A friend of mine called me shortly after her 3rd birth and asked, "Can I process my birth with you?" There were some things she was feeling unsettled about and just wanted to talk through it all. Did it change her birth outcome? No. Did I have some great words of wisdom to help make it more of a positive experience? No, I wish I did.
The birth of our babies is a wonderful, miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime experience and this is true regardless of how it happens. Many people have the mindset that, if mom is healthy and baby is healthy, then that is all that matters. But in the same way we often talk about the "wedding of our dreams", it is normal for a mother to have dreams and desires about the birth of her baby. But sometimes, for varying reasons, birth can be unpredictable, for some it can even be traumatic, taking turns that weren't expected, leaving a sense of disappointment, and even a sense of loss.
Grieving often occurs after a loss and if you feel like you lost something, the opportunity to birth the way you had hoped, the ability to be more in control of your birth choices or to bond with your baby the way you had pictured, then its natural to feel a sense of grief, however small it may be.
One of the steps to healing in the grieving process is to talk about your grief with someone. I am a huge verbal processor. Sometimes I will be processing an experience and feelings will surface that I didn't even know existed. And just talking about it brings healing and closure. So I encourage you, regardless of how your birth went or whether it was your first or fifth birth, to find a trusted friend, family member, your spouse, or grab a pen and journal if that feels safer, and tell your birth story from start to finish. And it is perfectly acceptable to mention that you don't want any advice but that you're just needing a listening ear.
Here are a few questions that can guide you if you aren't the processing type (maybe have your friend read through this list with you as you respond):