When you’re pregnant, you get a lot of unsolicited advice and comments, often from complete strangers. Although they are usually well-meaning, it often seems as if their only purpose is to make you feel bad about yourself and question every decision you’ve made, especially the one to have children. There are the comments about how big you are so you must be having twins, the horror stories from their deliveries, the tales about how awful their children are and you really shouldn’t have any, even though it is clearly too late for that.
What has been bothering me a lot lately though, is the comments I see when someone has a hard time during the birth of their baby, such as an unwanted induction, epidural, or c-section. The usual response is “all that matters is that you have a healthy baby”. Giving birth is one of the most important times in your life and missing out on what should be a joyful time is a loss whether you end up with a healthy baby or not. Of course everyone wants their baby to be born healthy, but telling women that all that matters is their healthy baby makes them think they should be feeling angry, disappointed or whatever other emotion they are feeling. Women should be able to grieve the loss of the birth they wanted without being made to feel guilty because their baby is alive.
I did not have hospital births with any of my children, so I was able to make decisions about my births that would most likely not have been allowed in a hospital setting. With both my first and second children, I would have most likely been induced.
With my first son, my water broke on a Sunday afternoon…and then nothing happened. I didn’t start having regular contractions until late Monday night. With my second son, I was almost two weeks past my due date before I went into labor. Even choosing a setting where you can make the decisions doesn’t guarantee that things will go how you want however. With both my first and third births, I had a retained placenta and had to have someone take the baby so I could deal with getting it out (by the way, not a pleasant process). I just wanted to hold my new baby, but at that point, I just couldn’t. While I am very glad to have made it through that, I still miss that time of holding my new baby. I really don’t get why my body did not want to let go of the placenta. It’s not like I needed it anymore.
The next time someone tells you how their delivery did not go at all as planned, resist the urge to tell them that all that matters is their healthy baby. Tell them you understand and that it is ok to be upset about it, that you are there to listen. Birth is a life-changing event no matter how it happens and as much as we might like control over it, your body or medical staff sometimes have other ideas.
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