I am a hypnobirthing teacher and I had an epidural…
There I said it. Not that there is anything to be ashamed of. Although I always follow it up with ‘but I had 2 deliveries before with gas and air’… or ‘but it was a long labour as she was premature and an unpredictable third baby’. I also dread the question from couples, did I hypnobirth my babies? Being a hypnobirthing teacher I am sure they expect the answer to be, “Yes… I hypnobirthed in a meadow of long grass, whilst wearing flowers in my hair and toe rings on my henna tattooed feet.”
As mothers we seem to question ourselves so much in the decisions that we make, how we feed our baby, do we go back to work? I think that self-doubt seems to start from the moment we birth our babies into this world. We look back to our births and question our decisions; did I go into hospital too early? Should I have had a caesarean? Should I have had a vaginal delivery? Yet we question the decisions we made when we were at our most vulnerable, which is a bit hard on ourselves, don’t you think?
I had an epidural, yet I look back and consider what would have been different if I had’t; even though I look back and remember a very wonderful experience. I had an epidural because there is a place for epidurals in the birthing world, the same as there are a need for forceps, ventouse and caesareans. Birth is a natural process; I am a huge believer in this. However, we are lucky in our country and in this day that we have the technology and drugs to keep us, and our babies, safe. A wise woman once said… ‘Control the things you can and let go of the things you can’t.’
When I made the decision to have an epidural I made that choice from a place of clarity rather than being fearful of the birth ahead. And that is what I mean by a positive birth- making choice where you feel in control. Clearing our minds of fear and stress is something that we can control with coping strategies and practise during pregnancy. When we have a clear mind our body can get on and birth our babies without the hormone adrenaline making our body think that it is an unsafe environment to give birth.
A clear mind is also important because if something happens and we need support from doctors then we have a clear mind (free from fear) in order to understand and be actively involved in any decision-making. If we understand why our birth may need some intervention then we can give birth knowing that it is not due to our body’s inability to birth but more to do with the baby lying in an awkward way or a birth/ pregnancy situation beyond your control.
Fear during childbirth can restrict your ability to make decisions during birth and can definitely effect how you see your decision-making skills going forward into motherhood. Why won’t my baby sleep? Is it because of birth? Why won’t my baby feed? Is it because of birth? Having a clear mind in labour and looking back and seeing a positive birth experience will set you in good stead for avoiding that self-inflicted mum guilt, that as mothers, we all suffer from.
Birth is not about the pain relief you did or did not have, or if your baby came out of your vagina by itself or by forceps or a caesarean. It is about saying my birth experience was fantastic. It is about saying what birth you had without following it with a but or justification.
Hypnobirthing is JUST about having a positive experience. I say JUST because it is such a simple concept, yet, do not to underestimate the power of having a positive birth experience as having a negative birth experience can have massive implications for you after birth. Such as bonding with your baby, breastfeeding, post natal depression and your decision to have more children. Feeling good about your birth will affect how you feel about your body and its abilities in general, even your capabilities then as a mother. Having a positive birth will set you up to feel strength and confidence for parenting.
So, having a positive birth experience is a big deal.
We should be able to talk about our stories and be proud of them. Tell our stories, free from judgement or comparison as these stories act as landmarks in our lives. Before, I may have felt like I had to justify my epidural but on the opposite spectrum I also have an innate fear of offending someone by saying that I had a great birth. Just in case the person you are speaking to didn’t. And you, by accident, have made them feel crappy because you had a good birth and they didn’t. Does anyone else find they do the same? It goes back to the self doubt thing again. We feel self doubt… assume others feel self doubt… don’t share our stories just in case we increase someone else’s self doubt… when really it is only our own self doubt that we are protecting. But by doing this we are only allowing negative stories of childbirth to be heard, which in turn creates more negative stories due to fear and stress taking over in the birthing room.
So here are my solutions to the self- doubt birthing dilemma…
- I am all for sisterhood in motherhood so going forward I think the usual solution to situations like this are for us to unite as women.
- Talk without fear of judgement and listen without comparison.
- In all aspects of our lives we need to tell that self doubt to do one.
Next time when you are telling someone about your birth say it with pride, no buts and no justification. I birthed my baby (FULL STOP!).
A Guest Blog from Beth Kitt
Beth from The Bump to Baby Chapter is a midwife working at Gloucester hospital. She runs positive antenatal classes at The Hatherley Manor and realistic hypnobirthing groups in Cheltenham. She is a mother of 3 children and 1 boxer dog. She is always well caffeinated and is often seen not far from a coffee shop. You can find The Bump to Baby Chapter on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.