Guest author: Vanessa Liney
Hi ladies, how are you? I hope you’ve had a great week.
This article has been sat in my draft folder for two months as I’ve not been sure how to finish it or when to publish it but today an unexpected conversation inspired me to complete it and finally publish.
“Sometimes the best moments in life are the ones you didn’t plan at all.”
No truer word has been spoken and this goes for childbirth as well.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I religiously practiced yoga, meditation and anything else I could think of to ensure I had a “perfect labor.” My birthing plan was pretty much to Om that baby out while listening to soothing whale music and spending the best part of my labor in a birthing pool whilst my husband looked on admiringly at the miracle of birth. Phah!
Ironically my ideology of what labor would be like totally went out the window when at 34 weeks pregnant my waters broke in the early hours of the morning. Ladies: If you ever want to see a man jump out of bed quickly, tell him you think you’ve either wet the bed or your water has just broken. I did both.
In my confusion, the two thoughts that went through my head were: A) Bloody glad I washed and straightened my hair the night before and B) Mortification at not being as bikini ready as I would have ordinarily liked to have been.
Tut Tut—don’t judge me ladies. To state the bloody obvious: I was delusional, in denial and totally naive having previously never given birth.
For any woman who has given birth will tell you, that is the last thing on your mind while you’re birthing a very small person out your body.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. where I was immediately scanned and told our baby girl was breech and that I would need a C-section. I was monitored continuously and my contractions strengthened and so naturally I was delighted when the midwives introduced me to the gas and air that I took to a little too well.
By 9:00 a.m. I was contracting every few minutes and our little girl was getting distressed so they began prepping me for surgery. I’m not sure even at this stage whether the seriousness of the events had really sunk in. My husband certainly wasn’t looking on admiringly and despite his total horror at what was happening, his focus was to keep me calm always so he hid it well his panic well.
The risk factors were discussed and we were told exactly what would be happening once we arrived in operating room. Up until this point I had never had stitches, broken a bone or spent any length of time in a hospital. Apparently, I signed some disclosure paperwork—or so my husband tells me—and we were told exactly what would be going down and then I was rushed straight in.
I was given an epidural in my spine and managed to get a little meditation in while they inserted the needle. Then my husband entered dressed in his finest scrubs. Being a massive Greys Anatomy fan, Doctor Derek Shepherd, AKA Doctor McDreamy, had some serious competition and all I needed was Doctor McSteamy and we would have had ourselves a party. The gas and air had obviously kicked in.
It all goes a little hazy at this point as they pumped my body with drugs to sedate and calm me, but I am vaguely aware of a lot of faces staring down at me and rushing around. There was no whale music, no birthing pool and no deep breathing. Our daughter was born at 12.22 p.m. and as they held her tiny body over me, I managed a brief glimpse and touched her beautiful face before she was whisked away in an incubator to the NICU ward where she remained for the next 19 days.
Second time around my birthing plan was:
- A) Get baby out as safely as possible
- B) See point A above
Our son was born at 35 weeks by C-section because he was also breech. Because of further complications, I was given a general anesthetic and missed his birth entirely.
I speak with many women about their birthing experience; us women love to talk about the day our children entered the world and I never tire of talking about it myself. Time goes by so quickly and I think its therapeutic to talk over our experiences.
Whilst many women are happy with their birthing experience, there are many that feel disappointed angry and sadly guilty that their experience did not go entirely to plan.
It’s completely normal and understandable to have these feelings, but below are some steps you can take to help you come to terms with your birthing experience when it doesn’t go to plan.
Firstly, a birth plan is a document that you’ll discuss with your midwife or doctor that lets you go through your preferences for your birth and how to manage your labor pain. However, it’s important to remember that you cannot control every aspect of labor and delivery. The best thing to do is keep an open mind and remain flexible should your medical team need to move away from your original plan.
There are some amazing support groups out there and one site I found is the Seleni Institute.
The Seleni Institute is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Nitzia and George Logothetis in 2011 to destigmatize and transform mental health and wellness by addressing real-life issues that challenge the emotional health of women, men and their families, including: pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, infertility/third-party reproduction, miscarriage, stillbirth, menopause, parenting and child loss.
The below advice is provided by them and I have added a link to their site for any ladies who are struggling to come to terms with their birthing experience.
Don’t hide your feelings. I know it sounds so obvious but be honest with yourself and discuss your feelings with your family members or close friends who can help you come to terms with the situation.
As above, we love to talk about our birthing experiences, so, do just that. Talk. Processing the experience can help reduce any guilt or anger you may be experiencing.
Whatever you do, please don’t blame yourself. As a society, we can be unbelievably judgmental and woman sadly can be the most judgmental. I’ve never quite worked that one out. The pressures we put upon ourselves to have a “good birthing experience” is not realistic and for anyone that strives for control this can cause many issues to arise. People in your life may have differing views; filter out the negative comments and focus your attention on yourself and your own health and well-being.
Focus on the positives and your strengths. It takes strength to let go of the ideal of a vaginal birth and realize that a C-section is the best option for you and the baby. Also, for anyone that has cared for a baby in NICU ward or who has endured a lengthy labor only for it to end in a C-section shows immense strength and courage. For those that have given birth, was your experience what you expected? Did you struggle with unplanned intervention and how did you overcome this? Share your experiences with us; I’d love to hear from you.
Vanessa Liney is a wife and very proud mum to two gorgeous children. She is also the creator of The Pregnancy Pantry blog, a site dedicated to nutrition, recipes and a blend of lifestyle, well-being and health throughout pregnancy.