Birth Trauma

birth trauma - newborn in the hospitalA friend somehow stumbled on Jack’s birth story a week or so ago and remarked how births are surprisingly traumatic for a lot of mothers, and how we should discuss it here. I agree — as I noted in that (extraordinarily long) post, Jack and I both came out fine in the end, but not without a few harrowing first days for me, in large part due to the feeling that the hospital kind of forgot about me. We couldn’t get a doctor to stay in the room for his birth, and then they stuck us in an isolated room and didn’t visit us for hours afterwards. I nearly passed out the first time I tried to go to the bathroom by myself because I didn’t know I was supposed to ring for the nurse; no one even mentioned that I should try to feed the baby every 90 minutes to establish a supply. Heck, I didn’t even speak to my up-to-that-point beloved OB/GYN — or anyone from her office — after the initial phone call of “Yup, sounds like labor, come to the hospital!”

I was angry at the whole experience for a very, very long time. I questioned myself — how could I have done it better? Had I been too complacent, too lazy — expecting that the hospital would treat a first-time mother and her child with kid gloves? And my doctor — I really had loved her and thought of her as a good friend. The fact that I didn’t see her or anyone from her office for the entire three days I was at the hospital — even after I called to complain about it the morning of my last day there — felt like a complete and total betrayal. One of the nurses even told me that my doctor had been in the hospital — on my floor — after I had delivered, and that she wondered why the doctor hadn’t come in to see me. The nurse’s words stung me deeply. Even this I look back on with cynicism, and think, well of COURSE your doctor doesn’t care about you on a personal level — you’re just a number to her; she has hundreds of patients.

The only thing that helped me recover from my birth experience trauma with Jack, honestly, was Harry’s birth, which went much better. I still haven’t finished writing that post, but briefly: my water broke at 5 AM, we were at the hospital by 8 AM, and he was born around 2:05 PM. I had switched hospitals (and doctors) for the birth, and saw not one but two doctors from my OB practice within 24 hours after birth; the hospital also had a lactation consultant making personal visits to each new mother, as well as breastfeeding classes at the hospital each day. They even had a sign up in the hallway telling mothers how many laps around the hallways counted as a quarter of a mile. It was 1000% better — and even then there were parts of it that stank, like when my nurse went on break in the middle of the night and a random, bitchy, judgy nurse insisted on inserting herself into the situation. Or when I decided to stay a second night at the hospital (on advice from another friend who’d just had her second), and I wished all night long that I could just sleep on the floor next to the baby because the high, wide hospital bed and baby incubator were way too much for me as I recovered.

My expectations were much lower this time around, but Harry’s birth helped me see that my lousy experience with Jack’s birth was largely due to external factors I couldn’t have controlled, along with the fact that, hey, it’s labor and delivery and a newborn, not a walk in the park.

Ladies, did your birth experiences leave you with some trauma, or — like me — self doubt? Have you discussed it in therapy? What helped you get over it? If you had more children after your first, how did you get the courage to go through the experience again — and how did you prepare? 

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Comments

  1. Philanthropy Girl says:

    My first birth was extremely traumatic. I was working with a highly reputable birth center under the care of midwives. My water broke, unexpectedly, at just short of 24 weeks. Phone consultations with the midwives weren’t very helpful. I didn’t know my water had broken, and from what I was telling them they assumed I’d had an accident and told me to go home and rest. That was Wednesday afternoon, and they finally scheduled to see me on Friday morning. I was rushed by ambulance to a hospital and delivered by emergency c-section Friday afternoon. I was under the care of OBs I didn’t know, in a hospital I didn’t know. I was sick, my baby was in the NICU, and I was totally lost. The care my little received in the NICU was extremely good, but I felt like the nurses and doctors sort of avoided me – although I did see them on rounds. My LO didn’t survive, which added to the trauma of emergency birth and my own illness.

    Needless to say, I had significant anxiety during my second pregnancy. I split my OB care between doctors in my small town and a high risk perinatologist out of town. The care I received from my perinatologist was excellent. He was direct and forthright, and never minced words. He was also very caring. We chose to deliver with him out of town because of the respect I had for him. The surgical team was prepared to work with me, they knew my medical history and were very understanding of my emotional state. He stopped in to visit me every day, although other patients of his said he rarely did post-natal care – his midwife colleague usually did all his post-natal care. We were at a new hospital, and I was so well cared for. My early-term kiddo didn’t want to latch and lactation consultants were very involved. We had a picture with us of our first child, and all the nurses asked about him. There is something very healing about having a positive birth experience after such trauma, and while any subsequent pregnancies will be nerve-wracking, I have the greatest confidence in my new doctor and the care his staff and the hospital provided.

    • Philanthropy Girl, I am so sorry for what you went through and the loss of your Little One. I have friends who lost their newborn last year, and I posted on here asking for advice about how to be supportive and you were so helpful. I hope what I posted below isn’t offensive or hurtful to you. And I hope it doesn’t seem like I was trying to diminish what people go through when a child is born with a health problem because that was certainly not my intention. Congrats on the birth of your second child; I’m glad you were able to have a good experience with a great team the second time around.

  2. EB0220 says:

    I feel lucky to have had a very positive first birth experience. There was drama, of course: I went into labor 3.5 weeks early, my husband was across the country for work and there was snow on the roads. (I was in the southeast, so not an area that deals with snow well.) The OB on call was convinced that I was being dramatic and told me to stay home. (Spoiler alert: I was not being dramatic.) MIL was my coach during pushing and she cut the cord. It was not what I would have chosen, but I felt and still feel good about it. Even so, it took me a while to come to terms with the fact that my husband missed the birth. With my second, I planned more. I hired a doula earlier and made contingency plans. I had a birth plan. I wanted to go unmedicated, but didn’t do any real preparation beyond reading a lot of Ina May Gaskins. Contractions started around 4 pm the day before her due date and immediately knew they were serious. I was trying to time them and they were one minute apart already. We were at the hospital by 5:30 and she was born by 7. There was meconium in her fluid, so it was good that she came out fast. The nurses delivered her and the OB ran in about 15 minutes later. I was proud to have done it without pain meds, but shell-shocked. It took me a while to process the experience and bond with her. I feel like I’m finally OK with it a year later. No therapy, but I do think about it a lot and talk to many other women. It’s been particularly helpful to talk with other women who have had precipitous (3 hrs or less) births.

    • DOULA!

      Hire a doula. That’s the one piece of advice I give any pregnant mom. I had what by rights should have been two really traumatizing experiences (NICU stay with the first, parking lot delivery for the second), and yet having a doula made it easier. She is there for you in a way hospital staff can’t be She is a calming presence, and trusted source of information. She takes tremendous pressure off of your significant other. She’ll know all sorts of tricks to ease labor. You’ll be assigned a “better” nurse when you come in with a doula.

      The going rate in Chicago is about $1,000. That price causes alot of sticker shock, but having a positive experience is worth it. Almost every mother I know carries some birth trauma. Which is kinda awful if you think about it. I could keep typing for pages, but I’ll stop here. Except to say.

      HIRE A DOULA :)

  3. I won’t go into all the details, but, yes, I would say my birth/post-partum experience was somewhat traumatic. I spent a total of 10 days in the hospital, and it was really tough. One thing that bugged me about it was everyone saying, “Well at least the baby is healthy, that’s the most important thing.” Yes, the baby was healthy, but I wasn’t healthy, and I spent the better part of the first 2 weeks of my baby’s life sitting in the doctor’s office, the ER, and the hospital with no one knowing what to do with me, and it was incredibly difficult and demoralizing in addition to all the physical pain I was in. Yes, it would have been much worse in ways that I’m sure I can’t even fathom if something had been wrong with my baby, but it still just really sucked for me and my husband at the time. I know people were trying to cheer me up by saying that, but it would have been nice to have been validated too.

    Have I gotten over it? Yes, I would say that I have in that I don’t dwell on it or feel actively upset about it now, 16 months later. In fact, at this distance, I actually have fond memories of how my friends rallied around me and my family during that time, and it makes me treasure and appreciate them even more than I already did. I have not had any other babies, but if I were to get pregnant again, I would seriously consider an elective c-section rather than a VBAC because I wouldn’t want to risk going through the same complications. If I had another very large or poorly positioned baby, I would almost certainly schedule a c-section.

    One additional consideration is that I think my husband was pretty traumatized by our experience as well. I don’t really hear that issue addressed very often.

    • Anon in NY says:

      So much your last point. It was bad for me being physically in the midst of it and suffering the trauma, but in the moment my husband had the terror of not knowing if I would make it.

  4. Anon in NY says:

    A topic very much on my mind as I approach the year anniversary of my traumatic birth (and the birthday of my wonderful children!). For me I had both the medical trauma (severe hemorrhaging post-partum that necessitated an ICU stay and being on a ventilator, plus a very painful procedure to remove a blot clot) and the neglect that Kat describes, which is endemic to NYC hospitals. I delivered at St Lukes Roosevelt which is particularly bad, but I don’t think it’s much better in other local hospitals (see – http://pix11.com/2015/04/27/the-harsh-realities-of-giving-birth-in-an-overcrowded-nyc-hospital/). For me, the weak link was the understaffed nurses, the first of whom was particularly horrific and ignored my serious symptoms until I got critical and another night left all the babies in the nursery behind the nursing station with no security. I could write a novel about my experience, but what has been most helpful is finding a community of others whom have been through it on facebook and pelvic floor PT for the physical issues. I am not planning on having any other children but would never do so in NYC again unless I needed a rare specialist.

    • Lorelai Gilmore says:

      I had a baby at NYU. I thought labor and delivery was basically awesome, but the post-partum recovery was horrific. My roommate moaned and sobbed all the time and spoke very minimal English, so it’s not even like I could check in to see how she was doing. Nursing was a nightmare, the baby wouldn’t pee, the room was hot, and most of the nurses were brusque. I had the same experience Kat did, where I felt like I had to hold the baby but was so exhausted that I was worried I would drop her. The best thing that happened to me was when a nurse came in one night and very gently and firmly took the baby, put her in the nursery, turned off the lights, and basically tucked me into bed so I could sleep. She was an angel and I will forever be grateful.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience at the hospital. I think a friend had a really horrible experience at St. Luke’s Roosevelt as well. For those of you in the NYC area, I had a good experience (with my low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancy) at Weill Cornell on 68th & York and would recommend them to other expecting moms. The labor and delivery ward was pretty busy on the day that I was there, but I felt like I got a good amount of attention during my labor itself (frequent but not intrusive) and the postpartum nurses were great and came around roughly every other hour. My doctor stopped by on one of the days I was in the hospital. I’ve gotten to know a few other recent moms in my neighborhood and it seems like other women have had similarly good experiences at Weill Cornell.

  5. Any thoughts on physical trauma of c section vs. v birth? I’m pregnant with my second and had a scheduled c section with my first. With first, couldn’t have gone better – had to plan a c section b/c of position of baby, but recovery was much easier than anticipated – walked within hours, narcotics for less than a week, no complications whatsoever.
    I have the option of vbac with my current pregnancy, but a friend just required 6 hours of post natural- birth surgery to stitch everything back together – she can still barely sit, 2.5 months later. I know this isn’t typical, but it has me scared.
    Also, first baby was 9 1/2 lbs and I’m normally a size 2.
    Insights, anyone?

    • I had a scheduled C for my first (had a placenta previa with him), and my 2nd is due by scheduled C on Monday. I was never interested in VBAC b/c I’m familiar with what it’s like to have a C-Section and don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not experiencing a natural labor. I’m turned off by the possibility of going into labor, doing all the pushing, and then still maybe having to do a C-section anyway. A scheduled C isn’t that bad, but I can see how people find it traumatizing if they have to go into it after hours of pushing or in an emergency situation.

      It did creep my out to be awake on the table while sewed me up, and I definitely think health providers could do a better job of preparing women for what the experience will be like. But I don’t think there’s any way of getting the baby out that makes me be like…YES AWESOME, I’ll love every minute!

    • You just can’t predict how it’s going to go. Many births are smooth! But even the same procedure may be different for different people — a good friend of mine and I both had episiotomies, and I was in pretty significant discomfort for several weeks and definitely not able to jog at 6 weeks, but she was feeling fine a week or two after the birth and jogging at 6 weeks. You could have a totally smooth experience!

      • Anonymous says:

        +1 to unpredictable

        I’ve had three v-births. Two were fine. I haven’t had a c/s to compare, but I’d guess they were easier recoveries. One certainly was miles better than a c/s. However, the third birth involved some heinously complicated tearing that didn’t heal right and involved three procedures and 12 months to heal. A friend happened to have a (unplanned) C-section the same day and, although she experienced her own issues related to the emergency procedure, I was enormously jealous of how mobile she was when I could hardly move without intense pain… not to mention the pain and anxiety of using the bathroom.

        The rough recovery was my first child. I suppose I could have opted for a planned c/s to avoid the possibility of going through it again, but I decided do another v-birth. So I suppose that’s telling.

    • Pro VBAC says:

      I had an emergency C-section for my first and a VBAC with my second. My C-section was overall good and I had an easy recovery, as far as sections go. but I am so so so so happy that I had the chance to experience labor and pushing out the baby. It sounds trite but it was an incredibly empowering and deeply meaningful experience, much more so than my C-section. I had a much quicker recovery with my VBAC as well. I was up and walking around very soon after, and that was with 3rd degree tearing (which healed within a few weeks). Importantly, breastfeeding went MUCH better with the VBAC. My first did not latch on well at all, my second had no problem. I have read studies that women with C-sections have a harder time nursing (who knows but I’m putting it out there).

      another reason that I had a VBAC is that I wanted to be able to hold/play with/carry my first. With a section, I knew that I would be so tender and wouldn’t be able to lift him up or do much of anything. I was carrying and rough housing with my older one just 2 days after my VBAC.

      Good luck with whatever you decide.

      • In House Counsel says:

        Cosign everything you said — this was my exact experience down to the T. My mindset is that regardless of the type of birth, there will be pain at some point…

    • Anonymous says:

      I had an emergency C with my son, planned C with daughter. Recovery time was very quick in both cases. But I received excellent care each time in hospital and I’m not in the US.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, and I had no b feeding issues either. My take was: I will do what it takes to get baby out smoothly and safely with minimal pain on my part. No guilt in having c section vs Vbac. Doesn’t make me a better/worse mum either way.

  6. I too am wondering about VBAC versus planned c-section. Do any of you ladies have experience with VBACs? I had an emergency c-section with my first and it was traumatic. I had nightmares about it for months afterwards. I swore I would never go the c-section route again, but my sister-in-law recently terrified me with comments about the risk of VBACs. On the other hand, I tell myself that I should at least try for a vaginal birth because of the benefits to the baby. Thoughts?

    Also, I (selfishly) wonder what my stomach will look like after 2 or more c-sections. Can anyone speak to this?

    • Anonymous says:

      I attempted a VBAC, ended up with a second C section. I am glad I attempted it but know 100% the C section was the right outcome. I think the key is that you are very closely monitored and trust your doctor. In my case the baby’s heart was dropping 24 hrs after my water had broken (seemed only very slight to me, but they don’t tolerate that with a VBAC), so they told me that I needed the C Section. Turned out my uterus was pulled very thin (“uterine window”) and I was probably close to rupture. For me, the second C section was much easier than the first. I was at a different hospital, different doctor, different pain meds so there were a lot of different factors in that. It was not traumatic because I knew the whole time I might end up with a C section. My belly is stretched out from the pregnancy but the C section scar actually looks better than before (they removed the old scar tissue so I have only a fresh scar).

  7. quail says:

    My birth experience was fine (labored at home, only pushed at the hospital), but I had almost exactly the same problem as Kat did about breastfeeding. I thought they would help me more with the schedule, pumping, etc – instead, the nurses treated me as if I was stupid for not knowing everything about nursing. The lactation consultants were fine – except that my kid was never awake to eat, so they never saw his latch. Thank god for the internet, which told me that it was normal for a baby who was a few weeks early to be very sleepy and not eat, and that I should pump every two hours and feed him a bottle so that the longer nipple stimulates his sucking reflex. NO ONE at the hospital told me that. They just said to keep trying to get him to eat from the breast and wouldn’t listen when I said he wouldn’t stay awake to eat. They didn’t tell me about pumping to establish my supply, or to rent or buy a breast pump. In retrospect, it sorted out relatively quickly, but I was so scared, sad, and mad about my baby being hungry and them not helping me that even thinking about it now makes me tear up.

    It wasn’t that they ignored me – it was that they wouldn’t stop to listen to me and hear that my situation was out of the normal narrative. That was my first lesson that I know my baby and when something’s wrong.

  8. Meg Murry says:

    I’ll write more later, but while my birth wasn’t overly traumatic, I was so grateful to have my mother there as well as my MIL, so at least someone in the room had a clue what was going on when we were left on our own for hours. I never got the doula thing until after that, when I realized that unless you hire a doula or bring your mother you often are left to your own devices and have to ring a nurse for help – and how are you supposed to know what’s “normal”?

    For me, what went especially wrong with my was breastfeeding – and a huge part of it was because I am from a family that is of the “you don’t go to the doctor unless you are missing a limb” variety. It took until my son was almost 3 weeks old for me to finally stop saying “oh, it’s ok, we’re fine, everything is normal, the early days are rough for everyone” to say “this isn’t fine, it’s not normal, I’m so exhausted I can’t stop crying and why won’t this baby just gain some weight already, somebody please help me a lot more than what I’m getting now!”

    If you are the strong, never really been sick type, who is eager to please, its hard to ask for help and say “no, actually, I’m not fine.” but it’s an important lesson to learn.

  9. I had a generally positive labor and delivery experience, albeit not what I was hoping for (induced, vacuum, episiotomy). Our hospital was great with postpartum as well. But I have to say, every little comment the nurses and doctors make while you’re in labor stays with you, and can make or break the experience for you emotionally. My doctor wasn’t pleased with my reaction to pitocin and kept basically threatening me with a c-section if I didn’t dilate fast enough — I think his goal was to broach the subject so it wasn’t a surprise later on if it was needed, but it sounded like a threat to me and there wasn’t exactly anything I could do to dilate faster, being already on the max dose of pitocin for many hours. One of the nurses (otherwise great) also told the nurse she was handing me off to that I “can get anxious,” which made me think REALLY? What woman who’s been having contractions every two minutes for 15 hours and also has a high fever and is being threatened with a C-section is totally calm? These comments have really stuck with me, even months later.

  10. Anon for this. says:

    My birth experience itself was relatively smooth (water broke, had a wanted epidural by choice early so was very comfortable), but I will echo all of the other comments about the nursing staff issues. I am not in NYC (larger city, generally good hospitals) and I was appalled at how poorly the nurses treated me. I was prepared for the post-birth kneading of my belly, but the other manhandling of my boobs and lady parts? Not so much. It was as though everything they did they were annoyed with having to do. And I will never ever consent to a student nurse being part of the experience again. The worst part for me was that right after birth, after the catheter came out and I had used the restroom, the nurse sat me on a bench in the birthing room and then left. For 4 hours. Being new parents, and having been up all night the night before, neither my husband nor I realized that was unusual. Turns out I was forgotten during a shift change. Like completely forgotten. The new shift thought I was already in a post-partum room.

  11. EP-er says:

    My first birth was very traumatic to me. I went into pre-term labor at 31 weeks and they couldn’t stop it. I was in denial the whole (short) labor that he was going to be born that night. My OB didn’t make it in time, but the room was full of doctors and nurses anticipating my preemie. They whisked him away to the NICU after I just had a quick glimpse. He seemed to be doing well, until he was 10 days old and came down with a serious intestinal problem that needed emergency surgery. Three surgeries, 10 weeks in the NICU, and nearly dying on me three times was a LOT to handle. I was super shell-shocked about the whole experience. (I’m tearing up writing this, actually.) But he is fine! And so dear to me.

    Fast forward a few years, and I am ready to it again… and miscarry at 11 weeks, after seeing the heartbeat. So now I am just paranoid about pregnancy. I saw a high risk doctor for my next pregnancy, but was pretty much a basket case the whole time. And my daughter arrived at 35 weeks, just a few days after my son’s birthday. I was in labor for less than 90 minutes and nearly delivered on the side of the road, with my son in the car. My OB didn’t make it to this birth, either! And she went off to the NICU, but only for only a week… They are 7 & 3, and I have perspective now. I do notice that I get melancholy about a week before their birthdays. It gets better with every year, but it still hurts. And I am jealous of women who get to have “normal” births, because that just will never be my story.

    • eh230 says:

      I had a very similar experience with my 34 weeker. I have a question for you. Do you feel like you have heightened anxiety about your kids’ health since they were born early? For me, DS1 was a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks, no NICU stay, breastfed relatively easily etc. DS2 was a 34 weeker who stayed in the NICU for two weeks, couldn’t breastfeed due to a structural issue with his mouth (I EP’d the best I could for nine months, but he had 1 formula bottle a day). I definitely have heightened anxiety about DS2’s health. Things that would not phase me with DS1 bother me for DS2 even though DS2 is perfectly healthy and caught up on his growth.

      • EP-we says:

        Oh yes! To this day, I am still worried about his weight/growth and make a conscious effort not obsess about it. He is following his own curve on the slight side, which coming from a family of large Northern Europeans I struggle with. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep asking about his bowel movements without embarrassing him… And I try really hard not to overreact and run to the doctor for everything. It is funny, but when my daughter was in the NICU, I handled it so much better. Like I had been through this rodeo before, was familiar with the tests & procedures. But maybe I am succeeding in being laid back with both of them!

  12. My first baby is 12 weeks old, so I feel like I have enough distance to reflect without glossing over bad parts (I feel like your memory does this with time). Compared to a lot of the stories here, my birth went great- natural vaginal birth, no serious medical issues, hospital was good and offered nursing support (Shady Grove in Rockville, MD for DC area folks). I started having contractions around midnight so, like Kat, I went into this on little to no sleep. Got to the hospital around 9:30 am doing good and 8 cm dilated. Yippee, I thought, baby will be out by noon! Not so much. I labored all afternoon barely seeing my midwife because she had like 4 other patients delivering that day (not her fault, but it sucked). My water would not break. At around 3:30-4, I was exhausted and hungry but too nauseous to eat or drink. We sent for the midwife to discuss pain relief options (aka epidural please!!!). She came in, checked me and said I was fully dilated just needed my water to break and it would be time to push. She essentially talked me out of the epidural by saying look, you made it this far, no point in it now. She had me labor in a certain position for a while, then get in the shower for 30 min, then if my water still hadn’t broken she would break it. I did that, my water finally broke in the shower- which was heavenly and gave me the energy I needed to do the deep squat necessary to break that damn water. Then it was time to push and he was born a little after 6pm. He came out with an arm over his head and caused labial tearing necessitating stitches (though minimal pereneal tearing). I lost a lot of blood and needed iv fluids and close monitoring, but ultimately nothing beyond that.

    I had trouble getting the baby to latch, but the nurses were really helpful and supportive (I hit the call button at 3am for a nurse to help me get him to latch and she came promptly to help, no problem).

    Lessons for next time: They’re gonna break my water earlier. That would have saved me hours of labor. Also agree with Kat to nap and go to bed early at the end there. It took me at least a full week-10 days to recover from the sleep deprivation alone. I could barely sleep at all in the hospital because they come interrupt you every 3 hours round the clock for something or another (pushing on uterus, checking blood pressure, tests for baby).

    Also I might try an epidural next time… anyone who’s done it both ways and have thoughts on that? The pain was manageable but the combo of exhaustion + nausea + hot flashes/chills was really unbearable at the end there. Then again, if they had broken my water hours earlier, I think it would have been a better experience overall.

    I’ll also say, even though nothing especially traumatic happened, I still feel like even a “normal” childbirth (especially without drugs- I don’t know what the epidural experience is) is physically traumatic. I feel mostly recovered now, just have some lingering hemorrhoids which were gone at 5 weeks but returned with a vengeance at 8 weeks and will not leave me the f*** alone. Right after I delivered I said “he’s going to be an only child!” and I meant it at the time, though I’ve already resigned myself to going through it at least once more. Basically I want to do it again, but this time switch places with my husband!

  13. anonymama says:

    Your hospital experience was much, much different from mine, where nurses checked on me every few hours, checked the baby, and the doctor and lactation consultant came by every day. But I also think, especially for your first time, you really don’t know what to expect, either from your own body, or your baby, or from the medical/hospital standpoint, or how you will feel about things, and having a baby is a really big, difficult thing, but we have sort of been conditioned to think it will be this beautiful, natural experience, and leaving out the part where it’s like being thrown into a pool with your clothes on in a place where you don’t speak the language. And that in a hospital sometimes there are bigger emergencies, and with a fairly normal labor you aren’t a priority, even though it is a really big deal for you obviously. And to feel like you did everything you could to prepare but still look back in frustration that you didn’t know any better.

    For my first, it took forever, the laboring was pretty similar to yours, and I kept asking the nurse what we should do (to expedite labor or relieve pain), and she was like, well what do you want to do? And I said, I don’t know, I’ve never done this before, what should I do? It was also really physically traumatizing, and I realized later that I was actually sick with a terrible virus through a lot of it, and that’s part of why I felt so terrible afterwards. Because of my fever they gave me antibiotics, and the baby antibiotics and sent him to the NICU, and I remember the doctor trying to explain why they sent baby to the NICU and I was so exhausted I was telling myself, this is important, you have to listen to him, and it taking sooo much effort to understand the words coming out of his mouth.

  14. NewMomAnon says:

    I have been angry about my experience giving birth too, but I’ve been struggling with why – I had great nursing and doctor care (a nurse and my doula stayed by my side the entire labor, and my doctor was there for the entire 3+ hours of pushing), the hospital was comfortable, there were LC’s and a few angel nurses who taught me so much about nursing and baby management. I did end up pushing for an hour and a half on a surgical table in the OR with the doctor suggesting that an emergency C section might be imminent, and my kiddo was whisked off to the NICU for an hour while I got stitched up, so there was some sense of fear and crisis to all of it.

    I think for me, the biggest trauma was having my soon-to-be-ex husband in the delivery room while I was going through this very intense, intimate, vulnerable experience. It felt like an intrusion or a violation. I still find myself embarrassed around him when I think about it. And while I’d love to experience a healing second birth, I think it’s unlikely given my age and current status as a single working mom.

  15. Cat – I really appreciate these stories and think it’s incredibly valuable to share these experiences. Reading them, though, it’s a bit overwhelming (if I didn’t already have a kid, this thread might be enough to put me off it forever!). Could we do another thread at some point about things that went well or lessons learned or something along those lines? I get that the whole point of this post is to be able to discuss the hard parts, so I hope we can do another one to catch the good parts, too.

    • Agreed, that would be wonderful!! Sitting here @32 weeks with big scared eyes…

    • pockets says:

      +1. I had a really easy & fast labor that I don’t want to post because if you’ve had anything but that you don’t want to hear my story. But maybe it can be helpful for pregnant or TTC ladies to hear stories of easy births.

      • anony says:

        I honestly think its helpful to read some of these kinds of stories when pregnant, just so you don’t go in expecting this purely wonderful experience and get blindsided by some of the difficulties. People tend to gloss over the bad parts or romanticize the experience when discussing it in real life (not always intentionally- I think time often makes you forget/minimize the bad parts). BUT I’m the kind of person who likes to mentally prepare for the worst in hopes that any surprises will be pleasant ones.

        • anony says:

          Wanted to add that, despite my earlier comment, I don’t disagree with the idea of having a separate place for more encouraging stories!

        • Anon in NY says:

          I agree. I wish I knew more of this going into it. At the very least I would have gotten a doula, as per the poster above, so that I could have an informed advocate earlier on in the process.
          It also makes it less isolating afterwards, if you are unlucky to have a traumatic birth experience

      • I have stories that kind of bridge the gap. My first birth was pretty smooth. I labored at home for a while, went to the hospital, changed my mind about the whole natural birth thing but it was too late, and delivered <1 hour after I was admitted. My husband had to go find the nurses when my water broke and I needed to push, because they figured I was going to be in labor for another 12 hours and were totally ignoring me. My doctor and doula didn't make it in time, but everything was fine.

        Second time, I had scar tissue (from a surgery) holding my cervix closed and didn't dilate. I had an OB appt the morning before I ended up delivering, and my doctor told me I was 0 cm, but he wouldn't be surprised if I went from 0 to 8+ cm in one contraction, so not to labor at home too long unless I wanted to give birth on the side of the road. Too bad he wasn't on call that night; the doctor who was said I was "not in labor" (despite intense contractions 2 minutes apart) because of lack of dilation and wouldn't admit me or give me the epidural I asked for. So I paced the maternity ward for an hour or two (of course I didn't hire a doula this time, when I really would have liked one), then went back to triage where the doctor finally said I could be moved to the high risk perinatal unit and have some morphine. The nurses slow-rolled moving me, claiming that there were no rooms, and I basically went through transition while they thought I was being overly dramatic. As they wheeled me into the HRP room, I felt like I needed to throw up and/or push, and they shoved some forms in my face and told me to sign them, tried to put the monitors back on me, and totally ignored me when I said I was about to deliver a @#*$& baby. I remember crying "It's happening again, why doesn't anyone ever listen to me?!" Water broke, 2 pushes and the baby was out, and the nurses were standing there with their mouths agape, My husband said, "ISN'T ANYONE GOING TO DO ANYTHING?!" and when no one did, picked the baby up, himself. He is still livid about the whole experience. I am annoyed, but the whole labor amnesia thing makes me quite a bit more zen about it.

        FWIW, my recovery room nurses both times, and all the doctors, lactation consultants, etc after birth were great. My lasting impression, though, is how dehumanizing it felt to have the medical staff so completely dismiss everything I was saying like I couldn't be trusted to accurately relay what's happening to my own body. Also, the first time I was mentally prepared for natural birth. The second time, I was not. I went in knowing I wanted an epidural, but didn't get one, and that made everything so. much. harder.

    • I psyched myself out starting at 34ish weeks and would read stories of traumatic births…and it only got worse after I went on mat leave and was NINE DAYS LATE. I kept myself awake all night trying to figure out if i blow off the OB that wanted to induce me the next day or cave….I finally went to sleep around 2:30 and my water broke at 2:45. Baby was out by 7am and all things considered was an easy labor (baby was almost 10 pounds, but other than that…), but man was I exhausted.

      Be ye not so foolish. Now that you’ve read that things can go sideways, look at the statistics on straightforward births and by all means TAKE A NAP.

  16. anony says:

    My birth experience was relatively smooth- 19 hr total, natural labor/no drugs or interventions, lots of postpartum blood loss but nothing necessitating a longer hospital stay. The hospital was pretty good and nurses were helpful, especially with breastfeeding (plug for Shady Grove in Rockville for DC-area folks). Kid came out with arm over his head and caused labial tearing requiring stitches. But 12 weeks later, I’m all healed up except for some lingering hemmorhoids that just will not leave me the f*** alone. Despite being lucky overall, it was still a pretty traumatizing experience. My body will never be the same. I was most unprepared for the hormonal wackiness of the first week. The morning we left the hospital, I sobbed uncontrollably for 20 min for basically no reason (but also so many reasons) while my husband looked on bewildered. The LC came in to see me before we left and advised me that this was totally normal and a good sign my milk was coming in. But it was still a far cry from what I expected, having just weeks earlier seen photos of Duchess Kate leave the hospital in a pretty dress hours after giving birth. I left wearing an adult diaper and sweatpants, trying not to cry.

    Given all that, I have so much sympathy for women who have more complicated births.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember that walking out of the hospital in a pretty dress, smiling and waving is her job. The whole thing was maybe 5-10 minutes, she knew she had to do it and could prepare mentally for it, and she had a whole team of people to help her look great. You bet she was wearing at least granny panties and mattress sized pads under that dress. She’s a human being just like the rest of us, but her “get your game face on” moment is a time the rest of us feel safe to show a bit of vulnerability, in the form of sweatpants and pony tails. She looked awesome, but I wouldn’t trade places with her.

      • anony says:

        Yeah, you’re completely right that it’s her job and she had a team. Also, now that I’ve been through it myself, I think she left the hospital so quickly so she could seize on the adrenaline rush you get immediately post-delivery (at least with a “routine” vaginal birth) rather than leave a day or 2 later when the weepy/crazy hormones set in. And I’m sure she got plenty of in-home medical care/follow up.

        But it was a misleading photo op, as a first time pregnant lady at the time. I actually sent my husband home to get ratty old sweatpants for me to wear home instead of the cuter (and slimmer cut) lounge-y pants I had brought to wear.

  17. rakma says:

    DD’s birth was stressful, and left me second guessing a lot of things. I was in labor for 5 days, was eventually induced, pushed for hours, really thought it would never end, then hemorrhaged and needed clots removed. I didn’t really comprehend what was happening, and blamed myself for a long time. I felt like I should have known or done more, when in reality, I did all I could and I was lucky to have a great medical staff.

    DD was sent to the nursery, while I stayed in L&D, which caused some confusion. When the nurse brought her back to me, still in L&D, with a bottle of formula, I immediately had so much guilt about not BFing her. It was months later that I realize that a) I was in no physical condition to do so and b) it had been almost 12 hours since she was born, of course she needed to eat something.

    The stress this all put on DH was a big thing too. As he describes it, he’s holding this newborn, has no idea what he’s doing, while I’m lying in a hospital bed and doctors and nurses are coming in from all parts of the hospital to attempt to get an IV in me for a blood transfusion, not knowing if I’d be ok. It took him some time to come to terms with that.

    I had some ok nurses, but one fantastic one who stayed past her shift end to see me through the delivery, and then stayed for all that followed. She came in the next day to check on me, and made the whole experience manageable for me. I really think she is a big part of the reason that I was able to come to terms with some of what happened.

    As we think about trying for another, DH and I have talked a lot about the whole experience, which has helped us both. It was also reassuring to talk to one of the midwives in our practice who was open and honest about the possibility of a repeat (relatively high, but not so high that they’d not recommend a pregnancy) and how they’d handle preparing for that possibility.

  18. My labor and delivery went okay, but I am still traumatized from my 3 day old being readmitted for jaundice. We only spent about 15 hours back in the hospital, but it was awful. I was in really rough shape from delivery (broken tailbone, terrible swelling, heavy bleeding, episotimy) and there were no accommodations for me as a nursing mother because I was not the patient. They told me that I wouldn’t have been discharged and would have retained a hospital bed if they had caught the jaundice before we were discharged. But because she was readmitted, they didn’t have to accommodate me whatsoever. I had to share a single public bathroom with the whole L&D floor, only had a wooden chair to use (with my broken tailbone), and it was a holiday weekend so there was no food available onsite. We weren’t expecting to be admitted so when I ran out of pads, they just shrugged. I had to make due with toilet paper until my husband could get to the pharmacy and back. No help or compassion from the nurses. We couldn’t stay with the baby and when they ran out of room in the NICU waiting room, husbands were told at 3 AM to go wait in their cars in the 90+ degree heat.

    Oh, and to top it all off, a terrible, terrible NICU doctor told me that my baby was jaundiced because I was starving my baby by breastfeeding. She was horrible and, in retrospect, completely wrong. My milk was in. My baby was just horribly bruised from the vacuum delivery.

  19. My labor and delivery went okay, but I am still traumatized from my 3 day old being readmitted for jaundice. We only spent about 15 hours back in the hospital, but it was awful. I was in really rough shape from delivery (broken tailbone, terrible swelling, heavy bleeding, episotimy) and there were no accommodations for me as a nursing mother because I was not the patient. They told me that I wouldn’t have been discharged and would have retained a hospital bed if they had caught the jaundice before we were discharged. But because she was readmitted, they didn’t have to accommodate me whatsoever. I had to share a single public bathroom with the whole L&D floor, only had a wooden chair to use (with my broken tailbone), and it was a holiday weekend so there was no food available onsite. We weren’t expecting to be admitted so when I ran out of pads, they just shrugged. I had to make due with toilet paper until my husband could get to the pharmacy and back. No help or compassion from the nurses. We couldn’t stay with the baby and when they ran out of room in the NICU waiting room, husbands were told at 3 AM to go wait in their cars in the 90+ degree heat.

    Oh, and to top it all off, a terrible, terrible NICU doctor told me that my baby was jaundiced because I was starving my baby by breastfeeding. She was horrible and, in retrospect, completely wrong. My milk was in. My baby was just horribly bruised from the vacuum delivery.

  20. Becca says:

    My child was born just about 5 months ago at 33 weeks (and is home and thriving now). I had an emergency c-section under general anesthesia and my daughter then spent 5 weeks in the hospital. The care I received was fine – the care she received was generally excellent. But I think the lack of knowledge on the generally delivery floors about how to treat NICU moms (i.e. stop trying to teach me how to bathe a child I can’t hold yet and stop sending a photographer in asking when we can take going home pictures) was pretty traumatic. I was just learning how to navigate the NICU, how to advocate for my child, and healing from a pretty traumatic procedure. It would have gone a long way if I didn’t constantly have to explain to nurses, orderlies, and every passerby that my daughter was quite sick and that no I hadn’t tried to breastfeed yet because she was still on a ventilator.

  21. Cdn lawyer says:

    I am sitting here 7 weeks postpartum and have to say that I appreciate reading these stories knowing that it is not uncommon to have the opposite of a “Princess Kate” birth. I had a completely healthy pregnancy and was not prepared (had never even crossed my mind) for my baby to need a NICU stay after aspirating meconium. I am quite confident this set us up for difficulty breastfeeding and we had to start supplementing after she did not regain her birth weight at 4 weeks. I had a hard time with this.

    I was discharged after 24 hours (routine in Canada after a v*****l delivery ) but my baby remained a patient. We happily were able to stay in the same hospital room. But with all that was going on with the baby I didn’t realize that I had severely injured my tailbone (I think fractured) during delivery, apparently not uncommon with larger babies (mine was almost 9.5 pounds). It wasn’t until after my discharge that I could differentiate the pain. At that point the nurses told me there was nothing they could do because I had been discharged as a patient, and that I could go down to the ER if I wanted some meds. Thankfully a nurse took pity on me eventually and when she saw my Ob flagged him down to come to my room.

  22. My first birth experience is both a bit traumatic and a bit encouraging.

    I developed preeclampsia and was admitted to the ante-partum ward at 31 weeks. I tried working remotely, and now 18 months later, I think I should have stopped upon admittance… the additional stress of trying to go conference calls and prepare work product while on best rest with constant BP and baby monitoring was not a great combination. But, my nurses and my doctors (OB and MFM) were great. Until Friday – the tech recorded my weight wrong (I gained 3+ pounds over night, a sure sign that the preeclampsia worsened, but it was recorded as me losing a pound…) I believe if that had been caught, we might have changed the emergency C-section I needed that night.

    So, long story short, at nightly rounds, my BP was high and would not come down. And then they checked my protein output and it was off the charts. Upon hearing this, my BP skyrockets. Long story short, at 1 hour and 45 minutes into week 32, I delivered a healthy, crying, almost 4 pound baby. Despite APGAR scores of 7 and 9, she was taken to the NICU.

    I remained in L&D for another 24 hours while they got my blood pressure under control (rather than transferring me to the ICU). A lactation consultant came in first thing in the morning with a pump and all the supplies and told my husband and I what we needed to do, every three hours. I was loopy on meds, but she and her colleagues came by every 3 hours to help with the pumping. The nurses were fabulous about making sure my family didn’t overwhelm me, and reporting on my baby’s status. Once they got the BP under control, I was wheeled, bed and all, to my baby’s bedside in the NICU.

    I stayed in the hospital another 3 days, and did have to be readmitted a week later overnight for BP issues since I dropped the water weight so fast that it messed with meds.

    Kiddo #1 stayed in the NICU 32 days, growing and feeding. Up until her first birthday, I felt so guilty about not being able to keep her in longer, and depressed that I didn’t get to labor at all. Now, its like a fog has lifted and I remember the silly things about the whole experience, like my OB singing country music while closing me up.

    I will delivering our 2nd kiddo in a few weeks, most likely through scheduled C-section, and this baby has s severe heart defect which will, once again, necessitate swift relocation to the NICU, followed by open heart surgery within a week.

    To any new moms, I’m sure there will be both good and bad. I would highly encourage you to have someone with you that can and will speak up. And make use of the whiteboard in your room. Whatever your top three-five priorities are, write them down on that white board and refer everyone to it who walks in the room. Not fool proof, but heplful

  23. Honestly? After my first birth I wanted no more children. After the second? I went to law school. I am now an advocate for parents and children, especially around pregnancy and childbirth, and am a founding member of the Birth Rights Bar Association ( http://birthrightsbar.org ) which works to support attorneys who work with families and providers, promoting the rights of physical liberty, bodily integrity, due process of law, equal protection, and informed consent, for example.

  24. CPA Lady says:

    I had a planned (medically necessary) c-section because my daughter was breech. The c-section itself was remarkably easy, went very smoothly, non traumatic, easy recovery, etc. I never had a vision of an ideal “natural” birth situation, so the idea of getting a c-section wasn’t really upsetting to me at the time. I mean, I knew that if I went into labor the regular way, I’d get an epidural ASAP.

    But weirdly, several months after my c-section, I got really upset about it. I was just sad that I never got the chance to show my husband how brave I can be. And weirded out about the fact that I never even got to feel a single contraction or know what it is to push or any of that stuff. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever said “I gave birth” because I honestly don’t feel like I did give birth. I had a baby, but I feel like the doctor did everything and I just laid there on the operating room table.

    Then after about a week of being upset I remembered that if I had lived in any other period of history, we both probably would have died in childbirth. That helped me get a lot of perspective, and now I feel much better about the whole thing. It’s still weird how the disappointment crept up on me, though.

    Giving birth is built up as such a huge thing. And I know it is very meaningful for a lot of people. For me, it helps to think about it in the same way as I think about my wedding day– very important, but far less important than my marriage. The day you have your baby is important, but the rest of your child’s life is the important part.

  25. Maggie says:

    My labor and delivery with my first son was textbook, perfect. But he came out with massive brain injury and damage. He was whisked to another hospital while I screamed to be discharged to follow him. The number of medical interventions they did without parental consent due to medical emergency (that I learned about later) was astounding. He was given medicine such that he only slept and I was not allowed to try to nurse him until he was more than a week old. We were starring down the possibilities of cerebral palsy, metabolic disorders that would cause him to never leave a normal life, but we got the lucky diagnosis of simple brain damage and a cerebral hematocrit. We brought him home 2 weeks later and spent the next 3 years in occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Our son now at 3 and a half appears to have completely recovered from the trauma he suffered from either contractions or heading through the birth canal. My husband and I spent months discussing whether after that, we could possibly try again.
    We did. I had a cesection, and my now six month old son is healthy. But I had panic attacks throughout my second pregnancy. I think we’re done at 2, but after my experience I internally stress on behalf of any friend or coworker having a baby. I also refrain from telling my story to pregnant women. It remains the most traumatic experience of my life.

    • Lorelai Gilmore says:

      Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry and grateful at the same time that your son is healthy now. What a miracle.

  26. Burgher says:

    I had a pretty similar experience as you, Kat. Fairly traumatic 1st and wonderful 2nd.

    With my first, I had visions of deep breathing and birthing tubs and rainbows. I went to childbirth classes and was planning on doing everything naturally. Then, we got to a week before my due date, and I felt terrible in the middle of my workday, just OFF. I reluctantly went home at the urging of my coworkers. My husband came home that evening to me in our bed shaking, with all the blankets in the house on top of me. He was upset with me that I hadn’t told him how sick I was, but I was still determined to be a calm earth goddess at that point. No interventions! He called my OB, who obviously told me to come in to the hospital immediately.
    Once we got to triage and they monitored me for a bit, they decided that the baby was coming out ASAP, and I’d be induced. Once the induction drugs started kicking in, the pain was unbelievable. I was literally crying and screaming for an epidural (movie versions are tame compared to me). I was never so happy as I was when they finally pumped me full of multiple rounds of antibiotics (per the anesthesiologists insistence) and gave me that epidural. I spent 3 days in the hospital with my perfectly healthy baby in the NICU the whole time. Establishing breastfeeding was difficult with the NICU but I did it successfully and (99%) exclusively BF for a year and did nights and weekends until 2.5. And at 3, he still misses his “milkies”.

    With my 2nd, it went off without a hitch, other than barely making it to the hospital 6 miles away. I woke up at 12:45 AM and baby was born at 3am. There wasn’t time for an epidural, or anything. They actually didn’t even get a chance to switch the bed out or get an OB in the room. Still got billed for it though! Haha. Little dude was almost 9 pounds, and he’s still a champ.

  27. Julia S says:

    My first birth, I was well-prepared. I had a doula who was also a midwife, a CNM practice ready to deliver, a birth plan, birthing classes, everything well-researched with practically a CBA of each option. I wanted to try for a natural birth, to eat and drink during labor (I was convinced this was why so many women had exhausted themselves during labor), and to birth in whatever position I felt most comfortable in. My mother died when I was young, and my MIL gets squeemish at the sight of a spider, so I knew it was me and DH, and he wouldn’t be much help.

    I was Group B strep positive, so when my water broke, we had to head in. I showered, had breakfast, fed the dog, carried my bags to the car for the 45 minute drive to the hospital. We even stopped for a second breakfast at McD’s. At the hospital, everything went to hell. My contractions came quick and fast – about 45 seconds apart. I went from 3cm to 10 in 3 hours. I screamed on the birthing ball, I cried in bed. I begged my husband to find the anesthesiologist who was apparently jogging around the hospital. They gave me IV meds which made me weepy, tired, and crabby but still in horrid pain. I could barely catch my breath. My BP skyrocketed, and the diagnosis of preeclampsia, which had come 2 days before I went into labor, was confirmed. All of my tests were awful, and they started me on mag. Once I hit 10, the midwife-in-training encouraged me to start pushing even though my son was high up. I pushed for four hours (with the epidural, thank God), until they told me to stop, slapped an O2 mask on my face, and my room was filled with doctors in scrubs whispering furiously in the corner. Finally, one of the OBs and my MW came over to say that my son was in distress, I was not progressing, they thought he was stuck, and my BP was so high they were concerned I’d stroke out. Emergency c-section. 2 minutes later I’m stark naked on the OR table, unable to move as people bustled around me like I was a corpse. Finally I was prepped and draped, my husband came in, more drugs and monitors, and my son was born. 45 minutes later I was in post-op nursing him. He had a very short cord, hence the distress.

    I wound up accidentally getting discharged a day early (ladies, don’t just say “uh huh” when the intern comes in at 5a). The lactation consultant popped into my room, asked if I’d nursed, and then walked out. After discharge, they had to send a home nurse to my house because of some state law about early discharge. She took my BP and it was 210/160. My son’s weight had dropped precariously low, and he kept falling asleep while nursing. I was shipped off to the ER with a 5 day old baby during flu season. They wanted to readmit me but I begged to go home (why I’ll never know), and so with new meds and strict bedrest, I went home with our son. I tried to pump but couldn’t get enough for him so I’d pump and cry and then break open the formula. MIL was no help as she thought BFing was a waste. Eventually, I begged my docs to let me go to the pediatrician (driven by MIL) to see the LC. In 15 minutes, she fixed the issue (I wasn’t holding him smooshed up to my breast) and he nursed like a champ. She also showed me how to nurse laying down, which was a godsend for my post c-sec pain.

    For a long time I wept about my birth – not because it didn’t go to plan, but because I felt so disconnected from my son. He was in me, and then he was handed to me in post-op. I never felt as though he came from my body. Nursing helped with that somewhat.

    For my second son, I had a kidney stone at 14 weeks and thought I was miscarrying. I had to take suppositories and anti-nausea drugs prescribed for chemo patients just to keep down water. I was popping percocet even though I was afraid to take tylenol. Finally, when they decided they would have to operate, I passed the stone. Then there was a risk of a chromosomal anomoly that would have resulted in a stillbirth or extremely short life so I had an amnio. Two weeks of freaking out waiting. At 26 weeks I was d/x’d with preeclampsia and put on bedrest – with a toddler and a traveling husband while living at my dad’s because we were restoring our house. I eked it out with the knowledge that my MW and docs wanted to deliver me at 36 weeks. We went in expecting a repeat-c, but they sent us home to wait a few days because baby was awesome while my stats sucked. Three more times, and they decided to schedule me for 38 weeks. The day before I was scheduled, I went into labor. I had asked my OB if I could VBAC if I went into labor on my own, and laughingly he signed off on it.

    Son #2 was also high when I was fully dialated (again, a very rapid labor but an early epidural). This time they tried “passive descent” – let him come down on his own, no pushing, and I took a nap. Woke up ready to push and he was right there – 30 min later he was in my arms. I watched and felt him come out of me. It was such a healing birth for me – no BF problems, no mag sulfate, a small spike in BP, but entirely different. Of course, after 11 weeks on bedrest, I went home and cooked dinner for everyone and threw a huge party, jumping right back in to everything…. including PPD.

    Each child is so different. Be flexible. Know your stuff – I’m glad I researched things – but be prepared. There is no shame in pain relief especially an epidural. And most of all, don’t blame yourself for a birth gone sideways. It’s entirely out of your control – like parenthood – so get used to it. Get lots of help with breastfeeding. Ban people (evil MIL) who question why you bother when formula is just as good. Hire someone to help at home that first week. And don’t – DON’T – overdo when you get home. Traditional Japanese have women go to bed with the baby for a month while she’s tended to by women in the village. It’s a brilliant concept, one I wish we could do here. Go to bed with the baby and stay there. Sleep. Nurse. Watch CHiPS and Law & Order reruns. Read. Sleep, and make sure your OB or MW gives you a refill on those nice pain meds. My sons are now 9 and 11, and you can bet I will be doing laundry, cleaning house, cooking, and waiting on my DILs when they give birth. Moms need to be mothered. That’s the best advice. Oh, and NEVER check out of the hospital early.

  28. Natasha says:

    My first birth was pretty traumatic. I was induced a week early due to me having a uterine infection. I went in with a severe fever and they said “that baby is coming out tonight one way or another”. After they dialed up my pitocin a few hours later, I was in extreme pain and begging for an epidural that they refused to give me until I had been pumped full of 3 courses of antibiotics. They took my baby to the NICU after birth, so establishing breastfeeding was difficult, and I didn’t actually get full care of my baby until we were being discharged from the hospital, so that was really overwhelming. The doctors didn’t check on me the whole time without my husband asking if someone was going to look at me. The hospital kept forgetting to serve me meals an/or taking them away without me eating because I was down in the NICU visiting and feeding my baby. It was so bad the manager of the cafeteria came to my room and personally apologized. Needless to say, I switched OBs and hospitals after that.

    My second was amazing. 10 days late, only 2 hours from waking up in labor to having my baby in my arms, and I was immediately in love. Of course, I love both of my kids, but the 2nd has been so easy compared to the first, it’s like night and day. I’m glad I got the healing and all natural birth that I wanted for my first.

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