The pressure to have a perfect birth does nothing but turn joy into disappointment
Life rarely goes according to plan. This is annoying at best, and hopeless and out of control at worst.
Childbirth is one such opportunity. We are encouraged to have a “birth plan” and prepare like we are studying for a degree and are constantly asked, “Are you ready for the new arrivals?” can be frustrating. Sometimes it can even be devastating when things don’t go according to plan.
some new parentswhich can lead to a whole host of complex emotions and symptoms, from trauma to failure and disappointment.
“my first birth Experience expectations were highly glorified and biased toward one type of ‘natural’ birth and feeding experience,” says Warnes, who had a daughter in 2014.
“When Olivia arrived after an emergency C-section, following an undiagnosed breech position, I was traumatized. I thought I was going to die during labor and would lose her too.
“I was completely devastated to have her in my arms. A very painful breastfeeding journey seemed to cement my whole experience. It was a complete failure.
Unfortunately, these feelings are not uncommon.in seconds Birth Experience Study in Pennsylvania, USAfound that approximately 1 in 10 women experienced disappointment after giving birth, with 15% reporting sadness and 7% reporting feeling like a failure.
What is Birth Disappointment?
Birth disappointment is the sadness and loss that the birth experience did not go as expected.
You may have planned to give birth at home, but ended up giving birth in the delivery room. It may be that the baby was born early or late and did not deliver as desired, or that interventions such as forceps or a caesarean section were required when a vaginal delivery was desired.
It is different from the trauma of childbirth. Birth Trauma Society, “Childbirth disappointment is an emotion of grief that tends to fade. Birth trauma is a term that refers to the psychological symptoms experienced as a result of a traumatic birth.
“These psychological symptoms include intense anxiety and fear, flashbacks to the birth, and a feeling of constant alertness. You develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
“The disappointment of childbirth is an emotion of grief that tends to fade.”
– Dr. Kim Thomas
However, the two issues are not mutually exclusive and can exist on the spectrum. Some women experience both as a result of a difficult birth. While the disappointment of childbirth may not have the same psychological impact as the trauma of childbirth, it is still a very real experience when a birth does not go the way someone thought it would.
Zoe Ayre, 36, from West Yorkshire, was expecting a home birth in 2021 and everything was ready, including the pool downstairs. However, her due date passed and there was no sign of her baby.
“I pushed my due date back by two weeks, and as the days went by, I realized that my chances of having a home birth became less and less,” she says.
The 36-year-old believed she might go into labor on its own and return to home delivery, but those hopes were dashed when she experienced bleeding and was hospitalized.
“After she was born, I was going to have an epidural, an episiotomy, and a lot of bleeding, which was really scary,” she says.
Why do I experience birth disappointment?
Expectation versus reality plays a big role when it comes to birth disappointments. Prenatal classes and the like are often given the best possible scenario for childbirth, but the reality can be very different.
Birth planning is recommended. This includes “good” things like playlists you want to play in the background and dimmed lights, but this could mean aspects like pain relief and interventions fall even further. there is. Down the list of priorities.
“The pressure to have the perfect birth is mounting,” says Dr. Thomas, noting that social media doesn’t help.
“When you see images or read stories of women doing breathing exercises to survive labor and giving birth naturally in a pool, you feel that this is the best way to give birth and everything else is a ‘failure’. You can do it.
“It just means that if you do everything right, the birth experience will be smooth.”
Mr. Air running @therespectfulmum, The courses she took during her pregnancy gave her a “rosy view of childbirth” and reflected that they set her expectations at a level “really unattainable for many people.”
“I thought I would be able to exhale my baby using the techniques I learned, but it became clear that there was absolutely no medication or pain relief,” she says.
“I felt like a failure when things started going wrong. It meant that I felt it reflected me and my abilities when I wasn’t able to do it.
She said that while prenatal courses can be “fantastic” to help inform parents about what to expect during childbirth and help them make informed decisions, “interventions and The pain relief was slandered by the course and I felt like I was being turned into something.
For Victoria Warnes, the lack of realistic expectations taught in prenatal classes led her to create her own alternative prenatal education business. our baby club“I don’t remember seeing anything on TV or reading anything close to realistic childbirth as a kid, or even as an adult,” she says.
“And you’re much less likely to have realistic conversations about birth and parenthood. Sadly, I know many people who have experienced birth disappointment.”
Of course, prenatal classes and surreal social media posts aren’t the only things that cause new parents to experience birth disappointment. It can be hospital care or exhaustion when these feelings surface.
Cat Romero, 34, a freelance journalist from London, gave birth to her son in October 2021.
“I was sleep-deprived because of the constant surveillance in the hospital, so by the time my son was born, I was exhausted,” she says. “I just wanted someone to take care of him for a few hours so I could rest. My partner was there, but I felt the pressure to breastfeed and bond.” It was hard.”
“The story of how women have been doing this for thousands of years and that it’s the most natural thing in the world to say that when I couldn’t do it that way, it was me and my ability.” It meant that I felt that it reflected
There are not many studies examining birth disappointment and how it affects new parents. 2021 study published by BMC Pregancy and Childbirth We found that mismatched expectations and experiences at birth are associated with lower birth satisfaction and may even increase the risk of developing postnatal PTSD.
To ensure that women’s expectations are met and that they experience a satisfying childbirth experience, obstetric providers are aware of women’s needs and preferences and provide thoughtful care based on open and clear communication. Researchers say there is a need.
Importantly, this should be provided as early as possible in pregnancy and women should be able to make their own decisions about care.
What help and support is available for those going through the disappointment of childbirth?
For those experiencing disappointments related to a recent birth, Dr. Thomas recommends asking for a birth report at the maternity ward.
“The midwife will go through your notes and explain why your birth happened the way it did,” she says. It helps ease some of the guilt you may feel.
You might also be able to get help from your perinatal mental health team, Dr. Thomas suggests, if disappointment is affecting your daily life and relationships. I encourage you to talk to friends and family about your experience, or find a support group online.
In an article on this topic, psychologist Dr. Sarah Allen said: some strategies It can help you heal from a difficult birth. This includes writing down birth stories and asking for the input of your birth partner so they can provide you with a more complete perspective of the event. Try not to avoid how you feel. And focus on everything you did right as a parent the day your child was born.
She also stressed that it’s important to remember that falling in love with a baby can take time, regardless of your work experience, and that it’s “rarely” to bond immediately. doing.
It’s one of the things Kat Romero wished she’d learned before giving birth. “That’s what surprised me the most. I didn’t have that instant bond,” she recalls.
“But when I started reaching out to my fellow mom friends, most of them seemed disappointed. It seemed like only a handful of women had the dream birth experience. Me.” Many of us suffer from complications and stress.”
Ayre believes there needs to be a broader discussion on this topic to raise awareness of childbirth disappointment.
“I don’t think it gets talked about very often, especially in the mainstream. It’s one of those topics where when you open the floodgates you realize how many people feel the same way,” she says. .
“I think it’s important for all of us to reassure ourselves that no matter how our birth went, we never failed.”