Two years ago I birthed my my book Pregnancy: The Naked Truth. A doula in your pocket. Non-judgmental preparation for pregnancy and birth. Also features my Freddie elective caesarean birth story and the lovely Nicola @toomuchmotheringinformation’s second-time natural birth story with her beautiful Zach.
All birth is legitimate birth. I felt after my first – crash caesarean where my baby had to be resuscitated and I ended up feeling slightly battered – that I “hadn’t really given birth”. Sad and bonkers, right? Somehow we judge some births as more respectable than others. Gold standard super birth vs birthing failure. We judge ourselves very harshly – I feel probably still deep down that I “didn’t do as well” as friends of mine who’ve had home births – but then, is there a general societal judgement too?
All birth is a huge powerful event, and there is no failure in birth. Traumatic birth shouldn’t be dismissed because “at least you have a healthy baby”.
I listened to Scummy Mummies podcast yesterday with Rebecca Schiller about birth rights, and how giving birth can be so disempowering. But also how objectively “horrific” births may not actually be traumatic if you feel listened to, supported and respected during your experience. That’s why taking on anyone else’s anxieties and fears of birth is never useful – we all process events differently. Learning about birth, about processes and procedures, what might happen, knowing your options, who you can ask for what when, is so important in allowing you a bit more confidence going into your experience. A positive birth isn’t necessarily a natural birth with lavender oil and scented candles. A positive birth could also be an emergency caesarean which is well managed in its compassion and humanity. It’s all about your mindset and resilience – which you have the power to change and influence.
That’s why I’m thrilled to be part of the Make Birth Better network. Set up by Emma Svanberg (above), whose words of calming lovely wisdom you can read more of in the What’s in Your Toolkit series. Emma is a perinatal clinical psychologist working in private practice in North London, having worked previously in the NHS in primary care perinatal services. Emma is a huge advocate and campaigner for positive birth and parenting, and uses social media to raise awareness of common perinatal mental health concerns. She is also a hypnobirthing teacher and the Perinatal Mental Health Advisor for the Positive Birth Movement. Make Birth Better is set to become an amazing resource for women and their partners going into pregnancy and motherhood. Knowledge is power. Birth is amazing, in all its raw powerful forms.
What has been your experience of birth, pregnancy, motherhood – were there aspects you felt you weren’t prepared for which came as a shock? Did you have a traumatic birth which you still feel the effects of? I’d love to know – get in touch or comment below xxx