The impact of words


I was told to trust medical professionals over my own instinct from the day I told my midwife something was wrong with my pelvis (4 months pregnant). She told me that as a first time mum I just didn't know how my body would be changing. It took two months of me at my absolute wits end going to her at breaking point for me to get taken seriously. I was then diagnosed with SPD. When going in for my induction I was met with a similar comment (about being a first time mum so I didn't know what my body was doing), then again when I went back to hospital in labour. When, after hours of agonising labour through the night unable to walk or sit because of my SPD, I told the midwife I needed assistance she told me that it was all normal, I was fine and to keep going. I had no pain relief and was begging for something but she was very busy and couldn't stay to discuss my options. I felt to push so I buzzed her and she came in and told me it was unlikely I was pushing as my last check (2 hours previously) hadn't shown much progress. I didn't trust my body (as I had been told not to!) and stood in the shower pushing by trying not to until it was unbearable. My husband (who had been sleeping, on my insistence!) called the midwife, who came in and realised I really was ready to push. Everything that followed is a bit of a muddle in my memory, there were 3 midwives with me so I knew to be anxious but the gas and air kept the pain more manageable. Rushing meant they hadn't read my notes (which said due to SPD I shouldn't be lying on my back, legs open for birth) so I was stuck following their uninformed directions. My baby got stuck and his heart rate dropped so a dr came in to assist with a suction cup. I remember being told to push "properly" or my baby wouldn't make it.

All ended fine, and I have a beautiful and healthy 2 year old boy. I'm still struggling as my pelvis and hips are painful, but the worst thing about my son's birth was the way the midwives dismissed me, they left me not trusting my instincts and instead of me pushing to be heard I felt like I wasn't coping properly so I didn't push to be heard. If I had then the birth might have been less of an emergency situation. The comment from the midwife who told me my son might not make it will forever be with me. In every moment of mum guilt I remember that moment. I will forever feel guilty that my sons arrival into the world was made traumatic because I didn't push well enough (& I know there were other factors of pain and exhaustion, and that the midwife should have chosen her words more carefully, but all of that fades when it comes to my boy and my guilt).

I think the experience would have been entirely different if the health professionals had encouraged me to trust my body and my instincts. I appreciate that as a new mum I actually didn't know what I was feeling all the time so I understand where they are coming from, but I don't think they appreciate just how much their words affect a new mum and how damaging they can be.

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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