When you are pregnant, most will think about birth at some stage. You know it's going to come out one of two ways, you know your fanny will take a bit of a beating, you won't be able to drive for a while when you have a section, but actually, that's where my thoughts around birth stopped. When I got pregnant with my first, I was lucky enough to share it with one of my best friends and my sister. We often moaned about heartburn and itching skin and dodgy hips, but I can't recall any conversations about birth preparation. My sister was a second timer so I thought she obviously knew what she was doing and my friend was just like me, a bit in shock we were cloning versions of ourselves, but still carried on to plan nights out for when we were out of pregnancy jail. I just kind of went along with watching a few One Borns, oh, and attending a really shit antenatal class somewhere out in the middle of Keighley that never actually mentioned anything about how birth might go in different directions. I just shrugged it off with the attitude of, I'll be alright, women all over the world do this everyday.
3am up on the post natal ward and I am lying flat on my back with my baby in the nurser, my anesthetic is wearing off my bits, I'm bleeding and I'm strapped to a heart monitor, because every time I tried to move I thought I would pass out.
Nobody told me about this bit. Actually I never asked about this bit.
I wasn't ready for what happens after birth. In any shape or form. I was stitched up, anemic, and couldn't process any stage of labour or birth as I had been topped up to my eyeballs with pethidine. I didn't even know what pethidine was. I don't even remember giving consent to pethidine. I went home three days after I went in for my induction, and I cried all fucking day long. I hated visitors coming, I hated my husband for going anywhere alone, I wasn't even sure I liked my new baby in that first two weeks. I hadn't done skin to skin, I was bottle feeding, I was tired beyond anything I had ever experienced. But on went that facade because that's what you have to do, right?
This haze went on for a good 10 weeks. I was in and out of the doctors and hospital trying to find a reason for why I felt constantly wired and on edge but so exhausted all in one. The doctor said I, 'wasn't depressed in the typical sense'. I got put on some beta-blockers and told I had anxiety. Even months on I couldn't pinpoint what I was so anxious about. Walking around Leeds City Centre would kick off panic attacks. I got them when I was driving. There was no obvious logic to me at this point, because in that position as a new mum, you just carry on. It took a year to figure out it was all down to birth trauma. I didn't even know this was a thing until I attended my post natal de-brief at the hospital. I cried the whole way through it. I hadn't coped at all with birth and felt half the woman I was before being a mum.
Zooming forward 5 and half years to now, I look at me then and I don't beat myself up for not preparing for birth in a better way, actually there wasn't a great deal pointing to antenatal classes or Hypnobirthing. I was 27, a career girl and just put the birth out of my mind whilst baby grew and grew and I carried on working. I do wonder though if I had chosen to gain a bit more knowledge about my options, then maybe I could have controlled some of the situations my husband and I ended up in.
So I will stress the saying that knowledge is power. Know your options in your place of birth. Know hospital lingo, know you have done the best by not only baby, but YOU.
I'm not as crass to say that if you don't do a Hypnobirthing course you will end up in the position I did. That really is not always the case. But what I can say is second baby was a different experience entirely when I knew what was going on. Preparation saved my self-confidence. That sounds a bit wank but actually it is the truth. Preparation really will empower you to know you have done everything you can to prepare for the big day. Every woman deserves empowerment in the birthing room, every woman should feel like a warrior, and preparation is your spear! xx