That’s all we want, isn’t it?
A chance to truly appreciate and own the intense experience that is giving birth.
So why does it go so wrong for so many? Mumsnet, Netmums, Baby Centre and so many other parenting sites are adrift with horror stories. New mothers who find themselves washed up upon the shores of the post-natal wards in absolute shock. Sitting at home weeks after the birth weeping at the experience they had. Telling random strangers in shops or bus queues the details of their birthing ordeal.
In time it becomes a game of one-upmanship. ‘I had a tear’….’I had a HUGE tear…and stitches!’….’Me? I couldn’t sit down for a MONTH!’ And this drip feeds down to the pregnant mums to be. The reasoning? Well, I had a terrible time, so they will of course too.
A vicious cycle of fear and disappointment.
Interestingly when women do speak openly about the positive and enjoyable birth that they have had, Fearne Cotton and Gisele Bündchen come to mind, they are derided on forums and in the press. They are considered odd, unreal and the story either absurdly hopeful or downright nonsense. They are blamed for making other women feel like they failed.
So how do we begin to turn this around? What changes do we need to make?
I had a recent client who came to me before the birth of her second child. She had had a traumatic and difficult first delivery that ended with a rushed, unplanned C-Section.
‘I was completely unprepared’ she said. ‘I had attended the ante-natal classes. I was told that the contractions would be like waves. They would come and go. This wasn’t a sodding wave…It was a bloody truck! It hit me, knocked me to the ground and then continued to reverse back over me…again and again. My plans of a natural birth went to bits. It was truly awful…really, bloody awful.’
‘I was completely unprepared…’
The interesting thing here is that the client had read all the standard books. She’d taken an interest in active birth, had done her ante-natal yoga and been to her NCT classes. She felt confident. That was up until she was induced. From the moment the prostaglandin was given she was on new territory. She was scared. She spent the night, solo, on the ward to the delicate sounds of women yelling and shouting in full labour.
I imagine that by the time her contractions started early the next morning her anxiety levels were through the roof. A bad reaction to the prostaglandin, a baby that attempted to arrive with it’s head tipped back, an unplanned section and a large haemorrhage and here she was, terrified but getting ready to go back into battle 2 years on.
I talk to a lot of women who have had traumatic birth experiences. And through hypnotherapy I show them a way through. A way to accept what has happened and to release the disappointment and confusion.
Now was the chance to create a new birth story. A positive one. A birth she could own. Over a weekend course she learnt how to breathe through the surges, use self-hypnosis to remain relaxed and calm, to involve her partner so that he could actually help this time and to have no fear of labour. By the end of the course she had dumped the fear and she was moving forwards to a birth where anything could happen but she would own the process from beginning to end.
She was ready to accept that birth need not be a painful experience. That fear was the biggest enemy and removing fear would allow her body to follow that path it was meant, naturally, to follow.
And if baby misbehaved again?..
There is a wonderful quote by William and Marth Sears, and it is this:
‘Prepare for a no-fault birth…
If you confidently participate in all the decisions made during your labour and delivery – even those that were not in your birth plan – you are likely to look upon your birth with no blame and no regrets.’
Whatever happens, if you are mentally prepared, if you can remove fear, choose to birth like the mammal you are then whatever happens you will have ‘no regrets’. You will have a good birth story, one that can be shared with confidence and looked back upon with happiness.
So preparation is key.
Turn the stories around. Create new, better birth stories. Bring calm, confidence, happiness and hope back into birthing and then tell the world your story.