This week, we are thrilled to feature the voices of two leading birth advocates, Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. The below interview features Ricki and Abby as they speak to overcoming traumatic past birth experiences.
It is so important that women are able to have safe, empowering births in whatever manner they feel best suits their needs and the needs of their babies. Having a traumatic or less than ideal birth experience can affect a new mother in a variety of ways, such as impeding her ability to bond and breastfeed, contributing to post-partum depression or lowering her confidence.
So many women have come to us to share their birth stories. Many have shared some rather distressing first births where they were given a cascade of interventions that ended in unnecessary Cesareans. It’s getting more and more common for women to go into a hospital setting, be given some sort of interventions, such as Pitocin or Cervadil, to speed up the process of labor. The problem is that if a woman is given one intervention, the chances of them needing another intervention for some reason or another will vastly increase.
We hope to empower women who have had traumatic or less than ideal previous birth experiences to overcome them by digging down deep and doing the research necessary to prepare for a more positive, gratifying and gentle subsequent birth.
Ricki: Although I wouldn’t classify my first birth as traumatic, because a lot of things went right, I was able to give birth vaginally and I had a lot of skin-to-skin contact with my baby right away. I had a beautiful healthy baby when all was said and done, but there were definite reasons why I chose to do my second birth completely differently. In retrospect, I had a lot of interventions that I really hadn’t needed the first time around, like Pitocin and regular cervical checks. I got to thinking about whether or not these types of routine interventions were really necessary. When I became pregnant with my second baby, I had done a ton of research and decided to have a water birth at home with a midwife. I trusted my body. My second birth was so gentle. Completely different from the first.
Abby: Although my first birth (an emergency C-section) was traumatic, I never felt that my baby and I were in any danger or that my birth team couldn’t handle the situation. I surrendered to the birth my baby needed, and I never felt disappointed. When I became pregnant again, I chose to stick with the same practitioner whom I trusted and I was able to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). I can’t say that my VBAC itself was a transformative or healing experience for me – it was a difficult birth for me and my son. But immediately after the birth — I was empowered to realize that I was made of stronger and tougher stuff than I knew. And I have really felt the benefits from the VBAC over the first year of my son’s life as we have been able to bond and breastfeed in a more gratifying way that I was able to do after my first birth.
We truly hope that our stories encourage mothers to listen to their hearts and trust their bodies, so that they can heal from traumatic past experiences and have the birth that is best for them and their babies. Our biggest suggestion for overcoming previously traumatic birth experiences and preparing for your next birth is to do the research and decide what kind of birth is best for you and your baby. Be at peace with your decision and surrender to the birth, even if things don’t go as planned. Trust your body and your baby.
And… please stay tuned for our soon-to-be released “More Business of Being Born,” a four part DVD series that will feature midwife Ina May Gaskin, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, and tons of amazing celebrity interviews, including Gisele Bundchen, actress Molly Ringwald, actress Alyson Hannigan and musician Alanis Morrisette! Please join us on MyBestBirth.com to stay up to date.
Have you had a traumatic birth experience that was difficult to overcome? How did you come to celebrate the miracle of birth?