Grieving Over An Unnatural Childbirth

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest Warrior Mom is Sierra R., who blogs at Everything Is Coming Up Roses. She’s sharing her frustration and disappointment with not having the natural childbirth she hoped for, and it’s contribution to her postpartum depression. -Katherine]

Grieving Over an Unnatural Childbirth -postpartumprogress.com

When I was pregnant, one of the most frequently asked questions I received was, “Do you have a birth plan?”

Normally, I have a plan for everything. I make lists for my lists and I love to be in control. And yet, ironically, I never really had a set birth plan. I was fine with having an epidural, being induced (if medically necessary), and I didn’t care if I had an IV. 

There was only one thing that I wanted, or rather, didn’t want: a c-section.

When I thought about my perfect labor, there was one image that stood out. I would visualize the moment immediately after my son was born.  He would be placed on my chest, and I would look down at him in wonder and feel an overwhelming sense of love and peace. Then I would look into my husband’s eyes and we would smile at each other, softly crying tears of joy. We would snuggle together, just the three of us, as a new family.

I replayed this over and over in my head for months. It made me less afraid of my impending labor and even more excited to meet my baby, because I couldn’t wait for that moment to come true.

On the advice of our doctor, we decided to induce. I was five days late, my blood pressure had shot up, and I was showing signs of developing pre-eclampsia. The induction started out smoothly enough, thanks to our wonderful nurses and my husband. We hunkered down for a long night of waiting, but that’s not exactly what happened.

Every time I would stand up and sit back down, the baby’s heart rate would drop. My husband and I would hold our breath and listen to the heart rate monitor as it slowed from 130 down to 80, from 80 to 50, and on down. Our nurses kept telling me to flip over as they anxiously watched the monitor. I remember thinking, “What happens if his heart stops beating? How will they get him out in time?”

The tension in the tiny hospital room was palpable. I remember lying in the bed thinking, “What happens if he doesn’t make it?” After a few minutes, his heart rate came back up and we could all breathe again.

When my labor progress came to a halt, my OB broke my water and within an hour, I was ready to push. I pushed and I pushed, with all my might. The nurses tried to keep my spirits up by saying, “He’s right there! Keep pushing!” and I did. For two hours I pushed, but with every push, I knew.

Another memory, still clear as day: My OB leaving the foot of my bed, pulling down her mask, and walking to my side. She took my hand and gently said, “You’ve done a really great job, but your baby needs to come out now. I think you need to have a c-section.”

The rest is a blur: Me sobbing hysterically, the nurses wheeling me into surgery, hearing my baby cry for the first time. He wasn’t placed on my chest; instead, a nurse held him next to my face so I could see him and then he was whisked away to the nursery.

My c-section had complications. I lost quite a bit of blood and came very close to needing a transfusion. When my husband came to see me in recovery, he said my skin was green and I was shaking uncontrollably from the anesthesia. I didn’t get to touch my baby for more than three hours, and when I finally held him, I was in so much pain and so utterly exhausted, I just wanted to hand him back to the nurse.

This is how I became a mother.

I struggled with feelings of disappointment, rage, guilt, failure and anger for months afterwards. I struggled with postpartum depression. One of my closest friends had a baby five months after I did, when my grief was still fresh in my mind. Her pregnancy had not been planned, but was welcomed just the same. She had an all-natural water birth, just as she had hoped for, and I remember sobbing at the perceived injustice of it all. Why did she get to have a natural birth? She wasn’t even sure if she wanted kids in the first place!

I would try to explain how I felt to my friends and other moms, but no one seemed to fully comprehend the depths of my grief. I got a lot of well intentioned, “You and your baby are healthy, that’s all that matters!” Saying this to a mom makes her feel that if she is upset over her birthing experience, she doesn’t appreciate the healthy baby she has. You are made to feel ashamed for grieving over your birth, like you’re ungrateful for the child you have. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

It is okay to wish for something you didn’t have. This does not make you ungrateful for the healthy child that you have been blessed with. I love my son and I realize how lucky I am to have a healthy child. I know things could have been worse, much worse, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is a deep hole in my heart. A hole that may never completely heal.

I believe that is okay to grieve for your lost childbirth experience. In many ways, I actually think it is necessary to grieve. I lost something that meant so much to me, the dream of holding my newborn baby on my chest, the loving glances, the immediate bond you have with your child, and I will never get that back.

So allow yourself to shed some tears, even though your child is healthy, and to be angry that things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Only when you purge this grief, guilt, disappointment, and sadness, can you move forward and be the mother you were meant to be.

About Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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Comments

  1. Love to you, Sierra. I get it. With my whole heart, I get it. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thank you, so so much. Having followed your blog and reading about your struggles with a c-section & PPD, that truly means a lot. ♥

      • Kim Mahnke says:

        Wow thank you for sharing. What you just described is what I still suffer from silently for 2 years now. I had placental abruption and had an emerg c section and should be so blessed that I survived and my daughter survived as it was a near death experience for both of us. However I am still sad. The pain coupled with failing at breastfeeding are issues I still deal with. I was diagnosed with PPD right after my daughter’s birth and tried to deal with it the natural way….acupuncture, exercise, high doses of fish oil, relaxation techniques but the drugs were needed. Thanks again for sharing.

        • Oh Kim, I wish I could hug you right now. I’m sending you peace and love.

          There are so many, too many, women who suffer in silence.

  2. Thank you – this is something that every mom needs to hear! It is OK to grieve for the birth experience that you didn’t have.

  3. Great post.

  4. (((Sierra))) Thank you for sharing your struggle and strength with others

  5. Sierra, thank you for opening up and sharing this. I know that (unfortunately) there are many, many women who can relate to these exact feelings.
    You are a strong, beautiful momma.

  6. Sierra,
    That was so eloquently expressed, thank you for putting this out there. I to suffered from PPD greatly linked to not having the birth I planned as well as breast feeding issues. The best thing I was told was grieving what you loss is ok, and you can still celebrate the healthy baby as you said.

    Thank you again for being brave and putting this out there!

    • (((Shawn))) I’m so glad that you were able to grieve your loss and move on to celebrate your beautiful, healthy baby.

  7. Thank you for this strong, brave, eloquent post. Thank you for acknowledging that anger and sadness, and overwhelming joy and love can all be felt at the same time. Thank you for giving us permission to grieve unfulfilled expectations.

  8. Thanks so sharing Sierra! My experience was similar, well said.

  9. Yes, the only way to the other side is through. I too had to grieve for the birthing experience that I didn’t have. I have worked hard not to look back on the day my son was born with bitterness, but with joy. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story!

  11. Beautifully written and heart-wrenching. And the ability to grieve is so important.

  12. Yes. This. Thank you so much for putting words to my thoughts.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing Sierra. ♥ I can very much relate to this.

  14. Thanks so much for sharing. I had a similar experience and can relate to your feelings. It’s so nice to hear about other moms who struggle with those feelings.

  15. Sierra, thanks for sharing your story – and thank you for giving the rest of us the courage to face and grieve for what we’ve lost too. I’m a planner as well and went through a somewhat similar situation – it’s comforting to hear that these feelings of loss are common and that it’s ok to own up to them. Thank you!

  16. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Sierra. I, too, had a very similar birth experience with a c-section and significant blood loss. Hearing someone validate the emotions I had about my birth experience means so much. Thank you, again, for writing this.

  17. It’s been three years since my traumatic birth experience and this post brought tears to my eyes. I had a similar experience–induction for being overdue that ended up in a crash c-section. I will never forget it. My son is a blessing and a joy but his entry into the world has changed me forever. (((HUGS))) to all of you who had a similar experience.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing, Sierra. I still have unresolved feelings about the way both of my birth experiences went. It’s always comforting and encouraging to hear that other people have similar feelings.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. I too had a difficult labor, and was separated from my son for almost 10 hours after he was born; I was too sick and exhausted to leave my bed, and he was in the NICU. And small wonder, I had little success breastfeeding, and ended up exclusively pumping for 8 months. I too know that things could have been so much worse, and I am so very lucky to have a healthy little boy, but I stewed over my experience, and felt haunted by it. It was only after I wrote down my birth story (in excruciating detail), and shared it with people I trusted, that I could start to let go of my anger, sadness, and disappointment. I wish you (and all who go through this) healing and peace!

  20. Sierra, thank you so much for sharing this. While I am not a mom yet, this is one of my fears – that things won’t go as planned and I will be disappointed and feel like I should be happy anyway.

    I also have a very close friend who had a horrible pregnancy – delivered at 26 weeks – and it is helpful to know a little more about how she probably feels.

  21. Been there. I also had a hugely complicated birth that was drastically different from what I expected. (It involved preeclampsia too.) It is absolutely ok to grieve the experience. Mine was over 5 years ago – almost 6 and I’m not entirely over it. The ppd and ptsd symptoms are gone and I’ve channeled that energy into volunteer work, but it’s definitely always present in everything I do.

  22. I had a very long drawn out labour with a large by in prosterior position. Like you, i was ok with the epidural and the 2 top ups they gave me. I spent over 2 hours with my legs in stirrups pushing. They let me tear to the point of needing well ovwr 17 internal and external stitches. I was exhausted from over 50hours i labour. My son struggled to latch to my breast so for 2 days i had him screaming from hunger. During this time I was develpoing a mass infection in my uterus from placenta that was left behind. I was on anti-depressants for the first 15mths of my sons life. I too, am angry and sad for missing out on that “wonderful” experience people told me I would have.

    Thank you for putting into such beautiful words the feelings I had.

  23. Colleen Clark says:

    Beautiful. And so are you. Love you.

  24. Sierra, this says it all so perfectly. My son was breech so I had a scheduled c-section. I didn’t have a single contraction and don’t know what labor is like at all. 4 years later people still say, “but he’s healthy and that’s all that matters.” and it’s not. Yes, it matters, but it’s not ALL that matters and we need to be able to grieve that. Good for you for letting yourself do that.

  25. Thank you for writing this. I had a horrible birth (and I am a doula who planned a home birth) and struggled with postpartum depression. I lost enough blood for a transfusion and then my stitches developed granulation tissue that became infected so I was in a lot of pain for eight weeks or so after. I’m only just starting to see the light finally.

  26. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s very important to admit you did want something a certain way, and to grieve that you lost that.

  27. Amanda Kosanke says:

    I can definitely relate to you. I pushed for 5 hours and at one point could even see her head in the mirror but she was stuck and I had to have a c-section. I too felt ripped off of the moment you see in the shows where they place the baby on your chest so you can hold it and stare at it. Instead your arms are stuck out at your side and you are so drugged up and tired you almost don’t even care. Honestly, as soon as I heard her cry I wanted to go to sleep. I know I felt like a failure for needing a c-section. I even asked my doc if I didn’t push good enough but her head really was stuck, she had fluid build up from rubbing on me to prove it. I knew I did the best I could but I still felt guilt. Plus, in our birth class a c-section was portrayed as a bad thing (we had a doula as the teacher which I’m sure may have been part of it). I am so jealous of moms who say they pushed twice and the baby was out. But yes, I can completely relate to what you said.

  28. Nicole Lopez says:

    This hits very close to home.. I experienced almost the exact same thing! Thank you for this.

  29. Wow, thanks for sharing your story! I completely understand how you feel. While this didn’t happen to me, I still was very adamant about the type of birth I wanted and could see how devastating it would be if it didn’t go as planned. 🙁

  30. I think she is making too much of this! I lost two babies. Get over the little thing of having a c-section!

    • This may be your opinion but we should all be allowed to have our own feelings about our experiences. You don’t need to one up someone.

  31. So powerful. Thank you for sharing this! I planned a homebirth and had a hospital cesarean. I was in labor for 3 days. I was crushed by my “inability” to “birth right” and it was the number 1 contributing factor to my PPD. In my PPD treatment group, 3 out of 7 women had unplanned cesareans after trying for a totally med-free birth, and they were all devastated.

    I think we need to speak out about this issue more. Birth empowerment and choices are great. Yes, the c-section rate is shockingly high. But to combat this, I feel like we’ve put the onus all on women to be tougher, smarter, and to try harder for a very particular kind of birth. I read things when I was pregnant that told me that if I had a cesarean, my son and I wouldn’t bond, that he would be sickly, he wouldn’t nurse, and that I would just be one more awful statistic.

    Despite following the advice of people like Ina May Gaskin to the LETTER, I still had a c-section. And I felt like a colossal failure. I wish our culture didn’t put such huge expectations on women to be perfect. Perfectly beautiful, perfectly rich, perfectly thin, and perfectly birthing.

    • I also wanted to share that I have a podcast called Broad Lives that collects women’s words and voices on issues of reproductive justice. Several of our episodes include moms who had unexpected birth experiences/feelings of deep disappointment. And they discuss how they felt it contributed to postpartum mood disturbances.

      You can find us at broadlives.libsyn.com. The episodes that touch on this are:

      Lexy
      Cricket
      Heather

  32. Thank you so so so much to everyone for sharing your stories. It’s so important that we give voice to our grief, rather than bury it deep down for fear of being judged by others.

    I with you all love, peace, and healing.

  33. Thank you for sharing your story, Sierra! Your honesty is beautiful

  34. Thank you for this story! I completely understand grieving an unnatural birth! I had a midwife through most of my pregnancy and had planned on a natural home birth. My baby ended up being born 5 weeks early by emergency c-section. Wish more people would understand that this is something acceptable to grieve over.

  35. I love this site!! Just discovered it and plan to list it on my own private practice website. It’s chock full of great info and links. Kudos to Katherine Stone for this wonderful resource.
    Elyse Everett, LCSW
    ThePostpartumHighway.com

  36. Thank you for sharing your story. I was much like you, uncommitted to an exact birth plan but knew I didn’t want a c section. My water ended up breaking at 28 weeks and after 12 days in the hospital, I had to have an emergency c section when my daughter’s cord started coming out. I was the one who discovered it, and once I alerted my nurse, I was whisked away to the OR, put under general anesthesia and remember nothing else until I woke up in recovery. It was traumatic. I didn’t get to touch my daughter until the next day when I was recovered enough to transfer to a wheelchair and I didn’t get to hold her until that night. Her first birthday is next week and all those feelings feel fresh again. I always feel guilty because is happy and healthy. Thank you for helping me feel less so by reassuring me I’m not alone.

    • Sarah, you are definitely not alone. And please know that many moms who have gone through childbirth trauma have a hard time with the first birthday. It’s not just you. Don’t feel guilty — these are common feelings for those with postpartum PTSD. Just go easy on yourself and know that each year it will get easier.
      ~ K

  37. It is so comforting to read this as I find myself shedding massive tears tonight, a random evening 17 months after my son was born. No apparent reason, other than grief doesn’t have a timeline, or a marching band preceding it. My three day labor at home with a warm tub and a terribly neglectful midwife led to a rush to the hospital because of exhaustion, dehydration and pain, only to face an emergency cesarean 10 hours later. The following two months were wrought with an infected incision, the necessity of wearing a wound vacuum in my abdomen, and the failed breast-feeding for many reasons…one of which was my inability to continue pumping every two hours to try to keep a paltry supply from drying up. I remember the moment I had to surrender to formula, and it was the last straw that pushed me into a very challenging PPD. I have come out on the other side, and am surprised at what a damn good mother I am! 🙂 I’m slowly allowing the guilt of not welcoming him into the world the way I so desperately wanted to fade and let go. So thank you for your words…even after all this time, they are healing.

    • First of all, huge hugs to you, Jackie, for everything that you went through and AWESOME that you’ve come out the other side and can now realize what a kick ass Mom you are.

      Second, thank you so much for your comment! I never would have guessed that 2 years later people would still be reading my post, and knowing that my words have touched others warms my heart. It makes me feel like my own PPD had a purpose and wasn’t suffered through in vain.

  38. As a doula, I see clients who are attempting VBACs in an effort to get a second chance to “get it right”. I’m so sorry about your experience. This is a great article for you to read.

    http://www.lovingbaby.co.uk/why-we-must-talk-about-birth-trauma/

    Sharing a birth experience that is traumatic is not spreading fear, but speaking the truth, saying ‘this is why I felt traumatised’ and ‘this is what caused my experience’.

  39. CHRISTIE Cassaro says:

    I agree that is important to grieve the loss of what was meant to be a beautiful experience. Let those feelings out, but just be respectful of us Mama’s who also had a horrible birth experience involving a stillborn. Perspective is important. In my early birthing days, I thought having a c-section was one of the worst things that could happen. I have lived out both the beautiful dream, and my worst nightmare involving childbirth. My first c-section was to deliver my son who we lost because of a cord prolapse during labor. It was a heartbreaking, and extremely painful experience all around, and I was treated horribly because I attempted a home birth. I too envisioned how lovely and serene it would be, after delivering in a hospital five previous times. That dream was crushed, but I know damn well that if we would have made it to the hospital in time to get that emergency c-section in enough time to save his life, I would not be complaining. Mo doubt I would still have dealt with PTSD, but I would only be thankful. I know this because after delivering another stillborn at 20 weeks for unrelated reasons, we were blessed with two more live beautiful babies. We did choose to go through the c-sections with those two babies, which is easier because you are more prepared, but even still, not a breezy recovery. However, I was on cloud 9, because my baby was well, and in my arms! Every mother is entitled to feel what she feels, but I just have a hard time when people can’t seem to put it all in perspective, and choose to be thankful. I do understand that depression is a real thing, and a chemical reaction in our brain that we can not control, so my comment is not meant to be directed towards women dealing with PPD. Just my reaction to women grieving over a different birth experience than they were planning. Babies have their own ideas of how they want to come into this world. We can rarely plan it all, and expect things to go according to plan. Sometimes it’s so much better, and unfortunately sometimes it is worse. Let’s just respect the process.

    • Christie, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. My daughter was also born sleeping, two years ago today, in fact, so as I write this I’m struggling through a very rough day. I grieve for my daughter every day and long for her more than I can ever put into words, and I understand where you’re coming from. However, I don’t feel that my pain puts me in a position to discount the pain others have faced, which in the author’s case includes almost losing a baby, a traumatic surgery and recovery, and the mental anguish of PPD. Rather, the pain I’ve been through has made me more compassionate and better able to sympathize with others. I don’t get from this article that she is ungrateful for her baby’s life or disrespecting the process, nor do I feel that she would try to compare her pain to ours or be disrespectful if she were to talk with us. So, in the same way, I won’t compare either. It’s just not necessary, nor is it helpful. What is helpful is to encourage each other and to allow other mothers to express their post-birth feelings without judgement. So, with that said, I again want to say I’m so sorry for your loss and hope that you have people in your life who encourage you and grieve with you.

  40. I can relate to this grief. While I wasn’t heartbroken about my c-sections (disappointed? Yes.), I was heartbroken about my complicated pregnancies. I looked forward to being pregnant, but both were the most miserable experiences ever. They wreaked havoc on me physically and emotionally. My doctors advised no more babies for me after the second one. It was very hard for me and still is. It is hard to watch my friends having babies still. I grieve for the pregnancy I wanted but didn’t have. My second c-section had complications and I had to go under general anesthesia so I didn’t even see the baby. Then she had to go to another hospital. It was hard and still is, but people don’t understand because I was lucky enough to get pregnant abs have two relatively healthy babies. Reading this made me feel a little less alone in my “irrational grief” as one “friend” put it. Thank you for sharing this.

  41. I can really relate to your experience. I labored for 17 hours, pushed for close to 5! I ended up delivering “naturally” (though I did have an epidural, something I tried really hard to go without), but my boy was born without a heartbeat and he wasn’t breathing. They immediately took him to the side to perform cpr. Within moments he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat. But they still whisked him away to the nicu to be monitored, I barely got a minute to kiss his little face before he was gone. I didn’t get to hold him until he was several hours old, and I still feel cheated out of those immediate bonding moments.

    I’m now 10 days away from having my second child. I decided to work with a practice that consists of 2 midwives and an ob-gyn because I wanted to avoid interventions. Unfortunately this birth will not go as planned either. My baby has some kidney issues which had led to me having a very large volume of amniotic fluid. .. if my water were to break on its own, I run the rather high risk of the umbilical cord washing out of the cervix before my baby is in the correct position. In order to avoid this, we are inducing a week early. The midwife will break my water in such a way add to control the release of fluid. However, the umbilical cord might still wash out in which case I would need to have am emergency c-section. Knowing this, my midwife suggested I have an epidural right away so that if I need to get a c-section they wouldn’t have to completely knock me out (something I REALLY don’t want). She says she has had moms hold their babies on their chests immediately after being delivered via c-section in the past and she expects I should be able to do the same, so I’m still hopeful I’ll get that moment I missed out on with my first child. But it doesn’t change the fact that my expectations and my reality have, once again, declined to match up. It’s frustrating.

  42. Sierra, I know you wrote this almost four years ago, but I am just reading it now through improvingbirth.org. Your advice is excellent and I can relate so well to what you say, even though my c-section occurred a little over 35 years ago. My baby was not in distress, but I had pushed for hours, had pitocin and was still not able to push the baby out. The thing that bothered me most, and still bothers me, is that my body was screaming to walk when I arrived at the hospital, 8 or 9 centimeters dilated, and was told I was “too far along” to walk. Like you, I was elated to have a healthy baby, but very upset at how she was born. It turns out she was transverse and “sunny side up,” but I will never be convinced that moving around could not have helped her get into a better position. My daughter was held by my cheek for a few seconds and then I did not see her again for five hours. I went on to have three VBACs, all for babies larger than my first daughter. That first daughter is now a midwife with three children. I was able to be present for the birth of her second child, a baby girl born at home with a midwife. That baby was in the same position her mother had been in, but with the help of a patient and skilled midwife, and a lot of hard work by my daughter, she was born vaginally. Witnessing that birth, 32 years after her mother’s c-section birth, was incredibly healing for me. My third child died, and the others are all grown and doing well, for which I am extremely grateful. I no longer think about the c-section every week, or even every month, but when I do think about it, I still feel sadness and a bit of anger. When I had my children, the internet did not yet exist, and support from other women going through similar experiences was hard to find. Mostly I was told to be grateful for a healthy baby. You have helped many women by writing your story! Thank you!

  43. Yes, it is okay to grieve for your lost childbirth experience and it doesn’t have to take away from gratitude and joy for a healthy baby. We humans are more than capable of having more than one emotion about an experience!! Both/and. My oldest daughter was born 32 years ago via unplanned c-section and I still can feel a soft ache in my heart sometimes when I wish we could have had those first magic moments together the way I had imagined them ahead of time. It’s not at all raw anymore, but it gives me great empathy for you and other women who go through this kind of disappointment. Blessings on your healing journey! Thank you for sharing so honestly.

  44. Thank you for a very moving account. I must disagree with one tiny aspect. Personally I’m far exceeding my own expectations of the mother I thought I’d be, but 3 years on, I’m still reeling from the the events that shattered my sense of self and sense of security in the world. I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel whole again, but my son has the seen my best, even when I’ve been at my worse. My relationship with the rest of the world, on the other hand, is on very shaky ground. It’s really helped my sense of motherhood that I don’t feel as if I could have done anything else, and that I received very poor care. But this hasn’t helped me getting the help I needed, and people struggled to believe the degree of callousness that I received. And I couldn’t possibly have the symptoms of PTSD, because no one gets assaulted during childbirth. Except they do.

  45. It is not your fault that things went this way. The odds were stacked against you due to the way birth is medically managed in the US.
    In this day and age it is important to educate yourself as much as possible about the American way of birth. It is possible to prevent most of these things. It isn’t about perfect birth, but it is about being healthy, and working toward staying low risk. That includes education such as what are the risks vs. benefits of IV’s, Induction, and epidurals? What does evidence based birth look like? Why is it important? Just why should we avoid c-sections (unless medically necessary), and how do we do that? The information is out there, but we have to work to find it, and to stay healthy and low risk. Next time contact your local Birth Network. Take a thorough Childbirth education class. Hire a Doula. Write a birth plan. Find a careprovider with a high VBAC rate. Contact ICAN. You can do this!

  46. And the grief is exacerbated by the isolation of not being about to talk about it, lest–as you said–people think you are insufficiently grateful for the healthy child that went home with you. And *of course* it could be worse! Yes, some mothers lose their babies before, in, or shortly after birth. Some women can’t even conceive a child much less birth one. Yes, yes, many women would be more than happy to have a c-section if it meant they could have a surviving, much less healthy, child. But “it could have been much worse” is *always* true, about anything. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t grieve the losses and disappointments that are *theirs*, wherever they fit in the scheme of things. And “It could have been worse,” though perhaps sometimes moderately helpful coming from our own inner voices, is *never* helpful from the lips of others. And “That’s all that matters!” is minimizing and just not true. That’s what matters *most*, yes. But it’s not *all* that matters. Birth matters, too.

  47. Oh my gosh, this is everything. Thank you.

  48. I definitely needed to read this! While my story is different, I have the same feelings about my birth experience. My little guy is just over 3 weeks old. I felt in a daze at the hospital after it all, but once we got home those feelings really hit hard. Thinking about the birth brings up frustration, sadness, blame, fear, guilt. Yes, I have a healthy baby, but I still struggle with a sense of loss over what I hoped my first birth would be. I’ve found this hard to explain to friends and family.

    Working on healing and growing with my baby each day. Thank you for these words to help with the journey!

  49. shelley-jo warwick says:

    I have had three great natural births but had to have a caesarean with my twins and am absolutely devastated, I don’t believe I was induced properly and they should never have broken my waters, I believe it was unnecessary and wish I’d never let them break my waters, lots of regret.

  50. Reading this lying in bed at 1am next to my beautiful 2 month old baby in tears. One of my best friends just had a baby naturally and, while I’m happy for her and wish her nothing but the best, it’s just made the grief fresh again. I too had a traumatic emergency c section and there is doubt that I will ever be able to have a natural birth (failure to progress and big baby). I just want this feeling to go away.

    Thank you for sharing.

  51. Donitza says:

    Thank you for sharing. This was my identical birth story. All I knew was I didn’t want a c sections, but he was stuck and I pushed for hours. I still cry when I hear peoples easy and simple.birth stories.

  52. Feel like this 4 years later

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  1. […] from my breastfeeding support group brought my attention to this article titled “Grieving Over an Unnatural Childbirth.” The article received so much attention that I wanted to post about my feelings on the topic […]

  2. […] quickly became an important release for me, and I started blogging more than ever.  I even wrote a guest post on Postpartum Progress, about how my traumatic labor and delivery contributed to my […]

  3. […] Grieving Over An Unnatural Childbirth […]