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Hi, I am Gemma and have just begun working with the wonderful team at Make Birth Better and thought I would share my own birth experience. I have never actually written down my birth experience and have found the process of doing so really quite therapeutic.
I feel in the days, weeks and months after my daughter was born that I totally lost my confidence. I am not sure at what stage I felt I had lost my confidence, whether it was the 67-hour labour and eventually the emergency cord being pulled the room filled with professionals and the rush to theatre. Or whether I overdid it a bit; being discharged at 12.01 am on Christmas morning with a baby just over 24 hours old and then having 3 streams of visitors that day to meet her before being readmitted on Boxing Day.
Whether it was my daughter being admitted to NICU with a billy pad, a canula, covered in wires and monitors covering her tiny body and recovering from a lumbar puncture with her forceps marks and her cephalohaematoma.
But I did lose my confidence at some point and I wasn’t expecting the experience I had, far from it. I was totally and utterly unprepared for the whole birth experience. My husband and I did NCT and I had read a book, I wasn't expecting to enjoy labour at all, but I was not prepared for what had happened and what came after my daughter was born.
I was lucky to recover well in my own time in my own way and start to feel better and more confident again. I think the final (and massive) stage of recovery was my during my second pregnancy when my husband and I did birth reflections with a really great midwife. I was also put under the care of a wonderful consultant who totally reassured me that my birth experience was in fact a hard one and lots went wrong and I did well despite that. Hypnobirthing also helped me remain calm during my second birth where things progressed much better than the first time. I was also more prepared however because of my own experience.
I think that the work that @birthbetter are doing is so so crucial in educating people, I really believe that if I had any idea what may happen to me then I feel I might have coped better with my own birth experience.
Also, the other voice we would be really interested to hear is that of a mother who has chosen NOT to have her partner present during the birth for whatever reason...in case this leads to any thoughts for you. Please contact Sarah for more information at sarahcuddon @gmail.com
HIYA! How are you, Make Birth Better community? What have you been up to today?
This is a photo from our parents’ event in July, to celebrate our first birthday and @mumologist’s launch of her book Why Birth Trauma Matters. These women, among many others, have been the beating heart of this organisation this year.
Because that’s what we’re all about- community. Coming together to think about how we can change things, together. Letting others know they’re not on their own. And using our individual voices together to make some noise!
So how are you? What’s brought you here? Emma xxx
Hey I’m jo from @the_babys_ok_am_i and to any new followers who don’t know me I had my baby 24 years ago 😱 and my story is in my bio if you would like to read I’ve only just started speaking out even being in the daily mail with @a_musing_muma 🤣
This week is a new awareness week for OASI that’s stands for obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury.. this is for mothers that have had a 3 rd or 4 th degree tear. A 4 th degree tear is the most severe and means the skin, muscle and fascia of the perenium is damaged and extends through both anal sphincter and into the rectum. There is a Facebook group for these injuries and in a poll 70% of the women in the group experienced fecal incontinence and enough leakage to soil underwear 😢 I’ve not worn white knickers since the day I gave birth😩
As a result of these tears mothers can experience a wide range of issues such as stool leakage , infection and fistulas. This shocks me and I had no idea injuries like this could be sustained just through giving birth.. I wasn’t stitched correctly resulting in major infection and my stitches disintegrated leaving a gaping hole and me with bowel leakage and incontinence. There is so much help and there are surgeries and procedures to help now unfortunately I have nerve damage so I am having physio to try and support the anal sphincter and manage like others with medication to stop my bowels when I need to. These tears are so awful as injuries like this while looking after a newborn are so hard and then like me the day to day care of injuries all these years later can take all the amazing time with your child away and that’s when the mental health issues kick in.. I’m so pleased to be a parent ambassador for MBB and to be involved in making women aware that there is help and there are women just like them waiting to help them and that’s what has helped me knowing I can make a difference to a shell shocked new mum not knowing where to turn like I was . @motherswith4thdegreetears has some amazing posts from the awareness week.. jo ❤️
#makebirthbetter #birthtrauma #4thdegreetear
I was recently asked to contribute something small to the @birthbetter manual about how we might improve disabled women’s’ experiences of pregnancy and birth. This is some of what I wrote - “I was very lucky that my experiences were mostly positive. However, as I have got to know other disabled mothers and have learned more about the field, I have seen flaws in my own care and discovered that most disabled mothers experience similar issues.
Disabled women frequently report feeling that they are not listened to in the process of pregnancy and birth. Disabled women, like all women, are experts in their own bodies. They know their strengths and their limitations. Healthcare professionals and women can learn from each other and together plan a birth that meets the woman’s needs and wishes.
Disabled mothers need compassionate support to help them prepare for new motherhood. The practicalities of pregnancy, birth and the post natal period are complicated for women with physical disability. However, thinking and talking about these practicalities with non judgemental healthcare professionals is enormously helpful. This is made a lot easier if varying access needs are met by surgeries, clinics and hospitals.
Finally, communication between healthcare professionals is vital to ensure that disabled women’s pregnancies and births are planned and carried out in the best possible way for them and their babies. Many women with complex disabilities will be under the care of a number of different professionals, perhaps in different hospitals.
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood can feel enormously isolating for disabled mums. Trudy Williams is the maternal medicine specialist midwife at St George’s Hospital. She has created a buddy system whereby disabled mothers can be paired with women who have had their babies whilst living with same condition. She has found this peer support extremely beneficial. The experiences of women in the same and similar situations can provide invaluable support and encouragement.” Our experiences will be enormously varied. Please feel free to share yours.
When Alice was around 2 and a half I felt the familiar pang of broodiness. By this point there were more factors to consider due my increased disability and the medication I now relied upon. I sought advice and composed a list of pros and cons entitled, ‘baby number two?’ My list of cons was pages long but it couldn’t outweigh my overwhelming urge to have another baby. I became pregnant, whilst taking Tysabri. This decision was taken in conjunction with the neurologist and MS team. Once I became pregnant, I stopped taking the medication. I now know of other mothers who have continued taking Tysabri throughout their pregnancy with no ill effects on the baby or the mother. This pregnancy was very difficult. I had severe Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) which, combined with MS, made my hips so weak they frequently gave way without warning. I had intensive physiotherapy to keep my body strong enough to carry me safely through the pregnancy. I stopped working at just over 20 weeks on the recommendation of the GP.
Looking back, I don’t know how I got through the pregnancy but in July 2016, I had my youngest daughter, Lucy, again by C Section. I had once again, seen a consultant obstetrician throughout the pregnancy. I was grateful to be given additional scans and monitoring, particularly given the falls. I had agreed with my MS nurses that I would go immediately back on Tysabri after the birth. There was no option, therefore, for me to breastfeed. I gave Lucy formula in recovery and knew I had a very clear reason to do so. This ‘excuse,’ alleviated some of the guilt that I had felt when I had been unable to breastfeed Alice. I had more disability this time round but I also had more confidence, more experience and more trust in my own instincts and ability. MS had been part of my pregnancies. It had woven its way through every aspect of them but it did not make it impossible or unmanageable. With the right support, guidance and with people around us who listen to us, it is possible for women with disabilities to have positive pregnancy experiences and empowering births.
I got pregnant easily. MS does not affect basic fertility and I was lucky. As so many women do, I suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks. At the time this was the deepest sadness I had ever felt. I was, however, fortunate enough to become pregnant again and carry this baby to full term. Early in that pregnancy I was categorised as ‘high risk’ due to my MS. I was placed under the care of a consultant obstetrician. I now know that having MS is not an automatic indicator of being high risk in pregnancy. The type of MS I have, (relapsing and remitting) actually leads to women being less likely to relapse during pregnancy. However, a mother is at increased risk of relapse during the first six months after birth. At the time, the high risk label made me feel concerned for myself and my baby. It made me a very passive patient. I was willing to do whatever was suggested if the medical professionals felt it was the safest option.
The most significant thing the consultant obstetrician did for me was to give me the advice to have a C Section. A major symptom of MS is fatigue. The fear was that I would go through a traumatic birth and then be unable to recover sufficiently to cope in the early days of motherhood. I don’t regret having the section but in hindsight, I wish I had felt more empowered in the decision. In early 2013 Alice was delivered at 38 weeks. I so wanted to breastfeed, but struggled. I wasn’t sleeping and neither was Alice. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, as all new mothers are but with MS making life harder, I couldn’t carry on. One midwife suggested I give Alice a bottle. I remember feeling intense relief that someone had given me permission to give her formula. Alice drank hungrily. We slept for two blissful hours. I would love to say I never looked back. The truth is that I regretted, ‘giving up.’ Six months after Alice was born, I suffered my second relapse. I very suddenly lost mobility and became anxious about my ability to look after Alice. I felt trapped in my house, afraid to go out with her for fear of falling. I felt judged and hyper visible. Thankfully, my neurologist put me on medication which kept me stable but my mobility was worsened.
My name is Sally Darby, founder of @mums_like_us - a network for disabled mothers (MLU) I created this space after feeling isolated and judged in the early months of motherhood. Mums Like Us is a group on facebook exclusively for disabled mothers. Through Instagram, twitter and the website, I am trying to open up the conversation with a wider audience. I hope to bring disabled mothers in to the parenting mainstream. I am a mother to two brilliant girls. I parent them together with my husband. So far, so mainstream. And yet, my disability is a visible sign of our difference and a constant reminder that the world of parenting is not geared up for us. I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS.) I walk like your toddler. I fall over frequently. Outside my house, I move around with a stick and occasionally a mobility scooter for longer journeys. My mobility is also dramatically effected by my other main MS symptom; my vision. I am severely, and permanently visually impaired. This is not always obvious to people because my sight loss is central rather than peripheral. This means that whilst I cannot read, recognise faces at any distance or drive, I can move around without the aid of a sight assistance dog or cane. Sight loss and balance are two of a range of ways in which MS impacts upon my life and my family. Inevitably parenting with a disability has its challenges. For me these challenges have been intensified by my feelings of inadequacy and isolation. Parents with disabilities are largely unseen and unrepresented. Worse than this, they often feel judged and dismissed. Despite the fact that the charity @bestbeginningscharity estimates there are approximately 1.7 million disabled parents in the UK and this is almost certainly a huge under - estimate, the world of mainstream parenting, from pregnancy and birth through to school and beyond is under-equipped to accommodate us. I created Mums Like Us because I needed it. It was a selfish act. We all need help and guidance. Sometimes we need it from people who understand what it’s like to be a mum like us, a mum who is constantly adapting traditional parenting methods and products to do it her way; brilliantly, but differently.
Good evening all this is @josmyth12 it's nice to be posting after the summer break seeing what has been going on. I recently have been on the other side I had my traumatic birth over 16 years ago, this I am alright with however having learnt that I now have a prolapse has been hard. I can only do certain things physically and have not had much treatment despite having had several frustrating conversations. It has been a learning curve being on the other side of our healthcare system. It makes me think how far has healthcare moved forward or has it?
A recent article showed that women are still scared to admit they are struggling with motherhood as they think that their child will be taken away. As a health professional I feel that this is sad why are women still feeling this way and how can this way of thinking be changed? It's about open ended questions and also as professionals making our clients aware that we are human too and do want to help. Also as a member of the birth trauma association committee I also see how frustrated other women get and am able to understand why. So let's make time to change and hopefully move our healthcare forward.
Have you got your ticket yet?
Birth trauma conference- Make the Change on Friday 20th September in Huddersfield. Amazing line up of speakers and skills based workshops. Discount rate for students. Suitable for maternity staff, psychologists, doulas, perinatal mental health professionals, academics and litigation staff. All are welcome x
Link to book This is the link
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/make-the-change-birth-trauma-conference-tickets-63677537228?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete (Or search Make The Change on Eventbrite)
Well, what a year it’s been. One year of @birthbetter and we’ve felt the sheer strength of all of you standing shoulder to shoulder with us, and alongside other wonderful organisations such as @birth_trauma_association_uk @birthtraumascotland #aims @nctcharity @birthrightsorg and many more.
We need to practice what we preach and take an occasional step back too, to gather our thoughts, ground ourselves and plan for the coming year. As a result we’ve decided to take a break for August.
Look forward to seeing you all in September. If you need to get hold of us, feel free to email hello @makebirthbetter.org
Sending you all wishes for moments of stillness, moments of peace and moments of joy. Love, the MBB team