5 More Unexpected Childbirth Issues
postpartum depression, an absent husband, new-mom boddy issues, and other surprises you may encouter after giving birth
When I was pregnant with my first baby, Mathilda, I imagined her birth would be akin to an ecstatic religious experience -- complete with tears of joy, instant bonding and overwhelming happiness. In truth, Mathilda's birth was a long, drawn-out mess -- labor that didn't progress, followed by an emergency Caesarean section, and ending with one drugged-out, beaten-down mom. After she was born, the only emotion I remember experiencing was relief that the ordeal was over. I'm hardly alone; childbirth doesn't always go according to plan -- emotionally, as well as physically. Read on for the skinny about birth and postpartum experiences that may catch you off guard from birth experts and moms who've been there.
Surprise: You're not euphoric
Gentle warning: The birth of your baby may not be the emotional highlight of your life, and that's okay. Noelle Hale of Los Angeles had a long, difficult labor with her baby Chloe. "It was intensely painful; not at all the magical, beautiful moment you dream about," she admits. "I got to a point where I just wanted the baby OUT." Noelle experienced pangs of guilt and disappointment because she wasn't overwhelmed with joy at the moment of birth, even though she adored her baby more and more as the days and weeks of new motherhood went on. "Later, I talked to so many friends who had been through similar experiences," says Noelle. "It was such a relief knowing I wasn't the only mom who felt that way."
If it happens to you: Contrary to popular opinion, the glowing "high" of childbirth isn't a universal experience, says psychologist Deborah Roth Ledley, Ph.D., author of Becoming a Calm Mom: How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood. "New moms experience a myriad of emotions, good and bad," she says. "The thing is, no one prepares you for the negative emotions. But they're completely normal: You're exhausted from labor, frustrated with breastfeeding and completely sleep-deprived." But when we dwell on negative thoughts, they can quickly escalate to "Maybe I'm just a bad mom," or "Maybe I shouldn't have had a baby." A better approach: "Accept all emotions and thoughts as interesting, and move on," suggests Ledley. "You'll have many blissful thoughts -- 'What an adorable baby!' -- as well as worried ones -- 'I can't do this!' Consciously choose not to stay focused on the negatives."