When it comes to the birth of a baby sadness isn’t an emotion that we usually think of.
Joy, happiness and excitement instead come to mind, with glowing parents holding their newborn, the perfect picture of family bliss. However for many families this bliss isn’t the reality and the birth of their baby is a time of stress, anxiety and sadly even trauma.
The days and weeks that follow become a whirlwind of nappies, sleepless nights and adjusting to your new arrival. The expectation can be that as a new parent you are filled with abounding happiness and joy as you navigate your way on this new journey. Yet being a new parent in reality is tough, and if a birth has been difficult this can make the transition to parenthood even harder.
So with birth being an event which we usually associate with happiness, what happens if instead of feeling happy we feel sad?
All of our emotions are important, including sadness. Yet unlike other emotions we can often feel that sadness is a negative emotion, having no place in our life and so we seek to turn sadness into what we think we ‘should’ feel, usually happiness. We can seek to fight our sadness, believing it shows us to have a weakness, or something deflective. This can lead to guilt and frustration, even anger or hopelessness.
Especially when you feel sadness over your birth experience can you try to fight the emotion, believing you should just forget and move on, instead trying to make yourself feel happy. Guilt often then ensues, you may question asking ‘why do I feel this way’, ‘what is wrong with me, or ‘why is everyone else happy but not me?’ You can become frustrated, wishing your feeling of sadness to just go away, to instead experience the bliss you believe you should feel.
However your feelings of sadness matter. These feelings tell you that what you have have experienced has affected you and as such, needs to be acknowledged and understood. When you fight your sadness, it leaves the feelings unexplored. These then can lay within you and lead to other emotions such as hopelessness and even despair. Yet when you open your heart to your feelings of sadness something happens, you allow ourselves to understand what your sadness is, why it is here and how you can support it while you heal.
Fighting your sadness can be stunting to you emotionally
Feeling sad over a birth experience can happen for so many reasons, all of which are valid. If feelings of sadness are there, let them reside with you. Do not fight them but instead explore them. What aspects of your birth experience are causing your sadness? Was it the loss of a wanted experience, feeling your choices weren’t supported or respected, or maybe feeling a loss of control. Whatever the reasons for your sadness, allow yourself feel them. Part of your journey to healing is understanding what has happened and also, how this has impacted you. Also it allows you to ask how this sadness is manifesting itself. It may be by anger towards others, or a quick temper, being defensive of yourself. Or maybe it is struggling to bond with your new baby, or feeling inadequate as a new parent. When you start to understand why you feel sad, it allows you to then explore what you need and what will offer you support. This can be very different for each person, indeed for each feeling of sadness. It may be you need a safe place to talk and share your feelings. It may be that you need time to yourself, to work through how you feel, and how to support your feelings.
Your sadness, and acknowledgment of it, allows for something else, the showing of yourself kindness, compassion, even forgiveness. It allows you to see that you lost something that had meaning, that you were maybe a victim of others actions, or allows you to see you made choices based on the information and circumstances that you had at that time. It allows for self reflection of what is important to you, what your needs are and how you can seek help to support these. It means a greater understanding of yourself and also what you may need in the future, especially future pregnancies. Fighting your sadness can be stunting to you emotionally, by letting it reside with you and learning to understanding it, it allows for growth. Also when you accept your own feelings of sadness you are then able to also help others accept their feelings of sadness, and offer support.
So when you have feelings of sadness;
- Accept and acknowledge them and let them reside with you.
- Investigate the feelings, why they are there and what they can tell you.
- Allow the feelings to teach you what you need to support Yourself.
- Do not fight them but instead seek to understand your feelings of sadness and let them help you to grow.
Your feeling of sadness matter. They are vital to your healing. Embrace them, let them teach you, and help you to grow.