How you give birth can affect how you parent.

How you give birth can affect how you parent.

Written by Sarah Coffin, owner and founder of Tulsa Family Doulas.

A traumatic or negative birth experience can deeply impact a birthing woman and affect her emotionally and physically for years to come. When power is removed from a laboring woman and she feels dismissed, scared, abused, unheard or inept, she can shut down. This can manifest in depressive symptoms, disconnection from her baby, disconnection from her partner, confusion on behalf of her partner on how to help her, and minimization of her experience because her baby is there and healthy.

A negative experience at the onset of parenthood can also make her question what is wrong with her if she is sad about her experience while her baby rests happily in her arms. If no one is available to acknowledge, process and work through what happened, she can emotionally shut down and even lose out on bonding with new baby and simply go through the tiring tasks of life with a newborn alone and unheard.


Something as simple as not knowing that there are options available can trigger a negative birth experience. When a woman’s voice is removed from her, she can feel that she is incapable of parenting based on her instincts.

She may then rely heavily on external influences from the parenting world on what is best for her and her baby. The problem is, there are too many varying perspectives, opinions and vilifications when choosing parenting methods. Removing her own personal, instinctual pattern of birthing and caring for her baby can breed frustration in parenting when opinions cloud her own judgment.

An important thing to remember, though, is her instinctual pattern of birth does not have to be confined to one type of birth experience. That’s important enough to read again.

A laboring woman’s instinctual pattern of birth does not have to be confined to one type of birth experience.

Allowing her to listen to her instincts can, in fact, produce a birth that differs from what would be considered a physiological normal experience. But what is important, is that she is free to do just that and is supported in her decisions.  

The method of birth does not predict whether or not the birth itself will be traumatic or a negative, rather it is the treatment of the woman and the level of confidence in herself and her decisions that can be a strong indicator for traumatic birth. 

When working with our clients, our focus is on the woman, not the birth.