She’s taken the classes. She’s practiced the breathing exercises, knows what there is to know about pain management. She’s read all the “What To Expect” and hundreds of other parenting books and articles and thinks to herself, I can do this. I can REALLY do this. She’s written an amazing birth plan and feels confident that she has things under control, or at least what she can control. Most women recognize that there are so many things that happen in labor that they do not expect, but say to themselves, I can handle it. I have crammed for the exam. I have talked to my Mom friends. Easy peasy, right?
Not quite. Sometimes things happen that are not only out of her control, but things happen that make her personally feel completely out of control. These things can be anything that make her feel disrespected, talked down to, scared, and uninformed, though she may have had so much information under her belt.
It can be downright scary and make her feel that she is spiralling out of control. This is not good at any time, but picture if she is trying to bring another human being into the world while this is happening. Not good. So what can she do? She can try and make sure she is letting those around her know that she needs to feel empowered. If not, it will be a very difficult experience for everyone and potentially dangerous.
No one wants this, and most partners and doctors do not want to make the woman feel out of control. It’s important that they know what not to do in the future so other women do not have to suffer. On that note, here are 15 times women felt completely out of control during the delivery:
15 The Unexpected C-Section
This woman talked about a labor that seemed to be stalled at six centimeters. And worse than that, the baby was posterior. She was exhausted from hours of pushing and was told to stomp around to try and shift the baby. Not only did that not occur, but the poor woman went temporarily blind as her blood pressure shot up and she became dizzy and delirious. When the medical staff finally realized what was happening she was prepped for surgery after a whole bunch of blood tests and an IV and catheter being inserted.
The surgery was an emergency c-section which she had never seen coming. She found out later she had pre-eclampsia. It was a long road to recovery, and she had wished there had been signs or someone had noticed something sooner so she would have known what to expect.
14 Breaking Her Water Without Permission
Another woman talked about being induced when her pregnancy went to 41 weeks. It was a difficult labor and delivery. This is often the case as an induction brings the contractions on stronger and faster than natural labor, which the body builds to more slowly. She talked about experiencing a lot of pain in labor when suddenly a doctor she had never met before came and asked to check her cervix to see how she was progressing. The woman experienced even more pain than before.
She didn’t know what was happening until she felt a rush of liquid. That was when she realized that the doctor had broken her water. She had not asked for permission. It made this Mom-to-be so angry that her power over her birth experience had been taken away from her. It was something she never forgot.
13 Pressured Into A Spinal Block
This Mom's placenta would not detach in her body after she delivered a healthy baby girl. She knew that it had to come out, but was so exhausted by her experience that she did not know which would be the easiest and safest way to deliver the placenta. The doctor and anesthesiologist gave her the choice of local freezing through her IV, spinal block or being put under completely. She decided on the local, but the anesthesiologist did not approve and her doctor said nothing. She felt pressured to choose the spinal block and no one stopped her. She ended up having a horrible experience and a long road to recovery. No one explained to her that what she thought would be a manual detachment actually ended up being a full “D&C”. The doctor talked to everyone but her.
12 Made To Feel Guilty For Not Getting An Epidural
Another woman was told by a doctor after a harrowing experience where the baby got stuck inside - a vacuum extractor was tried, and there was lots of pain and discomfort when everything was finally stable - that if she had gotten an epidural to begin with, she would not be in the operating room now being stitched up but rather with her husband and daughter. He had no idea that she had tried everything to have the baby naturally and that things had gone out of her control. She felt so scared and discouraged by her birth experience at this point, that it was the last thing she needed to hear. She later learned that as a woman she need never be afraid to speak up and stand up for herself.
11 Progressed Faster Than She Thought
This woman’s labor progressed so fast that no one actually believed she was in real labor! She went from 3 centimeters dilation to 7 centimeters, and her pain meter went through the roof! Even the nurses did not catch how far along she was. It took a senior nurse to tell the other nurses who did not believe she was in labor, to prepare a hospital room for her. She had just arrived at the room when she describes her daughter shooting out of her uterus at top speed. She ended up having chills and shakes and not being able to touch or hold her daughter for hours until her body had calmed down. It was a very emotional and physically demanding experience. She learned to truly trust her instincts from day one.
10 Pre-Eclampsia Decides
Another woman had a horrible experience where she became dizzy and disoriented due to having pre-eclampsia. She did not know she had developed it. It got so bad that she went temporarily blind, her blood pressure shot up, and she became delirious even forgetting she was pregnant. After she gave birth she was separated from her daughter for many hours while she recovered enough to be able to hold and feed her.
It was a very frightening experience to say the least, and she felt that no one took her concerns seriously even after a few minutes of screaming, “I can’t see.” Poor woman! She had a whole vision of how beautiful her birth experience would be and looked forward to posting pictures to family and friends. Instead she was an exhausted and even had some temporary paralysis in her face. Not what she thought birth would be!
9 Being Talked Down To
Several other Moms have described when doctors or nurses talked down to them, either by not taking their concerns seriously, such as not believing her when she said she was in labor, to telling her what birth measure she should use, or whether or not she was comfortable with it. Another woman was told to just “go with it” when asked what drug she was being given by an anesthesiologist after a particularly harrowing and long birth experience. Now of course, most medical professionals are just that, professional, as well as kind and open to hearing the woman out and answering questions. But these incidents show that there are some in the medical field that do not understand how giving a woman control makes the situation easier and safer for all.
8 He Wasn't Supportive
Still another Mom felt that though she did not like the way the doctor and nurse were talking to her, she held back her pain experience of the contractions so as not to embarrass her husband and make him think she was ungrateful. She realized that she forgot in this instance to take the control of her birth experience back, in spite of some unexpected developments that altered her birth plan. It pained her that her husband was not supportive of her, but if she could go back she realizes she would have taken measures into her own hand and said what was on her mind, polite or not to outsiders. It was her body. It was her baby. She had the right to choose what birth measure she wanted.
7 She Couldn't Relax
Another Mom admitted that she just panicked when the pain started intensifying due to things that happened beyond her control. She did everything she could to stay calm even with unexpectedly harsh contractions, but did also realize that if she had used relaxation visualization techniques sooner and focused on the present moment, and thought to surround herself with a birth attendant who would support her wishes, things may have gone a lot smoother. Even in the circumstances she did end up birthing under, what stayed with her was remembering that relaxing and thinking positive about her breathing would have helped immensely. She realized for the future her power in advocating for herself, and in not letting anyone else affect her inner dialogue about how she would get through labor and delivery.
6 No Moving Allowed
Another Mom was told that lying down and focusing on what was being told to do was the best and safest way to deliver. She now knows that as false, as her birth experience felt nothing other than disempowering. She felt a lot of pain with the contractions, experienced a lot more tearing than may have happened had she been able to move about more freely, and felt anything but empowered and strong. She was strapped down on a bed attached with an IV and fetal heartbeat monitor connected to her stomach. She had not been considered a high-risk pregnancy, so wished she could have done things differently at the outset, or at least been given the option to try. Her baby was born vaginally and was healthy, but it was not a positive experience for her at all other than meeting her beautiful child.
5 One Position Only
Again, this Mom was told that it was best she not shift in too many different directions but lie down in bed. She ended up having a lot of back labor, which made the delivery extremely painful. The baby was born vaginally with a lot of tearing and stitches needed. She felt that no one spoke to her about what was happening, but talked above her head. She wanted the opportunity to move around the room, but as her team thought she may end up needing a c-section, they cautioned against too much moving around. She felt as if her opinion and the research she did amounted to nothing in the end. She was so happy to meet her child, but wishes she had inquired more at the outset about laboring positions and her choice in doing them.
4 It Was Too Distracting
Still another Mom talked about how, through the haze of pain and weakness and discomfort to finally her baby, her heart rate plummeted. She ended up being averse to all things around her. When she was asked questions she could not answer them. Finally through a fog, she remembers being asked permission to do an emergency c-section which she agreed to in fear for her child’s life and safety. She ended up asking to be put out for the c-section as the stress of the buildup to it left her exhausted. When she awoke, she met her child and was so grateful that both of them were well, but mourns her birth experience as being less than ideal from what she was hoping for and led to believe. It does not go smoothly for all women, unfortunately.
3 Uncontrollable Shaking
Two Moms who ended up needing c-sections had some bad reactions from both adrenaline and the drugs given to them for the pain, that all they remembered was the uncontrollable shaking and queasiness they felt. This was not what they learned in the birthing classes, and they felt so defeated that they couldn't deliver naturally. It was the most powerless feeling in the world to not be able to control one’s body to push their babies out into the world. On top of that, they couldn't physically control their bodies and go through childbirth calmly. This was heartbreaking for both, and they are still scared about c-sections today though they and their babies were fine in the end. It is a really big thing to go from wanting natural no intervention labors to a labor with every intervention possible.
2 From Hot To Cold
Another Mom experienced both hot and cold flashes during labor and delivery, which in addition to the pain and labor, was far worse than she had been led to believe. She would have planned differently with what pain management strategies she would have liked to use to cope, and she would have mentally prepared herself for experiencing this kind of issue alongside pain, shaking and other labor side effects post-natal. Mainly, she felt ill supported and ill-informed and was mad at herself for not knowing where to find the adequate resources to educate herself sufficiently on labor and delivery. She wished she had asked her doctor to direct her to resources as well. Hormones, both pre and post-natal, can wreak havoc with even the strongest of women. Having control over how one handles hormones can make a huge difference in how well labor goes for a woman.
1 No One Explained What Was Happening
The scariest thing for many of the women in these points (and many others too), is that often they see that no one in the delivery room is explaining anything to them about what is happening, other than a quick we’ll have to do this intervention or that, etc. They do not feel empowered as decisions are made for them by others, and even their partners get told what is happening, but not the women themselves. It is insulting and scary for them, for unless they are unconscious and cannot speak or hear, they need to be a part of the decision and be informed on exactly what they are deciding to do. It is hard to make a medical decision which it is not on the fly, but when one is tired, emotional and scared, things must be explained so that a decision can be made quickly and calmly.
For these women, their birth experiences ended up being far beyond anything they’d dreamed. Yes, complications do arise, and thankfully this is not the case for every woman’s birth story. There are medical professionals who explain and inform their patients very well before the fact. Still, it does raise the question that more women and medical professionals need to sit down and talk about labor, delivery, choice, and what happens in between so that women can feel empowered no matter what happens in their birth experience.