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After a Bad Birth Experience

A common teaching in childbirth education classes is the need for mothers to "let go of" or "deal" with issues from previous labor and birth experiences. The belief is that these issues resurface during the next labor and can cause the mother to become angry, fearful or tense, in some cases even preventing her labor from progressing normally. The teachers have learned first hand that this is true.

Just how do these issues resurface? How can having had a bad previous experience set you up for a difficult labor? It is not any secret, if you believe your previous medical treatment was unnecessary, you will have some real issues to deal with through prayer and confession. Even if you did not have a cesarean, but simply did not have the experience you planned for, you may still have some issues to deal with.

Many women have anger about what happened during a previous labor or pregnancy, some have come to hold tight to the bitterness that followed. You may have to overcome anger and resentment you feel about your labor. Anger has a way of making a heart bitter. A bitter heart is unable to love, feel joy, be thankful, or worship God. The bitterness will grow until it seems to dominate your whole life.

Anger and bitterness are sins, and like any other sin, they can hinder you during labor because you are not in a right relationship with God. If you are still uncomfortable or anxious about a previous labor, chances are you have issues of anger or bitterness to deal with.

Your bitterness and resentment may be directed at your caregiver if you believe she did not give you the information you needed to give birth the way you wanted to. Your anger may be directed at your spouse or other support people that you feel did not do enough to support you during your labor, and left you vulnerable to an uncaring doctor. You may resent friends or relatives who had better labor experiences, or were able to achieve what you desired.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.

Do not fool yourself; these feelings of anger, bitterness or resentment will not go away because you are able to achieve the labor of your dreams. Regardless of how great you consider your next experience of giving birth, you will still feel anger, bitterness and resentment for that birth unless you deal with these issues specifically.

In fact, going into your next labor while still hanging on to these feelings will provide you with much unnecessary pain. Why? Anger, Bitterness and resentment are all sins related to being unforgiving and unloving. Sin separates us from God. You cannot be at peace if you are separated from God. Regardless of how hard you try, you will not be able to fully relax during your labor because your spirit will be restless.

If anger and bitterness have taken hold of your heart, your first step will be prayer to confess your sins and ask God to help you overcome them. God desires to restore a right relationship with you, but he is waiting for you to ask. Admit your sin to him and place yourself back under his authority.

After admitting your sin, God will open your eyes to reasons that anger and bitterness have set in your heart. In many cases, this will be from a wrong attitude about yourself, and a focus on yourself rather than loving others. We tend to take on an attitude of, "How dare you do that to me! Don't you know who I am? I deserve to be treated better than this! I deserve the best!"

Taking these attitudes hinders us in being an example of Christ, who humbled himself to the point of obedience to an unjust death on a cross. If anyone had a right to be angry, Christ did. Yet he did not react in bitterness, anger or hatred. He merely asked God to forgive those who had hurt Him.

The Bible tells us that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us. You may be thinking this person does not deserve forgiveness, or can't have it because they have not asked yet. But remember how your Father has forgiven you. You did nothing to deserve your forgiveness, and had not even asked for it when Jesus came to die for you. God's forgiveness was waiting for you to accept it, and your forgiveness needs to be waiting for those who have hurt you to accept it.

Forgiveness can be a difficult thing to give. It requires that you set aside what you believe you are owed or due for your sacrifice, position or work. It requires that you give up your rights, and humble yourself. You must accept that the world does not revolve around you, and you have no right to expect others to treat you as if your desires, health or happiness should be their first concern.

You see, as Christians we are told in the Bible to love others and to place others as more important than ourselves, but it does not say to expect or demand that treatment in return. You are not the judge of others behavior, God will deal with them justly when He chooses. You are only to be concerned with your conduct, the way you treat others.

You must also learn to accept that not everyone is as holy as you are. Some have not yet become Christians, and others have yet to grow to your understanding. God is patient with you as you learn more about Him and what He desires of you, and God expects you to be patient with His other children as they learn and grow.

So, for the sake of your soul, you must learn to forgive those who have hurt, disappointed, abused and rejected you. You must give up your anger, which allows you feel so superior, and humbly acknowledge that this is not the unpardonable act you thought it was.

With the Cesarean Surgery rate reaching 30% chances are you, or someone you know has had major abdominal surgery to have a baby. For women planning a child after a surgical birth, giving birth vaginally may seem like an unreachable goal. If the surgery happened after several hours of what was considered "unproductive" labor, the idea of laboring again can seem pointless. Family and friends may even try to talk you out of what they consider to be an irresponsible fantasy.

Understanding these emotional challenges, and knowing that research has shown it is safe and may even be safer to give birth vaginally rather than have a repeat cesarean, many women are choosing to give birth through a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC). But because of the emotional issues involved, it may take a little more preparation for the VBAC mother to trust that God is in control.

The VBAC mother is not alone. Many American women have experienced highly technical births involving monitors, epidurals, IVs and someone telling them, "your body just needs a little help, not everyone can do this." Some caregivers get impatient with a slow labor, and frustrated that their technology is not able to move the labor as fast as they want it to happen. These mothers, like the VBAC mothers, have major emotional and spiritual issues to deal with before they are ready to give birth.

The truth is, the mother is not a failure. The caregiver may simply have had too narrow a scope of what normal is in labor, and did not understand that it can be normal for a woman to labor for 15, 18, 24, 30 hours or more. There are reasons labors are slow that have nothing to do with the strength of the contractions, so giving medication to increase contraction speed and strength is not always the answer. But not all caregivers are aware of this. They only measure the progress by cervical dilation and contraction timing.

The first step in learning to trust God, is to understand why you did not have the birth you expected last time. The unfortunate truth is that many cesarean surgeries in this country are done for unnecessary reasons. It is possible that your cesarean was unnecessary.

Many caregivers force women with twins or with babies who present in a breech position to undergo cesarean surgery to prevent problems in labor. The truth is that both twins and babies in breech presentations can be born vaginally, but there are very few caregivers who have taken the time to learn the techniques necessary to assist in these situations. Most figure that the increased risk of vaginal birth in these situations is not worth it. However, the decision remains in the hands of the mother, not the caregiver. Mothers with "unusual" circumstances would do well to seek out a doctor with experience in multiple vaginal birth or vaginal birth for babies in breech positions, even if it means leaving your doctor the day before your labor begins.

Some mothers are told that their babies are simply too big to be born, and a cesarean is done for CPD, cephalo pelvic disproportion. True CPD is very rare, because the baby's head molds to the shape of the pelvis, and the pelvis stretches to accommodate the baby's head during labor. In many cases, what was diagnosed as CPD is really just failure of the caregiver to wait for the baby to be born.

Another common reason for a cesarean is fetal distress. But the truth is, many of the things used to "help" labor can actually cause fetal distress. An induced labor can have unnaturally strong and long contractions that cut off the baby's oxygen supply. Pain medications can cause the mother's heart rate to fall, also causing a decrease in the baby's oxygen supply. Most times interventions can be prevented if the mother is given enough time and adequate support. The electronic fetal monitor, used to measure the baby's heart rate and "predict" fetal distress, is often wrong.

There are some real reasons to have a surgical birth. Sometimes the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall too early (this is called placental abruption). This is life threatening for the baby, as her only supply of oxygen is through the placenta. Sometimes the placenta grows over the cervix, blocking the baby's exit (this is called placenta previa). If the exit is blocked, the baby cannot get out. But these problems are very rare, as are true CPD and true fetal distress.>

You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it. As you prepare for the next baby, pay attention to the things you can do differently to achieve different results. You can take a class designed to help you learn to achieve the labor you desire. You can exercise to prepare your birth muscles, and keep your stamina up for a potentially long labor. You can eat well-balanced meals to strengthen your body and to encourage a healthy baby.

You can also choose a caregiver who is experienced with the way you want to give birth. You may have to interview several doctors and midwives before you find the right match for you, but the time spent is well worth it. In the few short months you will be hiring this caregiver as your consultant, you will not be able to change her beliefs about labor and giving birth. If she believes it is dangerous because evolution has left the human body handicapped, she's not the caregiver for you.

When you interview a caregiver ask specific questions about what you have learned from studying, also, ask specific questions about how she practices. Ask her how often she attends a VBAC, and how many of the planned VBAC's she attends are successful. Ask her how often she performs a C-section, ask her how often she performs an episiotomy. Ask her how often she finds her clients need pain medication or medications to strengthen or speed up labor. These are all clues as to whether or not she believes that God is in control, and has created a system that works. You do not want a caregiver who believes God created a flawed system.

Also, during the interview, discuss your last labor experience. Talk about what you did and did not like, and what you would and would not like to happen again. Be specific, such as "Last time I couldn't labor in the tub because my water had broken, this time I would like to labor in the tub, even if the water breaks." Listen to your caregivers responses. Is she supportive of your choices? Does she seem to have faith that your body is able to handle labor? Does she discourage you from trying new things?

Don't forget to tell your caregiver what you would like to try new. Did you labor in bed last time and want to try walking around this time? Let her know and listen to her responses. Do you want to hire a professional labor support? Tell her and find out what she believes about this.

The most important thing is to find a caregiver who has faith in the natural birth process, and is familiar with the type of labor you would like to have. Do not believe that a doctor who routinely uses IVs in labor, orders continuous fetal monitoring and has a 90% episiotomy rate will change the way she practices simply because you want her to. You will set yourself up for failure. Don't argue; spend your time and energy finding a caregiver who is supportive of what you plan to do.

After you have selected your caregiver, and have made decisions about your labor plans, make some decisions regarding a possible repeat cesarean surgery. If it does become necessary, you may be in a better emotional state knowing that you were able to have some things your way.

For example, who would you like to be with you? Most hospitals allow the husband to attend the mother during a cesarean as long as she is not under general anesthesia. Would you like to breastfeed the baby right away? Put that in your plan and ask for help in establishing a good position for your half-numb body. Do you have a preference of the type of medication that is used on you? Put it in your plan. Your caregiver may be able to work with the anesthesiologist to achieve more of your desires that you think.

Some things you simply will not be able to change. You cannot put on your birth plan that your baby will be head down, because you don't have total control over that. But if your baby should be breech, you can try some common procedures to turn the baby, or find an attendant who is experienced in breech birth.

You can't determine how or when labor will start, but you can plan to spend your early and most of your active labor at home where you will be more comfortable and more able to relax. If you have pelvic problems that make a vaginal birth impossible, such as deformity or a bad heal of a broken bone, you can choose to wait for labor to begin spontaneously to have a cesarean.

The important things to remember are to deal with unresolved issues from your last pregnancy, and to actively participate in making decisions for this labor. You will not be in control of the situation when labor begins, but you can use the information that you have learned to respond appropriately to the situation. Then, if a cesarean becomes necessary during this labor, you can be confident that you understood your options and made the best decision for the health of you and your baby.