Our feelings about our births are separate from our feelings about our babies. Let me say it again. . .
How you feel about your birth does not equal how you feel about your baby.
There are some really, good and beautiful births. But there also some traumatic ones and the birth turns out nothing like you expected.
And it affects you. You have feelings about it. And then everyone acts like you shouldn’t, somehow, have feelings about it. You have a new baby, after all. He or she is healthy, after all. You should be happy, after all! The baby is finally here, after all.
You sometimes feel like punching anyone who says that to you. Yes, of course you’re happy the baby is healthy . . . And it has nothing to do with how you feel about your birth.
You’re expected to just forget the birth and the trauma surrounding it, expected to just forget everything your body went through, expected to put yourself and your feelings aside. It’s usually not the first time you’ve done it in motherhood. You probably did it throughout your pregnancy.
I went through it myself and it took years, as in 5-6 and a second birth, before I really felt o.k. with everything. I’m hoping that’s faster for anyone reading this, just knowing others go through it and you have every right to those feelings.
Do the feelings get mixed sometimes?
Yes, sometimes. And that’s o.k. too. There were many moments that I looked at my first when she was a baby or a toddler and all I could think about was disappointment with her birth. All I could think was, “Cesarean.” I cried on her first birthday thinking about her birth. And then picked her up and held her and felt overwhelming love.
None of the feelings I felt about her birth meant I didn’t love her. It just means that those feelings came up. How could they not? She was part of that birth, after all. Without the baby, no birth, no trauma.
But eventually even that passed. My second’s birth also ended in cesarean, after laboring forever and hoping the whole time for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). There are moms who say that a second birth that isn’t traumatic, is vaginal (if they had a cesarean), is a home birth, or a “better” birth heals them. A second cesarean can also be healing. I felt finally released somehow – that truly, my body couldn’t give vaginal birth no matter who I hired, how much prenatal yoga I did or meditation or birth healing exercises.
I knew that intuitively and then got medical confirmation about it four years later.
Get support for your feelings
It can be a long path to healing those feelings, particularly without support. A traumatic birth is one of the risk factors for Postpartum depression and anxiety. If you don’t have support in your social circle from other moms or from your family, then seek out support to be able to talk about them. It will help them pass faster.
If you’ve had a cesarean, you can also contact International Cesarean Awareness Network. All of the women there understand traumatic birth.
Another option is to find a psychotherapist who understands motherhood and birth trauma. Know that there is support and other women have been there and do understand. You’re not alone in this. My practice is in Broward county and the Fort Lauderdale / South Florida area.
Even if we’re not working together in therapy, I’d like us to stay in touch. That way I can keep you updated on any events I’m holding that you’d enjoy, and you’ll have all my information handy if you do need to schedule an appointment in the future. Join the Newsletter, “Conversations for Effective Living,” to stay updated and get good personal growth content.