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Your birth should not make you feel like a failure

Every time the topic of birth is brought up on a parenting forum, there are always heartbreaking comments that follow. What is supposed to be a beautiful experience in the eyes of many women turns into something traumatic. Women who have their hearts set on a certain birthing outcome are sorely disappointed or even shamed by friends and family when they don’t “deliver.”

The most common response to this dilemma is not to focus on a birthing outcome, and you won’t be disappointed. If only it were that simple. I certainly don’t blame women who have a desired birthing scenario, whether natural or medicated. (As an aside, I’ve had many people point out to me that “natural birth” can be an offensive term. I totally get that, but for the sake of this post, I’m using the common term that refers to unmedicated childbirth.)

Pregnancy and impending labor mean that you are totally out of control. There’s nothing wrong with envisioning how you would like things to go and even hoping for an outcome. We are only human. No matter how much you try to tell yourself that you don’t care and “whatever happens, happens,” that’s probably not true. It’s OK to care. It’s OK to get disappointed. It’s not OK to let other people’s judgment make you feel like a failure after childbirth.

One woman describes her shame after giving birth, “I’ve just been trying to explain to DH why I felt like such a failure having to have a section. It still bothers me a lot, I regularly talk to DH like once a week to keep him up to date with how I’m feeling about it all. He says he can’t understand why I feel like such a failure, as he thinks I did brilliantly under terrible circumstances. But I do and I know some of you out there felt like failures after section.” 

Hearing stories like this breaks my heart. While I did not personally have a C-section, I know exactly what it is like to go into labor bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and hoping for the best. I have to say this again because I think it is so important — we are only human. Even though birth is technically a means to an end, you are still a mother, and you are still involved in the process.

If you feel like a failure after childbirth, that is perfectly normal, but please do not hold on to those feelings. No matter how you brought your child into the world, you have done an amazing job. Don’t compare yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

More on childbirth

Born in the Wild takes natural childbirth to the extreme
The real deal on childbirth
Why some moms choose unassisted childbirth

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