Updated: Jan 1, 2021
My second labor was the only one that I was able to do at a birth center. Despite my having more people attend this birth than any other birth, I felt very alone during a period after my son was born—even though I was not alone.
After my son was birthed in the tub, the midwives could see that I was going to need some support to stop bleeding. They did an amazing job of not acting panicked or worried. They handed him over to my husband and gave him permission to leave the room to care for him. Though my mom was there when I exited the tub, she was emotionally unavailable and experiencing her own trauma as she watched her daughter in an unstable situation, scrambling to know how to help.
The other attendees were in the next room with my newborn son and husband helping to introduce him to my daughter who had just come to meet him. I had not before thought that it might be important to have somebody a little further removed than my mother who could offer emotional support if times got rough. Though the midwives were efficient and professional, their job is not to provide emotional support for a mother during a traumatic time— their job is to save her life. I know if I had a Doula with me, she would have picked up on all of the little details that were adding to my trauma—and either assigned my mom to get me the physical things of comfort I needed to ease my trauma OR assigned my mom to be right there by my side on the floor while she, the doula mindfully gathered things.
My initial bonding with my second child didn’t come naturally as it had with my first. I battled with overwhelm and some anxiety in the form of several emotional breakdowns for months.
I would like to contrast this experience with another birth experience I had.
CONTRAST: Luke’s birth
I had to be induced due to low fluid with my 4th child—resulting in an intense labor. After he was born, I needed even more support with bleeding than I did with my second. However, this time the roles of my birth team were clearly defined and nobody left my side, even during the time my son was being weighed and measured. They buoyed me and braced me through the waves—during labor, birth and afternoon birth.
After the dust had settled, I had several people observe how much more grounded I seemed after this birth—despite the traumatic post birth episode. I explained that as I was losing strength and morale, I was being replenished at a faster rate than I was depleting. I came home from that experience tired, but replenished and filled with hope. Though it sounds cliche—I have never meant it more literally—I could not have done it without my birth team.
Therefore, what? If you don’t have a birth plan, make one. If you don’t have a birth team, create one. If you don’t have defined, clear roles for each member of your birth team, DO IT! You need everybody on your team to feel valued and know their duties. Be sure to process what You liked and didn't like after each birth. Take time to label your fears for what they are and embrace them, and lean into them during labor. Thanks for reading and hopefully this is helpful to somebody out there.