Childbirth…as traumatic as a midair QANTAS flight emergency?

At, we often hear traumatised women describe their birth as a car crash, or a train wreck.  You might say, “But that’s just birth”, and dismiss these women as especially ‘sensitive’ or ‘over-reacting’.    But perhaps, could it be an entirely accurate analogy, to compare ones traumatic birth to a vehicular disaster of epic proportions?

By the authors of new book, How to Heal a Bad Birth: making sense, making peace and moving on.


No Text : traumatic as a mid-air flight emergency?

Remember a few years ago, when that QANTAS jet had a gaping hole in it and performed an emergency landing?  The TV news footage showed the passengers arriving in Melbourne on another jet, and embracing their loved ones.  Most were crying, some were shaking, and all were visibly affected by the experience.

Passengers told of the few minutes when they wondered if they would die, as the plane plummeted 19, 000 feet, their voices choked with emotion as they recalled their extreme fear, panic and anxiety.  And I imagined these people going home with their families, who welcomed them at the airport with outstretched arms.  They would likely be cosseted and fussed over, offered comforting food and drink, and their moments of terror openly listened to with shock and interest and appropriate “Oh My God’s” from listeners as they talked about their experience.

But would anyone say to them, “At least you didn’t die.”, and try to shoosh them up if they tried to talk about it?  Would anyone tell them, “Well, I understand that plane trip didn’t go quite how you’d planned, but all’s well that end’s well, hey?”. Of course not.  And would family understand if these people were a bit shaky for a while afterwards, and needed to feel safe?  I’d say they would.

But imagine the same scene after a woman has a traumatic birth.  Is there anyone waiting for her with outstretched arms?  Generally not.  Women after a traumatic birth are usually not cosseted and fussed over, or comforted beyond a perfunctory ‘there, there’.

As a community, we seem quite comfortable with telling a woman traumatised from her birth, “At least you have a healthy baby.”, and placating her with, “I understand that birth didn’t go quite how you’d planned, but all’s well that ends well, hey?”.    And then she has to learn how to look after a child, cope with sleep deprivation –  usually without the hormones designed to support her with this due to the trauma of the birth – and tackle a mountain of laundry, cooking and home duties. Welcome to motherhood.

So how can we compare the possibility of death by plane crash to the meeting of one’s healthy child through birth?  Best thing to do here, is look at the definition of a traumatic event, and what response warrants a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

According to this Manual, the stressor or event that causes PTSD should involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or damage to self or others. And the person’s response should involve intense fear, helplessness or horror.  Note that it says “actual OR THREATENED”.

So,,,and this is really important… even if everything SEEMS completely ok to an outsider during the birth… if a woman PERCEIVES that she or her baby is threatened with damage; or FEELS horror, fear and helplessness at a procedure…even if this procedure is ROUTINE to medical staff; she can experience that as a traumatic event.

This is REGARDLESS of her level of pain relief at the time.

It is REGARDLESS of the fact that she and her baby leave the hospital alive and physically healthy.

The truth about birth, traumatic or otherwise, is this : we do not just leave our birth at the hospital.  Birth’s impact has a ripple effect on a woman’s whole life.  If it was a positive experience, then that radiates outwards like warm sunshine on everything that happens postnatally.  But if it was a negative experience, then it can feel like a domino effect – the woman keeps getting knocked down with every challenge.  She is ‘behind the eight ball’ to start with, and that ripple effect means that the birth’s impact spreads to all aspects of her life.

But this does not stop people telling a woman to just ‘get over it’.  Why?

Perhaps we need to look again at that dramatic plane flight.  The big question is…why it is understood by virtually everyone that those passengers might need some time to process that event?  The answer is : because we EXPECT air travel to be safe, easy, simple, and uneventful.  And when it is NOT those things, we understand that it might have an impact.

But with birth, most people EXPECT it to be painful, horrible, unbearable, out-of-control, and unpleasant.  That’s what it’s like in the movies & TV shows, and often in the stories passed down through generations.  So when a woman expresses that her birth was difficult, or traumatic, our culture’s response is : so?  Isn’t that just birth?

And that’s the biggest myth of all – that birth is bad. But that’s just not true. The way most women experience birth in our culture IS bad…and that’s not their fault.   But birth itself is not bad.  Unfortunately, most people in our culture have either had bad births, seen bad births, or been birthed in a traumatic way themselves and had the story regaled to them for years.

Birth can be good.  Which can be a hard thing for a woman traumatised by her birth to hear. But really, it explains one of the reasons that it hurts so much emotionally when a birth is traumatic…because IT’S NOT MEANT TO BE THAT WAY.  Nature didn’t intend it to be that way.  But because most births in our culture ARE that way, it is very difficult for most people to ‘come to the party’ and admit that maybe your birth COULD have an impact on you.  Because then they’d have to face the multitude of myths and misconceptions thrown their way by the media and family horror stories over the years.  And that’s too hard.  A woman’s distress post birth can cause massive discomfort in others who need the myth to continue.

If we return to the plane flight analogy again…imagine the passenger’s family and friends perhaps NOT acknowledging that the experience was tumultuous and fraught with potential disaster.  Imagine if you had lived through that flight, and a few days later the people around you are saying, “Are you STILL going on about that? Can you just move on?  You’re fine, you’re healthy, so what’s the problem?”, and meanwhile you are struggling with flashbacks, anxiety, and a need to debrief and talk about what happened, to try and make sense of it…but no-one would acknowledge your situation.  Sound isolating?

The truth about traumatic birth is…validation is difficult to find in our culture. The experience of trauma after birth can be intensely isolating if it goes unacknowledged.  So it is up to us to re-educate ourselves and those around us, so they are able to support women in the upheaval and aftermath of birth trauma.

If we do not just leave our birth at the hospital, if we take it with us into our postnatal life, then it matters when it’s not right and it’s not good and it doesn’t feel safe.

Just this simple acknowledgement can be the beginning of a healing journey for a woman impacted by her birth.  It may be her Boarding Pass to feeling supported, validated, and understood.  And it may lead to her maiden flight of embracing motherhood as she had always wanted.

Melissa and Debby are the authors of How to Heal a Bad Birth : making sense, making peace and moving on. This ground-breaking self-help book takes the reader on a ‘Choose your own adventure’ style of healing journey… because every woman’s path to healing will be different. The pages are filled with heartfelt quotes from women, facts and insights about birth trauma, and ideas for dealing with common emotions that arise such as sadness, guilt, feelings of failure, anger and partner issues. There are step-by-step tools for healing, and immense support and compassion contained within these pages. Say the authors : “For the past 15 years we’ve been working with women after a traumatic birth in our ‘Healing From Birth’ support sessions. Because we’ve see the impact birth can have, we are gentle with women’s hearts as they step forward and acknowledge that they are ready to take the journey to healing. And we are with you all the way.”  See for more details and to purchase worldwide.


©Birthtalk2008, Updated 2010



  1. So helpful (even 6 years on) every word rings true so please keep writing

    1. Thanks, Erin – lovely to see you here, and thank you for your encouragement 🙂

    2. After still struggling with a traumatic birth 6 years on (almost to the day) I scrolled down after reading this and yours was the first comment I saw. Just the validation that 6 years on is “ok” and I’m clearly not the only one has helped a little. I often question what’s wrong with me.. it can’t possibly still be the birth as it was some time ago now. But to read your one sentence, I just had to let you know that you had helped someone else. Thank you.

  2. Lucie · · Reply

    “As traumatic as a midair flight emergency?”.. my answer YEP!

    Was I treated the same as if I’d been through a midflight emergency?…. NOPE!

    1. Me neither, Lucie – sad but true 😦 Thanks for your comment.

  3. “you’ve got a healthy baby” just isn’t what you need to hear when your birth isn’t what you had imagined or hoped for. a well written article.

    1. Thanks Kylie – we appreciate your feedback 🙂

  4. Jessica · · Reply

    Thankyou!!! I feel this article was written about my first birth. Thank you for showing someone out there ‘gets it’!

    1. You are most welcome, Jessica. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  5. Kerri · · Reply

    That’s exactly how I described my first birth experience! I felt like I had been hit by a bus and was speechless, dumbfounded after my son’s arrival, tryng to comprehend what had just happened to me. I was not emotionally supported or respected by my health carers who had sent my loved ones home during my first birth. Second time round the physical path of the birth went very much the same way but the emotional support I received from the staff and my loved ones made it a completely different more positive, empowering experience.

    Never underestimate the importance of the emotional journey of birth… it is both a physical and mental path and the mental health of new mothers is something that should be highly regarded and cared for.

  6. I’ve been trying to articulate this idea for a few years now and this analogy hits the nail on the head.

  7. Thank you for articulating this so well. The Bible verse “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice” comes to mind. Such simple, compassionate advice, yet it’s amazing how much courage can be required to follow it in the face of our own histories and discomforts.

  8. It is so amazing to find a collection of women who feel the same way as I did/do. 6 months post partum and the topic is still a taboo one, leaving me feeling like there is no one to talk to – no one who won’t say “at least your baby is healthy.” It’s not about that, it is so much more and although I am sad there are so many of us out there, it sure is great not to have to keep silent for fear of reproach.

  9. It is certainly a light bulb moment for me to read about the negative experience having a long-lasting domino effect. This is exactly how I felt after my first child was born. The birth itself was textbook, however, needing a few stitches, the dr. (who was pregnant by the way) stitched me up so tight that I could barely sit and walking was agony. Let alone trying to sit up and learn how to breastfeed. This all culminated in chunks hanging off my nipples that took weeks on a breast pump instead of feeding to heal, and 3 consecutive infections in my stitches. I had to have them cut out after a week in the GP’s office with no pain relief, however the relief was immediate. I could suddenly walk at more than a shuffle, and sitting was agony free. However, the lasting psychological and physical effects were horrendous. I was an emotional mess for at least a year, and in between all the normal motherhood dilemmas, I had to stretch out my vagina manually, was a mess of steroid creams and could not even attempt sex for almost exactly ten months after the birth. Life was terrible and when someone asked me surely it was all worth it? was honestly a struggle to say yes. Having recently given birth to a second child in the last six months, I was calling this baby my ‘do-over baby’, and guess what..he was! The birth was text book again – except that he was a massive 4.8 kilos (10lb 11ounce) with only some tearing that my private Dr did a beautiful job of stitching.. Not one ounce of stress, I haven’t had one single day of crying since his birth, and life is honestly the best it has ever been! I am spreading that sunshine EVERYWHERE!! And sex after 7 weeks!! Who can believe it!

  10. Just discovered your blog and this post. Really addresses some key points in helping mothers understand that their (subjective) experiences of birth are just as (or more) valuable as the objective facts. You may already be aware, but I;d love to share another resource/expert:
    Pam England (author of “Birthing From Within”). She herself had cesarean birth trauma, and her long journey of understanding and healing is what led her to write BFW. Her life’s mission and work is to help prevent and heal emotional birth trauma. She takes a holistic, multi-faceted approach in working with mothers (and fathers!), as well as all professionals who work with women in the childbearing year. She is doing a number of Birth Trauma-related workshops and presentations in 2011, including the ICAN conference in St. Louis, USA in April, the DoulaCare conference in Toronto in May, and Birth Story Medicine weekend trainings for birth workers in various locations. You can read more at her blog:
    at her website:, and of course at
    Thank you for continuing to bring this important topic to light.
    ~Virginia Bobro
    Managing Director,
    Birthing From Within

  11. Hi
    Just read the article after you reposted it to Facebook. Great article. Can I just add one thing. People understand if the midair trauma people are reluctant to try airtravel for a very long time afterwards or at all but as women we are expected (mostly) to have more children but people don’t understand that while we might want more children we don’t want to go through birth again. As I write this I am planning a completely different birth for the baby I am carrying now to the one I had with DS that resulted in PTSD etc etc. I am planning a homebirth with people I trust to look after and respect me. People still tell me how risky and dangerous homebirth is and I should go to hospital, just in case but look at it this way. Would anyone tell the midair trauma people that train or boat travel is “too risky” and they should get on a plane again “just in case” the boat sinks or train derails.
    Thanks and look forward to more articles.

    1. And then there are those of us who are told that will physically never be able to “get on an air plane” again. And not by choice, but by necessity. That also stings and is very hard to just “get over”.

  12. […] Here is another great article that compares the trauma of a mid-air scare with birth trauma, and how society supports some traumatised people but silences others:… […]

  13. This is me kinda in reverse. I’ve had reasonably straight forward births up until now, no *real* trauma, oh yes a few things went against my requests and expectations, but there’s nothing I can do about them now and they didn’t have too big an impact at the time. What I mean by “this is me in reverse” is that as I prepare to birth my 5th baby I’m being confronted with so many stipulated and unnecessary interventions simply so this baby’s birth meets the requirements of the hospital. I feel that if I go ahead and purchase the ticket to the flight that has been booked, planned and the only option given to me at the hospital I may as well be jumping onto that plane with the gaping hole in it – the threatened cascade of intervention and trauma relating to that is staring at me and there is no way that I can climb the stairs and board that plane no matter how much certain friends ridicule, scoff and roll their eyes at me and my concerns. They don’t see that gaping hole staring at me, they see the fake smile of the hostesses and pilots (midwives and obstet) telling me that all will be ok, the plane will hold together – for now….

    This is the reason I have chosen to homebirth this baby, I’m staying home and avoiding that flight all together…

  14. Oh my goodness, did I ever need to see this. I had my baby 8 days ago – it was a traumatic birth and so blogged about it.

    Fortunately, I started dispaying symptoms of shock/stress in the hospital so medical staff took it seriously and intervened. As a result, family and friends took it seriously too. I’m sure if I wasn’t being treated medically for this, other’s reactions would not have been so supportive and understanding.

  15. Oh, wow. This puts so many of my feeling about my daughter’s birth into words that almost anyone can understand, even if they haven’t experienced it themselves.
    I had planned a midwife-attended water birth at a birthing center. No drugs, no interventions. Just me, my husband, and our baby coming into this world, into our arms.
    What I got was pre-eclampsia, a transfer to a hospital, an induction, strangers looking after me and telling me how things would be, someone breaking my bag of waters instead of it happening on its own, no one telling me when my situation got bad enough to warrant drastic measures, and the shock of being told I needed a cesarean. No one sat down and explained things to me. Not before, not after. No one said to me, you can only get to THIS point before we need to do the cesarean. I had the RIGHT to know what was going on, but instead I was left out of my OWN care.
    Then came the cesarean. I’d had a back-up birth plan in case this procedure became necessary, though I’d been certain I’d never have to go through it, so I hadn’t researched the procedure itself. I only had what I’d read in other women’s birth plans and the basic knowledge most of us laymen have about c-sections.
    My birth plan included having the drape dropped when my baby was born so that I could watch. I wanted my husband and child to stay in the room with me until I was ready to go to recovery. I wanted to have a clear head as I took in what was going on.
    Instead, they refused to drop the drape, and we could not have both a camera AND a camcorder in the room (despite the presence of two support people for me who could’ve each held one) and I was dead-set on having pictures for her baby album. So I could not watch my own child being born, not even on video. I was not allowed to be witness to that first precious moment of her life. I was given further drugs after the initial spinal block, which no one informed me would happen, so I was very fuzzy and shaky and kept drifting in and out of awareness. I remember her being born, but not clearly. I remember her cry, but the details aren’t there. I remember that one of my arms kept levitating off of the table and I could not control it (though I was grateful to not be strapped down, because that would have panicked me so badly). My husband and baby left the room without me. I felt so very alone after that. I had carried that child in my body for 40 weeks, and suddenly she was in an entirely different room than I was. I am almost certain that they also gave me a dose of drugs at the end of the surgery, because I became extremely fuzzy and docile. I was in a state of drugged-out “bliss” (not that I would call it that now) as I was wheeled back to my room. My child was then placed in my arms. She nursed. My mother then took her to hold her. I have no memories of holding her this first time, other than knowing that I did it. I have a very fuzzy recollection of her being in my arms, but there are no feelings attached and that breaks my heart. I can never get that moment back. It was taken from me.
    Now, when I describe my birth experience as being “traumatic”, my family looks disgusted with me and denies that it could possibly be that way. They just keep repeating the same painful phrase over and over again: “Well, at least you got a healthy baby out of it. That’s all that *really* matters.” Excuse me? When did I EVER say I wasn’t grateful for her health?! I most certainly AM! But SHE was in perfect shape. SHE was not the reason for the c-section. *I* was. And *I* am the one who has had to deal with the emotional backlash ever since. My family cannot fathom why I would be so fixated on having a vaginal birth. But they trust the medical profession completely. They take every opportunity to bad-mouth my midwife because she “should have done something for me sooner”. Like WHAT? Induce me earlier and have the baby be born with immature lungs?
    Because of all of this, I am now struggling with moderate to severe post-partum depression, what I believe is at least moderate PTSD, and severe issues with bonding with my now six-month-old daughter. I do not feel like a mother. I do not feel like a woman. I feel like a failure. Like my body failed me. And it wasn’t until LAST NIGHT that I finally got someone related to my case to discuss what happened to me. And that was my midwife, who wasn’t even THERE for most of it, since she didn’t have hospital privileges. She did her best, and it has helped me somewhat, but the part I will never get over is not being part of my own child’s birth.
    After the c-section, I had severe anxiety about the incision site. Every time I accidentally touched it or had to deal with it for any reason, I would freak out and start having a meltdown. I couldn’t deal with the fact that my body had been cut open against my will. That my child had been torn from me, and my first memories of her taken cruelly by fate and the haze of drugs.
    Why, out of all the women in the world who would PREFER a c-section, did this have to happen to ME? ME, who planned for a natural, beautiful birth. ME, who wanted to hold her child the moment she entered the world. ME, who wanted to become a mother by birthing her own child. Why?

    1. Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story. We are so sorry that you had to go through so much to meet your daughter. I felt very similarly to you after my own traumatic birth, that also ended in a caesarean. Have you made contact with your local ICAN (International Caesarean Awareness Network) chapter? They have chapters across the US, & could likely offer you a great deal of understanding & support. I want you to know that it is possible to feel much better about your birth – speaking from my own experience. You are already taking the first steps by recognising that your birth was traumatic, & talking about it in places where that is understood & validated(like on this blog). We encourage you to contact your local ICAN chapter, & continue the path to healing. Thank you so much for commenting.

    2. You just spoke my story and feelings! Thank you!

  16. Thank you so much. I don’t talk about the PTSD I was treated for after my girls’ were born 3 years ago. It seemed shameful, like I was insulting “real” trauma victims and service men and women. My dad is a police officer who suffers from PTSD – I didn’t want to undermine his struggles by talking about my own horrors.

    My husband nearly lost all three of us that night and in the 48 hours following. I was never comforted, because I never let on how terrified I was until my life came crashing down around me 18 months later. I wish this had been around for me to read then.

    Thank you, so very very much.

    1. You are very welcome, Meaghan. Thank you for sharing you own experience, it is so important that other women hear that they are not alone in how they are feeling.

  17. I always wanted to know why a cesearean had to happen to me when I did not want one…. why my body failed me not once but twice when I tried for a vbac and it didn’t go to plan. Why others had so much control over my 1st son’s birth and no one seemed to listen to what I had to say at the time. I have dealt with years of anger, dissapointment and anxiety over his birth, and had to deal with that during my next 2 baby’s births (which were much better) . After 2 unplanned and 1 planned ceasearean I have come to accept that my body did not fail… I just had 2 rounds of bad luck, and a hospital system that deals with situations in a routine, policy driven fashion. And that the most important part of birth (wheter vaginal or ceseraen) is being respected, listened to, treated as an individual with particular desires for their birth, After having 3 ceasereans I think it is important for people to respect that a ceserean may not be the way you want to give birth, even if you feel its the best physical option for a certain birth it does not automatically mean you want to have it, and that emotional respect and support should be offered by your health carers so you can get through it feeling as strong as possible. I hear your anger and pain, I understand exactly what you mean. Please be easier on yourself, you did your best in the midst of your carers leting you down bitterly. Birth does not have to be like that, even though it was an emergency c-section. My 2nd emergency c-section was one of the best experiences of my life because evryone in that surgery had emernce respect for my desires and feelings. I was made to feel that I had done an amazing, wonderful by my health carers even when it did not go to plan….I can’t tell you what a difference that makes compared to whe they are not ‘there’ for you and you feel alone. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I hope you can process why it was such a cruddy experience and understand why your feelings and emotions are so intense… it really helps to talk it out and out and out

    1. Kerri, thanks so much for your heartfelt reply, and for sharing your insights gained from your own experiences. We feel so privileged to have been there as you worked through the aftermath of your first son’s birth, and we have seen you grow in strength and confidence as you processed his birth, and prepared for your next birth. You have so much courage and compassion, and we thank you for being here to support other women. xx

  18. “Nature didn’t intend it to be that way.” This is the danger with anthropomorphizing nature.
    In “nature”, a large percentage of mothers and babies die. “Nature” doesn’t give a damn. IT DOESN’T. You know why? All that matters, for evolution, is that enough survive to continue the species. That’s all.
    Nature doesn’t care about your happiness. Nature doesn’t care about your birth trauma.
    Now, you’re mixing up two ideas in your post – one, that “bad births” are the fault of “the culture – they aren’t birth is much easier now than it ever was: and two, that women’s pain and suffering is swept under the rug and no one wants to hear about it. Well that’s true. But to act like modern ways of birth are THE reason for birth trauma is ridiculous. Birth has always been one of the most traumatic experiences in a woan’s life.

    1. Hi, JR, thanks for your comment. We have chosen to reply to your comment in a separate blogpost titled “Birth Trauma – Does Nature Give a Damn?”, linked here : We appreciate that you have taken the time to share your thoughts, and hope you get a chance to read our reply.

  19. Thank you for sharing this. My kids are 13 and almost 16 but I still feel like I missed out on the “magical” birth experience that everyone talks about. My first baby, my water broke at home at 4am, so they sent me to the hospital, where we walked (no room available) for over 6 hours with little progress. We finally got a room when my ob suggested we re-break my water to get things moving around. She also suggested I might want an epidural, which I declined…until that first REAL contraction hit, then I was begging for the anesthesiologist. I got it, which of course slowed down progress — and kept me on my back, which was not happy (compressed disc). Then I got pitocin to speed things up. I labored with the epidural until around midnight…but the epidural only worked partly. To keep my back from cramping up, they would roll me from side to side…and whichever side was up, didn’t get the pain meds as effectively. I finally passed transition and they told me I could push…but I was honestly so exhausted that I actually asked for a c-section. But, they made me push for over 2.5 hours — I never felt like pushing, my legs were like logs, and it hurt up near my ribs when I pushed, but no one would listen to me. Finally the new ob who had come on call just about when I started pushing, whom I never met, and who had the bedside manner of a string bean, stuck his hand up my v-jay-jay with no explanation — I felt like he was tearing me apart. It turns out my son had been coming out not quite face-up, not quite top-of-head first. No wonder I couldn’t push him out…so off for the c-section. Then he was whisked away while I went to recovery and shivered for an hour because of the drugs. A whole hour before I could hold my son (with a pacifier, which we had explicitly asked not to have given) and attempt to nurse. I felt cheated.

    For my second child, the day I went into to ob to get my pregnancy test, I asked her to schedule my c-section. No way I was going through all THAT again. The worst part of the c-section was getting the damn iv in my hand…and then, once again, having the shakes from the drugs and when I did finally see her, they had already given her a bottle because her blood sugar was a little low! I just couldn’t seem to get a break. I missed the bonding experience both times. And I’ve always felt like a failure, like I had no reason to feel bad, that you just can’t have everything perfectly the way you want.

    Thanks for letting me vent that.

    1. Hi,

      I’m so sorry you did not get to spend that special time with your babies when they were born and they were given back with pacifier and bottle fed. That really makes you feel like no one is listening and that what you say does not matter. Well I’d like to say those feelings matter, are completely valid and I can understand why you still think about it all these years later. You are the most important person in that room and your wishes should have been respected!! Those first moments with your baby are precious and you NEVER get them back. Like you, 2 of my babies were not with me after they were born and it really disapoints me and I know it always will. I also experienced my daugther staying with me the whole time after her cesearean birth and wow, what great precious moments, so different to when they are seperated from you. I’m so sorry you feel that was taken away.

      1. Thank you Kerri — and I’m so sorry you din’t get to experience that closeness with your other 2 babies as well. I’m finding that participating in this discussion feels like the beginning of getting over that loss…

  20. clairzilla · · Reply

    Hi. I remember reading this entry in the weeks preceding my daughter’s birth, but then it was quickly forgotten about until today while I was searching for something else, Google popped up with this entry. I can’t thank you enough for writing it. I remember the first time I read it thinking that it was an excellent analogy and well written piece. Now that I am a birth trauma survivor, I really really appreciate the words. Thanks so much.

  21. So often these are the words I heard following the birth of both children. The second birth was a catalyst for breaking up my marriage as I felt even my husband didn’t “save” me from what was done to me. I was crying as they wheeled me in for a second caesar even though I desperately wanted a VBAC. I was crying as the anaesthetist put the needle in my spine. I was crying not from happiness but from the fact NO-ONE was listening to me or standing up for me. Not my husband or my doula. I had started dilating but because I wasn’t contracting and things weren’t moving on their schedule, even though my baby was ok, I was forced into an unnecessary caesar. The first one was ignorance and blind faith in the medical profession and all the horror stories you inevitably hear when you’re pregnant. But the second one I knew better, I’d been to Birthtalk and knew the research etc. But in the end I chose the wrong support people and I felt abandoned by the people who were supposed to be my gatekeepers at the end. This story validates all my feelings from both my first and second births but I wouldn’t dare talk to some people about them even eight years on. I still have strong feelings about what happened but as it is not socially accepted by society to feel like that I say nothing. I even stopped coming to Birthtalk as I felt like I had “failed” you by being railroaded a second time when I knew better. And now eight years on I think I would love to go to a meeting but because of birth trauma being socially unacceptable I don’t feel I can show up because nobody around me will understand the need to. Trust me when my daughter is old enough to discuss this with I will be building her up to have the faith in herself to birth how nature intended. I will support her every step of the way and I WILL be a mumma bear who REFUSES to allow anyone to railroad her like I was!!!! Thanks for all the education you provide to women.

    1. Thank you SO much for sharing your experience. We are so sorry to hear how things went in your second birth – and we can completely understand that you were crying as you had the needle. We are glad to hear that our article validates your feelings, but we are just so sad to hear that you felt you couldn’t come back to Birthtalk after your second birth. We want you to know, very clearly, that we do not EVER see a woman as having failed us. EVER. We don’t even think that way – we just want to support you WHATEVER happens. It sounds like YOU may have been failed – perhaps by your health carers, and perhaps your support team, and even perhaps by us, if you were anticipating that we would be disappointed in you for a ‘less than great’ experience. We are so sorry you felt unable to return. We want you to know that you would be welcomed with open arms…and that you would have been, 8 years ago, too. Thank you for being so honest about the impact of your traumatic births. And hopefully we might see you back at Birthtalk one day? (I know you feel that no-one around you would understand your reasons to attend, however, we do phone consultations too, so maybe no-one would need to know?) x

      1. I know I would have been welcomed back with open arms but I felt so disappointed in myself for so long for what I allowed to happen to me. Even rereading my post back I realised for the first time EVER I’ve verbalised that it was a catalyst for my marriage break down – I’ve never admitted that to anyone before. I had such a great excuse to get rid of him that nobody ever questioned where the cracks started. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to return……

  22. I have been more fortunate than some and had people around me after my birth who understood it wasn’t good. They tried hard to understand and let me talk and cry. It’s now, 8 months on that I am finding it hard to talk about it. I have started looking into getting some help to deal with that first birth because we want more kids but I know I have a lot of fear now. I feel like I have opened an emotional can if worms. It is getting me down and I am finding it hard to vocalise to people my feelings. Reading these other posts has hit home. I fear having another experience like my first (emergency c-sec under a general). The thing I am struggling with the most is those missed moments with my daughter at her birth. I was so drugged out I can even remember when I did get to see her I didn’t want to hold her for long. I wanted it but I didn’t feel I could. It didn’t feel safe. It hurts still that they r my memories of meeting her. It just hurts.

  23. I’ve shared this excellent blog post before, early on in my diagnosis, however I’m sharing it again because it is so good:… […]

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