwhelmed and detached, hopelessness.
To me, 15% seems rather low. Perhaps because most mothers wouldn’t be so bold (or brave) as to say what they were feeling was true depression. Rather they might quietly say they felt a little let down.
Which brings us back to a quote I mentioned in the introduction of this series. If a mother births a healthy baby, no matter how she had to birth – whether it was traumatic or manipulative, she often hears, “you should just be happy you have a healthy baby.”
That single phrase touches a real nerve in many mothers. Their response is overwhelming.
And keep this in mind – a mother will remember her birth story for the rest of her life. The birth experience IS important!
Here are some replies by real women with valid feelings:
“I heard those words after my unnecessary cesarean- they cut like a knife. It was like I owed credit to my doctor that my child was alive and well, instead of I had a healthy baby because I did my best to make sure I had a healthy pregnancy. My cesarean was traumatizing, and recovery was tough and I felt guilty enough for being so gullible in letting the c-section happen in the 1st place because it wasn’t a peaceful birth for my daughter either- those words just piled on more guilt.”
“(it makes me feel) like my feelings don’t count…like I am just a baby machine and I should take everything bad that happened and put it in a box and forget it…its something someone that has never experinced birth trauma would say.”
“I was induced for medical reasons on my due date with my middle baby. I still am upset with that birth experience…. I mean I am happy she is healthy but she was not ready to meet the world yet. I feel like I didn’t give her the start in life that she deserved.”
“As a second class citizen. I had all my babies in hospitals, I didn’t know I had a choice. I would have loved to had them all at home. My first three were mostly uneventful, really my second and third daughters. My first daughter was traumatic due to induction, episiotomy . My last was a c-section, it was AWFUL, the recovery was horrible, I had a giant hemotoma under my incision, etc. I only wish I had known I could have a birth at home with a midwife, I would have.”
“I felt like I was put in a box. I felt like I couldn’t possibly rejoice and breathe a sigh of relief that- in spite of all of the trauma my baby was healthy- and at the same time grieve and mourn the very real physical, mental and emotional trauma I had been through.”
We’re talking about one of the LARGEST most incredible moments of a woman’s life! It’s not every day a woman gives birth to a life.
When a woman’s wedding cake tastes like crap, if she didn’t land the part, if a relative passed or is going through a hard break-up, her closest friends and family members don’t say, “tough shit.” At least the good ones don’t.
Rather, a good friend lends a listening ear. A good friend gives hugs, sympathetic cards and flowers, they do not say “get over it.” And the one who is feeling low gets to vent, thus encouraging feelings of acknowledgment, validity and ultimately, relief.
I encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments below.