Processing birth experiences

When I was a doula, the women I assisted often appreciated being able to discuss the birth and the specifics of their labors with me several days later.  I think there is an inherent desire on the part of most women to emotionally process their births, and having the opportunity to speak with someone who was there, ask questions, and clarify details that weren’t clear at the time is really helpful.  It’s important to have the time to emotionally process the labor and birth experience, especially when things are unusually challenging or when things go differently from how you imagined they would.  Sometimes it’s enough to just have time to think about it on your own, but at other times, it’s really helpful to have feedback from someone else.

Last week when my midwife visited for a follow up check, I had the chance to ask her some questions.  I was having trouble understanding what happened during the birth, why things were so unusual (like the contraction pattern, the extremely l0ng pushing stage, copious amounts of blood immediately after the birth), and wanted to hear her perspective on it.  I don’t usually feel that there’s much to ask about or discuss afterwards, but I found speaking to her about it this time sooo valuable.  As much as I thought about it on my own, I wasn’t getting any more clarity with time or distance on what happened, and was really bothered to think about a future birth following this pattern and still having no better way to understand it.

The first thing that was helpful was hearing her validate that it wasn’t me just being overly emotional about the labor and birth – she confirmed that it was definitely not typical.   I also had some specific questions that I hoped she might have some insight into, and found her responses very helpful.   She has seen many times that when there is a situation that could compromise the baby, the body will adapt and change the labor process to protect the baby.  Apparently this was one such case.  What is fairly certain is that the placenta was partially abrupted (began separating before the baby was born).   If contractions had followed the typical pattern, he wouldn’t have had time to recover from one before another contraction began – hence the long breaks between contractions even until the very end, which gave the baby time to recover (he needed more time for recovery because the placenta wasn’t fully functional).

There were some other questions that I had about specific times when the birth seemed to be held up that the midwife was able to address.  Speaking to her not only answered my questions, but left me with a feeling of intense gratitude for the positive birth outcome, as well as an increased appreciation for the amazing birth process.  Not only was our baby not compromised, he received a 10 on the one minute and five minute Apgars (my midwife rarely gives a ten for the one minute Apgar) – better than any of the others, who all received 9s on the one minute Apgar.


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