Babies: 0 - 3 Months

Would you describe your birth as traumatic? clicky poll

I was a labor and delivery nurse for 6 years and during that time I watched a fair number of women experience what I would describe as a traumatic birth. I am curious what the majority of you would say.

If you say yes, feel free to describe. In my experience some women experience a PTSD-like reaction to their deliveries.

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Re: Would you describe your birth as traumatic? clicky poll

  • No, but with different staff and without my doula, it could have been.  I wanted a natural birth and had to be induced for medical reasons.  My nurses asked me about every change to my birth plan even though it was clear from the start that nothing was going to go according to plan.  I really appreciated that, and it helped me cope with the birth I had (water broken at 1cm when pit couldn't be turned up; epidural at 4cm due to exhaustion, ending in vaginal birth finally).
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  • Although it was obviously worth it, my delivery was hell. My water broke 3 weeks early, my husband wasn't there and I was on 34 mL/hour of pit for thirty hours before they were willing to do a c/s. I had back labor so the epidural was completely pointless, it only made it so a nurse had to come and flip me every fifteen minutes the entire time. I was alone and it was honestly the worst experience of my life. The staff was just absolutely amazing though, only way I made it through. I brought them a reeeeally big cake after I was released. 
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  • image theresat858:
    No, but with different staff and without my doula, it could have been.  I wanted a natural birth and had to be induced for medical reasons.  My nurses asked me about every change to my birth plan even though it was clear from the start that nothing was going to go according to plan.  I really appreciated that, and it helped me cope with the birth I had (water broken at 1cm when pit couldn't be turned up; epidural at 4cm due to exhaustion, ending in vaginal birth finally).

     

    This is my experince but i had to get the epidulra for high bp and hated that i never felt anything! So i said yes! 

  • The only real traumatic thing about my DD's birth was that my husband wasn't there (he is in Afghanistan) and that when I went into labor I had to drive myself to the hospital and check in all on my own until my support person (another wife from my DH's unit) came to be there for me.
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  • My first birth was so traumatic I had a hard time writing my story a year later - the labor was bad, my OB & nurse were awful, nothing seemed to go right, & DS spent a week in the NICU.

     In contrast my second birth was wonderful.  Even though I had to be induced for HELLP (when they told me I started bawling & almost asked for a c-section b/c I was so afraid of pit again) things went much better.  I had great midwives & nurses and I think that made all the difference.


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  • Quite the opposite for me.  I went in for my scheduled induction fearing the worst and planning on laboring forever and getting an epidural.  I ended up only laboring for 7 hours, walking the halls and relaxing in the jacuzzi.  My contractions didn't get bad bad until my water broke, about ten minutes before he arrived.  I never ended up getting my epidural because it was too late, and I freaked out at first, but I survived and felt empowered!
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  • I wouldn't say traumatic, but I was induced, had forceps, an episotomy, they had to try 3 times to get the epidural in, call in my OB-GYN at midnight to do a c-section (which I didn't end up needing), dialated from 3 to a 9 in 20 minutes after 8 hours of no progress and came thisclose to a c-section.  But still not traumatic.  Certainly no one's ideal, but not traumatic.

    ETA: Maybe some women would say this was traumatic if they had their hearts set on a very different experience?  But I had no expectations..wishes, yes, but my heart wasn't dead set on anything in particular.

  • I don't know if I would classify it as traumatic, as i'm sure there are worse births...

    I was 5 days overdue. Went into spontaneous labor. Within 5 minutes of arriving at the hospital and getting changed, I had oxygen on and was flipped to my side. DD's HR was dropping off the charts. I told the nurses that I wanted a repeat c/s, that I didn't need to be anyone's hero for my 2nd vbac. They insisted that she was okay, and that in the case of an emergency they could have her out in 11 minutes. I was banned to laboring on my sides, which was HELL. My midwife broke my water, there was meconium. Because I was confined to my sides I asked for an epidural. It took the anesthesiologist 5 tries and over 45 minutes to get it in. All while hunched over with contractions that were 2 minutes apart, and I wasn't allowed to move. He finally got it in, and I was 7 cm, and all it did was take away the pain, I went right into the horrible pressure. 45 minutes later I was 9cm and begging to push. My midwife stretched me to a full 10, and let me go. I pushed a few times, and then people started rushing in, pushing my DH and mom aside, and my midwife looked at me and said, "You WILL push this baby out right now, do you understand me?" SO I pushed with the next contraction, and I had no contraction left, and they told me to push, and 2 nurses had their elbows out and jumped on my belly. DD was born completely blue, but responded very well to oxygen thank god.

    My labor was 4 hours, start to finish. I had 1.) heart decels 2.) meconium 3.) missed epidural (which led to a spinal headache a few days after birth) and 4.) shoulder dystocia. Does that count??  I thank god every single day for my DD.

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  • eav2ceav2c
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    Mine was pretty traumatic. LO kept having decels and I was rushed to the or for an emergency csection after his HB fell off all together.
    Dx w/Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy @ 33w. Induction turned c-section @ 37w. Colin Alexander - Born 3/29/12 @ 3:50pm - 5lbs 8oz 18.5"
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  • kdjuddkdjudd
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    Traumatic is a nice way of putting it. I had EXTREME pain due to my back labor. I was in labor in the hospital for about 26 hours. When it was finally time to push I could hardly even find the strength to hold my own legs. I pushed for 4 hours only to find out that the baby was sunny side up and had a hand next to her head. The doctor ended up using a vacuum to get my baby out. I tore horribly from that and the pain was incredible. I was so sore after the birth that I had to have my husband hold me up for the next few days if I wanted to walk anywhere... I'm dreading having my next child. 
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  • image jeffsjayme:

    I wouldn't say traumatic, but I was induced, had forceps, an episotomy, they had to try 3 times to get the epidural in, call in my OB-GYN at midnight to do a c-section (which I didn't end up needing), dialated from 3 to a 9 in 20 minutes after 8 hours of no progress and came thisclose to a c-section.  But still not traumatic.  Certainly no one's ideal, but not traumatic.

    ETA: Maybe some women would say this was traumatic if they had their hearts set on a very different experience?  But I had no expectations..wishes, yes, but my heart wasn't dead set on anything in particular.

    I think this accounts for some of the traumatic deliveries for sure! In fact a general lack of understanding about what to expect can cause trauma too. However, there are a fair number who still have truly traumatic deliveries.

    Take for example, when I, as your labor nurse, feel you had a traumatic delivery, its not like I can say, "OMG! That was awful! You almost died, or it was the worst delivery ever!!" For one, I might be implicating a physician into malpractice, but moreover I don't want to further stress a patient out. Since many women don't have much to compare to, they know their delivery seemed "off" but don't know how to quantify it. I think that a debriefing for women to be able to talk about their deliveries and get feedback in the days following it would be ideal. If mom doesn't feel her delivery was traumatic then so be it, but for those who are overwhelmed by the experience I think it would be healing for them. For many its several intense hours and then bam, move on, care for baby! I think some women just need more time to process it and get professional feedback on what actually happened.

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  • image Luvmy2sons:

    I don't know if I would classify it as traumatic, as i'm sure there are worse births...

    I was 5 days overdue. Went into spontaneous labor. Within 5 minutes of arriving at the hospital and getting changed, I had oxygen on and was flipped to my side. DD's HR was dropping off the charts. I told the nurses that I wanted a repeat c/s, that I didn't need to be anyone's hero for my 2nd vbac. They insisted that she was okay, and that in the case of an emergency they could have her out in 11 minutes. I was banned to laboring on my sides, which was HELL. My midwife broke my water, there was meconium. Because I was confined to my sides I asked for an epidural. It took the anesthesiologist 5 tries and over 45 minutes to get it in. All while hunched over with contractions that were 2 minutes apart, and I wasn't allowed to move. He finally got it in, and I was 7 cm, and all it did was take away the pain, I went right into the horrible pressure. 45 minutes later I was 9cm and begging to push. My midwife stretched me to a full 10, and let me go. I pushed a few times, and then people started rushing in, pushing my DH and mom aside, and my midwife looked at me and said, "You WILL push this baby out right now, do you understand me?" SO I pushed with the next contraction, and I had no contraction left, and they told me to push, and 2 nurses had their elbows out and jumped on my belly. DD was born completely blue, but responded very well to oxygen thank god.

    My labor was 4 hours, start to finish. I had 1.) heart decels 2.) meconium 3.) missed epidural (which led to a spinal headache a few days after birth) and 4.) shoulder dystocia. Does that count??  I thank god every single day for my DD.

    Your delivery is a perfect example of my memories of some traumatic deliveries. I bet you didn't even know that nurses were trained in suprapubic pressure (jumping on your belly to get the shoulder under the pubic symphasis). Most nurses don't explain what they are doing for lack of time and scare the sh!t out of mom (and family). Plus the stress of constant decels is hard enough.

    Another type of delivery that is super traumatic for mom is a postpartum hemorrhage. Most never consider that they will hemorrhage so its really shocking when it happens, the number of personnel who show up can be quite frightening.

     

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  • My labor was easy. I got a great epidural at 3cm and had progressed quickly on my own. I had a fabulous nurse and lots of support from my husband and family. The delivery was pretty bad though. I wasn't in pain and I knew when to push because I could feel the slight pressure of the contractions. However, my LO was face up so when I stopped pushing he would slide back up again. I ending up pushing for 5 hours, needing a vaccum to get him and as a result had a rough recovery. I only had a second degree tear but my body felt like I had been hit by a truck.

    The worst part was my a-hole doctor...he was extremely rude, unhelpful and incompetent (the nurse knew after 2 hours my baby was face up...why the doctor then let me push for FIVE hours is beyond me). When I pushed for him (three and a half hours into it), he actually said to me "I can't help you till you move that baby down" and just walked out of the room! I was so upset I did not want him touching me or delivering my baby. Luckily the nurse got the new doctor who just came on shift for me (the doctor's first words to me were " I am going to help you"...she was an angel) and she got him out with a vacuum after 2 contractions.

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  • I was pretty traumatized for a solid month following my birth. Just now at 8 weeks postpartum I'm feeling better.

    I had to be induced for pre-eclampsia, found out at my 38 week checkup they needed to keep me. The induction took 3 days, I tried to stay natural but after 52 hours of labor- (24 hours of cytotec, 12 hours of the folley bulb, and 14 hours of pitocin, awful drug) I ended up asking for an epidural. They placed the epidural in wrong and hit a nerve which caused me horrible shooting pain in my spine, and only ended up numbing my left leg from the waist down- did absolutely nothing for my pain, just my leg. They had to take out the epidural and put it in again, (which was excruciating) and it still didn't take...there was nothing else they could do for me at that point. My blood pressure went up to 190 over 105, I was vomitting and heaving uncontrollably.  I had a horrible midwife who wouldnt let me push during every contraction and was screaming at me- when I would push it was causing his heart rate to drop really low, which was really scary- I could hear it. I ended up needing oxygen, and had to continue to only push every other contraction which was awful because pushing was the only thing that relived my pain. If I tried to push during two consecutive contractions they would start yelling and screaming at me.

    Finally pushed him out after 1 hour of pushing, ( a total of 62 hours of labor) he wasn't responding- was blue and not crying, the respiratory team had to be rushed in and they had him in the corner of the room trying to get him revived.. Finally after 5 minutes he made a tiny whimper.

     

     

  • image triagain2:

    Another type of delivery that is super traumatic for mom is a postpartum hemorrhage. Most never consider that they will hemorrhage so its really shocking when it happens, the number of personnel who show up can be quite frightening.

     

    I actually had some postpartum hemorrhaging but we knew it was a possibility (b/c of a large fibroid) and the doctor stayed calm (he also expected it) - I think it was far more scary for my husband than for me, particularly when I handed him the baby because I was shaking, felt like I was going to throw up (from the pressure the nurse was putting on my uterus), etc... but I think b/c we knew it could happen and they got it under control fairly quickly, it wasn't traumatic for me.

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  • My first birth experience Yes! This one with DS- No. I was totally scared and nervous about being awake during the surgery but other than that. This was the best I could have gotten given having to have a c-section again.
  • I swear I had PTSD because of labor. I would wake up with a jolt for a few days having flashbacks. 

    30 hours of fun.2 hours of pushing. They broke my water then put a tube back up in me to refill me because her heart rate was dropping. Every time they checked me the effects of my epidural would wear off. I could feel the cath scrape my inside and I'm still having issues with that area. I went through 3 bags of the epi medicine. Later they told me there was meconium, and when I had to push two nurses started to jump on my stomach. She came out at an angle and face/ear first. She managed to get stuck three times. Her head looked like a three tier cake, broken clavicle, and hip dislocated. I ended up with an episiotomy and 3rd and 4th degree tear. 

    I want another LO but I am scared I'll have problems like this again. 

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  • My 1st L&D? Yes.

    The 2nd? No.

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  • Yes, I would. It was nothing like I expected.

    At 38 weeks I went to the doctor for a headache and some light spotting. Blood work revealed some protein in my urine, my levels were all over the place and I had a lot of extra fluid. I was diagnosed with HELLP and sent straight to l&d. 

    There were no beds though so my induction started and stopped several times. It took over 24 hrs for me to dilate 1 centimeter. After my water was broken all the extra fluid caused my LO to become transverse so there was no hope for a vaginal delivery.

    Two days after entering the hospital I had a c-section. It was stressful and upsetting but obviously the end result was worth it.   

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  • Yes.

    I was exactly 41 weeks and 6 hours after being admitted, we were told I would need a c-section due to heart rate decels. We get into the OR and I don't feel anything at first, then suddenly it feels like they're trying to pull my belly button up to the ceiling and I'm screaming out in pain. They're giving me more drugs, but they're not working, so they knock me out and kick DH out.

    They get to LO and his head is stuck and they can't get him out, so they had to bring in a doctor that had longer thinner fingers. They end up cutting two incisions on my uterus to get to him better and when they finally get him out, he coded for 30 seconds and then had to spend an extra hour and a half working on him. Apgars were 1, then 7. The trauma from his birth put him in the nicu for 5 days where he was on a feeding tube and oxygen and a nutrient line into his belly button.

    So yeah, I'd say it was pretty traumatic. Plus, the two days before he was born, DH and I were sent home from l&d twice. I was in labor, but they felt I wasn't far enough along to stay. The first time I would agree with since I was only 2 cm, but the second time I was sent home was 4 1/2 hours before I was admitted. Got sent home at 4:30am and our 41 week appontment was at 8:30. They started a NST at my appointment and I felt like I was begging my OB to do something when he came in. He did something, alright. He detected the HR decels and discovered I was dilated 4-5cm. When we got sent home 4 hours before, I was 3. So I got my ticket to l&d immediately.

    When I was at 7cm, I got the epidural and when I sat up to get it, my water broke. When I laid back down, they discovered meconium. And with the HR decels, my OB put me on oxygen and had me on my side the entire time. We were told after 3 decels, if there's one more, it would be a c-section. Sure enough, we got rushed into the OR. And since I was knocked out and DH got kicked out, we didn't get to see him right away. I didn't meet him until the next day and we didn't get to hold him for 3 days and we had to go home without him.

  • I had an unmedicated birth. The actual birth I would not describe as traumatic, but I suffered a post partum hemorrhage which was definitely traumatic. I really think I have PTSD from the whole ordeal. 
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  • image triagain2:

    Another type of delivery that is super traumatic for mom is a postpartum hemorrhage. Most never consider that they will hemorrhage so its really shocking when it happens, the number of personnel who show up can be quite frightening.

     

    This was a huge reason it was so scary. There were at least 15 people who rushed into the room to stop the hemorrhage and "save" me.

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  • http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/forums/thread/65923237.aspx

    Heres a link to my birth story since its so long. Sorry no linky. I'm on my phone. 

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  • I don't think my labor was traumatic--it was just long. DS was born at 39 weeks after 20 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. I tried to labor naturally but got stuck at 6 cm so finally opted for the epidural bc I couldn't take it anymore (and it was a great choice for me).

    The weird thing is, I still felt sort of traumatized after. I don't think I was mentally ready to give birth (silly, I know) and was rather stunned by the whole thing for a good two weeks after. ha ha.

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  • image triagain2:
    image jeffsjayme:

    I wouldn't say traumatic, but I was induced, had forceps, an episotomy, they had to try 3 times to get the epidural in, call in my OB-GYN at midnight to do a c-section (which I didn't end up needing), dialated from 3 to a 9 in 20 minutes after 8 hours of no progress and came thisclose to a c-section.  But still not traumatic.  Certainly no one's ideal, but not traumatic.

    ETA: Maybe some women would say this was traumatic if they had their hearts set on a very different experience?  But I had no expectations..wishes, yes, but my heart wasn't dead set on anything in particular.

    I think this accounts for some of the traumatic deliveries for sure! In fact a general lack of understanding about what to expect can cause trauma too. However, there are a fair number who still have truly traumatic deliveries.

    Take for example, when I, as your labor nurse, feel you had a traumatic delivery, its not like I can say, "OMG! That was awful! You almost died, or it was the worst delivery ever!!" For one, I might be implicating a physician into malpractice, but moreover I don't want to further stress a patient out. Since many women don't have much to compare to, they know their delivery seemed "off" but don't know how to quantify it. I think that a debriefing for women to be able to talk about their deliveries and get feedback in the days following it would be ideal. If mom doesn't feel her delivery was traumatic then so be it, but for those who are overwhelmed by the experience I think it would be healing for them. For many its several intense hours and then bam, move on, care for baby! I think some women just need more time to process it and get professional feedback on what actually happened.

    Mine was traumatic (at least in my mind) because of the shortness and intensity. From first contraction to delivery was about 6 hours, and because I dilated so quickly (3-9 in an hour) I wasn't able to get any pain relief. I had back labor because DS was sunny side up, and my IV failed during transition which led to 7 (seven!!!) attempts by nurses to get another IV up and running. DS had heart decels during pushing and they actually lost his heartbeat for a minute. I had an episiotomy and assistance from the vacuum and pushed non-stop for 20 minutes.

    None of that seems overly traumatic in retrospect, but it was at the time. And it certainly could have been much more traumatic had my doctor not been there to deliver. I joked that I had PTSD because I couldn't stop reliving my delivery in my head for at least 3 weeks afterwards. I couldn't sleep because every time I closed my eyes I was thinking about some aspect of it. 

    I agree with what you said in bold: it would have been so nice to just have someone from the hospital debrief with me and give some feedback because I was definitely feeling overwhelmed at the time. 

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  • Mine was traumatic to me. I stopped progressing after being induced and needed a c-section. I already had an epi at that point and unfortunately it wasn't strong enough. I felt my section: the cut, retraction (that part was the worst). It was the most painful thing I've experienced. For about a week after I couldn't talk about it without balling and never wanted to see my incision.

    After I got home and had time to just be our own little family I came to terms with everything. I looked at my incision, talked about the delivery and how it made me feel.

    Now 6 weeks later it is hard to remember the pain. I'd even consider another c-section as long as it was scheduled and I had a spinal.

  • Both my LO's were born early (DD#1 born at 33wd4 due to pre-e and DD#2 born at 34w5d due to PTL). My first pregnancy ended up mag. saf., although I did get an epi and I did delivery her vaginally. My second pregnancy ended not so wonderful, with bedrest, shots of terb, oral medication of procadia, several trips to L&D to stop labor and finally delivering quite fast with no epi. I would call the weeks after their births to be HELL! 2 weeks each of NICU stay.
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  • My labor was not traumatic. I had great nurses and doctor. I'm kinda lucky and the one week I spent in clinicals for Surg tech I got to help perform a c-sec. So I knew the medical side of things but no one ever explained the nasty stuff about trying to recover or how your body feels like it's been hit by a truck for three days. Not to mention the emotional stress of trying to BF (which was unsuccessful for me) or how to take care of a new baby. I did suffer from some PPD. It's getting better but the only thing that has helped me is talking with other friends who just had babies as well. That has helped the most. I think there should also be some form of communication between women about all the things no one talks about. Things like I mentioned above. After ppl have their baby they forget about how bad it was but ppl also need to know the negative side along with the positive.

    Glad I got to vent thanks!


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  • Other women might not consider my experience traumatic, but it was the worst experience of my life, hands down.  I was induced, had back labor for pretty much forever, and spent 3 hours pushing.  On the bright side, I lost a lot of "baby weight" through sheer blood loss in the first 24 hours.
  • Wow, all these stories are making me thoroughly grateful. I ended up with a c section for my first child since her heart rate kept dropping after every contraction ( I received a highly effective epidural within an hour of getting to the hospital so I experienced very little pain while in labor up to that point) and had a repeat c section with my son (now 5 weeks old) but thankfully both were calm, happy experiences. I mostly remember how cheerful and upbeat all the medical staff were in both instances, commenting on how much hair they could see as they prepared to pull my daughter out, telling my husband when he should prepare to take pictures. It almost felt like a party with both kids. For the repeat c section we were asked what kind of music we wanted playing! In both cases, I was able to hold the baby while they stitched me up and nurse in the recovery room within an hour of birth. While I know a c section isn't most people's wish, I can honestly say that I feel things went just about perfectly.
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