Mourning for the perfect childbirth

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Mourning for the perfect childbirth
Mourning for the perfect childbirth

Although you know that childbirth can be filled with the unexpected, you may not have imagined thinking back to this one with so many regrets, guilt or with this feeling of incompleteness.


Like you, many women mourn the birth they would have liked to be more "perfect".

Many moms plan their birth as best they can. They prepare through prenatal classes, readings, discussions with friends, etc. Pregnancy, childbirth, just like motherhood are objects of idealization or desire for each future mother. From all the sources of information you have around you, you too most certainly have an idea of how you want your birth to go. You build these desires very often on your research, but also on preconceived ideas, values and also currents of thought. For example, if the current of general thought points to the trend of natural childbirth, you may also adhere to this philosophy, because, by informing yourself, you find that it fits your values, aspirations, etc. Sometimes being part of the mainstream is just reassuring.

From wherecomes this mourning?

But here it is, even the best prepared childbirth in the world, brings no guarantee of how it will go. Even if you can influence certain aspects (ambience, relaxation, reassuring companion, etc.), the fact remains that nature will have the greatest control. Baby may decide he's showing up before you're ready, he may come later, complications may lead you to an emergency caesarean, the pain may be less bearable than you imagined, dad may be caught up in the traffic while work rushes by at breakneck speed or the baby may turn out to be a girl when you had your fingers crossed for a boy. Here are a number of situations on which you could have formed conscious or semi-conscious desires. In fact, the mourning of the perfect childbirth appears when an idealized image is confronted with a reality that is quite different. You are disappointed and that is understandable.

Why am I so disappointed?

Although you may understand that the birth was not under your complete control, it is difficult to deal with the emotions that come with the disappointment of your shattered expectations. You may experience sadness, anger, guilt, a feeling of not performing well, of not having been persistent enough, feeling like a bad mother, experiencing a failure, etc.

Are we too used to having control over all aspects of our lives and placing too much emphasis on our performance? Thatis one of the assumptions for which many women are grieving the perfect childbirth. By working overtime at work, you got your promotion. By studying more, you ranked at the top of the group. By taking an advanced course in photography, you've improved your techniques and it can make you feel like a more accomplished woman. These are places where we have the power to act.

But should childbirth be a place of performance? If so, it may bring with it a feeling of failure and disappointment as if it were up to you. Which is however not the case. In fact, there is no perfect childbirth. All births have a different route and are experienced in different conditions for each woman. For example, contractions that start in the evening and prevent a good night's sleep will lead to a different pain tolerance. The body being less rested, it is obvious that you will be more likely to need an epidural if your energy is not there. So, envying your friend who didn't have an epidural (but who started her contractions after a good night's sleep), may make you feel less enduring if you initially give importance to childbirth without an epidural..

During childbirth, you need to meet your needs at the time. You are not there to meet the demands of others, but to bring your child into the world in the best possible conditions. Not listening to yourinternal needs can, on the contrary, lead to a more difficult delivery or recovery. Your planned pre-delivery needs can change completely during delivery and this is completely normal and acceptable.

Places of mourning

You may experience dissatisfaction and a feeling of having to mourn the following situations:

  • The start of labor (time of onset of contractions, water break, number of weeks of pregnancy, etc.)
  • Planning labor (induction, planned caesarean section, choice of place of birth, impossible VBAC, etc.)
  • The course of labor (complications, emergency caesarean section, duration of labour, use of epidural, etc.)
  • Expulsion of the baby (tearing, use of forceps, carrying the baby, falling asleep once the baby was born, etc.)
  • The type of support (presence of the father or a trusted person)
  • The sex or appearance of the baby
  • For not feeling unconditional love the second you saw your child.
  • Breastfeeding not working as expected. etc.

How to overcome this mourning?

  • Ask about all the risks and stages before giving birth. This brings a better idea of what can happen during this one, while allowing to remain realistic.
  • Accept that childbirth cannot be controlled. It influences itself, but nature has the last word!
  • Accept that you are notresponsible for its progress.
  • Remember that a birth plan is not an immutable contract, but rather a guide to inform your desires insofar as they are possible.
  • Remember that childbirth is not a performance, it's a unique moment.
  • Understand that your reality is not that of others and that this influences childbirth. For example, length of labour, he alth conditions, support during labour, number of children, etc.
  • Avoid isolation. You're not the only one feeling this way. When we feel inadequate, we are only less likely to discuss it for fear of being judged. However, it will do you good.
  • Look at the bright sides. For example, thanks to the caesarean you and your child are alive.
  • Stop using terms like “successful childbirth” or “successful without an epidural”. This kind of talk brings up the idea that you can fail, and that's what we want to avoid if women don't want childbirth to be a competition. You all “succeed” in giving birth, no matter how you give birth. You won't come home pregnant!
  • Accept that grieving takes time.
  • Remember that no matter how your birth went, it has nothing to do with being the good mother you can be.
  • Get help if the grief drags on or takes over your thoughts to the point that it undermines your daily mood, keeps you from functioning,too depressed or if you are experiencing symptoms of depression.


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