You hear birth horror stories all the time. Terrible pain, terrible doctors, medical malpractice, lack of respect, loss of dignity. It all seems synonymous with childbirth these days, and from birth to birth trauma to birth rape, the range of experiences mothers go through are as varied as the mothers themselves, and the babies they birth.
From time to time, you even hear about wonderful births. Home births and water births often fall into that ‘wonderful’ birth experience. And every now and then you’ll find someone talk about a perfect birth.
Mine was a perfect birth experience. It was long, 48 hours from the first contraction to the birth, but it was perfect. It brought out the best in me, and showed me the best in my husband. It brought out the deepest dark in me too, which I’m grateful for because I’m a massive advocate for home birth and no one can say ‘but of course you are -you had such an easy birth.’ I didn’t have an easy birth. I had a back to back baby, a back labour. It was long, it was tough, and it restored me in so many ways.
It showed me what I was made of. And the birth – it was perfect. The forty or so minutes of the final stage were transcendental. I would give anything to experience those – the clearest, purest, strongest, most peaceful, calm and gentle 40 minutes of my life – again.
The birth healed me in many ways. A part of my womanhood that had been taken from me many years before were given back to me. I was on a high for weeks. I was powerful. I was strong. I was WOMAN. I ROARED.
And the thought of having another birth terrifies me.
How can a second birth live up to the first? What if something goes wrong? What if my expectation is so high that the reality doesn’t live up to it?
While there’s no end of women who go into their second birth wanting something better, hoping for a nicer birth, a birth where they’re more in control and a birth that can bring them better memories and healing from a previous experience I have never heard anyone express fear for a second birth, because of fear that it might not be as good but does that make the fear any less real?
When I was pregnant with Ameli and planning a home birth, a large number of people suggested that I should plan this birth in a hospital, since I don’t know how my body ‘handles birth’, and then could have the next at home. It angered me at the time and thinking I’d only ever have one child, I’d respond that this was my child, no my trial run.
I have no regrets from that experience, but I can’t possibly be the only person in the world frightened of having a second child in case the birth doesn’t live up to the first? If your first birth experience is a bad one, you can only compare it to the picture you had in your mind, and many women go on to have a healing second birth. But if your second is bad after a good first experience, is it harder to deal with, having a real frame of reference?
Does anyone have any experience of this? I really would love to know.
I Had A Perfect Birth – Now I’m Scared Of Trying Again
Just came looking for this entry especially. My first birth was a hospital snowball of intervention, but my second, a waterbirth in a centre with my husband catching her, en caul. it was amazing. and now I’m in early pregnancy and feeling a bit apprehensive again.
I came across this post as I am 23 weeks pregnant with my 4th. First 2 were hospital births…both yeilding a healthy baby and a vaginal birth but I had SO many regrets about how we got to that point. With #3 we decided on a birth center and my experience could not have been better! I was definately on the “high” you describe afterwards and couldn’t wait to tell others they could have it too. Now that #4 is looming…I’m dealing with fears about labor/delivery. Thank you for sharing your feelings, it feels good to know I’m not the only one!
This is exactly how I feel! I have had two amazing birth experiences–one at home–and the thought that a third birth could go pear shaped terrifies me. In fact, that is one of the main reasons that I don’t want more kids at this point. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. Thanks for your honesty about it.
What you’re feeling makes total sense. But don’t worry yourself so! Of course it will be different! Every birth is different and every kid is different. It will find it’s own ways to be special. When it happens, I have a feeling that you won’t be doing comparison studies in your head. 😉 As for things that go wrong, they do. Birth is a tricky business. But by having a midwife you are setting yourself up for a better chance of success than your hospital-going counterparts! And having a previous vaginal birth sets you up for another, even if you’re transferred to a hospital. Share these concerns with your midwife. She’ll tell you how strong you are and how well trained she is! It’ll be great. You’ll be smiling at this post later. 😉
Most definitely can relate to this! max is 23 months old and i’m 37+3 weeks pregnant with baby boy number 2. my birth with max (despite him being back to back and experiencing back labour also) was perfect. 7hrs from first contraction to holding him in my arms. was hospital birth and had the best midwife possible. was very concerned with not being as ‘lucky’ this time. i guess only time will tell! but the fear of my second birth not living up to the high of the first is what’s prompted me to opt for a waterbirth this time- that way for better or worse reason’s it will at least be DIFFERENT. And then i can separate the two and try not to compare! your not alone in these thoughts but certainly don’t let it put you off!
I think the important thing is to remember that you are strong, and carry that confidence into your second birth. I have had four wonderful birth experiences. My first labor was about 2 hours total super quick, almost no pain until transition. It was empowering. I had twins with my second pregnancy and I was scared, and wondering many of the same things that you are wondering. It was just as wonderful, and almost as fast. Not that fast is a marker of a great birth experience, but it was consistent with my first. I roared again, and so will you. 🙂