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The pitfalls of 'Going with the Flow' in birth
Who's flow are you going with.


46 replies to this topic

#26 PatG

Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

CherryAmes,  I didn't get that same impression from reading the posts.  I got the whole mix - those who had traumatic experiences and weren't able to leave it behind, those with traumatic experiences who were able to and those who didn't have traumatic experiences and so didn't have anything to leave or take.  Was there anyone who said that those unfortunate enough to have a bad experience should just get over it?  My reading of the posts found plenty of compassion.

#27 07gbam

Posted 30 March 2012 - 06:30 PM

"Going with the flow" goes more than one way.
For some women, the labour and birthing process is for them, a great big big deal, and one to which they work towards for months , if not years. In my experience, sadly these are the ones who are most disappointed, and even traumatised when things do not go as they anticipated. Women like this invest so much in it all- yoga, doulas, homeopaths, antenatal classes, calmbirth classes, epi-no's, books books and more books, hours on line scouring internet sites for advice and information, acupuncture and so on... NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS AT ALL!!  However....... These are often the ones who feel most upset and traumatised when they end up with the emergency section, or the forceps because they have not been given the return for the investment. Everything we do to arm ourselves before birth is good, but by no means a guarantee thing will go the way we want.
Then there is the blame game. It couldn't possibly be because there was a physiological reason for the birth not going perfectly- it was the 'system' or the midwife, and most commonly, that awful doctor. Women are being told that they are born to breed, and born to birth, and that nothing should go wrong if they just believe in themselves, and well, no, not always true. "going with the flow' does not mean ( to me) to 'hand over' responsibility, to me it means being ready and prepared for ALL eventualities as best i can.  
Not to expect perfect, not to expect disaster. Not to go into the labour suite with a combative/antagonistic attitude towards the birth or my 'helpers'.
"Going with the flow" can also mean, for some, to take complete control, and to let nature do it's thing. Letting pregnancies go further than the doctors would feel comfortable with, labouring for days on end, no monitoring, no examinations and so on. This too has it's hazards.
I had a very difficult birth with my first, and for ME "going with the flow' saved me from ruminating for months and possibly years on what was quite frightening at the time. But of course, not everyone is the same.  I still look back and shudder, but to me, it was no one's fault and the added burden of apportioning blame, to either myself or to one of the professionals there helping me would be more to take on than I need.  I consider myself very lucky, and these feelings have thankfully overwhelmed my recollections of the difficult and painful time I experienced.

ETA: I also believe that no matter how many counselling sessions I might have gone to, how much debriefing, or how many other women I might have talked to who had similar experiences, it was only ME who could deal with the memories and the distress. I chose to move on in my own way. Yes, not everyone can do this, and I did have the experience of having seen much more distressing and traumatic births to give me a sense of comparison and understanding. To anyone who has had a difficult time, and the memories linger, try really hard not to apportion blame to anyone , not even your body. It hinders the healing process.
And understand that there are some people out there who have a vested interest in your birth trauma. It helps them further their cause. I refuse to be used in this way.

Edited by 07gbam, 30 March 2012 - 07:08 PM.


#28 Guest_bottle~rocket_*

Posted 30 March 2012 - 07:00 PM

I agree with everything Fertile Woman has said, she has expressed it extremely well.

It makes me sad when women who are suffering the aftermath of birth trauma are blamed for their own  distress.  So often these women are described as having “unrealistic expectations” or their traumatic experience is trivialised by being described as the birth “not going to plan”.  This surely must compound their distress and isolation.  

It seems that birth trauma is barely acknowledged in our society.  There are no public services or funding for women to debrief post birth or for treatment of PTSD or PND related to birth trauma.  


This part of the article really stood out to me, I think the way birth is managed in hospitals has as much to do with ensuring the efficient operation of the hospital rather than meeting the needs of women and their babies.

QUOTE
The hospital’s definition of healthy?

Miranda, a 38 year old mother of two, tells sadly of her realisation that her definition of the “healthy mum and bub” term, and her hospital’s definition, were eons apart. “I could not fathom that any decision being made was not in my best interest. I did not think for a moment that we weren’t all working towards the same goal. I was going with the flow. But their flow took me to a place I never wanted to be, and I am still paying the price. And it wasn’t because their way was safer. It was because it suited their institution better.”

This is where the real flow can rear its sometimes ugly, institutionalised head. Although our health carers are there to ensure physical safety, and many would like to be able to support women emotionally through birth, they are often stymied by the very system they work in. The birthing journey consists of many twists and turns, and some of these turning points may require decision-making. As an institution, the hospital has certain protocols and policies in place to enhance the smooth running of an enormous organization. And while some of them are designed with the woman as the main focus, many other regulations were created more to meet the hospital’s needs. So every decision made about a woman during birth must take into account not just that woman and her baby, but issues such as litigation, liability, staffing, costing, and more. We generally assume that all “flows” will arrive at the same result of “Healthy Mother and Baby”. But now – what is the hospital’s definition of “healthy? And indeed, what is the doctor’s definition of healthy?

Debby Gould hears over and over again that physically healthy is not enough. “The goal of emerging from birth with body and baby intact is a bit of a no-brainer, really,” she says. “ Of course we all want that. But what many health providers fail to recognise is that it is completely possible to support a woman to birth a child so she feels mentally healthy afterwards, without compromising safety in any way.”


#29 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 30 March 2012 - 07:03 PM

I was one who invested a lot of time and money trying to prepare for the ideal birth.   Not so much for the sake of it, but because I believed (had been convinced by the natural birth advocates) that it would be so much better for bonding and BF etc.  I felt like I would be letting my son down to not give birth to him in the "best possible" way.  Kind of like making my own organic pureed carrots etc. rolleyes.gif

My son's birth was horrid (shingles at term, isolation room, failed induction, emergency c/s under general, transfer of my son to another hospital with suspected chickenpox).  I was so disappointed I didn't even get to try to labour naturally due to the shingles, didn't get to have him with me for the first 3 days, he was given some formula etc.   I was diagnosed with PTSD and had some help from a psych to deal with it.

From my perspective it was all made worse by the pressure I had put on myself, and the fear that I wouldn't manage to BF or bond with my son, and I had somehow let him down and was a bad mum.  In fact I had no issues with bonding and BF fell into place with some work.  

I am now happy to say that I do see his birth as "just one day" in our life.  


#30 Lokum

Posted 30 March 2012 - 08:39 PM

Wow Meggs. That's truly awful. So glad you were able to overcome all that, and everything fell into place for you two.

There is a sort of theme that those who get PTSD or birth trauma brought it on themselves with unrealistic expectations. However, I think that takes it a bit far. It's fairer to say that those who invest massively in a natural, calm, hypno, Enya-type birth are adding pressure on an already pressured situation.  

It's not just a preference for that kind of birth - as Meggs said, it's so value -laden. There's a superiority which comes with those kinds of births, that you'll bond better, BF better, not expose your baby to the (tiny) risks associated with pain relief, that you therefore love your baby more and make a better mother than the next person. It's a treacherous dialogue which is culturally prevalent in Australia right now.

I think this is what people are commenting on. It's certainly what I was alluding to when I posted above. The theme of the article was that go with the flow could lead to violation, unnecessary intervention, invasion of privacy, loss of control etc. and this could lead to trauma or PTSD.

I think the flip side of the 'Calm-hyno-Enya-birthing Mother Superior' is the "deluded, lazy, too-posh-to-push, hoodwinked woman" who didn't care enough to do her research and take charge of her birth.   I DO believe these are the stories available to us to choose, and which we repeatedly tell each other - there's not many other 'truths' available to Australian women today.

FWIW, I couldn't conceive my baby naturally, birth my baby vaginally, or breast feed him (to start with.) And I was zonked on pethidine which was pushed on me 40 minutes before his emerg c/s birth. I did cry about that day a lot in his first few weeks, but hell, it was the biggest, most painful, unexpected day of my life and I did end up being cut open. And the crying was more, 'Holy sh*t. What happened that day?' than, 'Oh my god, I'll never get over this.'

I don't know if that's trauma or not - I think it's just dealing with a crazy situation which, no matter how much you read, you cannot anticipate the reality in advance.  

For some people, the day gets more crazy than others. But I believe the pervasive myths, legends and value-laden assessments which predominate in our culture ATM, play a big role in determining how we deal with the aftermath of that day and whether there's blame or guilt involved.

#31 seayork2002

Posted 30 March 2012 - 08:54 PM

I went with the flow, I had never had a baby before so it was useless at knowing what to expect, to me the most important thing was having a bay and not whale music and incense. A baby had to come out somehow and if I wanted it a certain way and it did not turn out should I have stamped my feet and had a tantrum???

So to be going with the flow worked as I had a baby....unless it I had a caesarean it was only coming out one way anyway

Edited by seayork2002, 30 March 2012 - 08:55 PM.


#32 PigNewton

Posted 30 March 2012 - 09:14 PM

Everything Lokum said.

Also:
QUOTE
It's interesting in this thread to see the gap between those who say "my birth went fine, I wasn't traumatised, so I don't get it" and those who say, "I get it, I think of my birth every day."
Lucky you if your birth was fine - do you really think that was all your great management? Don't you think a lot of it was just plain good luck? And therefore, have a bit of compassion for those people who weren't so lucky

My birth wasn't particularly what I wanted. It went ok I suppose but DS did some damage coming out and it took at least a year to even feel semi-normal again due to overhealing. All I was getting at is that sometimes a crappy birth is NO-ONE's fault.
Of course a woman has the right to feel like she missed out on what could have been the greatest day of her life, if things go badly pear-shaped as they do in many births....my mum still feels crappy about her 2 c/secs, and that was 38 years ago!
But trying to find someone to blame for it (and I include the mother blaming herself) can be really counter-productive if it was just one of those things.

#33 lakurumau

Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:50 PM

Sometimes it feels like labour (and birth) is almost seen as a competitive sport, rather than the process of getting your baby into the real world, which is all it really is. That's what disturbs me about the natural birth, no-intervention advocates.  It's messy and primitive, not beautiful and the best day of your life.

I will admit I experienced the best moment of my life on the day of my daughter's birth. But that was all about actually seeing my baby and looking into her eyes for the first time - all that went before that was just the crap I had to go through to get to that point.


#34 lakurumau

Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:55 PM

And my description of birth as messy and primitive actually came from DH. The other day we were talking about labour and birth and he said " However it happens, it reminds you you're an animal. It's messy and primitive and it takes guts."

He said it in complete admiration of all women, after what he'd experienced with our daughter's birth.

#35 mum201

Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:06 PM

To me this article is really a vast generalization. In my case, I had a very natural birth, it was very empowering, we bf-ed straight away with ton of skin to skin contact etc, and I do feel that it helped me bond and start on my journey as mum.

I know of someone who had a traumatic induction at it really hindered their beginning to mummydom.

BUT I have also known mums who have crap birth experiences and they packed those feelings into a little box and left it at the hospital door.

I really feel this is a case of each to their own.

#36 ReadySetRace

Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:12 PM

I believe the best attitude is to go in hoping for the best, armed with knowledge and opinions, but to realise the worst may happen despite everything (worst meaning long painful labour and emergency CS, baby affected and separated from me.... Baby dying I couldn't think about).

I do think about my births most days, and I did go with the flow. Not everything turned out perfectly (1 forceps, 2 epidurals and 3 Episiotomies) but my babies are well, I have recovered each time after a while.  I think unrealistic expectations are part of the problem, and some antenatal classes give the wrong impression (mine did).

#37 Soontobegran

Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:59 PM

QUOTE (CherryAmes @ 30/03/2012, 03:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's interesting in this thread to see the gap between those who say "my birth went fine, I wasn't traumatised, so I don't get it" and those who say, "I get it, I think of my birth every day."

Surely, whether that's your experience or not, you can appreciate that for some people it IS traumatic and difficult and it's not something that they should "get over" and "move on from"?

Lucky you if your birth was fine - do you really think that was all your great management? Don't you think a lot of it was just plain good luck?  And therefore, have a bit of compassion for those people who weren't so lucky?




I think this is a bit unfair!

Not everyone who does not have their labour go as planned is traumatised in the long term by it so why should they not be able to share this in a thread such as this?

I don't see people telling others to get over it and move on but I do see many people whom have said that what seemed like a trauma at the time fades into a distant memory for many people as time goes on.
Why can't they admit this?

My first birth was crap, I didn't think at the time I would ever do it again. There was no good luck or bad luck involved, I went with the flow and got quite a shock. I was educated, prepared and was managed perfectly well.
I can understand and empathise with those who have traumatic birth stories, the fact is that for many women, despite the best laid plans and the best preparation labour will not be what they expected and therefore to varying extents traumatic.

Just as women who suffer from PTSD from their birthing experiences have a story to tell so do other women have the right to say they did but they recovered.....this is not being dismissive, I see this as being encouraging.
Women...each others worst enemies sad.gif

#38 Expelliarmus

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:16 PM

My first birth was traumatic. I had to have that lip thing pushed back (how much does that hurt btw?) and then told not to push and they took away the gas and I was left standing ... pushing ... for 90 minutes ... She was stuck so I agreed to calling the OB and he would probably do forceps. I was fine with that and I was ecstatic about the stirrups because I couldn't stand any longer. I was exhausted, she was tuck, I pushed for 2 hours, I was brutally wiped down, briefly catheterised, snipped and then had forceps inserted without pain relief so I nearly passed out.

Afterwards I was completely black in the nether regions and couldn't sit straight for about 6 weeks. It was quite brutal. I went with the flow.

I don't think about it every day. It doesn't bother me. I talked about never doing that again for a few months - I never really meant it. I am damaged beyond belief now and have had one surgery and am facing others to fix the damage to my pelvic floor and region. The continuing pain of my episiotomy scar is the least of my problems ...

Yet I don't think of it every day, I don't have PTSD or anything such as that but I wouldn't say it's because I had such a lovely birth that went so well at all. I didn't. All three were pretty gruesome and I ended up in HDU after DS. But it was ultimately just one day, I left it at the hospital for the main part.

Categorising women and labelling by saying "oh well obviously your birth was fine otherwise you'd get it" isn't helpful. Some people deal with things differently than others is all. I found the article quote a generalisation as well. I think your personality has a lot to do with it, not necessarily the type fo birth you had.

#39 *molly*

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:29 PM

Wow. As someone who can't wait to start TTC in the next couple of months, I found this thread kind of terrifying  unsure.gif

#40 Lokum

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:40 PM

QUOTE (mina_murray @ 31/03/2012, 06:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow. As someone who can't wait to start TTC in the next couple of months, I found this thread kind of terrifying  unsure.gif


Well, you know what? Now you know some bad, scary, crazy sh*t can happen in labour/birthing. Hopefully it won't - in plenty of cases it doesn't. But it MIGHT, and whether you're a good or bad person, or did your research, or chose your caregiver carefully, it MIGHT happen.

And then you recover. Physically, and from the shock. Having a beautiful newborn usually helps most people push it aside. If you didn't have the newborn, sure, it would be unbelievably crap... but thank goodness we usually do get to take a baby or two home, which is why people go back for more. Good luck with TTC, and don't waste effort worrying about something you can't do much about.

#41 *molly*

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:51 PM

Thanks Lokum, I really appreciate that!

Edited by mina_murray, 31 March 2012 - 05:51 PM.


#42 FeralPerthFembo

Posted 31 March 2012 - 06:01 PM

QUOTE (laurs @ 29/03/2012, 06:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For me it was a case of being informed about the possibilities and options beforehand but not having fixed expectations about what was going to happen. I had hopes but not expectations. Neither of my births went as I would have liked, but I was prepared for that and therefore not devastated that I didn't get the experience I expected.


This. I was "traumatised" by my birth experience to the extent that I would not attempt labour again (will be scheduled c-sec next time). But at the same time, it was just one day of my life, one that I don't think about it, did not affect my bonding or post birth experience at all.

I was very well informed before going into labour and had wonderful (public system) care givers that I can not fault, so perhaps that is why I don't have any regrets or lingering negativity surrounding it.

I agree with the article about being informed etc, but I don't feel that placing some huge importance on how your labour goes is going to help women when things do go wrong (which does happen through no fault of the women or care givers).

Some reading I did pre-birth seemed to say that if YOU do all the right things then you will automatically have the transcendent all natural birth you want. That to me seems to be setting up some very unrealistic, unhelpful expectations.

Most women I personally know who have a difficult time dealing with their births were the ones who adamant about what they wanted and could not handle when the circumstances prevented things going according to their "plan".

#43 4joys

Posted 31 March 2012 - 07:17 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 29/03/2012, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't think you can make any generalized comments like that. For some women, it is just one day in their lives. For others it's not. Having or not having a birth plan/expectations etc works for some people, and not for others. It just depends what you are comfortable with.


I think that you have hit the nail on the head. One thing that makes us interesting, unique and human is that we all react differently in the same situation. Every individual reacts differently and every birth is unique.

Some women can leave their experiences at the door, some cannot, and that is OK.

What is not OK is the way that some women are treated both in the birthing room and after it. Its a time when a lot of us are at our most vulnerable and in some situations, we are harassed, bullied and cajoled into making decisions that we feel that we have no control over. In any circumstance, whether we are prepared for it or not, this is not OK.

I guess that I truly believe that the key to a good experience is having a sense of control over it. I am not saying that this will immunise you against bad experience, because they are a part of life. But saying that having "expectations" leads to disappointment seems a little pessimistic to me. Maybe the key is to have well researched, educated, realistic and achievable expectations.

FWIW from my experiences, the one where I "went with the flow" was the worst. I was a passenger on someone else's ride, because I had expectations, but no realistic plan in place to achieve them. I guess I could liken it to waking up one day and deciding that I was going to do a triathlon...I might be able to go with the flow and pull it off, after all I can run, bike ride and swim. Without preparation though, I open myself up to a whole list of complications which I am more likely to avoid with some preparation.



#44 Feral_Pooks

Posted 31 March 2012 - 09:27 PM

I think there is some confusion between the ideas of a traumatic birth and a birth where there were complications. A natural, 'easy' birth might be traumatic. A complicated, emergency-situation birth might not be traumatic. I am beginning to suspect that that's where some of the problems are in this discussion for me. 'Traumatic' is in the eye of the beholder only. I don't really understand PPs saying 'well all of these things went pear shaped but I went with it'. Then, ok, it might have been difficult but it wasn't traumatic if you weren't traumatised by it... I had zero complications but am completely traumatised by my experience. No one is saying that a birth where things went ugly= problems down the track. They are saying that a birth in which the woman giving birth is traumatised by the experience causes problems down the track.

Does that make sense? I'm pretty sleep deprived Tounge1.gif


#45 Soontobegran

Posted 31 March 2012 - 09:48 PM

QUOTE (pookems85 @ 31/03/2012, 10:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think there is some confusion between the ideas of a traumatic birth and a birth where there were complications. A natural, 'easy' birth might be traumatic. A complicated, emergency-situation birth might not be traumatic. I am beginning to suspect that that's where some of the problems are in this discussion for me. 'Traumatic' is in the eye of the beholder only. I don't really understand PPs saying 'well all of these things went pear shaped but I went with it'. Then, ok, it might have been difficult but it wasn't traumatic if you weren't traumatised by it... I had zero complications but am completely traumatised by my experience. No one is saying that a birth where things went ugly= problems down the track. They are saying that a birth in which the woman giving birth is traumatised by the experience causes problems down the track.

Does that make sense? I'm pretty sleep deprived Tounge1.gif



It makes perfect sense pookem85.

I honestly don't believe any one of us can truly be prepared for our first labour and delivery.
We read other people's accounts of their experiences, we go to classes, we read until  we can read no more but the reality is often vastly different to our expectations.
I don't think we can prepare for the pain.  I know some people are pleasantly surprised, others like myself was overwhelmingly shocked that my own body could create so much pain for itself.

I had been attending women in labour for years when I had my own, I couldn't be more educated, informed and what I thought to be prepared but I wasn't.
It was nothing like I imagined, the pain to me was brutal and it did indeed traumatise me to the extent I looked at my perfect baby girl after she was born and wondered whether she was worth it.

I do understand pookem because so many people feel as you do. There doesn't have to be something that went wrong, there doesn't have to be someone that did something wrong to you it is quite simply very shocking to many people just how we have so little control over the way our body labours.

It took me a couple of days to adore my child and think she was worth it, it took me until I was pregnant again to forget the pain and be actually looking forward to doing it again.
Second time was so much better...no surprises and it did in fact help counteract the 'trauma'  of the first time.
As I said previously it took very little time after our family was complete to regret that I wasn't going to be able to do it again.....go figure wink.gif

Subsequent labours weren't less painful, I just wasn't so gobsmacked by the pain.

#46 ShortAndStout

Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:05 AM

Something that my antenatal teacher said has stuck with me - we were talking about birth plans, expectations etc, and she said along the lines of, it's not whether you have the birth you were hoping for, but whether you feel that you were respected and treated with dignity.
For me that was certainly true - many aspects of my pregnancy and birth were traumatic, but the thing that bothers me is how I was treated by two of the postnatal staff.

#47 kiwilisa

Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:48 PM

My children are now 2 and 4 and I think about their births all the time.  They were both incredible and amazing experiences.  I was one of 'those' people who researched and read everything.  I did Calmbirth, epi-no, wrote a detailed 'birth preferences' document and insisted on having an active labour and physiological 3rd stage.  My 1st was born in POW Private in Sydney and my 2nd under private care in a public hospital in NZ.  I was lucky enough to get everything I wanted.  I had doctors and midwives that respected my preferences and took them seriously.  I KNOW I was lucky.  I believe giving birth changed me and I don't want to forget the feelings I had at the time.  It DOES happen.  Birth isn't always horrendous.  I would love to give birth again, but don't think I'm up to having a 3rd child to look after!



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Starting a family doesn't always mean moving into a bigger house - not yet, anyway.

 

What's in a name?

Baby Names

Looking for a classic name, or an unusual name? Our Baby Name Finder is for you, search or browse to refine your shortlist.

 
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