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Dealing with a Difficult Birth

More than one in ten women said they're still grappling with lingering feelings of disappointment. Moving beyond a bad delivery, whether it was last week or last year, can take time, but it can be done. In fact, 51 percent of women who experienced some disappointment were ultimately able to feel satisfied with their birth overall. If you're still struggling, these steps can help:

Go ahead and grieve. The first step in getting past the pain is simply to acknowledge your feelings. You may be angry that your provider didn't support you the way you'd hoped; you may even feel guilty for being unhappy about the birth. Whatever the letdown, remember, there's no right or wrong here, and being disappointed with how your child came into the world does not make you a bad person or a bad mother.

Ask questions. Finding out why a certain course of action was taken during birth may be all that stands between you and coming to terms with it. And if you didn't connect with your doctor -- maybe the person who delivered your baby wasn't the one who took care of you during the pregnancy -- chat up other patients as well as your usual provider. You'll probably discover that the physician is known for her technical skills but not her bedside manner. Okay, that doesn't make her behavior right, but it can take a lot of the pressure off you.

Talk, talk, talk. "I was immensely disappointed that I was not able to deliver vaginally because I felt that I had not worked hard enough," says Amanda Carter, 22, of South Glens Falls, NY. "But bonding with the baby and discussing my feelings with my husband has helped me see that I'm no less a mother."

Reframe less-than-perfect memories. "When I found out I had to have a c-section, I felt as if I had failed as a mom somehow. Then someone put it to me in a beautiful way: 'Your daughter was lifted into the world,'" says Nicole O'Donnell, 36, of Wayne, NJ. "Those were comforting words to hear."