This week I’m joined by Milla from Live Oxfordshire. Milla is a self employed mum of two living in south Oxfordshire. I love her current series about bad habits. It makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not the only one with habits I’d like to break. You can check out Milla’s latest post over at Live Oxfordshire but for now her she is sharing her labour & birth story…
Five years ago I thought I was prepared. I had read about birth, done a hypnobirthing course and had a lovely community midwife at my local Midwifery Led Unit. I was all set, or so I thought. The thing I hadn’t prepared myself for, the thing that, perhaps, you can’t prepare yourself for until after you’ve been through it and realise it’s necessary, was the extent to which I needed to fight my corner in order to have the birth I wanted. It was your classic cascade of intervention, from a suspicion that my waters had broken (a myth later debunked by a number of things including my very experienced midwife I had for my second birth) I was bounced to the hospital where they tried to break my waters (anyone notice a discrepancy here) followed by IV syntometrin, followed by epidural, followed by emergency C Section. It was, quite possibly the most terrifying experience of my life and nobody in the hospital offered me any real choices. I was offered the chance to go home, but it was implied, nay, clearly outlined, that staying in the hospital was the only option unless I wanted to kill my baby. Being a scared, heavily pregnant woman in latent labour makes you a vulnerable, submissive target for authority figures to frighten into compliance and that’s what happened to me.
I don’t actually want to talk about the C-Section. I fought hard to have my husband remain with me through all of it, even when they were prepping me which was against protocol, but perhaps they realised from the mounting hysteria in my voice and the calming influence he exerted that having him there really was the best option. I wish I had fought harder to cling to the few things that were important to me that I could have had despite the C-Section, like immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping – a ‘gentle’ or ‘natural’ C-section as I now know it to be, but at the time I was exhausted, emotional and it was less accepted in hospitals. I don’t want to talk about after the C-section and the poor care I received that left me with years of PTSD and PND.
I do want to talk about the wonderful women who supported me through my second pregnancy and labour. I hired Independent Midwives to look after me and the care I received was phenomenal. They reassured me, put me in control and made my pregnancy a special, safe, reasonably relaxed experience, despite the residual fears left from my first birth. A VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) was not just ‘allowed’, but made to feel like the best option – more than that – a VBAC at home was what we were aiming for. All my care was done at home, by women who really got to know me and my family and understood my fears and hopes. When the time came I went into labour naturally, two days after my EDD. I laboured in my bedroom on the floor, then a pool in my kitchen, then hanging off my husband in the sitting room. My mum was there, my husband, my two midwives. The whole thing was hard work and not comfortable, but it was safe, controlled, manageable and magical. There was magic in the quiet safe space of my own home. I laboured and birthed my 10lb daughter without even gas and air. I didn’t even ask for pain relief. I didn’t need it.
18 months on our family is complete and I am healthy and happy, as are my children. I feel sad when I think about my birth experiences as neither of them were what I hoped for, but it is just sadness now, not the traumatised blackness I had after my first birth. I attribute that to the wonderful, wonderful care I received because, it turns out, it’s not how the birth goes that affects you, but how you are treated as a person before, during and after that experience that stays with you. So if you can get access to an Independent Midwife, a doula, a neighbourhood midwife or a one-to-one midwife scheme then do it. It makes the world of difference.
Thank you so much Milla for taking the time to share your birth story. You can find Milla here: