By the time I had my daughter, I had seen almost every possible outcome and complication that can occur during birth. Although it made me hyper aware of the risks and rare devastating outcomes that can occur, I felt prepared and went into the experience with open eyes and ready to accept my lack of total control over what would happen. When I ended up with a c-section I was able to cope and process the experience. Out of all the things that can happen during pregnancy and delivery, I felt lucky going home alive and healthy with a thriving baby. If I had been in many places without modern medicine my experience would have been devastating. I was able to appreciate how lucky I was.
My outlook is often not the experience of my friends and patients. Approximately 10% of women have post traumatic stress from their birth experience. Women who are not prepared for a labor and delivery other than one that is perfectly orchestrated according to their birth plan report decreased satisfaction with their delivery experience and are at higher risk for postpartum mood disorders. Although I would love for every one to have a full term uncomplicated spontaneous vaginal delivery with minimal bleeding, no tearing, and a baby who never has to go to the NICU and breastfeeds with ease, I know that this is not the reality for a lot of us. Giving birth is one of the few times where preparation can not guarantee the desired result. Having a birth experience that does not meet expectations does not make you a failure or any less amazing. No matter how it happens you still created, nourished, and birthed a full human being.
Please share the parts of your birth experience or what you witnessed during your loved one’s birth experience that you were not prepared for. What advice would you give to others who are anxiously awaiting their own delivery? The more open and empowered we are to accept that birth can be complicated and imperfect the more likely we are to be able to process our own experiences and not feel traumatized or depressed when reality differs from expectations.