Published on 'The Rose Diaries' blog focusing on positive birth stories.
Today we are delighted to share a guest blog post from Rosie at Mamawell. Mamawell focuses holistically on the balance between mental and physical health throughout motherhood, which is a perfect discussion for The Rose Diaries.
There is increasing pressure felt by new mums to have the ‘perfect’ pregnancy and birth experience, and to bounce back like it was a small insignificant event. But as anyone who has given birth knows, it is life changing and emotional in all cases, and in some circumstances extremely complicated. Birth and pregnancy should not be dismissed as just something women have to go through, and that we should just keep quiet about the experience, the mental and physical challenges, the loss or overwhelming emotions both positive and negative. All pregnant women have their own idea of the ‘perfect’ birth – for some this may involve an epidural, others may want to be in a birthing pool, others may prefer to opt for C-section. The most important thing is to find a method that you are not just comfortable, but confident with, and own it without judgement.
Birth is rarely a textbook, linear process, but can meander through so many stages and it is where it’s starts to move from the planned process that women start to feel like they have lost their ‘perfect’ birth and are out of control. But instead, if we follow nature, with the addition of the guidance of the experts, we can allow the changing birth process to become our new ‘perfect’ plan. Finding balance between the envisaged birth and the reality can be very challenging for many women, and rightly so. In many cases there are underlying instances of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) present months after the birth. Often even family can’t fully understand, as it seems like life is complete once the new baby is here. If the birth didn’t go to plan it is really important to gain understanding and closure, and the post-birth consultation with the hospital staff is often incredibly useful in bridging the gap between the perception and reality of the birth.
On the flip side, there is sometimes judgement passed about those women who have a natural birth, with few complications, maybe no painkillers and not too much drama. This side of the story is equally important and should be celebrated without judgement. My own experience with hypnobirthing thankfully led me to the conscious, quiet, intervention and medication-free birth that I had hoped and planned for, and I’m beyond thankful for that opportunity. But as I approached full term I remember talking to my husband about what I would do if things didn’t go the way I planned. I felt that my months of focus on reframing the terminology of birth, and breathing exercises would be all for nothing if I had to change to a different birth plan. On discussion, I realised that all the research and practise I had done had prepared me for my birth, whatever form it took. That using my breathing and meditation techniques would be helpful from the moment my waters broke, that being quiet and still where needed, and keeping active where required would also be useful whether I birthed in the birthing centre or on the ward. Just having the possibility of using these techniques gave me so much more freedom and confidence and helped me manage my expectations of birth vs the reality.
In conclusion, giving birth is not something you can programme to ‘perfection’ and there are a multitude of interactions that can cause things to go off plan. Educating yourself on the birth style that appeals to YOU will allow you to focus your energy, but understanding that if things don’t go to plan there are still many options is key. The ultimate goal for the midwife is safety of the baby and mother, and they will guide you on the most suitable route for this. Talking about your birth, being kind to yourself, not judging yourself or others are key ways to start processing the birth. And if you’re lucky enough to have a healthy baby in your arms, be reminded that the birth is just the beginning of your motherhood story.