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What to Say to a Woman with Birth Trauma

by meggf (follow)
Birth Trauma (44)     
Imagine a woman pours her heart out to you over a cup of tea. She tells you the story of her birth, the day she met her baby, and how it wasnít what she imagined it would be. She met her baby in an operating theatre, or on her back surrounded by masked strangers who were pointing a spotlight on her vagina. Maybe she didnít meet her baby for many hours after it was extracted from her body.

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Donít Say ďAt Least You Got a Healthy BabyĒ: You may feel the need to comfort her as most people do when others reach out to them. So you might say ďat least you got a healthy baby], focus on that insteadĒ. Thatís not comforting, itís a distraction, but you can not distract a woman from her birth grief. The woman in question isnít a fool, she knows her baby is healthy. Women are forever grateful for healthy children, but how a woman feels about her birth is ENTIRELY UNRELATED to how she feels about her baby.

What To Say Instead: Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

Donít Say Doctors Wouldnít Do it if it Wasnít Necessary: Statistically AND anecdotally we know this isnít the truth. Unless you would defend every doctor who ever made an error or behaved poorly in every single hospital ward across the world, donít defend the obstetric branch either. They have insurance companies, lobby groups, legal teams, and unions to defend them. Doctors are no more honourable than any other member of society. Some are marvellous, and some are like used car salesmen.

What To Say Instead: Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

Donít Say But My Caesarean Was Great: Well itís great that YOU had a good experience in the operating theatre! Not all women do. When a woman says her caesarean was hard she isnít saying ďmine stank so yours did tooĒ, sheís saying that HER CAESAREAN WAS HARD. She will let you tell your birth story in time, let her tell hers too.

What To Say Instead: Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Donít Say I Wish Iíd Had a Caesarean or Youíre Lucky You had One: Unless youíve had a caesarean how do you know? Our society has glorified the caesarean to the point that we often believe itís easier and safer for women and babies but in truth itís neither. A caesarean is major surgery. Unless youíd tell someone who had a triple bypass that theyíre lucky donít say it to a mother who is telling you that her caesarean stank.

What To Say Instead: Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

Donít Say Women In Africa Die All the Time: Africa is a really huge place and some African countries have brilliant maternity care! It highlights your ignorance about Africa AND about birth! According to Amnesty International

ďIt's more dangerous to give birth in the United States than in 49 other countries. African-American women are at almost four times greater risk than Caucasian womenĒ

Although since that was written in 2011 the US ranking has fallen further, to 60th. One of only eight industrialised countries where rates of maternal death are rising.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


So yes, women DO die in Africa, but given that Africa is a continent made up of forty-seven countries, a continent that comprises almost a quarter of all the countries in the world, there are bound to be some deaths there. Obviously some are a result of poverty and an inability to access necessary medical care during pregnancy, but the overuse of obstetrics in wealthy countries isnít working any better. Women die in every country worldwide, thatís the nature of birth. Being alive at the end of birth is the default setting Ö.. even ďIn AfricaĒ.

What To Say Instead: Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

When a woman trusts you enough to tell you about her pain donít silence her, donít dismiss her, just listen with empathy. You can not fix birth trauma but if you arenít careful you could make it worse. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal deaths although itís a little known fact. We need to protect new mothers because they are vulnerable. So if a woman reaches out to you and shares her grief or trauma and youíre unsure what to say, remember these words:

Iím sorry you didnít get the birth you wanted, how are you feeling physically

Itís that simple!

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#Birth Trauma

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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