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When Birth Doesn’t Go According To Plan

I love hearing the birth stories from the ladies who attend my Prenatal Yoga classes but too often I am told about things that went ‘wrong’, and I hear that wistful note in a new mother’s voice: “It wasn’t quite how it was ‘meant’ to go”.

In our society, we are told that ‘a healthy baby and a healthy mother’ is all that matters. But what happens to YOU is equally important. Just because medically the birth went ‘well’ doesn’t mean it was a ‘good’ birth experience for you. Emotional birth trauma is very real and impacts more women than we realise because the ‘healthy baby, healthy mother’ mantra silences many women, who keep their feelings of deep sadness, regret, anger, shame, grief, blame, numbness or disappointment to themselves. I know, because I experienced it with my first birth, although I didn’t have a label to put on it at the time. During my preparations for my most recent birth, I came across some great websites and articles which really helped, and I hope they may help some of you too.

But before we get to that, here’s another thought. The irony in this article’s title is that birth IS unpredictable and rarely goes ‘according to plan’. Having a birth plan is often as worthless as the paper it’s written on. A ‘birth intention’ or a ‘birth wish’ would be much more appropriate. So the best thing you can do during your pregnancy is to prepare to give birth-in-awareness, not to achieve a specific birth outcome. And this is where Pregnancy Yoga comes in as it teaches us to be in the present moment, to observe our minds and connect with our bodies, using our breath at the bridge between the two.

If you feel that you have had a ‘bad birth’ here are some tips for healing which I have taken from

  1. Get validation. Talk to other women and support groups. Realise that you are not alone, your feelings are OK and your response is normal.
  2. Get your notes. Ask for a debrief with your hospital and/or Obstetrician. Going over the notes with someone qualified can give new insight and understanding.
  3. Write your birth story. This can help you to express the story in your own words, especially if you find it hard to talk about it.
  4. Get some different information. Actually this point applies to everyone….start reading more broadly than “What to expect when expecting”! I love the suggested reading list on the birthtalk website.
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