Saturday, July 31, 2010

Birth Regrets

Since I've had Sam, almost all of my pregnant friends have given birth naturally, with no drugs. While I am extremely happy for them, each time it happens I feel more and more regret about my own birth experience. That little twinge of regret gets deeper each time, and I honestly feel like a complete failure. Granted, none of these women had 32 hour labors like I did, but I still feel like that shouldn't be an excuse.

I know the important thing is that I have a healthy baby, right? Then why do these feelings keep hanging on? It's been 3 months now, and I still feel depressed and full of regret that I had to give in and get an epidural. I feel like I failed at giving birth, and I wish I could do it over again. I hate that I feel this way about what should be a wonderful experience.


Free Range Chick said...

I had the same feeling about my first child. I had the epidural and I feel like I could of gone without. I went without with my second child and am happy about that choice. Disclosure: both of my labors were 6 hrs.

In the end, having your little girl is the important part. Like me, you were new to all this baby stuff and probably scared and not as knowledgeable as you could of been, no matter how much you read up on it. All you can do is move forward and plan for your next child.

Even with doing everything "like I wanted to" with my second, I still feel guilt for the choices I made with my first - getting an epidural, using formula... I hate society for making me fell guilty for doing something with MY body and MY children that is medically accepted. And had it been a couple of decades ago, probably encouraged.

Now that I don't plan on having anymore children, I don't even think about my labors anymore. I know that I did the best I could at the time with the information I had. I surround myself with people that encourage me to my MY choices, not what they think I should do. I look at my beautiful children and don't care how I got them, I just love that I have them.

I hope this helps a little.

Anonymous said...

Hey, lady :o) It's Nyla. I don't know if this helps but I felt the way you're describing BEFORE I went into labor. I thought--I can do it! Mind over matter! Blah blah blah! The doctor broke my water around 0800 and by 1100 it felt like my whole abdomen was in a vice. I got the epideral and instead of feeling like a failure (which is what I thought I would feel), it was such a RELIEF! Looking back, I'm glad that I didn't have the pain to distract me from all of the cool things that went on in the hour I was actually pushing her out. We all chit-chatted and laughed and everything was really calm and peaceful when she arrived. My personal opinion is that all mothers should at least try natural birth once, but every woman is different. Every woman's threshold for pain is different as well. I've tried natural and now I know it's not for me. (Who knows. Maybe next time I would tolerate the pain better, or maybe it would be a different pain--either way, I'm pretty sure that an epidural will be part of my birth plan. lol) Any way, I hope that you can stop feeling badly. It's not as cut and dry as say 70 seconds on the pullup bar. Some women have labor in their backs and some in their abdomen--everybody is different. So, it's not fair to compare yourself to other ladies. I still admire women who did it with no help, but I secretly think they're nuts :oP Hugs and kisses......

Rebecca said...

I just wanted to de-lurk to say that I am so sorry you feel that way! It's hard when you're looking forward to one kind of experience and have a very different one than you planned - in any part of life, birth or otherwise - so don't beat yourself up for feeling the way you feel, which then piles guilt on top of regret (mmm, regret topped with guilt, my favorite sundae!) It's OK to treasure your healthy baby and also have regrets. It's also OK to be glad you carried a pregnancy to term and to be sorry you had horrific morning sickness, or to be glad you got to visit a friend but be pissed that your plane was delayed 8 hours on the way there. It's life, you know?

As a doula I have worked with lots of women who didn't plan for an epidural and ended up using it. I encourage them to think of it that way - using an epidural as a tool, a tool that is sometimes needed. Every labor is unique, every baby is positioned a little differently, and you never know what tools you might need. Just because epidurals are sometimes used electively or inappropriately doesn't mean that they're never useful. The situation in which you got it sounds like one I have seen a lot of doula clients use it - very long labor, prolonged rupture, total exhaustion, & minimal progress. And like it did for you, sometimes it really turns the trick: everyone sleeps and when mom wakes up she's complete or very close to it. It can really save the pushing stage in that case because she was able to spend that time regathering her energy. And I do think that sometimes it does help stalled progress get going for whatever reason. An epidural doesn't have to be a surrender, even though it sounds like it felt like that at the time - sometimes battling down to your last ounce of energy helps you see that you need to try a different approach, not that you're "giving in".

Anyway, my 2 cents! I hope they are helpful.

Cory said...

I didn't read the above comments, just your post so maybe I'm echoing their sentiments but you do NOT need to feel like a failure!

Don't let society tell you how to do things with your baby or your body. Would you get a root canal without novocaine? Do you feel guilty for going under anesthesia to get your wisdom teeth out? I sure as hell don't.

Samantha is a beautiful, healthy little girl and you are her beautiful, happy, healthy mother. Epidurals are a brilliant advancement in modern medicine. If you have another baby, try not to use one just to satisfy yourself. But if you do decide to get it again, you wont find any judgement from me!


Milithza said...

Oh, girl do I feel your pain! Don't regret any decision you have was the best one you had to make at the time and the results were great. When I had Jaxon, my first, I felt the same way so I was determined with Elijah that I wasn't going to get an epidural. After a LOT of pain and discomfort I stuck to my guns, broke a whole lot of blood vessels, and had a miserable birth experience. I still got a healthy baby boy but I just wasn't feeling it because I was so uncomfortable and in so much pain! When I knew Olivia was coming I was OVERJOYED with the idea of having an epidural...the experience was so amazing I was ready to do it all over again. Medicine has come such a long way you get to choose your path! You take each experience as it comes and learn from are not a failure! My prayers are with you, girl! Enjoy that beautiful baby girl!

Alanna said...

Thanks, ladies - I really do appreciate your input. I think it's always something I will regret, even though I know I did what I had to do at the time. It's not like I didn't try to go natural; I went 29 hours without any drugs! My labor stalled, and I did what I had to do. But I think I'll always have that "what if" feeling. What if we had remembered some more of the techniques we learned in childbirth class? There was more we could have tried if we had remembered.

While I may feel regret, I do try to remind myself that my birth experience was amazing - at no time during the experience did I ever feel like I was doing something I didn't want to. The epidural was SUCH a relief after 29 hours of labor, and it really did make the actual birth much more wonderful. I am trying to hold onto that memory! And, we are planning to have another one, so I will give it another go (and hopefully not have such a LONG labor next time!).

Thanks for all your support - it means a lot to me!

mrsdanigirl8 said...

Although I always try and trick myself into believing that I truly had a perfect birth since I came home with Ethan (the perfect baby, duh!) I have ALWAYS had regret about how my birth went.

I, too, did not have the natural birth I dreamed about. My water broke and within 12 hours they wanted me on pitocin. I should have protested, I should have fought harder but when your in the moment you don't think of these things.

I hate that I couldn't experience "real" labor pains and the gradual build up of contractions. Instead I was (IMO) forced to go on pitocin and endure strong, painful contractions from the beginning. I labored 2 hours like this and finally had to ask for something to ease the pain. When the narcotics wore off I broke down and asked for an epi.

Looking back, I couldn't have labored with the pitocin-induced contractions without that epi and am happy I did. And I also know I was very lucky to only have to push for 45 minutes but I still hate how I felt with the pitocin :(

This time around will be different.

erin @hemombuzz said...

I went with an epidural with both boys and it was such a relief to go through it with no pain. My friend did natural and was distracted by pain. Another friend I had told me I needed a doula to help me get through my pain and everything would have been better. Uhm. Whatever! I was PAIN-FREE and could just concentrate on pushing the boys out. No need to feel guilty! We invented these drugs and processes to make procedures easier. Why do we have to do things the hard way? What are we trying to prove to other women? I am a better mom that I did this without drugs? That's silly! What's important is the healthy child you hold in your arms, the hugs, the giggles, the love. But, if this is nagging you - talk to your obgyn or other moms who have had epis to help make you feel better! Hugs!

Rebecca Facas said...

I think you should re-read your own birth story

I know, its hard thinking back about the experience wishing it would have gone differently. But you shouldn't feel any regrets about your decision. For your situation, I think you made the right decision. It helped your progress and got your baby girl out healthy and happy. (sounds like she was hungry too).

I was induced with Pitocin, and went in thinking I would deliver naturally, after getting to 6 cm I asked for an epidural. I ended up progressing too quickly and didn't get the epidural because I was at 10 cm by the time they got around to giving it to me. I ended up getting local anethesia (which is normal for all natural labor births).

Honestly, the contractions didn't get more intense after the 6 cm point, and pushing is far less intense then the contractions. I don't think you missed out on much by getting the epidural - especially if you could still feel when to push.

This is my first baby, and looking back I think I made the decision's the best I could at the time. That's just what you have to remember.

Good luck and I hope you feel better!

Oh, I also blog (if your interested) look me up at

zebe912 said...

This is why many of my friends here had a homebirth with their second baby. Not that it works for everyone, but many of them needed that experience with a really skilled midwife to sort of work through what had happened in the past and have the birth they'd hoped for. There are some good resources out there to help you process these feelings. It is okay to feel them, but you need to move through them and that can be the hard part, I think. As with many things it is harder to leave the past behind you than it is to say that you will. Hopefully watching Sam grow will help you with that though.

Simple and Posh said...

I totally know how you feel and I held onto feelings of guilt and disappointment that I had the epidural after being in labor for so long. I listened to my body and it told me that I may not have the strength to push after already being in labor for almost 20 hours so I went ahead and did it and I felt like I was a failure. The funny part is that the epidural wore off by the time I was given the okay to push and this made me even regret it more. I had guilt and at my six week appointment when I told my midwife how I was feeling she said "having an epidural doesn't make you any less of a woman." What she said stuck with me and made the sad feeling go away. And looking at my baby boy and seeing how healthy and happy he is, I don't have any regrets now. Hope my midwife's words help you the way they helped me.

thanya said...

Everyone pretty much said what I wanted to say to you too. Please don't be so hard on yourself and don't think that you've failed at delivering your baby. Samantha is a healthy and beautiful baby and that's all that matters in the long run. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are all unpredictable. You can plan for it as much as you want, but you also have to be prepared to use plan B if mother nature decides to put obstacles in the way of the birth you planned for. And in your case, being in labor for 30+ hours is something you should feel proud of, being able to endure that. And you used "tools" that helped your body along to send your baby to you - in your arms to hold. Every birth is different and every birth is special in it's own way. Don't compare yourself to others. In my eyes, you had a very successful birth. If I were in your shoes, I would have done the same exact thing. Any time you start to feel regret, take one look at Sam and I'm sure she can convince you that you're a wonderful, loving, and beautiful mother who made the right decision for her!

Love ya! :)