I wrote a post last year about my experience of having an emergency c-section and other people's attitudes towards it. I wrote about how some can see it as the easy way out, that women who opt for a c-section are too posh to push and that by having your baby removed from your body, you are not actually giving birth. I know, right? And these views often come from people who haven't had a c-section. Had they experienced what it's like to have their body cut open, a baby removed, and all the associated effects of having this done, you would not tell someone it was the easy thing to do.
But I'm not going to debate about whether someone else thinks it's hard, as it really doesn't matter. What I want to talk about is how YOU feel as a mother who has experienced a traumatic birth. And I'm not just talking about c-sections either - any birth can be traumatic, not just those that end up in theatre. The way you feel about your birth is personal to you. You may have had a similar experience to someone else but to you it was a very traumatic time, but someone else might feel that actually it was ok. It doesn't make your birth any less difficult, and it doesn't make your feelings any less significant. No-one can tell you how to feel and your feelings can never be wrong as they are what YOU FEEL.
Sometimes it can be difficult to actually know how you feel, especially straight after labour. There are so many different hormones running through your body, you are probably in a lot of pain and possibly sleep deprived. Maybe you are even still a bit foggy from the pain relief too. All of this can mean that your emotions are running high and you don't really know how to feel. But if you are still feeling negative towards your birth a long time after it happened, it may be time to get some help in coming to terms with it.
For me, this meant talking about it. Just talking about my experience has helped me massively. I talk to friends, I talk to strangers, I write about it on my blog, and I read other people's experiences. Knowing that I'm not the only person to go through this has helped me a lot. And in a strange way (and also quite selfishly), reading other people's experiences have made me realise that things could have been a lot worse and that I should be so grateful that I am still here, and my baby is still here, and that we are both safe and healthy. But it doesn't make my fears and struggles any less, or any easier.
I have also recently discovered a service called Birth Reflections. It's not something I'd heard about after having my baby, and it seems a lot of mums are unaware of the service too. For me that is such a shame, as it seems like a service that so many families could benefit from. I don't know why it's not more publicised, but I do know is that writing posts like this get the information out there and hopefully give women the tools to find out for themselves what help they can access. If you want to find out more, contact your local hospital or health visitor to see if they can help you access a similar service.
It took me a while to know how I felt about my labour - immediately afterwards I was fine, but a few months down the line I just felt this huge disappointment that my labour hadn't gone how I wanted it to. I also felt fear for any subsequent labours and how they would go. This is where a service like Birth Reflections comes in. I can access the service before my next baby to discuss what happened in my first labour and give me an idea of why it led to an emergency caesarean. It's not a counselling service, and won't necessarily address my own fears or worries, but more of a discussion to see what happened and the reasons for it. It's not about finding fault, as I truly believe it was no-one's "fault" my labour went the way it did, but just understanding more about what could happen next time.
Experiencing a birth trauma isn't going to be something that you can just "get over". Your feelings are not going to change overnight, and it is likely to be an event that stays with you forever. But know you are not alone. Know that you can get help if you want it and need it.
Sometimes, you just need a bit of time. Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to. Sometimes, you just need to know that you're not alone.