Feelings of helplessness after a normal birth


I didn't develop PTSD, and I had an "uncomplicated" birth, but I want to share my story because I experienced many of the things I have read about including a lack of control, personal helplessness, anxiety, and fear.

After the birth of my first child, I had an immediate and overwhelming sense of urgency to get out of the hospital. I experienced fear regarding my child, and I didn't want my child to leave the room (which was honoured except for about half an hour when they did some standard tests the next day), and I didn't sleep at all the night after giving birth.

I felt that I didn't have control of my surroundings, and I was in significant pain. This bubbled over for me that night when my nurse was about half an hour late with my scheduled pain medication.

I had been holding out for over an hour with a goal of knowing that I was scheduled to have additional pain medication at 2:30 a.m., but that medication did not arrive until after 3:00 a.m., When she came back to check on me at 5 a.m., I had decided I wanted out as soon as possible. She told me that she didn't think I would get out until after 5:00p.m. that day, and I told her that if I wasn't out by mid-day, I was going to loose it. We talked for a few minutes about it, and she put everything in place for this to happen before she left her shift at 6:00 a.m. (I left the hospital about 1:00 p.m. that day.)

Over the next few weeks I continued to have moments where I felt a profound sense of helplessness, and this was in a context of a lot of family support. Between my mother and my husband I wasn't ever home alone for more than maybe an hour the first two weeks.

I elected to go back to work part-time starting at three weeks, and this felt really, really good to me. The first week back, I only went in for 1-2 hours a day, but this was a place where I had complete control over my little corner of the world, and great competence in my tasks, and nothing that was new or that I had never done before (like comfort a fussing baby).

I don't know if an experience like mine under different circumstances would lead to PTSD, but I thought it was important to share because even though I didn't have any life-threatening moments or even complications, I still had these baseline feelings. I also didn't talk about them to anyone.

What would have made your birth experience better? Not having control or flexibility in the timing of the pain medication during my hospital stay is what sent me over my edge.

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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