In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Amanda Overend, 39, shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was excited to experience labour. I’m not averse to pain – I quite like the challenge of it – so I was looking forward to seeing how my body could take it. But it never did. I’ve given birth three times, but my waters haven’t ever broken, I’ve never felt one contraction and I still don’t know what the pain of childbirth is really like.
I guess there’s an element of guilt about it all. I feel guilty I’ve never had a natural birth and I feel guilty about complaining. There are some awful stories surrounding birth, soaked in trauma and pain – I know that, I really do, but I just would’ve loved to experience it. Even just once.
You’ve got three healthy children, I tell myself. You had no trauma. You should count yourself lucky. But because I don’t know what it’s like to give birth naturally, I find it very difficult to hear other people share their stories.
My eldest was breech. I wanted to go for a natural birth, so the consultant tried to turn him but he wasn’t budging. I didn’t want to go ahead with a C-section – I was convinced I could have a natural birth – but my husband and mum said I should go with what the doctors said. A safe delivery was more important and I knew deep down it was what I had to do.
Doctors encouraged me to go for a C-section for my second boy, too, but I put forward an argument quite strongly that I wanted a natural birth. They said they’d let me try despite it being less than two years since my first. This time I was two weeks overdue – and I was induced but nothing happened.
We all got a bit hopeful at one point, thinking there was some movement, but it was nothing. I ended up being in hospital for 48 hours, in a room where other women were being induced, meeting their babies, experiencing that joy. I found it really hard. People were crying in pain and I kept thinking: ‘That’s all I want!’ When still nothing happened, they booked in the C-section.
Second baby and I still hadn’t experienced labour or contractions. My boy was healthy, yes, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to have him.
And then came number three. My third boy. I pushed to have a natural birth, again. I managed to convince them, again. I genuinely had a really supportive consultant. It was my third child and I thought, right, I’m not leaving anything to chance. Everything I can try to help me go into labour, I will try. I had reflexology as soon as I could in my third trimester and saw somebody every week because I read it helps prepare your body for labour.
At 38 weeks, very late on, I saw an acupuncturist too. I even tried to look for natural remedies in a health food store (but soon realised it was probably not a safe option). My problem was that I’d never gone through contractions or labour, so I felt like my body didn’t know how to do it.
I thought: I’ve got to try everything because I’d hate not to have tried. What if it really did make the difference?
[Read More: What Does Childbirth Actually Physically Feel Like?]
My consultant said he’d allow me to go overdue by three days this time before booking me in for a C-section – he said it was because that’s when they could fit me in. I think I still had hope though, all the way up to that day.
On my due date, I was gutted when nothing was happening, but I kept trying. I had no twinges. No pain. Nothing that even made me think: ‘Ooh, what if?’ No indication that my body had a full-grown baby in there that it wanted to get out. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d be having another C-section. And I did.
When I held him for the first time, my third son, I was over the moon to have a healthy, happy baby – but that longing for a natural birth never went away. There was always that wish that it could’ve been a bit different.
My birth advice?
“Don’t be afraid to push for the birth you want. If I hadn’t stood my ground with the doctors, I wouldn’t have even been given the opportunity of a natural birth. It didn’t go the way I wanted in the end, but at least I tried. And you’ll hopefully have better luck!”
As told to Amy Packham.
Amanda runs online parent-approved book store Books & Pieces.