A Straightforward {But Nonetheless Traumatic} Birth Story

Jenson’s birth was traumatic. If you are pregnant, or wanting to read a sugar coated birth story, then you may want to close this tab down now.

As Lyra was four days early, I was convinced that my little boy would be too. So I was surprised … to say the least … when his due date arrived but he didn’t. I resigned myself to a long wait – after all, most babies I knew had been late – and decided for the first time in weeks to have a late night and stay up with Rich watching Moonlight. You know, the film which along with La La Land was the subject of the Oscars envelope mishap? You know, one of the most hard-hitting, thought-provoking and least-relaxing films that I could possibly have watched whilst nine months pregnant? Yup, that.

We went to bed, Rich immediately started snoring, and I felt a trickle. I went to the toilet, tried to work out if it was my waters breaking, but as it wasn’t the ‘gush’ you’d associate with waters going, I couldn’t be sure. I gave the maternity ward a call and they said to come in, just in case. I wasn’t yet having contractions so I was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole situation. We rang Rich’s mum and asked her to come over to look after Lyra and twenty minutes later we were en route to hospital. On the way there, I felt what I thought was a mild contraction, but as I’d had so many niggles throughout pregnancy, again, I just couldn’t be sure.

The first midwife checked me and confirmed I was in labour (I think I was 3cm dilated). I was feeling excited, relaxed, and happy in the knowledge that I was in the best hands. Rich and I did silly dance moves to try and bring on the baby when the midwife wasn’t in the room, and when she was in the room, we chatted about our respective three year olds. My contractions had become more painful but still bearable, I was low risk, and Lyra’s birth had been pretty much textbook. What was there to worry about?

(I should explain at this stage that who my midwife was mattered to me a great deal. When I had my little girl I was under the care of the most fantastic midwife, to the extent that Lyra was almost named Ashleigh after her. But Lyra’s birth is a story for another day).

Then, however, my midwife went on a break and she was replaced temporarily by a new one. (This didn’t bother me at the time. I didn’t expect her to not have a break, and I reckoned I was in for the long haul. So I expected to see her again after an hour or so). And it was also around this stage that I felt the call of nature. Sorry, TMI, but how else to say it?! By now it was around 2am. This was when things started to go wrong. I was aware that birth units had to be warm for the newborn babies, but sitting in the toilet cubicle I was so hot that I knew that I would faint if I didn’t get out of there sharpish. After doing my business I staggered back into the delivery room and gasped at Rich that I was going to pass out. 

He shouted for the new midwife and unfortunately after this point I didn’t see the first one again … I was now under the care of the new one. And at this point my contractions kicked in with a vengeance. They went from bearable to absolutely brutal in the space of seconds. They came so quickly that I didn’t even have time between them to scrape my hair up off my face and had to ask Rich to do my ponytail (desperate times!).

What followed were three hours of the most intense pain I’ve ever known. Combine that with a cold, flippant, unempathetic and dismissive midwife who seemed to either hate me or just humans in general, and it amounted to a pretty horrendous experience. I hadn’t written much in my birth plan but I know for a fact that I’d requested gas and air as pain relief, low lighting, and a water birth if possible. Instead, Jenson was born under harsh bright lights, in a room without a birthing pool (the room with the pool was next door and was empty), and Rich had to ask the midwife for “gas and air, or something?!”, because I was in too much pain to communicate. I’m still surprised that this was something that he had to ask for and can’t understand why the midwife didn’t offer it as par for the course.

When I look back it’s all a bit of a horrible jumble. I remember telling myself to do my yoga breathing and trying to concentrate on doing so, but it just didn’t help control the pain. (Whereas yoga breathing had hugely helped with Lyra’s birth). I remember the midwife telling me that the baby was going to fall on the floor if I wasn’t careful (I was on all fours on the bed), and resenting her for it, and thinking that although I couldn’t control the pain, there was no way I was going to let my little boy fall on the floor. I remember frantically needing someone to guide me, and begging her to tell me what to do. Her response? “Well, what do you think you should be doing?”. 

I desperately wanted to ask to change my midwife but I was in too much pain to be able to communicate this coherently. I also worried that complaining would affect the standard of care we received. I put up and shut up.

The strangest part of it all was the effect that gas and air had on me. With Lyra, it had just made me feel fuzzy and giddy and it really relieved some of the pain. But with Jenson, I kid you not, the gas and air made me hallucinate. At one point I experienced some kind of weird out of body experience where time slowed down, Rich and the midwife became a blur, and voices sounded garbled and distorted.

Hallucinations aside, when the contractions had been bad for what seemed like an eternity, the midwife told me I’d have to change position because my baby was in distress. This is one of the worst things you can hear when you’re in labour. I managed to clamber onto my side and I couldn’t tell you how long I was pushing for – it could’ve been an hour or it could’ve been five minutes – but at 5.09am my beautiful little boy was born.

For a while – again I have no idea how long – there was no one else in the world other than my baby and me.

We were discharged swiftly from hospital and back home, an over-the-moon Lyra greeted her brother with rapturous kisses. It was all I could have asked for. So why did I keep having flashbacks to the labour?

What also puzzled me were the reactions from a couple of people when I told them about Jenson’s birth. For example, when I mentioned that it was so much quicker and more painful than the experience I had with Lyra (my labour with Lyra took 24 hours), some people said, “Oh, that’s good then”. Whereas I could not see how it was good and would’ve given anything for the birth to have been ten times longer if it meant the pain was less.

Similarly, most people respond with, “Well, you’re both fine and that’s the main thing”. Yes, of course it’s important for mum and baby to be physically healthy, but surely the mum’s mental state is also relevant. For me, physically I was fine but mentally I was scarred. Although I did try and put on a brave face and we did have a couple of visitors, I put off seeing some of my closest friends for several weeks. I wasn’t interested: I just wanted to lock myself and Rich and my kids away. I felt like I had failed: Jenson’s birth hadn’t gone as smoothly as Lyra’s and I was obsessed with working out why. Why hadn’t I been able to control the pain this time? Was it because I hadn’t practised pregnancy yoga this time round? I’d suffered from pneumonia whilst pregnant with Jenson and developed a bit of an irrational fear of hospitals. Was that the cause? Was it because I wasn’t as young and fit and healthy the second time round?

Birth is such a private thing. You’re showing your most intimate parts to total strangers, you’re potentially opening your bowels, you’re behaving in a way you would never usually dream of behaving. You’re vulnerable, worried about the baby, and all you want is someone to guide you through it in a caring way. I’ve accepted now that the birth didn’t go as I hoped, but I’m still a bit sad about it. And maybe some people would have coped better in the same situation, but at the time it was traumatic to me.

I know that compared to a lot of mums’ birth stories, what I went through was minimal. Some people have awful experiences. I’m not trying to take away from that at all and I hope this post hasn’t come across in that way. I just wanted to highlight the fact that sometimes even what appears to be a straightforward birth can be scarring. And to let all mums know that they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves if they didn’t get the experience they were hoping for.

What were your birth experiences like?
(And did anyone else hallucinate?!)

Image by Little Beanies

The loves of Lisa’s life are Rich and their kids, Lyra and Jenson. Although she does wish they would let her have a shower in peace every once in a while.

63 Comments. Leave new

Oh Lisa that sounds likes a pretty traumatic experience!
And yes I hallucinated on gas and air too! I think the gas and air affects you depending on how your mental state is before hand possibly. I had Felix 5 weeks early and was induced and really didn’t want to have him that early. Essentially I was convinced at one point I’d had the baby and the midwife and my husband were lying to me. I also thought that both me and the baby had died! ( I know pretty intense). I was so paranoid on it which I think was linked to me worrying how Felix would cope being 5 weeks early! And me thinking the worst would happen with him being premsture.

He was fine and weighed 6pounds so would’ve been a right chunk.

Having said that the midwife was lovely and made sure everything was ok and in between the paranoia I think it all went ok.

But yes gas and air was like the worst trip I’ve ever been on ….

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Gosh … isn’t it crazy the affect that gas and air can have on you? I just hadn’t been aware that it could make you hallucinate. Poor you and your poor husband! (Were you communicating any of this to him at the time? – I just wasn’t able to!) x

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Nope the poor sod had to deal with a completely mute , uncommunicative wife! Who kept her eyes shut once it got really intense!

Our midwife was amazing I’d just clearly gone a bit nuts for 5 hours….

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It was probably for the best?! So glad to hear that you had a good midwife though. x

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I’m a fellow hallucinator on gas and air! I was convinced that being in labour had made me welsh 😂

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This is hilarious Izzie!

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Oh Lisa this has really resonated with me this morning. It’s rings so familiar to my birth with my first baby. We had spent the whole pregnancy being told to expect a long drawn out affair with labour but instead my waters broke at 10pm, contractions went from 0-100 in about 2 seconds and I was TERRIFIED. When we went to hospital the midwife clearly thought I was being an over dramatic first time Mum and basically left us to it. She even commented at one point ‘this is why I don’t have kids’ 😳 I massively lost control and felt utterly traumatised by it as you say- my son was born before 2am after about 3 pushes, much to her surprise as she’d refused to examine me saying I had much longer to go yet. That in itself frightened the will out of me as I didn’t believe I could continue with that pain for hours and hours (what I now know was transition pain). The only way I could describe my birth experience afterwards to others was ‘brutal’. I had all the ‘oh you’re lucky it was so quick’ and I know how lucky I am we were both healthy but I dreamt about it for months and months going over events in my head. But because I felt I was being ridiculous I internalised it all- never good for anyone! My second birth was even quicker but a much more positive experience, which just made me realise what I’d gone through first time wasn’t ‘normal’. I always feel it’s a shame he arrived into the world in such a blur of terror, not that it’s made any difference to him but I do feel the midwife you’re assigned can have such a huge impact, it’s a lottery!

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Charlotte I CANNOT believe your midwife a) made that comment and b) refused to examine you. It’s shocking. Brutal is exactly the word that sums it up for me too. I’m so sorry that you had to go through a similar experience first time around – I don’t know if I would have been willing to have another baby if this had happened to me with Lyra! x

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This was totally me too. She refused to examine me as ‘first time babies take ages’ apparently. I went from 1-10cm in an hour whilst still on the pre-natal ward and husband missed all that as they had sent him home. I was literally screaming in pain and i distinctly remember someone saying ‘Why hasn’t this lady been checked?!) Luckily (!) it was another hour pushing in the delivery suite so hubs managed to make it . Apparently that was a straight forward birth?! I only realized how much i had blocked it out until when discussing my birth whilst pregnant with number 2 i promptly burst into tears and the referred me for birth trauma counselling!

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Oh Lisa I’m so angry this happened to you. And yes mum and baby may be ok but with flashbacks are you really ok? It’s high time we stopped minimising mental health and paid some attention- a healthy baby is not the only thing that matures. PTSD after birth is so so common and under diagnosed thanks to these attitudes.

Would you consider making a formal complaint to the RCM? I don’t want to put pressure on you but if nobody speaks out callous midwives will just keep on having a terrible impact. The empty birth pool and fall on floor comments are just unbelievable- bet the pool room had bean bags so you could have actually been on the floor- and isn’t it her job to catch baby??!! How are you supposed to let oxytocin flow in a hostile environment with someone you neiher like or trust.

Have you encountered the #makebirthbetter movement?

Rage rage rage, and lots of hugs. That slider image is just lush of the little man.

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Thank you for your lovely and supportive words as usual Lucy S. I’m not having flashbacks any more but I will have a good think about putting a complaint in.

When I had Lyra I was on the floor – the plan was not to be having Jenson on the bed!

I haven’t come across the #makebirthbetter movement but I’m now going to be reading all about it today – thank you xx

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Poor you Lisa, I can’t imagine how awful it was, and still must be. Have you spoken to anyone professionally for ptsd? I know our hospital trust offers a one to one to go through the whole birth and discuss it in detail. May be that would help? Although maybe you wouldn’t want To relive it. As you know we had our second boy at the same time as you had Jenson and after a horrendous first birth (back to back labour and baaaaad tear) I did hypnobirthing. I am as far removed from an earth mother as you can get but doing that was amazing. It changed my whole ethos and I had such a positive birth experience. I know that’s not helpful for you but maybe if anyone else is reading this it might. I was lucky to have the best midwives both times but I’d like to think even if not I would have had a good birth.
I hope you can come to terms with your experience and know you did all you could.

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Thanks for your lovely comment Victoria. (I think the RMF community should all become midwives 🙂 )

I haven’t spoken to anyone professionally about it but just writing this post was cathartic. And don’t worry, I’m not in that place any more! It’s great to hear that some hospital trusts offer that service, and it’s definitely something to bear in mind if it ever raises its ugly head again.

I’ve heard brilliant stuff about hypnobirthing – two of my closest friends at work did it and swore by it. I think it’s also losing that ‘earth mother’ stigma which has got to be a good thing.

So sorry to hear you had a terrible time of it the first time round but hooray for hypnobirthing and a positive experience with your second. x

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I had my first contraction at 2.25pm and my son was born at 8.32pm. It was so quick that I had no real time to get my head around it – my contractions went straight in at 40 seconds long every 4-5 minutes. I’ve been told by many people how good it was to have been so quick, but to be honest it was really overwhelming! When I rang the hospital triage, they were quite dismissive of me and tried to get me to stay at home – by the time I got in I was 5cm dilated with constant contractions, and hanging off the neck of my poor boyfriend!

Thankfully I had a few lovely midwives (they changed shift part way through) who were great. I think that when you’re going through something so monumental, though, words can really harm – I was quite (very) loud during my labour, and part way through a woman walked into my room and asked if they could shut the door as I was “scaring other ladies”?! That’s really stuck with me! I can’t believe your midwife, Lisa, that’s awful. At a time when you’re so vulnerable and unable to vocalise or stick up for yourself, you’d expect a little more sensitivity!

Gas and air made everything blur together for me, I think if I do it again I’d maybe try without!

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EEK Katie G I’m in awe of you managing to cope with those contractions. At least I kind of knew worse were coming whereas it sounds like yours were bad from the start.

I can’t believe the insensitivity and thoughtlessness of the woman who walked into your room. There was just no need: surely she could have just discreetly shut the door and left?! x

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I have to say I am feeling incredibly angry towards that midwife this morning. I am aware resources are stretched and I can imagine that working in a hospital is a stressful experience, however the job of midwives is to care for mothers and facilitate births, not make you feel like crap!

I had what could have been a traumatic labour as I had preeclampsia come on quite suddenly and I had a few different midwives but they were all lovely and reassuring and generally I felt well cared for.

There is so much evidence that consistency of care would help enormously with women’s experience of giving birth, I really hope that you are ok and the whole “but you are both fine now” thing is completely ridiculous, no one would say that after any other traumatic event! Many hugs. I am glad the positive birth movement is building momentum and hopefully sharing stories like yours will make people realise how important the rights and feelings of the mother are.

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Jenny I was so angry with her initially, now I’m just more sad? I wonder why people like her choose to work in the profession.

Thanks for the hugs and I’m glad to hear that you avoided what could have been a traumatic labour. It’s great to see so many comments from ladies that had good experiences with their midwives. X

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I had my first baby two weeks ago and this completely resonated with me. I had been low risk throughout my whole pregnancy, so much so that when I was 10 days overdue they offered me an outpatient induction where I had the pessary inserted and was allowed to go home for it to work. I thought I would return for a calm water birth.However before this I had to be monitored for hours to check baby was ok. Eventually we were signed off to go home. Only for me to return to the hospital two hours later in the most horrific pain. I was examined and told not much had happened so I begged for pain relief and had diamorphine before getting a drug induced nights sleep. The next day I couldn’t feel my baby move and my stomach went solid, I kept telling the midwife who said oh no that’s just the pessary. I sensed something was wrong, so eventually they put me back on the heart rate monitor to discover my baby was in distress, her heart rate was dipping very low. I was rushed to labour suite where they examined me and broke my waters, I was then back on the heart rate monitor which showed she had stabilised so they were happy to let me labour but this was on my back constantly monitored. The pain was in incredible and not being able to move was so hard, so I asked for an epidural which sent me to a different place. I was calm and relaxed. Howwver a new consultant strode in several hours later saying “this is the woman with the terrible ctg readings” she completely ignored me and just spoke to her team. She then said “if it was my baby I wouldn’t be risking it you need a c section now” she then scanned my rock hard tummy just because she was interested and started talking about how there could be something wrong with my baby. I was hysterical by the time I was in theatre with worry. Luckily she was absolutely fine and completely gorgeous, but she weighed 11lb- I am slim and measured spot on for my dates so was told to expect a 7.5 lb baby. They also discovered I had polyhyramnios which is where you carry excess fluid- I had two extra pints. We are home now and doing well but I still find looking back at this very traumatic

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Sarah what an awful, awful experience. It sounds like you weren’t even treated like an individual, let alone a human being with worries and feelings. I can only echo what Lucy S and Victoria said above and say that it might be worth raising a complaint and maybe speaking to someone professionally to help deal with the trauma. Despite all of that it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job so well done you. And thank goodness for maternal instinct x

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Hi Sarah, in future pregnancies maybe ask for a Gestational Diabetes test to be done as a big baby and excess amniotic fluid are two of the main symptoms of it – can’t believe they didn’t pick up on any of it before your birth! Glad your girl got here safe and sound x

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That sounds like a rough experience, Lisa. I’m so sorry you had a midwife like that.

It’s good to see a piece highlighting that quick births can be traumatic too. My wee boy was born after a labour of 90min total. I was due to be induced on the Wed. My waters broke on the Tues afternoon but I had no contractions. We went in for monitoring and his CTG wasn’t good so they were about to induce me when he started arriving of his own accord! (It was during one of the doctors’ strikes and we joke that he wasn’t coming out until he could see a consultant). I think I had about two ‘normal’ contractions then what I can only describe as a total wall of pain. I was terrified at the thought that this was the start and it was only going to get worse. I was told I couldn’t have any drugs as I’d gone from 3-10cm in about 20min. Thankfully I had nice midwives and reacted ok to gas and air so can only imagine the extra stress that you had.

I do remember lots of people telling me how lucky I was that it was quick but that’s not how I felt for quite a long time. Like you I didn’t want to see anyone when we got home.

We ended up having further complications as was sent home before milk properly in we ended up being blue-lighted back in after our first proper night at home as he had low blood sugar as wasn’t getting anything. By this point I’d been up for 3 days straight and a lovely midwife put me to bed and gave him a small bottle of formula with my consent. Unlike the infant feeding coordinator who wanted to hook me up to the double pump straightaway. We went on to breastfeed until he was 10 months.

Can’t help thinking this trauma could have been avoided if we’d been advised to have some formula back up at home (his low blood sugar was medically-related to my late pregnancy hypertension).

Sorry – quite a long reply. Well done to anyone making it through reading!

I felt emotionally totally scarred by it all for quite a while.

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It’s quite emotional reading all of these accounts Nicky. 90 mins is crazy quick so I can totally sympathise with the wall of pain. And to have to go back into hospital …I can only imagine the worry. However, fair play to you for surviving it all and being able to joke about it now and also for continuing to breastfeed until ten months. And you’re right, it’s so important for new mums to be advised to have formula at home just in case. X

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Hi Lisa, I’m sorry you had such an awful experience with your second midwife, most are abolsutrly fantastic but when I was waiting to have my second child I witnessed a midwife treating a new mum in the next bed in the most appalling manner, it’s always stuck with me… however, I did hallucinate with my first child, I thought the midwife was trying to deliver him with forceps (she wasn’t) and that the room was full of medical students (it wasn’t). I was watching Homelands whilst in labour and that made me feel pretty confused too, apparantely I kept wanting to talk about it in between contractions. Fortunately, it’s something I can laugh about now but it was pretty scary at the time!

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I agree that most are fantastic and they have a bloody hard job to do! Like Charlotte said above, it’s such a lottery.

Loving your hallucinations stories … it really fascinates me. Mine were like something out of Breaking Bad! X

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Oh you poor thing – I think if you had had a more understanding Midwife it would have been a totally different experience.
I had a HORRENDOUS birth, very traumatic and still now a year later I can hear the machines beeping and the blood pressure cuff on my arm tightening.

Whilst the pregnancy was beyond perfect they said I had boarderline Gestational Diabetes – at every clinic I went too (Every two weeks) my levels were fine and the midwives were puzzled why I had been diagnosed – saying it was the ‘latest thing they are targeted on in the local NHS authority to diagnose’ – they told me I wouldnt be ‘allowed’ to go more than 5 days overy my due date and would be induced. I had dreamt of a hypno waterbirth as I cannot stand being in pain and immobile, I was high risk due to my age. 37, the GD and my BMI – therfore wasnt allowed a waterbirth.
I was induced and everything they did failed…..everything! They put the Syntocin in and the contractions started and I was managing well with the hypnobirthing breathing techniques I had learnt and even fell asleep. At some point somebody suggested Gas & Air and imo this is when things went down hill as I suddenly felt I wasnt coping anymore…..que Pethadine and begging for an epidural. I wasnt allowed to be mobile, or on my knees I was ‘strapped’ to the bed with the monitors, blood pressure cuff and constant diabetes testing. All the time the baby wa back to back and pain going through the roof. I was pushing for 1.5hrs and they called in the Dr and to my worst fear he siggested Forceps….baby had cord round his neck twice so they had to cut him inside me to free him and finally was born after 37hrs of labour.

Still to this day I think ‘next’ time I will be more vocal about my wishes & get the birth I want and not be lead by what I am told I have to do, I wish I had been stronger. x

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Elle what a terrifying experience. (Apart from the falling asleep due to hypnobirthing techniques – that’s amazing).

My pregnancy yoga teacher from when I was pregnant with Lyra always used to say that it’s your body and no one can tell you what you are and aren’t allowed to do, and although I do agree, in such a situation it’s hard to be vocal about your wishes. Please try not to have regrets, you were in the hands of medical professionals, of course you were relying on them to advise you. X

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Oh Lisa I SO understand this. I had a very similar experience in terms of my 2 labours – long but calm with my daughter and I felt like I held it together pretty well and was really proud of myself afterwards and felt on top of the world. I expected the second time to be quicker but thought ‘I’ve done this before, I’ll be fine!’ and like you it was very fast and extremely intense out of nowhere. I only went into hospital because my waters had broken and I was having mild contractions then out of nowhere the contractions were coming thick and fast and extremely painful. I lost the plot a bit. I did have a bit of a dismissive midwife initially who assumed I was being a bit pathetic I think but luckily once I moved to the delivery suite at 6cm I got a lovely midwife and very nice student who were supportive and I just managed to get in the birthing pool to start pushing. But I screamed the place down, it was not like my first birth. I panicked and lost control and just shouted, which was not what I wanted to do. Anyway my little boy was born pretty quickly and safely which is definitely the important thing but afterwards I felt ashamed and upset that I hadn’t stayed calm and used my breathing techniques etc. It sounds silly because I KNOW I had a great birth compared to what a lot of women go through, at least there were no complications but I just felt I’d let myself down. I’m so lucky though that I did have a nice midwife for the actual birth – I really think you should put in a complaint about yours. It’s awful that she made you feel so alone and unsupported. You did amazingly though and should be proud, as should I. I felt disappointed with myself for quite a while afterwards but I don’t feel as bad now, over a year on. I quite want a third child even though the plan was just for 2 and I think strangely a part of it is wanting to give birth again and try hypnobirthing – maybe I am chasing that calm birth that I wanted in order to heal from the screaming scary experience last time! I do think maybe when you’ve had a very long labour first time then the second is much faster it takes you by surprise and feels scary. Sorry for the long comment, just wanted you to know you’re not alone in feeling like this and it’ll get better in time! Jenson is absolutely gorgeous x

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Sarah – you’ve just made me have a little cry whilst Jenson is napping in the back of the car! In a nice way.

Eerily similar experiences … it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. (Even though I wouldn’t wish that pain on my worst enemy, but you know what I mean!).

Thanks for such a sweet comment and keep us posted if you do decide to have a third 😉 x

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I’m so glad you were brave enough to post this! I found the birth of my nearly five month old extremely traumatic (a should-have-been homebirth that ended in emergency c section after 45 hours of induced labour). This so needs to be talked about. Of course we’re grateful for healthy babes but mental health is so important too! And it’s okay to be sad for the things that don’t go to plan – I really had to grieve for the fact that I wasn’t the first to hold my little girl, and lots of other expectations too in order to move forward from it. It’s normal, and so many mums experience the same, so again thank you for talking about it openly!

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I’m so sorry you didn’t get the homebirth you were hoping for and that you weren’t the first to hold your little girl. It’s so hard when things don’t go to plan. And I agree, it’s important to talk about it. A lot of the time I think people’s childbirth experiences get brushed under the carpet when it’s one of the biggest physical, mental and emotional experiences (if not THE biggest) a person will go through! X

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Absolutely! Reading all these comments has made me so emotional – partly because it’s reliving that pain, but also realising so many women have been there too and there’s something very validating about that. None of our experiences should be brushed under the carpet! X

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Me too Yesimi! It’s been an emotional day! x

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Thank you for sharing this Lisa. Yes, the mental state of the mother matters very much. I had a traumatic birth too and for a whole year afterwards I had ‘flashbacks’ of the birth. I couldn’t talk about it without crying. It all contributed in the end to PTSD and PND.

After a year, i requested a meeting with a midwife at the hospital and talked through my birthing notes. This process ( with an empathetic professional) helped me move on from the trauma and make peace with my feelings.

I also complained about my treatment from two specific staff members. It’s important to do this, to help future birthing mothers.

I’m sorry you had to feel like you failed. You didn’t fail, you were, however, failed by the very people there to look after you.

Sending much love. xx

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Yes I went through a stage where I couldn’t talk about it without crying.

I think you’re right and if it might help even one future birthing mama then I need to at least give them feedback if not a complaint.

Rich’s Mum said the exact same thing – that the midwife had failed – wise ladies x

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Thanks for sharing Lisa and I’m sorry you had this experience. As I prepare for first birth I have zero idea of what to read/the best classes to prepare myself. So any advice people have would be great. x

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Sophie, Congratulations. I would say learning to breath would help and if you can afford it, Hypo birthing has helped people i know.

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*Hypno not Hypo.

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The Postive Birth Book is fantastic! I would highly recommend.

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Really hope reading my post hasn’t scared you.

Pregnancy yoga – cannot rate it and the breathing techniques I learnt through it highly enough. X

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Goodness Lisa, your midwife was NOT helpful!! I had an odd first labour, in that my waters broke slightly early (36+6) but that meant I wasn’t allowed in the birthing suite. I had a pessary as my contractions didn’t start, and they insisted I couldn’t wait as my waters had broken before term (I mean, come on – one day?! I know rules are rules but still…). Anyway, suffice to say things happened pretty quickly, I also was not believed that I could progress quickly so I ended up having pethidine what turned out to be 20 minutes before my daughter arrived, which caused all sorts of sleepy/feeding issues (or contributed to at any rate), and shoulder dystocia caused all sorts of issues too – I had been standing the whole time, nothing like being told you have to get onto the bed once the head is already sticking out! My midwife was AMAZING, I cannot thank her enough, as she got me through some awful times and we have a lovely daughter as a result. I am pregnant with my second, and being told a c section may be sensible in case of shoulder dystocia again, as it can lead to some pretty awful outcomes. This is so far removed from what I want (I was thinking totally natural with only gas and air) I am struggling slightly with the idea. I also have a low placenta, so in some ways I’m hoping it doesn’t move so that I am forced to have a c section on two counts, rather than it being my “choice”. What do you choose, what is better? It is so awfully hard deciding what is right, what is best for the baby and for you, I feel it is such an almighty responsibility. I’m so glad you have got through your ordeal and that writing about it helps. It is so good talking about these things, not only for yourself but for others to have a less sugar coated idea of what happens

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Annie how on earth did you manage to climb onto a bed with your baby’s head sticking out?! (The beds are high as well!).

My pregnancy yoga teacher was brill at giving advice about the kind of questions you’re considering…So well informed and also a lovely person…let me know if you would like me to pass on her contact details as I’m sure she’d be happy to help. Sometimes just talking through it helps.

Wishing you ALL the best with the rest of your pregnancy and labour. Xx

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Lisa I am pretty sure we had the same pregnancy yoga teacher (I saw your name in the Facebook group) – she is absolutely amazing!!
Thanks for sharing your story today xxx

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She’s brill. I had a really positive experience when I had Lyra and I put a lot of it down to Charlotte. Xx

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Honestly I have no idea how I did it!! Thanks so much for the offer, I have a few people to talk over the next few weeks (and a 32 week scan to get through before I’ll know more) but I will definitely come back to you if I want/need to discuss it further to get her contact details. Your pregnancy yoga teacher sounds really lovely! Thanks again xx

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Oh Lisa! I’m so sorry you had a rough experience. I’m glad you’re feeling a little about about it now and glad you found writing it down cathartic. It’s always good to talk!

I hallucinated on gas and air when I had Leo. There was a shelf on the wall opposite me and at one point it morphed into my dog!!! Anthony thought I had lost the plot! Haha. It just made me sick with Tayo but it was all I had time for with him so needs must. xx

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Thanks lovely. It makes me feel so much better that other people have been through similar experiences, and that I’m not crazy for hallucinating off the gas and air! That is brilliant that you thought the shelf had morphed into your dog. What on earth could that mean?! X

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Thank you for writing this, Lisa! So often mothers, whether intentional or not, are made to feel that they can’t really talk about their negative birth experiences or that they have to downplay the impact it had mentally on them as it their babies were not in distress or it didn’t result in significant emergency intervention. At the end of the day, even though our bodies are designed to give birth, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be a pleasant experience for all of us and as an experience on the whole, it’s not one you can really prepare for.

My daughter’s birth was a prolonged back-to-back labour for 46 hours and even though she was never in distress (she obviously had just made herself extremely comfortable in there and was perturbed at the notion she had to leave), I was in distress from such a long and difficult labour as all pain relief failed. It has left me with a lot of anxiety around giving birth again in future, and whenever I think about my labour my stomach goes in knots and I instantly become more anxious.

I really think the psychological toll that labour takes needs to be talked about more, as there still seems to be this attitude that once it is over you just have to get on. It is almost as if most people forget that it is a huge toll on your body to give labour and any similar experiences that were of the same effect would result in a different, more sympathetic reaction from others, but because it is ‘giving birth’ it gets swept aside.

Thank you again for coming out and being honest about your labour, hopefully it encourages more open discussion!

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Your little girl’s birth sounds like such an ordeal – I thought 24 hours with Lyra was long but 46 hours and back to back must have been horrendous.

Everything you have said is spot on. Thank you for putting it so eloquently x

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Hi Lisa
I can only say that I totally empathise with your situation! My own experience in hospital to deal with two pregnancy losses has been really bad both times…some of the staff are fantastic and unfortunately some aren’t – and like you I was mentally scarred by the whole thing.
A lot of people would try to offer constructive help and say ‘well at least it’s all over over now’ and things like that – but like you – I felt vulnerable and it took a while to get over it. Counselling has really helped me to come to terms with it and move on – I don’t know if that’s something that you’re open to.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
(and side note – I know that some medical staff are amazing – this is not meant to sound NHS bashing as I also experienced real kindness)

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Lou, I’m so sorry to hear about your losses, and that you clearly weren’t treated with the compassion you deserved.

I too don’t mean to be an NHS basher – the majority of my experiences with midwives were positive and it’s just a shame that I was unlucky with the midwife that was there for Jenson’s birth.

Sending you all my love. X

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I can completely relate, my second birth was fast and brutal after a horrendous long first birth, but thankfully despite the pain I found it very healing. I wholly contribute this to pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing to fix my head. I’d had a meeting with the consultant about my options and she hadn’t read my notes but seemed quite flippant that it would be fine this time! I’m pleased I stood my ground as I was referred on to the consultant midwife who whilst being very straight talking assured me that there was no physical reason I couldn’t have a normal birth this time round and was very supportive of hypnobirthing and of my wish for a water birth.

Of course it didn’t work out like that though! My waters broke at midnight and my contractions came thick and fast. We had to wait for my mum to drive up and arrived at hospital two hours later. I don’t think the midwives really thought I was that far on seeing as my waters had only recently broke (which they also had to confirm – try peeing in a tube when you’re in established labour!) They took me to the ward “just to monitor” but I was on all fours at this stage! Someone finally examined me and I was 7-8cm!! My poor husband was trying to read me the scripts he had prepared but I just told him to shut the * up! Our daughter was born at 4.19am. The pain was brutal, I was horrendously loud, incredibly stubborn but pushing her out was incredible. Although it wasn’t how I dreamed, I felt in control and bizarrely calm.

The thing is I don’t think it matters what the actual birth was like as such, but more how you feel about it. There definitely needs to be more emphasis on mental health after birth, I had no professional support and this is what made the difference in the lead up to my second birth. There should be hypnobirthing for post birth too as we spent a lot of time dealing with the trauma from my first birth – it might be worth looking in to? I really hope you’re able to find peace with your birth as I know how much it can affect everyday life.xx

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Gosh Agnes. That wait for your mum must have been an interesting one if you were 7-8cm dilated by the time they first examined you! I would love to hear more about these scripts from your husband 🙂

Well done you on managing to remain so calm and in control despite brutal pain. I can hear in your voice how amazing you found the whole experience thanks to hypnobirthing.

Two things I’ve learnt if I ever get pregnant again: 1. To expect the unexpected with the labour and 2. Hypnobirthing is a must.

Thank you for your lovely and supportive comments. X

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Hi Lisa, so sorry to hear that you had a rough experience but glad to hear that you are ok about it now.
I can relate to this in a few ways, both of my births were fast ( 4 hours and then 3 hours) but they were so incredibly intense that i just had no rest periods in between those brutal contractions. It was full on for the entire time. Everyone tells me how lucky i was to have quick births but if i’m honest, i feel like i would have preferred to have longer, less intense births.
My first midwife was rubbish, she wasnt rude as such but she just didn’t help or encourage me at all, or even smile at me for that matter. Maybe she was just having a bad day i dont know but a friendly face and a bit of encouragement would have made my first experience a whole lot better.
Thankfully the midwives for the birth of my second son were lovely and so incredibly helpful 🙂 xx

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I feel for you Hannah! One labour with not being able to catch my breath was enough for me, let alone two.

Sorry to hear your first midwife was rubbish. I don’t think it’s an excuse even if she was having a bad day – it’s their job to help you through and she should have either gone and given herself a good talking to or put on a brave face for you and encouraged you through it. Brill to hear that the experience with your second son was a positive one though. Xx

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Oh my goodness, I feel both angry and sad that you had to go through that.
My first labour/birth was fast and due to complications I had to be monitored throughout, therefore no water birth for me.
However, I had two people who made sure I had a positive experience. Firstly our NCT group was at the hospital and we were very fortunate to get a tour ir both birthing suite with the pools and delivery suite. Because we had high risk mums who wanted a decent experience and an enlightened midwife, she spent an hour with us showing how we could change the lighting, how far the monitors would stretch, how we could lean on the bed and be in more natural birthing positions. She also really gave the partners lots of confidence to be demanding for our needs.
In the event, Matt made the midwives let me stand up, they had to hold the monitors in place because they kept slipping, I couldn’t speak, but he had the confidence from that tour. The midwives were perfectly pleasant, but one had not even experienced a non-assisted vaginal delivery before so some huge gaps in experience.
The amazing midwife was also very clear that we were under no obligation to say yes to any suggestions. The pertinent question being ‘how much time have we got to make a decision’. And getting all the info.
I know that helps you in no way Lisa, but thank you for sharing. Ultimately we all have to work together and share our knowledge and experience to keep improving women’s experience. Knowing the experience my mother and mother-in-law had we are progressing but not enough.

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Alex – so many brilliant and important points here, thank you. I want to shake that midwife’s hand! How great that she instilled the confidence in your partner for him to speak up for you when you couldn’t. And letting you know your rights. And that v important question.

I’m so shocked that none of your midwifes had ever dealt with a non-assisted vaginal delivery – I just don’t understand how this can be?!

Reading your comment has also made me think that I should share Lyra’s birth story as it was such a positive one and if it meant helping even just one pregnant mama then it would be worth it.

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My midwife wasn’t what I would have hoped for. She was quite condescending and curt and a fan of the tough love which I did not need when in so much pain. At the end I kept telling her I needed to push and I could feel the baby’s head. She repeatedly said that it was just the pressure of the baby’s head and that she wouldn’t check me. She pretty much rolled her eyes when she finally agreed to check me. The look on her face made my husband dash round the bed to see the baby crowning and the midwife had to rush off to get the things she needed as she wasn’t ready. A couple of pushes later and my baby boy was born.

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This resonates with me a great deal. My son (first baby) was born in March and his birth was actually relatively straightforward – although perhaps it doesn’t sound like it on paper – we started of trying to deliver in our local MLU but having reached 9.5cm dilated things weren’t progressing and eventually were transferred by ambulance to a consultant led unit in the next city to try a hormone drip.

Things still didn’t get going as he was back to back and his positioning meant I couldn’t feel properly when to push. Eventually his heart rate started to dip and he ended up being delivered by forceps in theatre. I can’t fault any of the midwifes or doctors who cared for me and physically both me and him were pretty much fine afterwards.

Even now though nearly 9 months later I still can’t shake some of my feelings about how things went, how different things were from what I would have liked and how sad and disappointed I am that I couldn’t harness the power of my contractions to be able to move him properly towards his birth on my own – basically it makes me feel really inadequate.

People often say to me that I should be grateful that he is here and well and so am I, but that seems to diminish the trouble I am having dealing with how the experience made me feel about myself, I simply cannot view myself in the same way any more. I do feel I was traumatised by the experience and still am to some extent but it is so nice sometimes to find others who feel that that is a valid way to feel when your birth outcomes have largely been good. Hopefully I will continue to work through how I feel and will come to feel satisfied or even proud of myself but I do feel that I have a way to go yet.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. x

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Oh Lisa, this sounds awful. It is so crucial for the midwife to show compassion and empathy, I would have been furious! Looking back at Matthew’s birth, I remember the midwife being pretty cold. She seemed disinterested and I actually remember a huff and an eye roll from her at one point. It was not what I imagined. I was induced and once the contractions kicked in, they were continuous and agonising. Literally no break between them. I was on the ward and no one would come to examine me because they were on shift change over. When Leon eventually got someone to come and see me, they realised I was 6cm dilated and they had to rush me to the labour ward in a wheelchair. I had no pain relief till I got there and eventually got some gas and air. No hallucinations for me thankfully although I remember it made my voice go all weird and deep to start with! I was pushing for about 3 hours, it was exhausting. Then Matthew’s heartbeat dropped so the midwife hit the emergency button and everyone ran in. It was terrifying. They said to push as hard as I could so I did, and Matthew came out in one go. The midwife was muttering about that too! Then my placenta didn’t come out and they tried tugging on the umbilical cord for ages – I kid you not. As if I wasn’t sore enough. Eventually I went for a spinal block so they could remove it surgically. They wouldn’t let me back to the ward because my blood pressure wouldn’t come down. I just kept asking to see Matthew and I’d be fine. Eventually they listened to me and as soon as I was holding him, my blood pressure went back to normal. Not really rocket science! The other thing that has stuck with me was the midwife telling me that my placenta had been on its last legs and it was a good job Matthew had arrived that day. Not something I really wanted, or needed, to know! What is worrying is that there are so many stories I’ve seen of unpleasant midwives. I know there are lots of amazing ones out there, but the not so amazing ones are ruining it for them. Such a shame xx

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This resonates with me so much. I had my gorgeous boy five weeks ago, and after labouring at home for a few hours, got to hospital at four cm dilated. What happened next was the most visceral experience of my life – I went from 4cm to 10 in just twenty minutes in pretty much a continuous contraction, had a very unresponsive midwife as well, no pain relief, pushed for two hours against an anterior lip on my cervix and then he came out with his hand above his head. I tore a lot and also have just found out I prolapsed. The next day I sent a brief message to my two best girlfriends who asked how it was… without going into detail I said it had been quite quick. They (both mothers) replied that they felt like “punching me in the face ” for having such an easy time – based on time I think. I was in such shock post birth, that I didn’t say anything at the time but couldn’t believe they could be so insensitive without knowing what went on. Like you say, every story is different and we should all be supportive of each other rather than judging what someone has experienced based on time! Fortunately my boy is amazing and like you I’m in a good place now but it definitely took a while, and I wasn’t prepared for it!

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Oh my, this sounds so similar to my experience last year. I trickle of breaking waters, unsure if labour has started, arriving at hospital and being told it had and then within minutes being in the most intense pain with contractions that felt continual and no time to tie up hair, put in contact lenses or really even speak. Luckily for me I had an amazing midwife and got into the pool after 45 minutes of hell! I am so sorry for your experience, I know from friends that a difficult birth can really impact on you (especially in those early weeks). You should feedback your experience to the hospital, it is vital that they hear about this as I’m sure you won’t want others to experience the same and if they don’t get told about stuff like this they might not know it is happening (or be able to reason changes they are trying to implement).

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I don’t have children yet it is clear to me that the lack of care and empathy from the nurse made things much worse.

I am thinking of attachment (Bowlby) and how in vulnerable and/or new situations we all need caring actions from others to feel safe and at ease.

Without those caring actions from others in new or vulnerable situations, our physiology (whole body nerves and also lower parts of the brain) become hyperalert and very triggered, creating a terrible feeling of unsafety that makes everything much more intense (e.g. pain; bodily sensations; emotions.)

I’m sorry to hear this happened to you and others.

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ohh your experience sounds terrible hun. I;m glad your ok now. The midwife doesn’t sound the most helpful either.

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