Moms Who Regret Giving Birth Are Sharing Why, And It's Reignited An Important Conversation About Pregnancy, Motherhood, And Resources

    "I love my daughter, but I wasn't ready for this."

    Note: This post contains mention of depression (including postpartum depression) and abuse.

    As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of reproductive rights heading into 2024, recent shifts — like the overturning of Roe v. Wade and subsequent state abortion bans — have reignited honest conversations about the nuanced experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Though the media often focuses on the ideals of motherhood and shuns the complications, the realities of these life-changing experiences, along with the support systems and resources in place for mothers, often get overlooked.

    When women on Reddit who regret giving birth (whether due to the physical impact of pregnancy or the financial implications of being a working mom) began sharing their experiences, their narratives painted a vivid picture of the intricate world of motherhood. Whether or not you personally plan to have children, their conversation highlights the need to critically assess the support structures in place for pregnant individuals and parents, especially mothers. To amplify their voices, here are 27 stories from mothers that shed light on the emotional, mental, medical, and financial realities of raising a child in today's world:

    1. "I'm six months postpartum. I've had diarrhea since giving birth. I keep telling every single doctor that I know that this is related to giving birth, but they brush it off. I've lost 16–20 kilograms (35–45 pounds) in the past six months, and I'm now bedridden from being so sick for so long. I have postpartum depression, too. I feel like I have died and am just looking at the real world from my own hell. I love my daughter, but I wasn't ready for this."


    2. "I love my daughter immensely with every part of me. If I had known that I would end up a 23-year-old widow with a 6-month-old and no income, I might've waited to have a child. The last 10 years have been hard — emotionally, physically, and mentally. I fear projecting my anxieties on to her. I worry I'm not doing enough. I worry about everything all the time, and I have no one to share that worry with. It's exhausting."

    "I wouldn't trade her, but I might've waited a little bit longer." 


    doctors hold newborn in their hands

    3. "I get it. I love my son and am glad I chose to have him. However, I was not talked to or prepared for the trauma that could happen during birth. They let me sit in labor too long, and I developed an infection that almost killed both me and my son. I then had to have an emergency C-section, and he had to stay in the NICU. Now, any time I see a woman going into labor on TV or in movies, I freak out."

    "I will definitely not have a second child." 

    —Malorie, Facebook

    4. "If I could have ordered and picked up my daughter at the store, then I would have (and maybe chosen the 'sleeps better' add-on, too). Pregnancy almost killed me in several ways. I hated almost every second of it. My body is still — two years postpartum — wrecked. Every day, I'm in pain, and I'll never be the same. If money were more abundant, then I would have another via surrogate. I love my little girl to the ends of the Earth. She was worth it, but if I had known before, she wouldn't have been — if that makes sense."

    "Of course, if I could afford a surrogate, then I could likely afford a night nurse and private surgery so that the experience would have been better all around." 


    A woman screaming in pain from strong contractions during childbirth

    5. "I would have my children again, given the choice, but I wasn't prepared for how my career would slow because of them. It's the little things like not being able to travel to conferences, taking more time off than non-parenting peers due to kids being sick, etc. Their dad turned out to be a dumpster fire — the judge prohibited him from seeing one of the kids — so that didn't help. I love the kids and have tried to instill good values, and I am just not as high up the corporate ladder as I thought I could achieve."


    6. "It's been 14 years, and I still don't earn what I was earning before my one and only child was born (and that's before you even consider inflation). I worked part-time and stayed active in my field the entire time, but the financial repercussions of finding a work arrangement that accommodated parenthood were significant. The single worst financial mistake I ever made was having a child."


    7. "I would go through it again to get my son, but my body isn't the same. Postpartum depression is a wicked witch. I tore, and four years later, I'm still having major issues. My skin down there is thin, and if I wipe just a tiny bit too hard, I hurt for weeks."

    "It's terrible, but my son is amazing." 


    A baby just born at the hospital rests in a hospital bassinet crib, wrapped in a swaddle and wearing a beanie hat

    8. "I wasn't prepared to almost die, lose my uterus, or raise a disabled child. I love my son so much, but damn… I never would have chosen this life for him or for any of us. I feel naive and stupid for ever thinking I was ready for this — for convincing my husband we were ready for this."


    9. "If I had a do-over, I wouldn't have had kids. It seems silly now, but I honestly believed, until recently, that I had no choice in the matter. Being born in the '80s, I had this intrinsic notion that it was my lot in life as a woman to have kids. I thought not having kids would imply something was wrong with me. Only recently have I realized that not having kids is a legitimate and acceptable choice. Of course, kids have a habit of worming their way into your heart, and once they're born, it's hard not to love, adore, and be devoted to them. However, it's not an easy job. It's filled with deeper emotional and mental torment and heartache than anything else I have experienced. I don't get any of this supposed fulfillment from it. It's a thankless, demanding task where you lose yourself and your dreams in the process."

    —Kristy, Facebook

    10. "I would've hired a surrogate if I were rich. Seriously, pre- and post-natal hormones wrecked me for a few years. Emotionally and physically, I was a mess — overweight, stressed, tired, and moody all the time. Seeing therapists and exercising didn't help; it was the hormones. My husband was, and still is, amazingly gracious to me. If I were him, I probably would've wanted to separate. My youngest is 6, and I feel like I'm just now getting my life and body back together."

    "My kids are amazing, though, so I can't say it wasn't worth it." 


    Cropped shot of a young Asian mother using laptop and working from home while taking care of little daughter in self isolation during the Covid-19 health crisis

    11. "I regret being made into a walking incubator who must adhere to strict guidelines of how and what to eat and drink — must not have this or that. How dare I lose weight? Everything I did was second-guessed, but when I went for help due to leg swelling, I was dismissed like it was no big deal. (I was in pre-E, and the doctor refused to see me.) I needed my pelvis reconstructed after walking around for years with my organs barely inside of me, and I was told that there was nothing they would do until I was nearly 40 because I 'might have more kids.' The fix they did in my 20s didn't fix shit. There's pain during sex. I was jabbed with chemicals because it's 'standard care.' I was told I didn't know anything about pregnancy or childbirth, that I wasn't in labor — yet I had the kid less than three hours later. I was treated like a third-class citizen because 'we want a healthy baby' but not a healthy mother and child."

    "I regret knowing that my worth to not only my family of origin but to his family is the crotch drops I made. I had no value or worth. I was expendable. I was not a real woman if I didn't have kids. As a teen mother, it was assumed I had dropped out of high school. And as a teen mother, having a stillbirth meant no sympathy other than, 'At least you're not a teen mother!' 

    I regret knowing full well that child services will be used as a hammer against you if you don't parent the way others see fit. Geez, society as a whole really firetrucks with a woman of childbearing age." 


    12. "I love my daughter and wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. I love being a mom, as well. I regret who I had a child with and how my life was pretty much changed for the worse. I'm now tied to my abusive husband and his whacko family."


    Doctor examining a pregnant woman

    13. "I love my son and get on fine with his father. But nearly two decades later, I'm still disabled by pregnancy and birth, and it's never going to get better. If I had known then what I know now — that I'd grow tumors while pregnant, among other not-so-fun aspects, and that it's a family tendency — I would have stayed childless."


    14. "I'll preface this with I love my son with all my heart. I was never prepared for a child with disabilities. We were warned beforehand, and we were so sure we'd manage just fine. The part that kills me the most is that my husband deals with it all just fine, and I'm a mess. I feel like I was never meant to be a mom, at least to young kids."

    "I also have an 18-year-old — he lives with his father — whom I've always been able to relate to and have no problems being a part-time mom to him.

    Maybe I was just never meant to be a full-time parent, which sounds like such bullshit to me. I don't know. I'm rambling. I'm lonely." 


    a pregnant woman grasping her belly

    15. "When I was pregnant, we were told that there's a very high chance the baby has Down syndrome. I knew someone with DS — a functioning adult who worked as a masseur and spoke two languages. People with DS are happy and delightful. My son is 19. Beyond DS, he has severe autism and learning disabilities, is completely dependent, can't do anything for himself, and has to be watched 24/7. We love him wholeheartedly, but our lives have always been about him. We have zero family life. He's only home because my husband is strong enough to change his nappy. When he's 21 and finishes school, he has to go into residential, which tears our hearts out. We'll miss him. He won't understand why he's been left in a strange place and can't be home. What will happen when we're not there for him? As much as I adore him with every fiber of my being, if I'd have known, I wouldn't have gone ahead with the pregnancy — not because of us but for him."


    16. "I was too young to have a kid. I love my kid so much, but both of us suffered because I just wasn't ready to be a mother. I was extremely immature and irresponsible, and I resented not having a normal teenage experience — which very quickly turned into crushing depression and anxiety. Honestly, I wish I'd had an abortion and waited until I was older and had my shit together even to consider becoming a parent. My kid had to grow up with a parent who wasn't fully grown up, and that sucks."


    A moment in the postpartum life of a mother at home with her baby boy and toddler girl, she is tired and struggling to breastfeed. She is wearing postpartum briefs and you can clearly see the stretch marks on her belly from being pregnant

    17. "My kids have inherited mental issues from both parents. We were young, and we didn't know. I just hate to see them suffer."


    18. "Pre-kids, I was on track for an area manager job. Post-kids, the same company tried to pressure me into taking a demotion far below my management level. Fuck them. I stopped giving a shit about the company I'd given my heart and soul to and walked away. I now have a great career with a company that does some good in the world and values children, but it has taken years to gain a stable footing on the career ladder again."


    Close up of pregnant Black woman holding her belly

    19. "I regret it only for the world my son is inheriting. This society is a pile of dog poo. I regret that he will have a hard time, and there is very little I can do to prevent that. I don't regret him — just what he will likely suffer."


    20. "I am tied to an abusive man for the next 13 years or until one of us dies."


    Young, Black businesswoman multi-tasking while working at home during coronavirus lockdown

    21. "I tore forward, ripped my urethra and clitoris. I have permanent nerve damage. I also developed a bunch of autoimmune diseases in my mid-30s after four pregnancies. The leading theory is that micro-chimerism from the stem cells that stay in your body after pregnancy is a big contributing cause."


    22. "I don't regret giving birth, but I will never get pregnant again. My pregnancy was the worst experience I've ever had to go through. I practically lived in the hospital with daily IV treatments. I had HG (hyperemesis gravidarum), which causes you to vomit nonstop. I was on a Zofran pump and almost put on a feeding tube. I have PTSD from vomiting so much."

    "I would get an abortion if I ever got pregnant again." 


    Asian woman giving birth in a hospital

    23. "It was the loneliest time in my life, and it permanently ties me to the person who contributed the most to that loneliness. I love my daughter more than anything in the world, and her father is an amazing father to her. But I hate that I still have to deal with him despite being broken up."


    24. "Having my kids has put me behind at least 10 years professionally. I'm slowly making up some of that time, but it is still so hard. COVID-19 has helped me not to travel, but it also set me back because of remote learning!"



    unrecognizable pregnant woman in the foreground as the unrecognizable doctor shows her an ultrasound on a digital tablet in the background

    25. "If I had more money, I would have gone through surrogacy. Pregnancy does not get along with me. It wrecked my hormones for a while, and it's a hard recovery. Giving birth was hard, but what came after was much worse. I had to get on meds because the hormones made me unable to leave my house."

    "My kids are worth it, but the pregnancy stuff sucks." 


    26. "While I don't regret having my daughter, I wish I would have spoken up and done things differently. I had a horrible, traumatic birthing experience. I went to a large hospital where I was a number, not a name, and it was awful."

    "I still can't think about it without getting teary-eyed." 


    A soon to be mother is in a hospital bed waiting to give birth with her own mother standing at her bedside in support

    27. "I love my daughter a lot. She's amazing, creative, funny, and sweet. I wouldn't change her for anything. But I regret having her with her father. I regret giving her his last name and putting him on the birth certificate. I regret her witnessing him abusing me. I regret that she is forced to spend time with him due to my poor past choices. I also regret having her at 21. While not really young, it was still too young. I missed out on a lot that I have to do now, like university, having a good relationship, spending time with friends, etc. My body and mind are messed up from the C-section, the anxiety and trauma from a traumatic birth, and the postnatal depression. I should've listened to my mom instead of saying, 'You don't know the love between me and [child's dad]; you just want to control me.'"

    "I wish I could go back to the past and listen to every warning." 


    The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.