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Your Experience Wasn't What You Had Hoped For

Healing from birth disappointment is a part postpartum recovery we don't talk enough about. The level of disappointment and its affects vary greatly for each unique birth experience, but it can be very damaging to your emotional health if you don't take the time and space to adequately process your experience in a way that is healing and constructive.

Here are 5 tips for dealing with birth disappointment:

1. Be open and honest about how you are feeling

Telling your story to people you trust, in a safe space where you can be completely open and honest about how your expereince unfolded and how it's affected you is a great place to start. You may not remember all the details at first, and that is ok. You made feel the need to retell your story many times and new details or emotions may emerge.

If you don't feel like talking about your experience yet, writing it down can also be very therapeutic, as well as recording yourself telling your story.

2. Let others take care of you

However your pregnancy and birth journey has unfolded, it is a major life-changing event that has taken an immense physical, and emotional toll on your body. Allowing others to care for you by nourishing you, allowing you space to rest and relieving you of any family or household obligations is something you need and deserve.

3. No room for guilt

How you feel about your birth matters, and if you are feeling sad or disappointed about your experience those feelings are valid and nothing to feel guilty about! Affirmations can help shift your focus away from guilt such as, 'I am strong and my experience doesn't define me.' 'I allow all the feelings surrounding my birth to flow through me without attachment.'

4. Give yourself time

Though your feelings of disappointment or sadness about your birth may be strong, try to remember you don't have to deal with everything right now or all at once. Give yourself time to enjoy your baby, and also any of the parts of your pregnancy and birth you enjoyed.

5. Try complimentary therapies

There are many complimentary therapies which can help facilitate both physical and emotional healing such as massage, yoga (or other forms of postpartum exercise) and Reiki. Complimentary therapies are never subsitute for proper medical care, but can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine.

The difference between disappointment and trauma

Birth disappointment is most often associated with a feeling of sadness that tends to fade over time. Birth trauma is a shortened term for post-traumatice stress disorder after childbirth and refers to psychological symptoms experienced as a result of having a traumatic birth. Learn more about birth trauma here through the Birth Trauma Association UK

Lastly, any expectations you may have had prior to giving birth aren't the reason for your disappointment and any preparations you made were important to your journey. More likely your disappointment stems from lack of continuity of care, lack of differentiated maternity care, lack of good communication with your care providers, coercion and also the unpredictability of birth. You can both be happy you and your baby are alive and doing well and also be disappointed about your birth experience.

How did you feel about your birth experience?

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