Processing your birth experience is an important thing to do whether you just gave birth and have a newborn at home, or you gave birth years ago and are starting to think about adding another baby to your family.
In the past, I've talked about processing birth trauma, but this is a little different. This is about processing everything that went on leading up to and immediately after the birth of your baby, be it good, great, bad or traumatic.
Trust someone enough to tell them
This is a big one following the birth of your baby...trust. If things didn't go to plan, or you made a decision that you were unsure of, trusting someone enough to tell them what happened during birth may be difficult. Think about all of the people in your support circle, and choose the one that you trust the most. Female, male, sister, mother, grandmother, friend. It really doesn't matter so long as you trust them.
Let go of guilt
Was your plan for a home birth, and you opted to go to the hospital? Did you opt to cut the cord right away? Did you want extended skin to skin and quiet in the room following the birth? No matter what the decisions you made about your birth were, they were right for you in that moment. You are the only one who lived through your pregnancy, and you are the only one who can decide what is right for you, your body and your baby. Noone is in a position to judge you. Let go of the guilt, and know that you birthed your baby exactly how you needed to.
Talk about the trauma
If something happened that went extremely against your plan, like an emergency cesarean or life saving measures, we encourage you to talk about it. The longer you sweep it under the rug and ignore it, the more intensity it will build. In subsequent pregnancies, that anxiety, fear, guilt, trauma....all of those intense feelings that have been brewing may just explode, which isn't healthy for anyone. Know that those around you are listening, and are there to support you.
You are the one who gave birth. Not your nurses, not your doctors, not your doula and not your midwives. You. This birth was completely and entirely yours (and your partners!) Celebrate the moment that you became a parent. Toast to a job well done, because let's face it...giving birth is hard!
Birth doesn't always go to plan, and sometimes scary things happen. When we bottle it up and let it take over our thoughts, things can get spun around and what we remember having happened may not have actually happened. If you have a doula present at your birth, debrief with them within a week of the birth to make sure everything you remember is accurate. If you feel jaded or angry about anything that happened, express that to someone and then let it go.
You did a great job bringing your baby into the world. Acknowledge that. Celebrate that. Be proud of that.