Pregnancy,  This Motherhood Journey

I Think I Have Birth Trauma


It’s never easy bringing a baby into the world. There’s fear of the unknown, pain in the contractions, and possibly scars from surgery. Healing takes time, but we eventually begin to forget how uncomfortable those few hours were; that is, unless things didn’t go as we planned… I think I may have birth trauma.

My first birth was long and hard. It lasted close to 42 hours, my epidural didn’t work, and I remember feeling barely conscience. But I came out of it okay, healed well, and quickly forgot what contractions truly felt like.

My second was a dream delivery. I had to be induced due to a complication, but I had a perfect epidural, the delivery was calm and short, and I was up and showering five minutes later. I felt great! Yes, I could totally do this again!

Then my third happened. I woke up in the middle of the night with a contraction so intense that I immediately began to shake all over. I felt nauseous, I was bleeding, and I quickly called the hospital knowing ‘this was it.’ They told me I couldn’t come to my registered hospital because they were on deferral. They said they’d call around until they found another location for me to deliver, and I stood in my living room panicking and shaking. Five minutes passed, then ten, and my husband said ‘forget it’ and we headed to our original planned hospital.

I was still extremely nauseousย once checked-in, and after finding out that I was only at 5cm I quickly requested an epidural and gravol. The anti-nausea meds worked fast, but on the first attempt at an epidural placement, the anesthesiologist gave me a dural puncture. It took her another hour to get a proper placement. From there things continued to go down hill.

My labor stalled out at 6cm. They broke my water to try and help things along, but there was meconium. Hours later, nothing had happened, so they gave me some drugs through an IV to try and get things moving. It worked, but I began having excruciating back labor. They figured the baby was facing the wrong direction. A proactive nurse came in, got me on my hands and knees, and pushed my tailbone during each contraction. It worked, and I quickly began to dilate and get some relief.

The anesthesiologist came in and was concerned about why I was feeling so much since I had an epidural placement. He decided to top it up to make me more comfortable, but within seconds of him doing so nearly my entire body froze. I could feel myself losing control of my limbs part by part and it was terrifying! First my legs, than my arms, and I could feel it fast approaching my neck.

Suddenly there were a ton of people in the room. One Doctor was checking my airway, two others were watching me and our baby’s heart rate monitors, two nurses were by my bed, and another was holding my hand and telling me to stay calm. I knew what they were doing… they were getting ready to whisk me away for an emergency C-section. Everyone was tense. But the freezing stopped, our heart rates remained well, and I was fully dialated. Ten minutes later, I had pushed out our beautiful girl – something the nurses had never seen happen after such a situation.


After she came out, I cried. Not because I was so happy to see her (though I was). No, I cried because the awful ordeal was over. The stress, the pain… it was done. Except, it wasn’t. I would soon have a spinal headache from that dural puncture and it would likely be the worst headache I’d ever have. I’d need to be on bedrest, because laying flat on my back was the only thing that would minimize the pressure and painful throbbing.

It was true. I had to crawl on all fours to use the bathroom. I couldn’t shower for days. I missed Thanksgiving dinner. I felt like my first week of life with my baby girl was taken from me. It was awful, but I eventually recovered.

Now? For the first time since starting to have babies, I’m terrified of giving birth. I’m terrified to ever get an epidural again. I’m terrified of the pain. I’m terrified of the unknown. I’m terrified of feeling so completely helpless and out of control of my own body. I’m not opposed to having a fourth child, but I’m not sure I could get past that fear. That alone shuts down the thought of ever having another baby. Our baby girl was worth it, but I don’t want to do that again.

So why am I writing this? To deal. To process. To find others who may feel the same way I do. I realize that all ended well, but that doesn’t take away the grief. Everyone who has given birth has a story. A story of triumph over pain, loss, or control. Birth trauma is real, and I think I have it.

What’s your story?




  • Ashley

    Oh birth trauma is so real! I had traumatic births with both my boys. Both were inductions unfortunately.

    My first was induced because of Pre-E. 8 hours of hard labor, 2 hours of him stuck because he was coming out sunny side up, and had rotated 90 degrees. Finally the doctor came in and apologized and literally ripped me open, turned him and pulled him out. No epidural, no morphine, no nothing. 150+ stitches from front to back. Couldn’t sit proper for weeks. he was 9lbs 14 oz.

    my second was induced a week early because I had GD, and they *THOUGHT* he was going to be a big baby. Induction started on a monday, I was 1 cm dialated. After the initial induction, contractions started, but they sent me home. Went back Tuesday for a different induction, again contractions started, but they sent me home. Went back wednesday for a 3rd induction. No progress. I finally lost it and told them that they had better break my water, or else I was leaving the hospital and not coming back until baby’s head was comin! They finally listened to me, broke my water and put me on Oxytocin to get the contractions going. That was HELL! 4 hours of one continuous contraction. I had only dialated to 2 cm.I would literally get about 5 seconds in between. I was begging for morphine, but they wouldn’t give it to me, because baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction, and they didn’t know why. Finally after about 5 hours of labor, my doctor came in, and apologized, and said we had to do an emergency c-section. All I could do was say THANK YOU! Once we got in to the operating room, I felt such sweet relief with the epidural! (though would also end up with a dural puncture headache, and would lose the first week of cuddling my baby as well). Once they pulled my “big” baby out (8lbs 8oz) they saw that his cord was coming out before him, and with each contraction I had been cutting off his oxygen. He didn’t cry for what felt like ages, had initial APGAR of 4. But once he finally took his first breath, it was like magic ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank the Lord he was not harmed during labor while cutting off his oxygen, there was no lasting effects whatsoever ๐Ÿ˜€

    Talking about it totally helps. Like so many things (infertility, miscarriage, birth trauma, PPD/PPA etc), I think if we as a society of mother’s, were more open and transparent about it, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much fear, shame, and embarassment surrounding them. Good on you for telling your story!

  • Patty Moliterno

    There are 9 years between my third and 4th – through God’s timing. I think He knew I needed time to process, heal, and that my kids needed to be older before I introduced another child. Everything about three was so overwhelming for me.

    You do forget after a while. With my fourth, I was blissfully happy being pregnant until about week 37. I looked at my husband and said, “Oh crap, labor really hurts. And I don’t know that I can do this again. And I’m older and what if I am too old to do it again.” But I did it, and it wasn’t that bad.

    Time heals!

  • Julie

    The birth story is fresh for me, having just delivered 5 days ago! My first labor on my due date was 22 hrs with over 3 hrs of pushing. Second baby was induced 11 days early (I was bleeding) and took 11 hrs with 90 mins of pushing. Didn’t know what to expect this time. Due to “advanced maternal age” and a scheduled tubal ligation, I was induced one week early. Even before the induction I was having irregular contractions and was 3cm dilated. Shortly after the pitocin started Dr broke my water. It was just before 9am and we joked about having this baby out before noon. Dr left to go to the office and my husband and I settled in. Contractions started quickly and strongly, much different than previous labors. I had my husband help me to the bathroom and I think that kick-started things. He ran to the bathroom himself and when he was gone the nurse came in and saw my face during a contraction. She checked me and I was now 9cm. They quickly did the epidural (I needed it for surgery afterwards) and the feel to push was strong. Nurse had hand on baby’s head to hold her back until Dr arrived. Dr had time to run in and put on gloves. Baby started coming right away as I pushed. As head emerged, my husband says that he could see the cord tightly around her neck. He said the Dr tugged and wrapped it back over the baby’s head and then signaled him to get me to push. I was in such pain and couldn’t see what was going on anyway so I’d had my eyes shut to focus. My husband pushed my head up and told me to push hard and the nurses all said “watch!!” The Dr had to insert her fingers to grab the baby under the armpit and pulled out my daughter and my husband quickly cut the very tight cord off her neck. They put her on my chest but she was gray and not moving. Someone said, “she’s floppy” so they wisked her away. After many excruciating minutes they were able to get her crying and all was good. Less than a 4 hr labor and more drama than expected for sure. The recovery has been rough, with the addition of tubal ligation surgery (abdominal stitches, insides that feel scrambled and bruising). I’m very happy that despite the unexpected labor I have a healthy baby.

  • Jamie-Lea

    My third pregnancy and delivery were traumatic. After having a 1 in hospital induced lasting 10 hrs from arom to baby in arms it was non eventful for a first baby at 19 yrs. 2nd was a beautiful home birth lasting approx 6 hrs. 3rd I ended up with GDM but did not need insulin and bc of my size everyone figured baby was going to be huge. Around 8lbs. ( my last was 7lbs 13oz so I did not consider 8lbs huge) but anyways yes I have having a huge baby so I was transferred from midwives to an OB bc they all thought I was going to need insulin due to me being obese( I didn’t) it then turned in to needing to be induced 2wks early bc of my huge baby. I was totally against this. Obvs I wanted another home birth and everything was shattered and I was already blaming myself bc it was bc of me and something I did. I was fat and my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. I still saw my midwives during this and I had 1 that was a bit cold ( great skills but not great bedside) and she made me feel like crap when the only thing that felt normal during the end was going to my midwife appointments. I had 2 stretch and sweeps to see if we could get things moving and nothing happened. So d day came a Monday was chosen; we arrived and we were sent home bc the fetal monitors were not working properly and they only had 3 between triage and the birthing unit. I was pissed! I had the midwife I wanted and the OB. They switched me to Wednesday which ment a different ob who I had never met and the midwife I didn’t like. It was also the day before my 30th birthday and call me selfish but I did not want to be in labour, in hospital or share my birthday. They didn’t want to wait any longer because : big baby and the G6 summit was happening on the weekend and it would be hard to get to the hospital. So Wednesday it was. We got there early as they requested and waited and waited and bloody well waited till about 2:30 when my original OB called up and gave them shit ( I had seen them in the cafe) I had also not eaten anything since the night before because they don’t want you eating. So I was brought in to my room and had a really nice nurse explained everything to me and I trounced the MD. He was at least very nice. We started with the gel and as soon as they did this and I was laying down and alone in the room the bloody room started shaking!i thought wtf!!! ( They were doing construction on the hospital so I thought something was going to come through my wall!) It turns out it was an earth quake. Not a huge one but big enough. So I get up after 30mins and start walking etc. Feeling very cramps and back labour ( had it with all them) I also was just uncomfortable bc this was not where I wanted to labour and birth. I then had a new nurse shortly after this started. We tried the tub and a few other things but nothing was really helping move the contractions along. The nurse kept bugging me asking about intervals etc but I had back labour which mean contractions never end it seems. We tried the tub and it was horrible. Finally I told them I wanted my water broken. Enough of this shit. MD checked and I was only 2cms after about 3hrs. This did speed them up a bit and I hopped in the shower. The nurse kept bugging me to be monitored ND asking if I wanted an epidural. I said no and no leave me alone. She still kept bugging me for one. Oh if you don’t get 1 now the MD will be off the unit then it will be harder if you want 1 later. By this pt I was almost done with everything. I said fine let’s check me and if I haven’t progressed just give me 1. So we lay down and as she goes to check I have a contraction, most would stop and wait but no this one kept checking and as I’m screaming she’s telling the MIDWIFE she’s just doing a sweep and as I say to stop she tells me to be quiet it’s not that bad. That did me in. I was totally and utterly done with it all. Just take the baby out of me I didn’t care anymore. My midwife told me layer that when that sat me up and did the epidural and then laid me back down I had a large amt of bloody show on the sheets. So epi was in and I was on my side. The lovely ( not) nurse was charting everything when is said oh I needed to pee. She told me I wpukd have to wait till she was done. I then said oh no I need to poop, which then turned in to oh shit the baby is coming! My midwife lifted up the sheets and my leg ( still on my side) and oh their was my little girls head! She had time to get gloves on and out 1 little push later out came my beautiful LITTLE 6lbs 8oz baby girl! The MD walked in just as she was born and said oh I guess I don’t need gloves! I didn’t think much of it but felt down and upset and ppd set in quick. I didn’t really talk to anyone about it either. When I tried I got the oh but you have a healthy baby so everything worked out. I had never felt so out of control of my life in all of my life. I didn’t get to decide anything it felt like and the nurse was horrid. It took a while to heal and I said we are done no more kids. Well as I got closer to her 1st bday I started to change my mind. It took a while to convince my hubby to have a 4th. He remembered everything and didn’t want me to go through it again. But I convinced him and we started. I had an Mc shortly after this and then it took a yr and a bit to conceive my rainbow baby. ๐Ÿ™‚ this time around I knew my rights, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do the accomplish this. I spoke openly with my midwives this time around about how I felt the last time and what I expected from the if it happened again. I was dx with glucose intolerance with him which ment I had 1 level off by a few pts. (2pts) it ment closer monitoring of levels and healthier eating. It also.ment no home birth again. I was devestsated. I thought this was supposed to be my healing birth. I fought but liability issues won, but my midwife did tell me that if I were to refuse to go to hospital then they cannot abandon me. So secretly I was planning for a home birth IF I felt ok when labour started. Well it started and we ended up in hospital but only bc my midwife was there with another lady pushing and according to my breathing and moaning during a contraction she wanted me there asap. We got there and in a major whirlwind Ryder was born before we were even admitted! LOL start to finish we birthed for 2hrs. Lol it truly was my healing birth. AS MUCH as it was in hospital it went well and I couldn’t have asked for a better birth. Time and talking does heal. Educate yourself as well on your option if you do want to have another. We are our own advocates for health care. ๐Ÿ™‚ hugs xoxoxo email if you want to chat further.

    • momentsinmommyland

      You are such a doll. If I had gone for a fourth I think things would have been A LOT different! We decided to be done though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Kristi

    I completely understand/agree with your thoughts. My son is 6 months old and I’m still seeing a counselor to process. This was my 1st pregnancy and while I was sick the entire time it was fairly smooth. We did have a month long scare regarding his heart and kidneys that turned out to be multiple technician errors but other than that I enjoyed being pregnant. He was head down for the last month or so and I went into labor 2 days before his due date. After laboring at home with our doula we headed to the hospital and I was only 2 cm dilated but my cervix was quite thin. They did an exam and brought in experts right away, turned out he had turned breech during labor, but they didn’t tell me the rest. It was a flurry of people for the next 20 minutes and I was told I was having g an emergency c section. What they didn’t tell me or my partner (told my mom instead) was that he was so breech they thought his hips dislocated, there was merconium and his heart rate was plummeting. I should have clued in since they had me strapped flat on the bed and said not to move! My father had recently passed away at this hospital and the or they took me to looked like his room. They gave me a spinal and said it would numb me to my chest and instantly I was numb to my face, felt like I couldn’t breathe and had a massive anxiety attack. They almost put me under but decided for some reason to give me morphine (which I’m allergic to, had told all the staff, wrote the paperwork and was wearing an allergy bracelet) to calm me. It worked and my son came out fine, no problems. He was born at 817 am and I was out of it until midnight. Couldn’t hold him, feed him or move. I have zero memory of day 1 and suffered the after effects for days. He also ended up in the nicu for blood sugar issues which I strongly believe is related to not being able to nurse him. They sent me home without him early due to over crowding and the nurse gave me the wrong care instructions which resulted in my incision opening up. In a nutshell, traumatic! So glad to hear someone else be vocal about their experience and fears, hoping for the best for you.

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