This week I posted my birth experience on Maternity Matters, which is a “blog dedicated towards raising awareness of birth trauma, the positive birth choices that women are entitled to make and the steps which families can take to move on with their lives after a traumatic birth.” I think this is an important site, both in its open and inviting forum to let women share their stories as well as its proactive agenda towards bringing birth trauma to the public spectrum.
My story may not seem ‘traumatic’ to some. I have to admit that it was for this reason that I kept the post anonymous. I am now at the point that I can look back at all three of my births and be thankful for the general ease (relatively speaking) with which I got through them. I didn’t have any complications, any interventions, and had three healthy children. I am very very lucky and I do not take any of it for granted. That being said, the ‘trauma’ that I went through really affected me and my interaction with my baby. So it shouldn’t be ignored.
My issue with pain relief options in the UK is that choice during labour seems to be something that is no longer readily available. Why call it a choice if you don’t get to choose? Why give women the opportunity to write a birth plan if it’s going to be ignored anyway? Why bother having women think they can have an epidural if it’s going to be withheld from them? (Of course I am not suggesting that women always have an epidural e.g. when they are managing without.) Equally, a woman should not be forced into having an epidural or pain relief if she is determined to go without. I have had three births in the UK, and two times I was denied the choice that I wanted. The first time there was absolutely no reason, and the second time I suspect that the reason I was given was not the whole truth. (Call me sceptical.)
I came across this article in the Telegraph called Natural childbirth: whose birth plan is it anyway? and I found it echoed a lot of my sentiments regarding what seems to be a growing concern in the UK – the denial of a mother’s wishes when it comes to pain relief in labour. It seems to me that the whole idea behind having a woman write a birth plan is to give her some control over a situation that often feels completely out of control. Unless there is a medical reason otherwise, I am all for allowing the mother to retain that control in the form of her choosing how to give birth: whether that be in a pool, on a birthing ball, using gas and air, or enjoying the numbness from an epidural.
Were you (or anyone you know) denied the birth experience they wanted?
Read my birth experience here.