Having a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest experiences of your life, but for many women, it’s anything but.
Some mothers get so emotionally scarred by a difficult delivery that they develop birth trauma; a type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that occurs after childbirth. Key symptoms include flashbacks, feelings of depression or inadequacy, and recurring negative thoughts about your experience.
But with the right support, it is possible to overcome the bad feelings, enjoy motherhood and have a positive subsequent birth experience — if you address your emotions…
Talk to your doctor
If you’ve had a difficult labour, even women who want more children reason, “Why do it again?” Before you make a decision about future pregnancies, it’s helpful to talk to medical professionals about what took place when you gave birth to get a better understanding of what happened. Remember that history rarely repeats itself. Second labours are almost always quicker and easier, according to medical experts. And there’s always the option of an elective Caesarean if you really can’t deal with another natural birth.
Share your experience
Many women who end up delivering in the operating theatre feel as though they’ve failed at motherhood before it’s even begun. “I feel like my body let me down,” admits Samantha Png, 34, mum to Isabelle, 7 months. “I conceived my baby and carried her for nine months, so surely I should have been able to give birth to her naturally?”
Request a debriefing session with your doctor can help you come to terms with your Caesarean decision. Sharing your experience with other women who have had Caesareans can help rebuild your self-esteem, too. And while it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of another C-section in the future, don’t assume that a natural birth is unattainable.
Build up intimacy gradually
It’s not unusual to feel strange, or too sore, to contemplate having sex for months after giving birth. If you’re concerned, it can be worth seeing your gynae before you proceed to reassure yourself that you’ve healed properly.
You can also request for prescription of an oestrogen cream to relieve vaginal soreness and dryness or some couples may consider attending psychosexual therapy. Most importantly, build up intimacy gradually until you’re ready for sex.
Write about it
The key to a good birth is how it’s managed. A chat with your doctor can help you understand the care you received. If you feel that your labour was mismanaged, writing out your birth story can be immensely therapeutic. If you’re still unhappy, writing an official complaint to the hospital is another option.
You can also share your experiences with other mums on parenting forums and websites. While you’re there, take time to check positive comments too. That — and looking at your baby — will remind you that giving birth is a good thing after all.