You are home with your baby. Settling into your new life and trying to figure out your new routine with a new addition to the family. All while you are sleep deprived and slowly working on physically recovering from birth and getting back to be happy in your body again.
But although you are busy with this new life, from time to time your thoughts are getting thrown back to the actual birth. And not just to the exciting part when you finally met your baby, but in a negative way, because you cannot forget that it didn’t happen the way you wanted it.
When thinking back, it always makes you sad or angry and you blame yourself for not having been able to deliver your baby the way you dreamt of?
Believe me, this was me. And it is hard but you need to stop blaming yourself and believe that you did everything you could have done at this moment.
And here are some tips which helped me and which I hope will help you as well.
(1) Share Your Story
Share your birth story with people you can trust will not judge you. I talked about my birth story at the first mother’s group meeting when my son was 6 weeks old. And I can tell you, it was really hard for me to talk about my experience for the first time.
Afterwards, though, I felt relieved. Just by letting it out of my own mind and putting it out there in the world.
I also learnt that other mums had a way harder labour and birth with more unfortunate events that was totally out of their control. And instantly I felt less bad about my own situation but grateful.
Hearing or reading about other mums birth stories can be a big relieve. Makes you feel connected and less alone. It can just make you feel better with your own story.
Read birth stories at https://www.australianbirthstories.com/aubirthstories
But, in order to process it right, I find it is super important to be 100% honest with yourself and to others. Otherwise, what’s the point, if you lie to yourself or to the people you share it with.
(2) Write It Down
Writing down my birth story was a great little therapy. Right after birth, I wrote all my fresh memories into my diary. I wanted to remember this day with all its sites. The hard and ugly birth and the joy and excitement on the way and when I finally met my baby. It put it into perspective that it was very hard and went different to what I wanted but in the end, I had my beautiful baby.
If you haven’t written your birth story yet, just do it now. It isn’t too late.
Only recently, I wrote my more detailed birth story for this blog to share with the community. This was 18 months after birth. Still plenty of memories left of this big day. And again, it was a relief to let it out of my mind and soul and typing it down.
Read my birth story here
(3) Accept You Did Your Best
For some, it may have been relatively easy to give birth, but for others, like myself not so much. Giving birth for some can be the hardest thing to have been through. Both physically and mentally. As much as for example I had prepared, I didn’t know what I was in until it happened.
Although every birth is said to be different, it is especially hard for first times mums.
After my 20 hour labour and assisted birth, I still blamed myself for not having been stronger. That I wasn’t able to push an hour longer to avoid assisted birth which led to an episiotomy after my forceps delivery was one of the things I blamed myself for.
Our body is simply amazing and we have to accept that we really did what we were capable of at this time.
Just looking at this picture, which was taking on my first day home (4 days after delivery), you can see that I was still so pale and weak.
(4) Let Go Of The Past
One thing is for sure, we cannot change the past. As much as we want to go back and change things around and do things differently, it is not possible. Beating ourselves up does not change anything. We cannot undo our decision and actions but we can change how we feel about it, so it doesn’t influence our life at this very moment and in our future.
I like this article by Tony Robbins, who gives you guidance on how to move on. How to Let Go Of The Past, link: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/let-go-past/
(5) Do It Different Next Time
If you are ready to have another baby but are still doubting yourself for the previous one – try to do it differently this time. Note down all the issues you had at your first birth and discuss this with your doctor to work towards a different plan.
If I ever have another baby, the thing I would change is having a doula for more emotional support.
But always remember – every birth is different.
(6) Get More Help
If all the previous suggestions are still not getting you through to stop blaming yourself, reach out and get more help.
- connect with support groups, e.g. organised by PANDA https://www.panda.org.au/awareness/support-group-guide
- Read books or articles for further information, such as “How to Heal a Bad Birth – Making Sense, Making Peace and Moving on” from Melissa J Bruijn, Debby a Gould, which has some great reviews.
Speak to a professional. I did this as part of my mental health plan because I was also suffering from postnatal depressions. Read more here.
Keep on being strong Mama.