Don't just expect a good birth to come to you
This time 18 years ago I was already on the long, fairly traumatic journey to have my first baby, my gorgeous Alexander.
We were two weeks overdue and absolutely nothing was happening so the induction process begun. He wouldn’t be born (by emergency caesarean) until gone 10pm tomorrow.
His birth story is not a pretty one, it was hard, hard work. Frustration, disappointment, lack of progress, interventions, unsupportive staff, more interventions and a fairly traumatic attempt to get him out before a rush to theatre left me sore, upset and struggling to deal with the birth afterwards.
What went ‘wrong’? I’d learnt everything I needed to know on my NCT course (my NCT Teacher was the amazing Professor Mary Nolan a guru in the birth world, who would go on to be my tutor and friend). I had all the tools, knowledge, relaxation, decision making tools, practical skills. How did it not work?
I didn’t use them.
I used bits, (birth ball upright and mobile for as long as I was “allowed”) but I went in with the expectation that the Midwives would guide me (rookie error right there!). Dave was my only birth support and bless him, he is an incredibly talented man but this is NOT his field of expertise!
Why didn’t I book a doula, someone who would come with huge knowledge and skills and be on my side not just ‘hospital policy’ (which 18 years ago was women on beds and highly medicalised).
Why didn’t I apply that knowledge; that if it’s not progressing, you are missing part of the puzzle? Usually space /position of baby (and sure enough he was a star gazer with his head tipped back ever curious to see what’s coming!)
I didn’t work through my options as things were suggested (“do we have to do this? What can we do instead?”). There are so many points in his birth where if I’d known then what I know now I could have changed its course.
And that’s the thing. I was given all the tools and didn’t use them. So often people use what they are taught in their NCT class in their SECOND birth.
Can I make a suggestion?
If you’ve met me though you know I’m not troubled by this experience anymore (and I was as a new mum). Why?
I used the trauma and the upset to light a fire that drove me to learn all the things I do. I became an NCT teacher, I went into my second (and third and fourth) births with knowledge, a voice and skills. I had to fight hard to be allowed to give birth naturally to my second two years later (all the evidence now showing that VBAC is a great option but it wasn’t the norm then).
After Alex I’ve had three further, beautiful (hard work but absolutely manageable) births.
I’ve helped transform care of women giving birth after caesareans at my hospital and I have tried so, so hard to pass this birth wisdom on.
I am grateful for the lessons I learnt in his birth, it’s fuelled my journey and given me an insight I would never had had with four ‘perfect’ births. To be clear I don’t blame myself for not doing all the things. I absolutely understand why I didn’t and I look back with great love and kindness to myself about it, but if you know me I’m always looking, learning, thinking.
⭐️ your body is amazing, listen to it, work with it ⭐️ get your birth team together and ready ⭐️ gravity and mobility are your friends ⭐️let that oxytocin flow and help it in every way you can ⭐️if things aren’t moving, think. What are we missing? Position? Oxytocin? What can we alter? ⭐️make space ⭐️create a beautiful birth space wherever you are ⭐️be proactive - don’t expect your midwife to suggest all these things, we love our Midwives but unless you are homebirthing they generally are not in workplace cultures that let them support you as they’d like to (more on that another day!) ⭐️resist unnecessary inductions ⭐️no guilt. It honestly doesn’t help anything, be kind to yourself ⭐️learn to relax, there are so many ways, lots completely free. Try them and find what works ⭐️trust your beautiful, amazing body. ⭐️remember -
you can do this xxx