• Sarah Purvey

What Happens When Your Birth Doesn’t Go To Plan?

*TRIGGER WARNING" If you have had a traumatic birth, this may be hard for you to read. Pick your time to read it, when you're not feeling too overwhelmed.

She lay on the bed, so bone achingly tired. Lifting her head from the pillow, was like lifting a sack of potatoes. Her new little being lay on her chest, snuggling, grizzling, looking up at her, like she is the only person who matters in the world. She wonders what to do and what her baby needs. She loves her more than life itself already. The image of just hours ago strikes through her mind, agony, she remembered begging for relief from the pains of her baby’s birth. Unrelenting for hours. The relief once the epidural began to work. She could rest. She could relax. Gather her strength. Gather her thoughts.

She remembered the non reassuring heart beat of her baby.

The panic.

Midwives and doctors running into the room.

The need to “get this baby out as quickly as possible.” Forceps were suggested and then used. Not exactly what she had planned. But better than a caesarean she tried to reassure herself, as a tear welled in the corner of her eye.

As much as she loved her baby, she couldn’t help but feel tinges of regret.

What ifs?

Wondering why she wasn’t strong enough? It wasn’t the idea of birth she had in her mind.

But, as everyone said, her little girl is doing beautifully. So strong, healthy and feeding well.

That’s what matters. You did the best you could, they reassured her.


Rationally she knew this, but it wasn’t good enough, for that niggling voice in the back of her mind.

Disappointed. Sad. Exhausted. Berating herself for feeling that way.

What if I told you Mumma, that you absolutely did the best that you could, with the knowledge that you had at the time. Birth is always amazing and mothers are always super woman, regardless of how baby enters the world.

You are a life bringer.

That is always a super power.


Allow yourself to feel your emotion.

Talk openly about how you feel.

It’s ok to think and feel the way you do.

Your thoughts, your feelings, your beliefs matter.

You are the mother of your child. You and your child are a dyad. You exist together. One does not thrive without the other.

Find an ear that is going to be there for you, that isn’t going to dismiss what you feel and think.

In time…

Ask yourself what was positive about my baby’s birth?
Ask yourself what was the one thing (if anything) that I would have done differently?
This allows you, yourself to access the positive aspects of your birth experience. It’s much more powerful when it comes from you. Write it down. This allows your brain to process the emotion and access the problems solving, more helpful parts of your brain, rather than just being driven by raw emotion (which drives unrealistic or those “you’re useless” types of thoughts).

Writing down what you would do differently, allows you the space to realistically think through the parts that you didn’t like. Maybe there actually wasn’t anything else that you could have done, given the knowledge and support that you had at the time. But, maybe there is something that you will be able to do next time, that will change your experience in the future.

Speaking to a professional can help too. If you find yourself being plagued by unpleasant images of the birth or just not being able to get past, how things unfolded. Get in touch with a psychologist/counsellor etc who specialises in perinatal issues.

Don’t endure it, don’t push it under the carpet. Your thoughts and feelings matter.

You will be able to make peace with your baby’s birth and even though it may not seem like it right now, I like to think about this quote:

You have the birth you need to have, to teach you what you need to know, to take you to the next place on your journey towards wholeness” Jane Hardwicke Collings

If you feel you need to chat this through in a non judgmental and trusting space and to help you cope with your big emotions that are coming up around your birth, please reach out to me and we can book a birth debrief. It’s ok not to feel ok and I can help you to make peace with your birth experience.

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