Grieving the Labor and Delivery Experience You Wanted But Couldn’t Have

Throughout your pregnancy, there are a few hot topics that dominate your thoughts such as picking a name, nursery theme, child care options etc.  But the closer you get to delivery, one thing that begins to dominate your thoughts is your labor and delivery experience. You begin to envision how you want your labor to go and your intended plans. Do you want to labor with or without pain meds? Do you want a certain playlist playing in the background? Hospital or home birth?  Whatever decisions you make, you spent a good amount of time researching and coming up with your ideal labor and delivery experience.

But what happens when your vision does not match up with reality? What happens if your labor and delivery experience was less than ideal? Certain things can happen such as laboring for a very long period of time or maybe your method for pain management did not actually work.  Or maybe you labored so fast and had your baby at an unexpected location or had to experience an unexpected emergency c-section. It is also possible that your delivery experience caused a lot of bodily damage and tears as you birthed your child. 

If your labor and delivery experience matched any of the situations above or any  myriad of potentially trauma forming situations, what happens? Unfortunately, there is not a debriefing process post-birth. Most hospitals and birth centers focus solely on forming a bond with your child post-birth, that the focus shifts immediately from labor and delivery to skin to skin with your child and moving forward into the postpartum stage. No-one comes around and asks you if you are mentally okay after the birthing experience or checks in to see if you have processed your labor and birthing experience. If you are struggling to process your birthing experience, read below on how to process, grieve and release so you can begin to heal. 

Processing Your Experience

To be able to process your labor and delivery experience, first understand that your feelings are valid.  It is okay to feel sad at the loss of your vision, your plan and your “moment”.  You may also have feelings of anger, regret or even guilt or shame.

Take the time to acknowledge your feelings and your envisioned plan while also acknowledging any positives that came out of the diversion in your labor and delivery experience. Taking note of the positives, helps for you to find the silver-lining in your experience.

Grieving the Loss

One way you can begin to attempt to move on from your labor and delivery experience is to grieve the loss of your desired birthing moment. Grief can take on five different stages. These stages can look like:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance


Have you noticed that you are stuck in a certain stage of grief when thinking about your labor and delivery experience? Are you truly grieving the loss of your experience? 
As hard as grieving can be, it will be beneficial for you. Beginning to accept the reality of your labor and delivery experience helps you to begin to put into perspective your own individual experience, to be able to glean the positives from it.  By grieving and accepting the reality of your experience, it allows you to make peace with it as well. The wound can begin to close and you can begin the emotional and mental healing that needs to take place. 


Releasing the Experience

As you begin to accept the reality of your experience, it makes it easier for you to begin to release the traumas that came from your ideal labor/delivery experience being taken from you. Releasing the negative feelings that no longer serve you allows you to ultimately heal.  

One of the key ways to begin to move past your grief is talking through it with someone you trust. If you do not have a licensed mental health counselor, look for one to help you process your grief, as they will guide you on your path toward release and healing. 

Know that a future still exists even if your initial labor and delivery experience was not ideal. Your experience does not define you and it does not mean you will never have the future experiences that you envision, if you so choose.  Reframe what was a negative situation and shift your mindset around it. 

What didn’t kill you truly made you stronger (even if you don’t always feel that way).

Know that help is available and if you are looking for more help to process, grieve and release, hit the button below to schedule your consultation. I get it and I am here to help you!

Tiffany W.

Tiffany W.

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate.

Currently seeing new clients virtually in North Carolina.

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Hi! I'm Tiffany!

I am a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate, a Mom, Wife and Professional Woman located in North Carolina. 

I have a passion for helping women transform their lives.

Are you wearing too many hats and struggling with balance? Are you a new mom or just starting your pregnancy journey and looking for more help? You have come to the right place. 

 Click the below link to learn more about me and my services.

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