The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on…. Birth

 

 

I recently met someone who I knew, last time I saw her she was heavily pregnant, and now she was pushing a little bundle around.

I went to congratulate her, and then it was though I couldn’t help myself, I then asked her if the birth was good, turns out she had a rotten time and I felt awful and intrusive for even asking.

Having both of my boys, I have suffered two birth traumas and used to hate when people asked me if it was natural, painful or my favourite ‘good’.

I had found myself using the exact phrase I used to abide, why is it as a nation we are so interested in birth stories, and always want to know exactly how someone gave birth before you’ve even asked the baby’s name?

Wellbeing

It’s odd we are normally so focused on the baby, we tend to forget the wellbeing of the mum, as she is just expected to put everything to one side now she is responsible for the small human she just birthed.

Birth has changed so much over time, dad’s are now active birth partners, there are new practices and methods.

I think I must have just been really oblivious when I was pregnant with my eldest about giving birth, we went to ante natal classes but seeing a doll being pushed through a pelvis doesn’t really have the same effect as actually giving birth does it?

One Born Every Minute terrified me so I had to stop watching it, towards the end of my pregnancy I was felt very under prepared. I felt for a first time mum I was not really educated when it came to giving birth. Yes, all births are different and it might have been my own fault for relaying only on the ante natal classes, but I really didn’t have a clue.

Spoiler alert; it is not like it is in the films.

With both of my births, I was sick and had an awful stomach during contractions which meant for two labours I spent most of my time on the toilet. I actually stayed on the toilet with both of them until I was ready to push!

Hospital vs Home

Elijah was born in hospital after 8 hours and a fairly textbook labour but I suffered a significant haemorrhage and the aftermath of being stitched up traumatised me. I developed and infection and needed a blood transfusion. I didn’t have a clue what was being done or why.

I spent so much of my time re living the birth over and over which when I fell pregnant the second time, it made me fear giving birth again.

There was a turning point and that was attending a hypnobirthing course with Jackie at The Orange Grove Clinic. I learnt so much about my attitude towards birth, my language and for the first time in seven months I felt positive and empowered to give birth the way I wanted.

That’s the thing with giving birth again you are suddenly more aware, you know what could and couldn’t happen and you are more prepared.

Let down

Which makes me think perhaps we are letting down some first time mums if they like me were solely relying on the local ante natal classes, or perhaps as a society it is our view as birth as a whole?

Out attitude, our language, our pressure to live up to an unrealistic image of birth and when we don’t achieve it we feel as though we have failed.

Turns out my second son had other ideas, and after sitting down to watch Die Hard 2, I ended up giving birth less than fifty minutes later in the bath!

My two experiences were polar opposites when I did eventually get to hospital with Harlow, I was met on the Midwife Led Birthing Unit, and they were so mindful of my past experience and supported and understood me.

Empowered

It made me think it really does make a difference when there is someone there to empower you, I wish I had that the first time round. Or perhaps someone had just taken the time to talk to me, to explain what was going on, being done then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so unaware of things.

There is an attitude shift towards birth at the moment, and we are beginning to look at our attitude, our language it is no longer your dirty little secret if you have a ‘bad’ birth or trauma, there is a focus on you, and your wellbeing after birth.

Birth Better

There is a fabulous network called the Birth Better Network who are doing just that, and revolutionising the way birth has affected us, and how we can make significant changes for the future. The Huffington Post which has hundreds of thousands of readers every day is also currently doing a fantastic series called the Birth Diaries to show how diverse birth can be.

I think we still have a long way to go regarding educating ourselves about birth, and we still need to shift our attitude and let the new mum take the lead to talk about her experience is she wants to but the important thing is not to put pressure or high expectations on birth and to give everyone the tools they need to have the birth they want. Or if things don’t go to plan it is explained to them every step of the way.

Make Birth Better Network

Huffington Post Birth Diaries

The Orange Grove Clinic

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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