Quotes from Mothers

Childbirth Connection's landmark national Listening to Mothers surveys focus on those who care most about maternity issues: mothers themselves. The surveys cover the time from planning pregnancy through the postpartum period, and shed light on women's attitudes, beliefs, preferences and knowledge, as well as family and employment life and the maternity care that mothers and babies receive. Thousands of mothers who participated in our surveys were invited to provide detailed comments to open-ended questions about their best and worst experiences while giving birth and anything else they wanted to tell us about their maternity experience. A remarkable number of mothers shared vivid and moving stories, observations, and opinions that bring their experiences to life. These selected quotes presented by topic suggest the broad range of women's experiences and convey the true, strong emotion behind our survey results.

Please note: the quotations on this page reproduce the women's exact words, though we have in some cases corrected spelling and punctuation.

Maternity Caregivers

obgyn"It was very disappointing to discover that my ob/gyn would not see me until the 12th week when they would start prenatal care. This is because insurance only pays a set amount per pregnancy/delivery.... This is when serious damage can be done to the fetus and the mother should be under care and not left on her own. This was not really a problem for me because I knew what to do and how to get information from other sources. However, higher-risk mothers should not be left alone for this period.obgyn

obgyn"I feel like I am a lucky person to have a doctor that I trust as much as I do. I am comfortable asking her any question and if she is unsure in any way she will ask someone else and get back to me. She cares for me as a whole person. I am very lucky to have found her and have her involved in very important decisions in my life and the lives of my children.obgyn

obgyn" I just didn't like the fact that I had 8 people seeing me during the pregnancy. I had no idea which one would be delivering my baby. Turns out the person who delivered my baby had only interacted with me ONCE during the many ob/gyn visits...so I wasn't that comfortable with her anyway.obgyn

obgyn"I was well informed and well cared for by my homebirth-midwife. She gave me many options and I kept myself well informed and read before and during my pregnancy.obgyn

obgyn"The staff was so supportive, and my doctor really believed in me.  I might've had a c-section with a different practitioner, but my doctor and the staff knew I did not want surgical intervention unless there was some kind of emergency.obgyn

obgyn" I totally, totally recommend midwives. They are SO MUCH more involved. They coach you, console you, and don't force you to do things you don't want to. (medical intervention) They don't just show up at the last second to pull the baby out. They actually care!obgyn

obgyn"...caregivers who respect the family unit and women's needs go a long way to setting the stage for the baby to enter the family with dignity and purpose.obgyn

Expectations from TV

obgyn"It was a wonderful experience. It was not at all as painful and dramatic as they show on TV during Maternity Ward or things like that.... I did not do all that screaming. It's about control and being calm.obgyn

obgyn" After watching several maternity programs, I am very pleased with the delivery options at my little hospital. The staff there reads and follows the birth plan, unless there is a medical reason to override, and then the reasons are fully explained. Pain medication is not pushed, rooming-in is not only allowed but encouraged, they let you have as long as you want after delivery to bond before taking measurements, fully support breastfeeding, the list can go on.obgyn

Support During Labor

obgyn"The best thing about my experience was my midwife always telling me what was going on and being there as support for me, and my husband being the best coach and support system for me. The nurses were all helpful answering any questions I ever had and never made me feel stupid for any stupid questions I might of asked.obgyn

obgyn" Aside from meeting the baby ... the best thing about my delivery was the care I received from my doctor. She was really focused on me and my comfort. She stayed with me the entire delivery and personally saw to my care. For example, she rubbed my back and helped me become as comfortable as possible in the whirlpool tub.... I knew that she would be the one to deliver my baby because she said she would come in even though it was her vacation.... During my past deliveries the doctor 'called the shots' by telephoning and arriving just in time to catch the baby. It really wasn't a personal relationship.obgyn

obgyn" The midwife and nurses that assisted with the birth were excellent in keeping me calm and comfortable.obgyn

obgyn" I believe if I'd had someone there to encourage me I could have had a non-medicated birth, which is what I had planned for throughout the pregnancy.obgyn

Labor Induction

obgyn"I had a lot of pressure from the nursing staff to take Pitocin and to have an epidural.  I felt like the birth experience was severely impacted by this pressure, as if the most important thing to the nurses was for me to have the baby quickly.  My doctor is a big fan of induction, which is not my cup of tea.  I had an induction with my first child and wanted desperately to avoid one this last time.  Luckily I was able to.obgyn

obgyn" I think that my induction and delivery went very well. I have no complaints.obgyn

obgyn" I wanted to have a more natural birth, but the induction took longer than we planned. I was tired and we started the epidural along with the Pitocin.obgyn

obgyn" The worst thing was when they had to give me Pitocin. It gave me really strong contractions and they didn't let up until I pushed the baby out.obgyn

Labor Pain

obgyn"I was ... impressed with just how much pain I could tolerate and I found myself to be a stronger woman than I thought.obgyn

obgyn" I had a great epidural, so I didn't feel ANY pain.  The doctor was willing to incorporate some of my ideas during the delivery. ...I was also allowed to pull my baby the rest of the way out and lay her on my chest. That was a great experience.obgyn

obgyn" The doctor that administered my epidural only gave me Lidocaine through the tube because of my rapid labor and she wanted me to have the ability to push.  I never had a problem before that, and thinking back on it, I should have been more aggressive as to my pain management options since that did little to relieve my pain.obgyn

obgyn" Taking a labor class is a good idea, even if you do plan on taking some type of pain killers, because women need to know all their options.obgyn

obgyn" If I would have been given more info on other methods and these methods were stressed as much as epidural, I would NOT have had an epidural.obgyn

Vaginal Birth

obgyn"I was able to give birth naturally with no medical assistance. I didn't have an IV, medication, or any assistance. I was able to do it myself!obgyn

obgyn" It gave me a sense of pride and built my self-esteem to be able to say that I gave birth to my daughter.obgyn

obgyn" I was amazed and overwhelmed at the same time, at the fact that the human body was capable of such a glorious feat.obgyn

obgyn" I have delivered all naturally with both of my children and it was a wonderful experience. I felt in control and felt strong and felt that a natural childbirth was best for me and my baby.obgyn

Cesarean/Repeat Cesarean

obgyn"I was forced to have a c-section because of a prior c-section (1st baby was breech). Hospital did not allow VBACs.... The closest hospital willing to do a VBAC is 2 hours away.obgyn

obgyn" This second one was especially easier because it was a planned cesarean.... No stress, no worries about when labor would start, just go in looking and feeling beautiful and have a baby.obgyn

obgyn" I would've...preferred if the doctor would've waited a little longer for me, to have a natural childbirth instead of...being rushed into the c-section. The recovery of the cesarean was way too painful.obgyn

obgyn" I feel that I was railroaded into labor, pain medication and subsequently a cesarean section. The baby then had to be protected by my husband from a spinal tap immediately after birth. I did not get to hold my baby for hours after birth. It was not enjoyable only interfered with by health care workers.obgyn

obgyn" C-sections HURT. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.obgyn


obgyn"I had an easier time with this labor. Since my previous pregnancy ended in C-section birth, I was pleased with the fact that I successfully attempted a VBAC, resulting in a much more pleasant birth and postpartum.obgyn

obgyn" I changed OBGYN's at 32 weeks because my first one was unsupportive of me having a VBAC.obgyn

Other Labor Interventions

obgyn"The worst thing was being given an episiotomy. I wasn't told or given a choice, but I think that was because I either wasn't pushing hard enough or the baby was too big. Also, I didn't like the fact that after they had to give me the catheter.obgyn

obgyn"I always hated that I had to be attached to machines the entire time and I was not allowed to walk around.obgyn

obgyn" My first was borderline on being big and they wanted to do a c-section, but I refused. With my second they made me do a c-section whether I wanted to or not. They said that the baby was too big and that no doctor in California would deliver natural, so I did a c-section.obgyn

obgyn" My first delivery I had a nurse yelling at me that I had to push, and this time around...it was the same scenario. A nurse that had not been in my room the whole time was there, yelling at me, telling me that I had to push.obgyn

Choice, Control, Decision-making and Expectations

obgyn"I really wanted to walk around as I had with my first child's labor, but I wasn't allowed to.  And I would have labored in a different position if I had been allowed to.  I also would have loved a water birth, but my doctors and my insurance will not provide for one.obgyn

obgyn" You can't possibly make the best decisions for yourself if you don't have every scrap of information available.obgyn

obgyn" Nobody explained to me why I [could not] eat or drink while I was in labor.  I did not eat for 15 hours and was so weak while pushing during the delivery.  I think it's the right of the patient to have information as to what's going on and not wait for what's going to happen.  Patients should not ask -- they should be fed with facts and explanations on everything [the caregivers] are doing, especially if it's a first time mother.obgyn

obgyn" My goal, this time, was to not get pressure about doing anything against my wishes because my first birth was a genuine nightmare with unnecessary induction, tons of drugs and medical students watching me push! I stayed home most of the labor to make sure I wouldn't get any of that. And I didn't, everything was perfect. It's all in choosing the right doctor first.obgyn

obgyn" [The nurses] fed [my baby] formula without ever consulting me about what the feeding plan was.  I would have of course wanted them to feed her if necessary but I should...have been consulted.obgyn

Opinions on Impact of Malpractice Environment

obgyn" I had to switch OB's because the one I had was going out of business because of the price of malpractice insurance. He could no longer afford to deliver babies, which he loved and was good at... I think this is happening all over, and I think something should be done.obgyn

obgyn" I really appreciated being given the chance to avoid a c-section the second time. I think it is a terrible shame that so many doctors won't even give VBAC as an option because of all of the malpractice suits.obgyn

obgyn" I was lucky to have had a good experience. I think the ob/gyn docs have a very hard career and the malpractice issue makes it much harder.obgyn

Postpartum Experience in Hospital

obgyn" THAT was awesome. To this day, I can recall that moment and that wonderful feeling of holding her right away. I got to have the bonding time needed with the baby.obgyn

obgyn" The worst thing was being separated from my baby for more than 5 hours. The first reason was that because she was a large baby her blood sugar needed to be stabilized.  Then it was excuse after excuse with things that could've either waited or been done in my room.  I told them I did not want my baby given a bottle, but they did it anyway.  Since I had a cesarean section, I was unable to go to my baby in the nursery.  I still get emotional when I think about it.obgyn


obgyn"The best thing was being able to breastfeed my baby as soon as I was taken to the recovery room.obgyn

obgyn"The hospital staff was very supportive and helpful in learning how to nurse my child.obgyn

obgyn" And to top it off I had some nurse trying to pressure and scare me into giving my baby formula when I expressed that I was going to breastfeed only. She would say things like she's not getting enough to eat and if she doesn't gain any weight by the time you're discharged, we're going to keep her here for failure to thrive.obgyn

obgyn" I did not have any preparation or classes in breastfeeding and was completely ignorant and overwhelmed when it came time for me to try.obgyn

Postpartum Physical Health

obgyn"C-section was a long painful experience to recover from after birth. I was sore and couldn't walk [very well] for a good week.obgyn

obgyn" I would much rather have the day of labor pain than the weeks of recovering from major surgery with a newborn to take care of. With my first daughter I labored for 21 hours of back labor and looking back that was a piece of cake compared to recovering from surgery.obgyn

obgyn" Having the episiotomy [was the worst thing about my birth experience]. It really made healing a lot more difficult.obgyn

Postpartum Mental Health

obgyn"I think more young women, and women in general who are pregnant, should be made aware of what emotions will come upon you after you deliver, and that it's something a lot of women go through - the Baby Blues. Nobody told me about this with my first child until after the fact. I think we really need to touch base with all...mommies to see how they are feeling mentally. Mothering is an overwhelming job, especially if you're in it alone [or if your husband works all day and you are on your own].obgyn

obgyn" I have the most beautiful little boy on earth, but it shocks me how depressed I still am 11 months later.obgyn

obgyn" Having suffered post-partum depression with my first child, I knew what to look for with my second child, but still felt a bit 'outside the box'. PPD is still a disease that is very much neglected, swept under the rug, etc. Everyone expects you to be deliriously happy, and while you are happy at times, the PPD is overwhelming and you often feel very alone in your suffering. A support group through the hospital would be an excellent resource.obgyn

Other Postpartum Challenges

obgyn"Besides meeting our newest member of our family the best thing about my child's birth was the closeness that it brought my and my husbands marriage. This was to be our last child and now our family is complete. We have four children. It was sad in a way knowing that this would be the last time I experienced the miracle that is pregnancy and having a newborn but it also made it very special because I tried to enjoy and remember every moment.obgyn

obgyn" I just had sooo many medical bills afterward. With my previous pregnancies I had a different insurance and it paid more maternity benefits. This time my husband and I paid our OB/Gyn every month and still owed them a lot of money afterwards. Also we owed labs and had several different charges/bills that could not be combined from the hospital. ...Now every month I am making payments to 14 different bills.obgyn

Transition to Employment/Decision to Stay at Home

obgyn"I don't think society and the medical field are in sync with one another.  Our country does not provide enough money or time off for working parents to care for their babies once they are born, and we are not given enough time in the hospital.  I was very fortunate in that I had a very easy and problem free pregnancy and labor/delivery, however I do not think we are given enough time to heal emotionally and physically after birth.obgyn

obgyn" I find it unfortunate in the US the lack of support for new mothers, especially working mothers.  I have chosen to breastfeed based on the benefits for my child, however while at work, I must pump in a janitor closet.  When I brought this up before I returned to work, the HR representative did not see this as a problem.  I believe companies should provide clean, comfortable places for women who choose to breastfeed.obgyn

obgyn" Children are our future, and mothers have to go back to work because they can't afford not to most of the time...I think the government should give us an option to be paid 80% of our pre-baby salary to stay home with our kids for at least a year.obgyn

obgyn" The biggest concern since I gave birth is how VERY far behind the U.S. is with providing paid maternity leave, and the length of maternity leave compared to its counterparts (i.e., Europe, Canada, etc.).obgyn

Experience of Mothering/Motherhood

obgyn"[The best part of giving birth is] the pride I have in myself for accomplishing such a huge thing. I know women do it everyday and it really isn't that big of a deal to a lot of people, but every woman is terrified the first time and wonders 'Can I do it?' Then when you actually do it, you feel so proud and capable of accomplishing anything - painful or not.obgyn

obgyn" It was both easier and harder than I expected. I knew I would be tired and unsure of myself and scared, but I also didn't know just how much I would love my little girl and how much joy she gives me.obgyn

obgyn" After my first delivery, I was very upset because I had had to have the cesarean and at that time no one was allowed in OR for delivery. I felt like a failure because I was unable to deliver my baby and I also felt I cheated my husband and mom of seeing their first born child and grandchild's birth.obgyn

obgyn" Childbirth is a trial by fire. It is most physically and emotionally intense and challenging thing I have ever been through in my life. Getting through it made me feel like superwoman, like, wow, if I can get through that, I CAN DO ANYTHING!!obgyn

obgyn" I am just a new person from it all. And I've never had such happiness or love in my heart.obgyn

obgyn" Motherhood is the most wonderful, frustrating, gratifying, maddening thing I've ever done in my life.obgyn

Listening to Mothers

listening to mothersAll of these quotes are taken from open-ended questions from our national Listening to Mothers surveys. To learn more about women's childbearing experiences in the United States for 2005, including the rates of specific interventions, pressure in hospitals,  and level of awareness of risks, visit our Listening to Mothers section and download the free Executive Summary to get an idea of the contents of the full report.

Go to Listening to Mothers lisening to mothers

Most recent page update: 2/20/2007

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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