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March 05, 2021

Let's talk about birth trauma and why it is a big deal

What is birth trauma? I don't feel like it is something that is often discussed and I really do feel that it should be. Often times we experience things in life and we just kinda DEAL with it and that is how we have began to just deal with day to day things. I am not saying that is BAD however, it does hold us back from really dealing with traumas and other issues that we face in life. 


If we are lucky enough we are given this opportunity to birth a child and with that experience comes a lot of ups and downs ins and outs. We have this idea of how we want to maybe labor. How we want to feed our child. How we want to spend our days as a parent but we don't really talk about what happens when maybe something we had in mind, doesn't go as planned. As a postpartum doula and childbirth educator I OFTEN remind people hey, sometimes things do not go as planned. Things can change in MINUTES and that can be really hard to understand and come to terms with when we have these ideas of what we are wanting. 


Your birth is a big deal. YOU ARE BRINGING A LIFE INTO THIS WORLD. That is huge. I feel like as we get older and maybe experience more than one birth we learn a little bit more each time which is great. But there are some traumas that you just cannot get over no matter how much time has past. Everyone will experience trauma differently and everyone will grieve and heal in their own way. So why am I incorporating "birth trauma" with other types of trauma. Because so many things can be taken from us. The experience, the way we are talked to or treated. How we are birthing or how we are TOLD how to birth. The loss of a child, being faced with an unexpected surgery. There are so many things that can make childbirth traumatic.


I am going to discuss my experiences to help you better understand "Birth trauma"


My first child was born in 2009. I was young and I had ZERO idea what I was expecting or going into. My water broke 4 weeks early and I got to the hospital where they waited and nothing happened so they induced. It was horrible. I was in a ton of pain. EVERYONE was in and out of the room it sucked it made the whole day feel worse for some reason. I do NOT handle pain well and was on oxygen it was a hot mess. Eventually I started dilating and after about 22 hours I had been stalled for quite some time and with my water being broken and my sons heart rate dropping they came in and said "we need to talk about our options". So I went with the C section. I had NO idea what was happening I was 21 years old with zero education as far as childbirth. We went in and my sons heart rate was staggering it was scary. Since I had already had the epidural they gave me meds and soon I was numb. Within seconds I had passed out. I woke up about 2 hours later and I was hysterical. Mind you I missed my sons birth I was tired and I could not move my body. I was really upset and the nurse that I had was rude and made me feel bad for caring more about what was going on with me in the moment than my child. I CARED about my child but not knowing ANYTHING about this surgery I was scared and thought something was wrong. It was traumatic for me. Going in not knowing what could or might or will happen. That was something that was hard for me to get through.



Five years later I was pregnant with my middle child and wanted to try for a VBAC. I had SOME education on the subject and felt that I knew more about laboring and staying moving and trying positions ect I was feeling positive. My dr was SO SO on a VBAC. He was alright. I didn't have many options as the dr I wanted wasn't taking on new patients ect. So I did my care with this dr and just hoped for the best. I NOW KNOW you do not settle this is YOUR birth and YOUR experience you should feel some sort of connection. Fast forward to 38 1/2 weeks pregnant I am home and I am contracting and I am REALLY excited about it. I am thinking YES I AM GOING TO GO INTO LABOR AND DO THIS. If you DO NOT know your body must go into labor on it's own in order for a dr to willingly do a vbac. Sounds weird but they will NOT induce someone who has had a C section as it can cause some issues so they want to play it safe. I was feeling my pains and I was STOKED. I walked and walked and walked and it got WORSE. So I called my husband and OFF we went. We got there I was 3cm and MOVING ALONG they had me walk and walk to see if I could dilate any more. I didn't. I mean it was an hour. Send me home and I can wait. I still had a few weeks!. So my dr was there and wanted to talk to me. He came in and we talked. He looked me RIGHT in the eyes and said "look it just isn't working. You couldn't do it before so what makes you think you can do it now". I was floored. I looked at my husband and just DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO SAY. What do you even say to that?  So I said okay. He said let's schedule a c section in a few days when you are 29 weeks pregnant.


SO I DID. I SCHEDULED IT. I LISTENED. I COULD HAVE JUST WENT HOME AND WAITED. But what did I know. I knew nothing ALL I knew was that my dr knew what was best for me. So I had the C section a few days later. My body could have done it HAD I waited. Or maybe not. Either way I would have known I TRIED MY BEST.  I still deal with that. Hearing him say that "you couldn't before...blah blah" TRAUMA. BIRTH TRAUMA.



Now we are in 2019. I am about to have my third baby. I have had a midwife since the beginning. She was on board with a VBAC but again I had to go into labor on my own. But EVER since the beginning she supported me and my choice to have a vaginal birth if my body allowed. I WANTED TO TRY. LET ME TRY this is my last baby I just want to try and feel supported. At this point I had been a Doula for a few years I knew a lot more and was SO comforted feeling supported by someone with my hopes. I KNEW things could change. I KNEW that it might not go my way. But I wanted to try. And I DID. I tried. I labored and labored and it would stop and I would go home and it would NOT START FULLY. Then just before 39 weeks I hd an ultrasound due to some BAD aches and pains and the way her body and head was positioned there just was NO way she would come out. I HAD to have surgery. But you know when they gave me that news I was bummed but I was also okay with it. Because I was informed, I tried and I had a supportive dr who had my back the whole time even though I knew at any moment it could change. So it didn't' feel traumatic to me this time because I knew I did my best and I felt empowered because I stood up for what I wanted. 



Trauma is interesting because it can come in all different shapes, forms and ways. Some traumas may not SEEM traumatic to others but it is to us. We all will react and deal with things in our own way. Birth trauma is real and sometimes I feel like we don't REALIZE IT until later in life when we stop and think "man its all I ever think about" I wish it could have gone differently. That is you thinking about it and trying to move forward from something that happened and that is okay! We just need to remember it is OKAY to feel sad, angry, upset, betrayed when it comes to how our births have gone. But remember that we DID our best even if we didn't have the support we deserved. I cannot speak for others. As my experiences are not the same as others. But never feel that your experience isn't valid and TALK ABOUT IT. If you give birth or were present at a birth and you need to talk about it, DO. Talk about it. I ALWAYS go in to a postpartum appointment wanting to hear about their birth. 



Go in feeling empowered, that is what you deserve. In order to help prevent us from feeling trauma after we give birth we need to go in feeling supported and understood. Yeah things may not go our way. But the more we know going IN the better we feel AFTER if things do change. It is also important to know that it doesn't MATTER how your baby gets here if you had a homebirth, hospital birth, birthed in the woods, had a vbac or c section. YOU DID YOUR BEST and you should be proud. Work through your past traumas how you feel is best for you and move forward knowing that you are strong and capable and take that information with you into the future for yourself and for others.

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