I had an unfortunate experience with my birth. If I had been better prepared, it may have been easier to deal with from a mental health point of view.
Before I gave birth, I sat with my midwife and filled in the tick sheet on my birth plan. I didn’t think of asking any questions. I never discussed anything about the different types of pain relief or even how the process went once you were in labour.
I attended every antenatal class, but we mainly discussed how to take care of the baby once they were here, nothing prior. Now, I wish I had been better prepared and had more in-depth discussions with my midwife or at these classes. If I had been given some literature to read, I wouldn’t have spent all my time on Google. We all know Google can be a nightmare researching any situation. I wish my midwife had explained fully to me what was on offer regarding drugs, rather than getting me to fill in a tick sheet for what drugs I might want.
Giving birth is not what it’s like in the movies. I thought I was going to be in a delivery room with my midwife and husband having them cheer me on whilst I delivered my daughter. I was not prepared for what happened. I know we can not be prepared for every eventuality, I appreciate that, but a better understanding is needed. A more realistic approach needs to be given. This may be time-consuming for midwives and health professionals, but something needs to be done. We need change, good change.
We need better education in antenatal classes regarding the understanding of drugs during labour. I think it’s great we are shown how to care for our baby after they have arrived but more education regarding birth is needed. We need better education if complications arise - like a C-section, forceps, episiotomy and other interventions - and a brief discussion on what they involve.
Birth plans need to be discussed in more depth. Mothers are scared to come forward through fear of being seen as a failure and being judged. It’s time for more empathy and understanding. I appreciate the NHS is under pressure and some healthcare professionals are amazing but we could make a difference by working better together.
More support volunteers that make guest visits to antenatal classes would also be good. I’ve seen a few of these around the UK already. Parents can discuss any concerns regarding the above or more and have one-to-one chats if they are embarrassed to come forward or want to speak privately.
I agree that we don’t want to scare new mums, but giving certain information to better prepare them for birth is a must. I felt like a rabbit in the headlights going to the hospital, frantically asking my mum, “what now?”
My advice to any new parent is to speak up and ask any questions, no matter how silly you think they are. If you are anxious and feeling low or generally not happy then speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor and make sure they listen to how you are feeling.
Read more from Kerry Thomas on her blog.