Critical self reflection is NOT the same as self blame. But so many of us get caught in this trap. We start to think about the decisions that we made and blame ourselves for the outcomes.
Critical self reflection or reflection on decision making processes is SO important when reflecting on previous births and preparing for a future one. Especially if you want a different outcome next time. Self blame on the other hand... meh - so not helpful!
It's important to look at the decisions that you made in the past in order to:
a) Work out which decisions did powerfully supported your higher self / goals and which ones didn't.
b) Have a bit of a think about the decisions that didn't serve your higher self - did you know at the time that they wouldn't serve you? Why / how did you make those decisions? What were the influences?
c) What do I need to change in my decision making process to ensure that future decisions are more powerful and more likely to serve my higher self?
This is especially important in working through previous births - particularly if they were disappointing, had unexpected outcomes, or were traumatic.
Often (but certainly not always!) we experience these birth outcomes due to decisions or choices that we made. Our decisions shape our reality, it's true. Choice of care provider, choice of childbirth education, choice of support people, decision to induce or have an epidural or type of monitoring to use. So so so many decisions that are made.
BUT just because an outcome has resulted from your decisions does not mean that you are "to blame".
Many women sit in the "blame" space for quite a while. And it often doesn't look, overtly, like blame. It looks like:
"My decision to induce resulted in a caesarean. So I'll just say no to induction next time" (My own personal circumstances). But without actually looking at HOW and WHY you made the choice that you did there's a chance that you will end up in the same place next time.
Because it's not about "just say no". It's not that you weren't strong. Or that you were stupid. Our maternity care culture is set up to steer women towards certain decisions. And the influences on our decisions are MANY. Everything from TV and media, to stories that we hear from our mothers, aunties, sisters, and friends.
My own situation - I thought that I just needed to be strong enough to say no. So I chose the same model of care, fronted up to the same appointments, had similar conversations with people who didn't support my goal, took telephone calls and messages from people who didn't support my goal and suffered from reasonable woman syndrome. It was important to me that people respected my decisions because they were educated decisions, not because they were simply MY decisions. So decision making for birth #2 looked very similar (if a little more educated) to birth #1.
Once I worked through all this stuff (and as I was sometimes pulled through all this kicking and screaming) it definitely became easier to ensure that I was able to change my decision making processes AND the decisions in a far more effective manner. My decision making processes for #3 (well...by the time I got towards the end of my pregnancy anyway...) were VERY different. And that resulted in a different outcome. Not just a different birth outcome - but a different personal outcome. How I felt and how I behaved in late pregnancy, labour, and post partum were very different. And that created a lot more benefits for me and my family (and my clients, just sayin') than simply having a vaginal birth.
So - if you had a traumatic or unexpected birth outcome and are caught in self blame (And this can actually apply to MANY other decisions that we make in our lives - so get creative!) grab a journal and start writing. A couple of prompts to get you started:
What was my goal?
What decisions did I make? (Maybe one of the decisions was to not have a goal)
Which decisions supported my higher goal and which didn't?
What influenced me to make the decisions that didn't support my higher goal?
What do I need to do to ensure those influences are not as influential next time?
If you want a different outcome you don't just need to make different decisions, you need a different decision making process.
If you would like support to go through this process of reflection, change, and growth I would love to have you in my 1:1 VBAC mentoring program. We spend 12 sessions working through all the birthy bullshit and all the good stuff surrounding your decision making processes, communication, relationships, cultural conditioning, and birth knowledge so that you can ensure that you are on the VBAC pathway that will best serve YOU.
Hit contact me or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if VBAC mentoring would be right for you. x
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