I wanted to share my 2nd positive birth story following a 1st traumatic birth- hopefully this will give people hope that each birth is completely different and you can have a second baby following birth trauma and this can be a totally different experience.
I experienced a 3rd degree tear during the birth of my 1st baby 5 years ago, the birth was quick and along with an episiotomy I also suffered a tear which consequently meant I had to leave my son soon after delivery to go go to theatre to be repaired. I was told this would be 45 minutes but this ended up being 3 hours. The tear left me in a lot of pain during recovery, loss of control of my bowels, heightened anxiety and night terrors following the surgery due to the anaesthetic wearing off towards the end of the surgery which left me being able to feel a lot of the repairs towards the end. This affected initial bonding with my son which left me with a lot of guilt- I felt embarrassed and unable to express my struggles- putting on a brave face due to wanting others around me to see I was coping and taking to motherhood well, when actually I wish I had been more honest about what was really going on and how I felt at the time to allow myself the support I needed.
When my husband and I decided to try for another baby I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety when thinking about giving birth again and going through the same experience and how I would be able to cope with this again. After speaking with my midwife I was referred to the perinatal mental health team and offered support around reducing anxieties and ensuring my 2nd birth was a different experience. I was under a consultant this time due to the degree of the tear and difficulties this caused me physically and mentally so we decided on a planned c section which enabled me to relax and ensure I could experience things differently this time.
The experience for me was amazing, my daughter was delivered, weighed and then I held her for the full day feeding and bonding skin to skin which I didn't get with my son due to the initial separation. The perinatal mental health team enabled me to talk through my struggles in a safe space and supported me to plan for my 2nd birth, ensuring this experience was more positive and enjoyable - I have an amazing bond with both my children now and feel lucky to have had the support I did to ensure my struggles didn't last long and give me the confidence to access the help I needed to be able to have my 2nd child.
I hope reading this helps other women know that each birth is totally different and there is support out there if you feel you need it. If I had read positive stories when deciding whether to have another baby or not I know it would have helped reduce some of my anxieties around getting pregnant again.