Grieving Your Birth Experience When Things Don't Go As Planned – Latched on Love

Grieving Your Birth Experience When Things Don't Go As Planned


I think most pregnant women envision their birthing experience many, many times throughout the course of their pregnancy. Isn't that why birth plans exist? Because you are supposed to have a plan for how it will go, right? The options for this plan are endless: hospital or home birth, midwife or doctor, natural or medicated, water birth or in bed, c-section or vaginal...the list goes on and on. We all know what we want, but what happens when nothing goes according to plan?

If you only get one thing from this article, I want it to be this: IT IS OKAY TO GRIEVE THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WHEN IT WASN'T HOW YOU WANTED IT. It doesn't mean you aren't grateful to have your sweet baby here or that you are being hormonal. Giving birth is such a magical, amazing, and emotional experience and you want it to be positive. Sure it is painful but I think we would all like to remember it fondly. 

I, like many other soon to be moms, envisioned my birthing process throughout my pregnancy. I was going to deliver in a birthing center with a midwife. I was going to do it drug free and labor in the tub for most of my labor. I hoped my water would break and that the labor wouldn't be too long. I would give birth vaginally and then hold my sweet baby girl on my chest and breastfeed her and gaze at her for hours and hours with my husband. Seems realistic, right? Unfortunately not so much.

I went into labor late Friday night with really irregular contractions that came on strong and were very painful. I paced the house in the quiet night excited that we would finally be meeting our baby girl soon. I was full of hope for the magic of birth. By morning, I thought we needed to hurry to the hospital so we made the 45 minute drive there and after being monitored in L&D, they sent me home. Wait what? I didn't know that could happen. I thought when you make the dramatic drive to the hospital in excruciating pain, it was game time. Wrong again.

I labored at home in the tub for the rest of the day. My midwife said if I wanted a natural birth, my best option was to labor at home as much as possible. I literally was in so much pain and my contractions came every 5-8 minutes but never got closer together than that. By about 5pm, I threw in the towel and told my husband it was time to go back to the hospital. I had been in labor for 15 hours and I was exhausted and done. 

Thankfully, they admitted me. I was GBS+ so they started antibiotics (another thing I didn't want!) and eventually broke my water and started me on pitocin (also not in the plan). I couldn't do it anymore and asked for an epidural (no shame but not what I wanted). And because I might be the unluckiest person alive, I needed three, yes THREE epidurals before it worked. 

By the time I had been in labor for about 24 hours, the dreaded c-section was brought up since they were getting concerned about baby girl's heart rate. NO NO NO. I had basically given up everything else I wanted, come on! Thank god for my wonderful midwife because without her I think I would have ended up in a c-section. I was almost 10 cm dilated so she said it was time to push. After 45 minutes my sweet girl was born. i held her on my chest for maybe a minute or two but something wasn't right. She wasn't crying and she was purple. At that point they whisked her away and I didn't hold her again until days later in the NICU and didn't get to try to breastfeed her until days later as well. I was discharged from the hospital and went home without my baby. Not at all what I envisioned and such a horrible feeling. 

Our daughter is healthy and happy now but her birth was incredibly traumatic for me. I cry almost every time I talk about it in detail. When I see photos of new moms on Facebook holding their baby swaddled in that hospital blanket right after birth, my heart hurts a little because I am jealous. Of course I'm so happy for them, but I wish I had had that. And you know what, that's ok. 

I've grieved my birth experience and come to terms with it. It will always be a traumatic memory and that's fine. I love my sweet girl more than anything in the world and she has certainly made me a stronger person. 

Did you have a birth experience that didn't go as planned? How did you cope with your feelings about it?

February 23, 2016 by Erin M
Tags: Mom Life
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Ashley said:

After my daughter was born (via c-section, not what I had planned, and being put under general anesthesia, again not planned) I was not able to hold her or breastfeed her for 3 hours, once I woke up from anesthesia. I was so incredibly happy and overwhelmed with love once I woke up and was able to hold/feed her. Once I got home from the hospital the emotions and feelings started to show. I was feeling down about how my birth went. It was almost as if I didn’t even give birth to her and someone just gave her to me (because I was put to sleep and didn’t see her actual birth). I truly felt crazy and embarrassed. I only shared these feelings with my mom because I didn’t want anyone to know I was upset. I would cry randomly throughout the day about it. What helped me get through it was reading other women’s birth stories and their struggles and knowing I wasn’t alone. Breastfeeding also helped a ton because it helped form that special bond that we missed out on with the birth. :)

Erin @ Latched on Love

Erin @ Latched on Love said:

Hi Ashley! Thanks so much for sharing :) It’s so hard and even harder coming to terms with how you feel about it. Breastfeeding was such an amazing way for us to bond as well since we didn’t get a chance right after her birth. I hope other mamas read this and your comment and know they are not alone either!


Bonnie said:

Thank you for this article, I felt crazy still nearly 5 months later sad about my experience. When I shared that I was sad I often heard “but look at your beautiful boy he’s healthy now” and yes my head knows this and I agree but my heart still needs to be heard. My experience started with a scheduled c-section he was a big breech baby and he would not turn. I knew this weeks before. (I’m jealous of women who got to have labor! I never experienced a contraction) and I hear “you are so lucky you missed all that pain” in the weeks leading to the surgery I made my peace with having to go this route. I too felt like I just was given a baby I didn’t see him or feel him come out of my body. Logic tells me yes he’s yours but it doesn’t feel right. Like you Erin he had a complication and ended up in nicu for a week, on iv and feeding tube and I couldn’t hold him as he was in distress. I was discharged without him and it was awful, I live about 10 minute walk from the hospital and at 2am tried to force my husband to take me to the hospital and he didn’t understand, I put on my shoes and started walking! I was still recovering from the csection. My husband came and picked me up at the end of the block and held me as I cried. When we finally were able to bring him home breastfeeding was not successful for us, many lactation consultants many tears and finally I resigned to pumping for as long as possible to give him at least the breastmilk. I still feel a great need to explain to people how the odds were stacked against us and that I tried to breastfeed. All of it has been hard for me. I also had a complicated pregnancy with nausea and sickness for 9 months, gestational diabetes and insulin injections. None of this is what I wanted.. But I did want my little one..and as tough as the road was I love him so much and he is worth all the struggle. I just wish I could express the sadness and not be told “it is what it is and he’s healthy now”

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