Emma has asked people to share their birth stories and this topic of birth trauma really resonated with me and inspired me to write this post. I think it’s really important to be open and share our experiences, good and bad, so here I am!
My eldest little girl was born four years ago and my whole birth experience with her from start to finish was far from positive. My labour was very long and there was a lot of disagreement between the medical team; two midwifes even had an argument in front of me. I definitely didn’t feel that anything was being explained to me or that I was being listened to.
My little girl was born after an emergency dash to theatre, concerns that my blood pressure was too high caused a lot of raised voices, it was too late for me to have a section and one doctor was telling me when to push while another midwife was shouting that I needed to stop pushing as my blood pressure was so high, my baby was literally pulled out of me! I then suffered a postpartum haemorrhage that kept me in theatre for hours, at the time I had no idea what was happening at all, nobody explained I was haemorrhaging, I certainly had no idea what was normal and I have vivid memories of looking at the floor covered in blood with a doctor shouting that he couldn’t find a swab inside me.
I didn’t meet my baby until I was out of theatre, I didn’t get to do any skin to skin and I definitely didn’t feel that immediate bond that everyone had spoken about, I felt numb.
Looking back I was really traumatised by the whole experience, I was on bed rest for 24 hours and had further complications where I had torn. The doctors told me they may need to take me back to theatre, the thought of going back to theatre completely terrified me as did being separated from my baby and I completely broke down. I remember a doctor telling me there was no need to cry!
In the days that followed nobody at all asked me how I felt about the labour or explained anything that had happened, I don’t think I saw the same midwife or health visitor twice so there wasn’t really any consistency and I didn’t feel there was anyone I could talk about my labour to. I didn’t realise at the time how much it affected me as I was so focused on my little girl I didn’t really allow myself to think much about it. Now I can see that open and honest communication from the medical team and better care would definitely made my birth better. If I had been able to talk about my feelings around the labour without feeling like I was overreacting I definitely wouldn’t have been so affected later.
Two years later when I was pregnant with my second baby it really hit me hard. I suffered terribly with anxiety about my birth experience first time around to the extent I would have nightmares about it. When I eventually opened up to my midwife said she thought I had PTSD.
I was referred to a consultant which turned out to be the turning point for me and I owe this lady a lot! I turned up to my appointment with the belief I absolutely couldn’t do it again and hysterically begged my doctor for a c section. She was truly amazing and I will never forget what she did for me – she listened to me and rationalised all of my concerns about my first labour (there was a lot!) – had this happened after the labour I believe it would have saved me so much anxiety and fear. Together we put a plan in place that we were all happy with that included boundaries as to what I could and couldn’t cope with.
I saw her regularly towards the end of my pregnancy and she made me feel that she truly cared about me having a positive birth second time around. She gave me back all my belief in myself and in the end I had the most amazing birth experience second time around. This is all down to my amazing doctor who made me feel safe when I really needed it most