I think every mother has in her head the sort of birthing experience she wants, basically as soon as she finds out she is pregnant. I had a lot of fear and anxiety about giving birth when I was pregnant with my first son, and was really hoping for something as pain free as possible, even though I knew it was unlikely. I know now, that fear has a lot to do with holding onto pain, and actually the best way to have a pain free birth is to be as relaxed as possible about it – not easy to do though!
With my first child, I found out at my 20 week scan that not only was my placenta low lying, it was actually covering his exit route, which meant it was pretty much an automatic C section. I had regular scans right up until the end, just in the the hope that the placenta would move, but alas it didn’t. This condition is called Placenta Praevia and is apparently quite uncommon for a first time mother of 29, but there you have it, it happened to me.
When I was 36 weeks pregnant I suddenly felt a huge loss of blood and had to call 999 in a total panic. I was rushed to hospital where a large team was waiting for me and my baby was delivered immediately – no messing about and relaxing music! When he was born, he didn’t cry for what seemed like an age, and I feared the worst, but he eventually came round and was shown to me before being whisked off again. Despite being born four weeks early he was a decent weight of 6lb 5 oz which seemed reasonable to me.
For months afterwards I replayed the whole experience in my head many many times. Reliving the moments of terror and shock, being thrust into motherhood a month before I was ready, that sort of thing. I think in hindsight I was totally traumatised by the experience, and I remember crying an awful lot. I was asked by many people, “are you ok” and I foolishly thought that was a normal reaction to giving birth and just said, “yep, fine thanks!” when actually I was anything but.
I was totally determined that my next birth would be a totally different experience, and even though my consultant tried to put me off, I opted for a normal vaginal delivery. Again, I was very afraid but after 48 hours of labour I produced a healthy 8lb 7oz baby boy with no drugs at all, not even gas and air. As an aside on that, I do believe there are no medals for giving birth to a baby in that way, and I think if I’d have known how painful it was going to be, I would have gone for the drugs! After the birth, rather than feeling distraught and hopelessly alone, I felt jubilant and amazing. I felt that I had done this amazing thing and it totally wiped out my previous experiences – I was so proud of myself!
I don’t think the trauma of childbirth can be underestimated when things go wrong, and the after effects to the mother (and father) should be taken into consideration by everyone. I was lucky enough to have my parents on hand to help me after my first birth and I’m not sure how I would have coped without them, in honesty I was a total mess and barely capable of getting out of bed.
This time, with baby number three, I am going full circle and considering a home birth. I want to be in total charge of how I give birth, as I know how important it is to me and my mental and physical health. I’m not against a fair old dose of pain relief though…
Written by our regular contributor Heather.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.