We are now 5 months in to this series, and today I am sharing our fifth labour story. Having recently been thinking a lot about my last labour in preparation for my next labour, it’s interesting to read everyone’s different experiences, and how they dealt with it afterwards.
Today we have Kate, mum of 4, who blogs over at Family Fever sharing her birth story with us today:
1. How did you prepare for your labour? Did you have a birth plan or an idea of what you wanted to happen? (eg water birth, drugs, home birth, hospital birth).
I knew I would be having a C section, and it was booked for 39 weeks. I had that date set in my mind, and we prepared as best we could – we chose the music we wanted on in theatre, we had the camera charged and ready, and my birth partner was briefed on the photos I wanted captured.
2. Did you find reading labour stories helped you in the lead up to your labour in preparing yourself for birth?
I read a lot of birth stories in the run up to the birth. Having had C sections before, I was fairly well prepared for what would happen, but it is fascinating to hear about other people’s experiences, and it gave us some ideas about the way we wanted our birth to be.
3. What happened during your labour that meant it didn’t go to plan?
I went into labour at 36 weeks. After a few hours of contractions, my waters broke and I was taken straight down to theatre. I was on my own – my husband was working away and was frantically trying to get back to the hospital, but when my waters went I was rushed into theatre, and he didn’t make it on time. I was scared, and concerned for my baby.
4. How did you feel immediately after the birth? Did you struggle to come to terms with the labour or did you accept that it had happened?
The main feeling was relief – Eliza was lifted above the screen, I discovered I had a daughter, and she cried straight away. She was placed on my chest, and I just felt overwhelmed with love and joy. My husband made it to theatre when she was 3 minutes old, and I felt so sad that he had missed this – the birth of our very last baby, discovering that we had a girl. I was fine with the fact she was born by C section, but I felt robbed of the calm, happy, family environment we had planned.
5. How do you feel about it now? Have your feelings towards your labour changed as time has gone on?
Time is a healer, that much is true, and it isn’t so raw now. However, Eliza was our last baby, and I feel so, so sad that despite having 4 babies, we have never once had a calm, peaceful and joyous birth experience. That will never be now.
6. Do you find talking about your labour helpful or have you struggled with this? (either in person or through writing about it)
Talking and writing about it helps, so much. Through my blog and social media, I have discovered how common birth trauma really is, and I have spoken to some truly inspirational people. It has helped me to realise that, sadly, it is common to feel sad, to feel guilty and to feel traumatised. It doesn’t mean you have failed, and it isn’t something we should be afraid to speak out about. I have written a post about my feelings towards birth trauma.
7. Did you seek any professional help to guide you through your experience, either by speaking to your midwife or doctor, or an organisation such as Birth Reflections? If so, did you find this helped? If not, do you think this would have helped?
I used the Birth Reflections service after my first child was born. It definitely helped – at the time I was so out of it that I didn’t know what was happening, and why certain decisions were made. It helped to know what happened and when, and to realise that the hospital acted to save the life of my unborn child. Following the births of my other children, I again used some of the techniques I was given during counselling, to help me cope.
8. Have there been any long lasting impact due to your experience, e.g. has it affected your decision to have more children?
After the birth of my first daughter, I was adamant that was it for me. It was so traumatic, so utterly terrifying, that I swore I didn’t want more children. As time went on, I knew that I did want more children, and I convinced myself that lightning doesn’t strike twice – the next birth would be different. And, yes, it was – but not in the way I had hoped. All of my births have been difficult, traumatic and scary, but in a way, they have made me stronger. What we went through as a family, to bring these children into the world, only shows how desperately wanted they were.
9. Would you change your approach for future births eg by not having a birth plan or by doing more research into types of births and options if things don’t go as planned.
If we ever had more children, I would be a LOT more assertive about what we wanted. I don’t think that people realise the final choice lies with you, and only you. My experience has changed the course of my life – I started a new career as a student midwife in September, with the aim to empower women to be strong, and to get the birth they want.
10. What advice would you give to someone who has been through a similar experience?
Allow yourself time to heal. Birth trauma is a very real thing, and can easily lead to mental illness. Do not be afraid to ask for help, do not allow anyone to tell you to ‘get over it’, and do be gentle on yourself. Not getting the birth you desperately wanted is emotionally distressing, and it’s OK to say you’re not OK.