Quote from Sheila Kitzinger’s “Birth Crisis”

2 December 2008 at 11:19 pm Leave a comment

“In some cases distressed women have confronted the possibility of death in childbirth — from pre-eclampsia, haemorrhage, or liver disease, for example, and are still overwhelmed by the feeling that they are dying.  They have panic attacks in which they cannot breath, and are jolted awake from nightmares of death and dying.  Because life-threatening illness is rare in childbirth in northern industrial countries today it is all the more shocking when it could be a reality.  A woman may have wanted a homebirth, made a carefully thought-out birth plan, for example, and suddenly all control is taken from her and she witnesses caregivers panicking around her.

After the birth it may be hard for her to get other people to understand the urgency of that threat because it is beyond their experience.  I realize that sometimes when I listen on the phone to women’s accounts of these potential disasters I half withdraw, not quite sure whether I believe their exact version of events.  When I do this I fail to validate the intensity of their feelings and the emotional impact of a near-death experience.

How do you deal with your own grief when you listen to a distressing account?  I know that tears come into my eyes and I sniff, and I may moan as well.  The other person hears this, of course.  It is nothing you need to be ashamed of.  Apologise if you want to and say, ‘I do find what you’re telling me so awful!’ or something like that.  There are times when you are drawn into the story through empathy and compassion.  That is just as it should be……..”  p. 154


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Sheila Kitzinger 2006 book, “Birth Crisis” Gratefulness

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