Success means a lot of different things to different people. From ambitions in a career to goals for a vacation to plans for family, a woman can define her own expectations and see success at a different level than those around her. That is as true in life as it is in the delivery room.
For such a monumental event in a person’s life, we know that the standard for success might be in the eye of the beholder, but the last thing that anyone wants is for a brand new mom to come away disappointed. We believe that a successful childbirth experience means that the mom and the baby remain healthy throughout and the entire family has a positive experience. But there are a lot of twists along the way that might spoil things for some. That’s especially true for women who come into the experience with a rigid birth plan and high expectations for themselves to manage a natural delivery without pain medications. But in truth, the birth plan is only characteristic of a successful delivery, and if things don’t end up just as a mom hoped, she can still be very satisfied with the experience.
We want to encourage women to manage their expectations and stay as positive as possible, so it is not required to check off all of these items to end up labeling their birth a success. In fact, most women will be happy with half of them. A new mom had a successful childbirth only if she says yes to 10 out of 20 of these things.
20 Her Baby Survived The Delivery
The baby’s health is the No. 1 priority for the mom and for her healthcare providers during childbirth. That’s true in a home birth and in a hospital one, and the entire birth plan and expectations should be written with this — and the next item — as the top goal.
Moms hate to think about it, but there is a chance for stillbirth or fetal mortality in just about every delivery. Giving birth might have happened for centuries, but all too many babies did not survive. That first breath is a miracle that a mom shouldn’t take for granted, and it is definitely one of the biggest items to check off for a successful delivery.
19 Mom Is Healthy
Most moms-to-be believe that they have to sacrifice to be a good mom, which means that they place the baby’s life as a top priority, even over their own. But the truth is that the mom’s health should be as important as the baby’s in terms of the success of childbirth. In generations past, all too many moms were lost during childbirth, but medical advances, including C-sections, have changed that trend. Unfortunately, though, there are still moms who don’t make it.
No one wants a baby to grow up without a mother, so when you think about it that way, it’s important to keep the mom’s health as a top measure of the success of the event. For those women whose health has been precarious through the pregnancy, this takes on an all new importance. To have the baby and the mom survive the entire ordeal is a big blessing that is the top of measure of success.
18 Baby Can Breathe On His Own
That first breath can be very difficult for some babies. Whether the baby comes early or has a difficult delivery or another health issue, there are many little ones that need some help after the birth to survive. They may end up in the NICU on a ventilator, as their little lungs aren’t quite ready for the hard work of breathing.
For moms of preemies and others who have experienced the terror of waiting to hear the baby’s first cry, this item is a big one on their list, and they would definitely deem a delivery that ends with the baby breathing on his own right away a big success.
17 She Made It To Full Term
Pregnancy is supposed to last nine months, but it doesn’t happen for all women, and there can be health consequences for those that don’t make it. Technically, a baby is full term at 37 weeks, although the due date is set at the 40 week mark. But while many newborns can survive a birth that comes as early as 24 weeks, that could mean a long time spent in neonatal intensive care at the hospital.
Some women who show signs of early labor or complications like high blood pressure are put on bed rest. That can be true for moms of multiples as well. The doctor usually gives them a goal that can help give the baby as much time to develop as possible, and making it to that goal is definitely a success to celebrate. Preemies can have long-term and short-term challenges, which means making it to full term can be a big sign of success for some situations.
16 She Was Able To Manage The Pain
Childbirth is a really painful experience, and as much as a woman looks forward to it, she still has to figure out how to deal with the pain. We have absolutely no judgment on how a mom decides to deal with it, whether that be with natural techniques or with an epidural. The most important part to feel successful with the birth is managing it, however you feel best.
Some women may not feel all that confident about their pain management right after the birth — it can be pretty traumatic. But time can help dull the memory, so even if the pain was out of control, most women can check this one off over time and they may feel proud of their accomplishment in the end.
15 She Felt Heard By The Professionals
Other than a health issue, one of the biggest problems that can mar the childbirth experience is when a woman feels like she doesn’t have a decision about her birth. In fact, that’s whey many people are against the idea of C-sections these days — because they think that doctors pressure women into them without considering their desires.
We believe that moms and their healthcare providers have to have a mutual respect and working relationship. Doctors and midwives should always work to explain the medical reasons for their recommendations, and they should listen to the mom about her biggest concerns and fears. Even if a mom doesn’t have things go the way that she originally envisioned, it won’t be as much of a let down if she feels heard.
14 She Avoided Major Complications
Things can go wrong quickly in a childbirth experience, and that can endanger the lives of the mom and the baby and make a successful pregnancy feel like a failure during childbirth.
One of the most severe complications is pre-eclampsia, which can cause the mom’s organs to shut down and cause the need for an emergency C-section. There can also be some bleeding issues that can be quite scary. Sometimes women feel like they are at fault for complications, even though some come completely unexpectedly for no known reason. Moms shouldn’t feel bad when they end up with complications, but they definitely might feel like the experience went better when they are lucky enough to avoid them.
13 The Baby Wasn’t In Distress
As scary as a complication for the mom can be, finding out that the baby is in distress can be just as intense, maybe even more so. In the hospital, the mom might be under continuous monitoring, whereas at home, the midwife checks occasionally. If the baby’s heart beat is dipping too low too often or speeding up too much, there may be concern that the baby isn’t handling the labor well and needs to be delivered quickly.
When the healthcare provider has determined that the baby is in distress, he’s likely going to recommend a C-section. If the labor has been progressing slowly, things can kick into high gear at this point, and it can be scary. As long as the baby arrives healthy, the birth is still a success, but the baby being in distress can put a little bit of a damper on the situation.
12 She Breastfed Right Away
This list has a few negatives that can take away from a mom feeling like her childbirth was a success, and it also has some pluses. That’s what this one is, since the action actually takes place in the moments after the birth. With all of the pressure on women these days to breastfeed, many moms are well aware of the recommendation that they try to nurse within the „golden hour,“ the first hour after the birth when the baby’s latching instinct is at a peak. It’s definitely a bonus that can make a woman feel like she has succeeded at getting her baby the best start at life.
There are times when it’s not possible for a woman to nurse in the golden hour, such as if the baby needs to go to the NICU or the mom has complications. But it’s still possible for breastfeeding to go well in the long run even if that early opportunity is missed. Don’t think of this as a must do but as a bonus that can put you over the top.
11 She Felt Supported By Her Partner
Childbirth is stressful, both for mom and dad. But when they lean on each other, it can take a milestone event into an amazing relationship achievement. A man might feel a little useless during labor and delivery, but in fact he is one of the most important people in the room, and not just because he is the dad. He can help a woman relax during early labor, stay calm when things get scary and stay focused during the pushing phase.
When a woman feels supported by her partner during labor and delivery, she falls even more deeply in love. She also feels stronger and more confident in her own right, and the childbirth experience feels a lot more successful.
10 She Had The Venue Of Her Choice
For some women, the location of the birth is a big deal — and that is more true when she does not get her choice than when she does. That’s true of intended home births that end up in the hospital as well as times when the labor comes on early and unexpected and the baby ends up getting born in the car or an ambulance.
Women need to remember that the location is only one factor in the birth, and while things might not go as planned, if they can check off the parts about the mom and the baby being healthy, then she is well ahead of the game. It’s nice to be able to give birth where you want to, but if things don’t go as planned, it doesn’t have to ruin the experience.
9 She Didn’t Tear Too Much
This isn’t always something that moms think about during the delivery, but they are majorly aware of it afterward and it can mar those first few days or weeks after the delivery. While there are a few women who are lucky enough to not tear at all, the majority of women who have natural deliveries end up with some tearing. Their body will heal, but it can be a tough and painful recovery.
There are some tips that doulas have for women to try to avoid tearing, including doing a perineal massage throughout labor to get the area primed for pushing. Also, try to only push during a contraction to use the force of the labor to your advantage. Most moms end up with some sort of stitches after the birth, and that can make it uncomfortable, but usually things get better pretty quickly.
8 The Baby’s Brain Was Unaffected
Things like compression of the umbilical cord can cause the problem, and it can happen during a breech delivery. The severity can range from developmental disabilities to being unable to walk or more. No mom wants this to happen to her child, so moms should count their blessings and and call the delivery a success when the baby’s brain is born healthy.
7 All Four Of Baby’s Limbs Are OK
These days, babies are born much larger than they have been in previous generations. That can present a danger when the size of moms‘ hips haven’t grown to compensate. During the pushing phase, the baby could get stuck, and he could suffer from shoulder dystocia, where the shoulder is basically dislocated. It can cause the baby’s nerves to be pinched and might mean that the baby loses the use of the hand.
There can also be issues with the baby’s hips at birth, and some babies born with spina bifida might not be able to walk. There are therapies that can help babies born with problems with their limbs, but it’s definitely more of a successful birth if these issues are avoided in the first place.
6 She Was Able To Stick To The Birth Plan
Some women start out with very strong opinions on things like epidurals and C-sections, and sometimes they don’t want them to be a part of the plan. But if you have never been through a birth before, you don’t know what to expect, and we believe that it’s OK to change your mind in the moment. Things could go completely differently than a woman planned, but still be just perfect in the end.
5 She Was Able To Get Care Quickly In An Emergency
We have already talked about a lot of problems that can arise during the delivery, but most of the time, things go smoothly. We want women to feel empowered to try for their ideal birth situation, and if they start out that way and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that the entire situation is a failure. In fact, we think a measure of success is that the mom was able to get care quickly during an emergency.
Whether a mom lives close to a hospital or has to be rushed in an emergency to a different facility, the complication isn’t as important as the outcome. As long as the mom and baby get the care they need so that they can both get through the situation healthy, the birth is still a success in our book.
4 She Got To Try For Her First Choice (VBAC)
Sometimes, a victory can be found in trying for your ideal birth, even if you don’t get all the way there. That’s definitely true for women who are planning a natural birth after cesarean. The birth method is somewhat controversial and the chance of success aren’t that high. That’s because some of the same factors that caused the first birth to be a C-section still exist when the mom is planning her next delivery.
Some doctors balk at the idea of a mother even trying for a VBAC because of the possibility that something could go wrong. Mothers shouldn’t feel like failures if they end up in the operating room again — the attempt is a success within itself.
3 Mom Still Has All Her Parts
Adding a new baby doesn’t mean that the family is complete. Yet there is a risk that a woman could have a complication that could alter those plans. Some women end up needing a hysterectomy or they have damage to their cervix that could make any future children difficult to carry.
Usually most moms aren’t thinking about the life-altering complications that could put a big dent in their families, so we wanted to remind them that there are reasons to feel blessed after the birth beyond the original expectations. Most women can check off this item and deem their experience a success.
2 She Bonded With Baby
Childbirth isn’t all about the pain and blood and drama. It’s mostly about bringing baby into the world. Many moms dream about the moment that they meet their little, and they expect to feel a rush of love that they’ve never experienced before. But the truth is that doesn’t happen to all moms. It’s a bonus that can help make the day even brighter, but it’s OK if it doesn’t happen to you.
After the pain and stress and exhaustion of the labor and delivery, it isn’t a surprise that some women don’t experience the rush of emotion that they dream about. For some, it takes a few days or weeks later. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, and it doesn’t ruin the childbirth experience. There are many other ways to find success in the event.
1 Mom And Baby Got To Go Home Together
There can be a variety of medical reasons that necessitate a hospital stay, but luckily some only have short term worries. It’s a blessing to get to bring the baby and the mom home within a day or two of the birth. There is no doubt, the mom’s and the baby’s health are the ultimate sign of a successful childbirth.