I want to tell you a story about this pregnant Mum I knew. She worked in a predominantly female workforce and one specific day at the office at tea break, they got into a convo about birth.
“My labour was 52 hours and ended in an emergency caesarean.”
“I bled too much.”
“ I was transferred and it was a nightmare. The pain was awful.”
The stories went on and on. The only lady that didn’t get involved was my pregnant friend, it was her first, and one other mother.
Needless to say, my pregnant friend spent the rest of the day thinking about the horror stories and the birth that was inevitably in the not too far away future. She felt awful.
If you are currently pregnant whilst reading this, I’m sure this situation is, sadly, all too familiar for you.
The other mother, who didn’t say anything in the group, caught her at the end of the day and said to her, “ I actually had a great birth, it was fine and I’d do it all again. I just didn’t want to say it infront of everyone as I didn’t want to be a dick.”
This woman felt like she couldn’t share her birth story as it was a good one. She didn’t want to make the other women feel like their births were ‘less’ than hers. She didn’t want to be THAT person. The one who makes everyone roll their eyes because she got lucky or had it easy.
And that right there, pretty much sums up what society thinks about birth. We are in a birth culture that thinks that if you have a good birth, you got lucky.
But what does this do then for pregnant women and their births?
If you mostly hear nightmareish birth stories you are actually more likely to have a dramatic birth because of the stories you hear. As when the time comes for you to give birth, you are more than likely going to feel scared about what’s in store for you from the stories that you’ve heard.
Will it be 56 hours like Sarah’s?
Will I bleed like Susan? etc. etc.
This then means that adrenaline is going to be higher in your body. Adrenaline effects your birth in a negative way making you feel more PAIN and increasing your chances to intervention. It also means that because you’re FEELING panicked, you are also going to feel that birth is dramatic and traumatic. Meaning that then YOU are most likely going to be that person over coffee who tells the other pregnant women that birth is in fact, awful. Actually, more importantly to you, you are going to look back on the day your baby came into the world with a dark fog of fear or panic.
You know what else is interesting. We have become so accustomed to these dramatic birth stories that you feel like a minority if you have a GOOD birth. Our beliefs are that actually birth is awful and if you have a good one then you must be an anomaly, a “lucky one” and that you shouldn’t brag about your luck.
How backward is that?
So that if you are a first time pregnant mother who says… “Oh I’d like to just use gas and air and water.” People snigger, roll their eyes and mutter “Ha, you’ll see” and then you go off thinking how silly you must be for thinking that as a first time pregnant mother you can have a birth like you imagine. How very naïve of you.
I also think it’s important to distinguish why you want to have that waterbirth with gas and air on a midwife led unit. Is that because that means calm and in control to you? If so, maybe it’s the calmness and the feeling in control that you’d like, rather than the water. From working on a consulant led unit as a midwife, I know for fact that intervention doesn’t always mean bad experience and waterbirth doesn’t always mean good experience. But I’ll save that for another blog post.
If you have a good birth story, SHARE IT. Don’t feel silenced by the negative ones.
Don’t feel like you got lucky.
Don’t keep those positive birth vibes to yourself. Don’t be THAT person.
Don’t be a dick 😉
If you would like to change the way you think about birth to a more positive one and learn ways to keep you feeling positive about birth all the way till you have your baby in your arms (this is what hypnobirthing is!) then take a look at Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Ed. Online with midwife, Beth.
If you’re local to Gloucestershire you can get the group hypnobirthing courses here.
(Edited to add.. I want to make it really clear that this blog is not to silence anyone who’s birth wasn’t great. Talking heals and sharing your birth when things were traumatic can be a way to discover that you are not alone! It’s just good to be aware of the effects that sharing stories can have on pregnant Mums and their births.)
photo credits @the_birth_day