February 2, 2015

They lied…It matters how you birth

It matters how you birth www.bestofbabylady.com

“Well, all that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby.”

How many times did I hear that after giving birth?  How many times did it drive me deeper into confusion and self-doubt over my son’s reception into this world?  If all that mattered was a healthy mom and a healthy baby, then why was I so heart-broken?

The birth of my first child left a marked and profound impact on me.  All throughout my pregnancy, I had dreamt about and planned for his arrival.  It would be hard, it would be painful, but it would be beautiful and graceful.  And I would rejoice.  But it wasn’t and I didn’t.

We need to induce you ASAP or your baby is going to be born sick.  Ok…if you say so.

We need to crank up the pitocin, or you’re going to have a c-section. Ok…if you say so.

I’m glad you did what we said, because we almost had to cut him out. Ok…if you say so.

I did what they said and in the aftermath, I was left shell-shocked.  What had just happened?  I didn’t give birth — birth had been done to me.

“Well, all that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby.”

For months I mourned his birthday.  What was supposed to be one of the most extraordinary days in my life was a day that I couldn’t stop reliving, but only wanted to forget.  I felt ashamed of how I’d let things happen and remorseful that I didn’t give my son a more welcoming entrance into society.  Would I ever even desire another child? Would I ever willingly repeat the trauma of labor and delivery?  I was stuck between a place of swearing I’d never give birth again, and wanting an encore just so I could have a shot at doing it “right”….of fixing what I wrongfully believed I had failed at the first time.

“Well, all that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby.”

Baby blues quickly spiraled into full blown postpartum depression.  What was wrong with me?  I loved my son almost more than my heart could handle and I was so grateful for the gift of being his momma.  And I was healthy and had a flourishing little boy.  Everyone kept telling me that’s all that matters…so shouldn’t I just be happy?

Then I had another baby and I finally understood.  They were wrong — a healthy mom and healthy baby are not all that matters.

Birth matters.  How you give birth matters.

The second time around I had a doula who comforted and supported me.  Who repeatedly reminded me that birth could be beautiful.  Who believed I was designed for this.  I had a midwife who encouraged me and trusted my body. Who never once debased or belittled me.  Who respected me.

And I was FREE.  Free to labor how I wanted…in the tub, on a ball, and even in the hospital parking lot when I needed fresh air.  Free to go home even though I was 7cm dilated (only to return 30 minutes later) because emotionally, it’s what I needed.   Free to give birth right there in the middle of the hospital room floor, because that’s what my body told me to do. 

 It was beautiful and graceful. And I rejoiced.

Birth matters.  How you give birth matters.

Just ask the thousands of women in this country who have been bullied and coerced into a birth experience they never asked to have.  Ask the thousands of women in this country who suffer from actual post traumatic stress disorder after giving birth.  Ask the thousands of women who love their children deeply, but hated their birth.

A healthy baby and a healthy mom are undoubtedly the primary goal.  OBVIOUSLY. And I could never ever begin to imagine the pain of those who aren’t able to achieve that goal.  Their suffering is on a whole other level and incomparable. 

But how you give birth matters, and our feelings surrounding the event are valid.  To the mom who felt like her birth hopes unraveled and fell apart, it’s ok to mourn your birth experience.  It’s ok to feel heartbroken over how you brought your baby into this world — or more pointedly said, how birth was done to you.  And it’s ok to fervently pray for something different the next time around.

Because birth matters.  How you give birth matters.

Not everyone can or should have a natural birth.  And natural birth, while generally the safer and healthier option, isn’t necessarily the be-all and end-all. Complications arise and thank goodness for medical interventions.  But as a woman, you deserve a birth experience you can feel good about.  Not necessarily a perfect, natural, peaceful birth (though those are wonderful), but a birth experience where you feel supported, dignified, and respected.  How you give birth matters, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

How you give birth matters, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  #birth #birthmatters @BestofBaby… Click To Tweet

 It matters how you birth www.bestofbabylady.com


 UPDATE:  Thank you so much for the outpouring of support this piece received. I am humbled by those of you who told me I gave a voice to your experiences.  I want to make it clear that obviously, the most important thing is a healthy mom/baby.  Obviously.  OBVIOUSLY.   I’m not trying to claim that anything is more important…or even as important as that.  But I am claiming that women have the right to have their feelings respected rather than dismissed.

Also, while I never expect everyone to agree with me, I do appreciate everyone who took the time to thoughtfully comment…whether or not you share my view point.  After spending hours reading and replying to comments (thank you to everyone who commented!), I want to clarify a common misconception.  This post is NOT about what kind of birth you have (c-section, natural, medicated, home, etc.), but rather about your overall birth experience and having your feelings respected thereafter.  I absolutely believe you can have a c-section (and any other type of birth) and still have a positive birth experience. 

Last note – Profanity and outright meanness will be deleted.  Promptly. 


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Iulia is a former educator turned stay-at-home mama of a spunky toddler and a squishy infant. With a touch of sass and a good dose of self-deprecating humor, she has an ever-expanding repertoire of bloopers, insights, stories, and impassioned opinions to share. Iulia likes to think she has this parenting gig figured out, but her littles remind her daily just how far from the truth that is.

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  • kimmygayeta@gmail.com'
    Reply KimberlyGayeta December 17, 2015 at 4:38 am

    I’ve always heard about this issue between my friends who had given multiple births already. My best friend has almost the same situation as you, its just that, her first birth was the “natural” one. She told us how painful the process was, so when she had her second child, she opted for the induced way of delivery so she won’t suffer from the pain of labor anymore. She exactly had what she asked for, but then regretted it by now. She told us that it’s still such a precious experience to give birth naturally. After 9 months of carrying the baby in her tummy, she told us that nothing compares to feeling the real essence of being a woman. I definitely believe her, so when it’s my time to have a baby too, I’ll definitely follow her and your advice. I also wanna feel how beautiful it is to naturally bring a child to life. Thank you so much for sharing this Lulia! You are precious! God bless you and your family!

    • Danushas81@gmail.com'
      Reply Danusha Sivakumar May 5, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Good luck Kimberley – but it’s important to remember that whilst you go in hoping for a ‘natural birth’, don’t run the risk of getting disappointed if it doesn’t go that way. Advice is great, but ultimately you want to go into that birthing suite hoping for a healthy baby at the end. Not feeling annoyed at doctors who are hoping for the same thing.

  • huwburn@gmail.com'
    Reply Randolph Hoover January 6, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Well, thank goodness you’ve written a note before ending that article. What’s important was you had a safe delivery and your child came healthy.

  • gemlechner@gmail.com'
    Reply Erin February 15, 2016 at 9:38 am

    So grateful that I have 2 beautiful healthy children and I still tell myself. It doesn’t matter how they arrived what matters is that they’re here!!! That being said I mourn the birth experience of my first child too. I consider myself to be a “crunchy” mom and very excited to go through the whole birth experience. Long story short I had a C-section because the babies heart rate would go up and down with each contraction…later found out that the doctor didn’t like to perform C-sections after 5 pm…. I felt bullied into having a C-section. Worse then that after the C-section I was so groggy I couldn’t breast feed right away. I was falling asleep while trying to nurse my baby (on mag sulfate) For the night they took the baby and bottle-fed her. I woke up in the middle of the night crying for my baby. I said I am awake and ready to hold her and want to see her and start nursing her. THEY REFUSED TO BRING HER TO ME. They said I needed my rest the baby is safe and sleeping and they will bring her to me in the morning. The more I screamed for her the more people came in to calm me down I felt like my rights were taken away and I felt like they were treating me as if I was crazy. In the morning I got to see her and I nursed her for 2 years after that. To this day I am sick about the thought of being separated for too long. Not official PTSD but the whole experience has left a slight scar on my heart……. My baby is healthy and we are happy, but YES I am sad and will always be scared from that. I did have a second child and was going to have a VBAC. At the last minute I was too scared and decided to have a C-section and yes it was a C-section but a night and day experience from my first child. This time around I refused the mag sulfate and told them I want to see and be with my baby the whole time. I don’t know if the laws have changed or I just got lucky with a better nurse staff that day but it was a much better experience. Thank You for your blog post!!

  • marparr1201@yahoo.ca'
    Reply Marlene February 15, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Ladies: I am not discounting anyone’s experience (I had a Csection followed by a VBAC). However, sometimes we get so caught up in our “vision” for something that we miss what actually happened. This is not the same as a planned vacation where they lose your luggage and you spend you vacation being angry that you don’t have your dress nor is it like a dinner where the guest of honour fails to arrive but keep it in perspective. How your baby arrived is not more important than the baby being here. Your child arrived and you need to put your energy into what happens after than holding onto your vision. Life happens – for all of you who had a less than perfect delivery – did you take your baby home? How would you have felt if they had been less aggressive and you could not take your child home? Would you have accepted full responsibility for that or blamed the hospital/doctor/doula for not “knowing better”? Health care workers walk a fine line – we want what we want but blame them if it turns out wrong. Birth should be a good experience but the conversation about what you want should have happened before you got to delivery and your support person should be advocating for you as often, once in labour and pain, you cannot make yourself heard nor do you have the clarity to make informed choices. I went into both deliveries wanting a good birth but also aware that sometimes we don’t get what we want and the health of mom and the baby take precedence over perfection.

    • Daisykatel@gmail.com'
      Reply Kate Petty February 26, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      I am the mom that wanted a natural birth. I am the mom that was put through 18 hours of traumatic labor drugs that I did not want. I asked about different positions and was told that I needed pitocin only to be pumped full of everything and then you know what they did? The put me on my side….didn’t I ask about different positions to begin with before everything else? I showed up at 8 cm already, it took 18 hours of crap until they tried what I asked for to begin with. Laying on my back was wrong, pitocin and epidurals do affect your baby, and then they cut the cord immediately because she had low oxygen levels(from all the labor drugs) and most of her blood was still in my placenta. She passed away 3 hours after her birth and I never even got to hold her alive. Yes, taking your baby home makes you forget about it. It certainly went that way with my first, but I guess I felt I needed to answer your question from the view of the mom who didn’t get to take her baby home because people wouldn’t listen and because all the side effects that can happen, all happened at once. I had no other choice in my state because midwives are practically illegal here and I was pushed into something I did not want. This story speaks immensely to me because I have an extreme nightmare that I have to relive every day since my perfect Eliza left this world on her birthday. 7.27.15. I desire more than anything to be free.

  • wonderfullybirthed@gmail.com'
    Reply Michelle February 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I love this post! Yes a healthy baby and a healthy mom matters, but so does the birth experience. No matter how you give birth, educate yourself on the many options that you do have.

  • mrslearningsimple@gmail.com'
    Reply Lisa February 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Yes, Yes 100x’s Yes! I felt the same way after my son was born. I’m glad I know better for next time, but I wish I knew better for that time. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I couldn’t even talk about his birth for almost a year or more after he was born, because it was not what I wanted it to be. I felt coerced and neglected in the hospital. Never again.

  • Reply Anonymous February 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Wow…great timing to have found this post. I had my fourth child 12 weeks ago. My first labor was planned in a midwife-led unit but due to ‘not progressing well’ and being exhausted I was transferred via ambulance to hospital by which time my labor had stopped. A lovely midwife took charge of me and naturally I started again and pushed properly delivering my first beautiful son naturally. BUT I was in shock and completely traumatised from my experience for a long time after. My husband was due to go to Afghanistan in six days so that is all the time we had. My second labor was planned once again in the midwife-led unit and this time it was much quicker and my little daughter was born naturally and I was so amazed I felt I could do it all over again if someone told me to! Once again, hubbie was due to go away but this time he had his 14 days paternity leave. My third labor was not so great. I had planned a homebirth but really, looking back I was not really prepared fully. Baby started turning two weeks before my dd which I mis-read as contractions so hubbie (who was away overseas) flew home. False alarm of course and once baby turned, he sat there for another 4 weeks! Hubbie had returned overseas as had no leave left to be with me. My baby was fourteen days late and the hospital checked me over and said due to the lack of fluid left and the fact they could not monitor the umbilical cord fully as it was in front of him, they wanted me induced. They did a sweep and I said I needed to go home to at least put my children to bed as they would worry. I then started contracting so by the time I returned to hospital with my Mum as birth partner, I did not need inducing, although the midwife decided to break my waters anyway! I went along with all this as baby’s heartbeat was going down a lot during contractions. My second son was born naturally (well as naturally as was possible with all the wires and monitoring they were doing including a heart-rate monitor attached to his head inside me) and I was home straight away and in time for my other two little ones to wake up and meet their new brother. It was fine. I was disappointed but justified it all to myself that I ‘did the right thing’. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our fourth child that I read about natural birth and birth choices etc and how interventions are so unnecessary in so many cases. I planned things very differently. Homebirth, hubbie home and going nowhere for the first time, a borrowed birthing pool, yoga, reflexology and lots of chatting to people about how to prepare both physically and mentally. I was ready. I was ready for a natural birth in my own home…and guess what? The doctors robbed me of it. Two weeks before I went into labor, I was home alone and had chest pains which affected my breathing. I endedup in A&E via ambulance with raised blood pressure and protein in my urine. I was told I had pre-eclampsia (which was weird seeing as I had never had this before and had the same partner), I would need an x-ray followed by an MRI or CT scan to determine if I had a blood clot (all of which could damage my baby), if I was found to have a clot I would be on blood thinning drugs and then these would be reduced, my labour would be induced medically and they would deliver my baby! I managed to get away with just a blood test, put on the labor ward for blood pressure monitoring which showed my BP going back to normal (once the pain and stress had gone) and I was sent home, but to come in again to FMAU for checks twice a week. The stress my husband and I went through with all of this was horrid due to mixed messages between the hospital staff and the midwives. In the end, I went into labor at home and was so relaxed and happy as I felt I was finally in a place that just felt right for me. Then the hospital phoned to say the protein count that day had gone up and the Doctor wanted me in for an induction. I explained I was already in labor and they said no problem. BUT the local midwife then was called to tell me no, I could not labor at home as I was at risk of Eclampsic shock! This had never been mentioned to me once. My own midwife was so good though. She was not even on duty that night but came with the other midwife to talk to me as she felt so sorry for the way I had been messed around. They said it was my decision whether I went in to hospital or not but the doctors were concerned if I fitted, it would be dangerous to both me and baby. Once someone says that it is so so hard to NOT go in. So into the ambulance I went and delivered my third beautiful son within five minutes on arrival at the hospital. My lovely midwife stayed with me and my husband throughout and I had a natural birth. BUT it was not ok. I was not ok. I was so angry, sad and disappointed beyond belief at how I had been treated and how they had robbed me of my last chance of a home-birth. Yes I was fine and baby was fine and yes I had a natural birth with no intervention…but it was my last ever chance of giving birth and for once my husband was home and not due to go overseas again, and I am still not over this. I don’t think I ever will get over this. I am grieving…grieving for something I never had. People say I made the right decision and at least we are both ok etc etc…and I know they are trying to be kind and say something to help me, but sadly noone can. I know the doctors were doing their job which is keeping people alive and well. I know how lucky I am to have had four natural births and am privileged and proud of my four beautiful children. I strongly agree that birth choice matters and women should be supported fully in their choices. I am now considering training as a doula, to support other women in their birth choices. I would not wish how I feel on any Mother; it casts a horrid dark cloud over those first special moments with my baby.

    • Danushas81@gmail.com'
      Reply Danusha Sivakumar May 5, 2016 at 8:08 am

      Honestly ‘anonymous’, I read your long message, and thought: really?
      You are ‘lucky to have had four natural births’? I would have thought you were lucky to have four healthy babies.
      Perhaps you were mucked about with the information you were given, and yes that is frustrating. But why did you resent the same medical team who helped you deliver a healthy baby?
      Did you know what pre eclampsia was at the time? Maybe it should have been explained to you better, but by the sounds of things, it can have disastrous consequences.
      I am still in utter awe at your last few sentences: ‘it casts a horrid dark cloud over those first special moments with my baby.’ You are lucky to have those moments with your baby and take your baby home.
      Do you know anyone who wasn’t able to take their baby home?

  • Danushas81@gmail.com'
    Reply Danusha Sivakumar May 5, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Hi Iulia, thanks for your great post! I’m just really confused: how is ‘natural birth’ generally the safer and healthier option? It is an option, full stop.
    I don’t have any formal or informal training in child birth and all. But I have been through child birth twice, and both times the doctors ‘robbed me’ by putting the health of my baby first.
    I was full term with my first, and the doctors induced me as they thought my waters had broken and I hadn’t gone into labour. Few hours later I was taken in for an emergency Caesarian, and had to go for GA bec the doctors couldn’t find the spot for the epidural. My heart sank as I wouldn’t be able to see my baby straight after. And a (small) part of me relives that sadness when I think about it.
    My second baby was scheduled for a c section at 37 weeks.
    Both times, the doctors took over. I mean, how dare they? How dare they have technology to tell them that my first baby’s oxygen levels were going lower?
    How dare the doctors at 37 weeks see on the ultrasound that my second baby was not growing?
    You may resent these doctors who have trained many years to be able to save your baby’s life and your own, but I don’t think it is healthy to plant this resentment seed or harvest it on other expectant women, or on those who have had births that weren’t completely under their control.

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