When a woman becomes pregnant one thing is certain – the baby, eventually, will have to come out. There’s no going back.
But that’s about the only certainty because each and every one of us will have a different pregnancy experience and when it comes to the actual birth, there is no real way to prepare for exactly what might happen.
We all have our ideal scenario – a water birth, or to be at home, to have resisted all pain relief/taken every drug on offer…..
And many of us end up in our ideal scenario, give or take.
But just as many of us don’t.
The business of birth is totally unpredictable.
It’s such a delicate balancing act and there’s is no accounting for how it might go for you and your baby on the day, from having to be rushed to the hospital when you had longed to be at home, to finding that oh yes, labour really is more painful than falling off the top of Everest and actually you WOULD like something to take the edge off, to getting the post natal ward and being put next to a woman who snores/talks incessantly on phone/prays loudly as if dying/ignores her own baby’s cries…(Yes, all real life experiences).
The point is that so many things can happen that we weren’t bargaining for. An induction, a C-Section, a very fast delivery, a 5 day labour, feeling very low instead of elated, a trip to theatre, a poorly baby, stitches, way more stitches than you had ever heard you might need, a long hospital stay, problems with feeding, problems with peeing (you)…..
These experiences can leave us a bit bewildered and have a fundamental impact on that first year of motherhood.
If things happen during your labour that you weren’t expecting, it’s useful to take stock of your experiences and going easy on yourself.
Giving birth is a very odd thing.
Why? Because it is so commonplace, so everyday, that it can feel almost unremarkable.
And yet it is. It’s a very individual and life changing experience for each and every woman.
But it’s that sense of it being such an everyday occurrence that can sometimes mean women are in danger of giving themselves a hard time. It’s too easy to think ‘Why is this so hard?, why am I not coping like others do, why is my body still suffering, why do I feel SO tired, why do my bits still hurt? Why do I feel like I’m not doing this RIGHT?’
There is no right.
We all have our own experiences of bringing our baby into the world. Don’t compare where you’re at to that of the mum next to you because you’re not the same. You arrived at this point in very different ways and you’re probably going somewhere different too.
Instead, if you are suffering or worrying in any way, know that it is absolutely OK and that you should ask for help.
Whether it’s your mood, help with something baby related such as feeding, or sleeping, help with your body – a niggling pain, a pelvic floor issue there will be someone who can help you make sense of it all and help make things better.
Dr Helena Belgrave is a perinatal counsellor and psychotherapist in East Dulwich who specialises in therapy for mothers and mothers to be.
“From my experience there is a real sense that women must soldier on during the first year even if they are having psychological difficulties. Societal pressures make it very hard for a woman to admit she is not coping but in the long run I really recommend seeking help earlier, rather than later. You might just want to speak to a friend or family member who you can trust and feel comfortable talking to – just getting those thoughts out of your head is beneficial in itself.
“But speaking with your GP or health visitor could also help. They should be able to give more information about what help is out there and seeing a therapist is another option, as they are trained to listen, offer support and help you deal with any psychological issues you may have. Often NHS services offer perinatal therapy, as well as private therapists with expertise in that area. Don’t over look the online support in places such as Mumsnet, Netmums, local forums.The NHS, MIND and Facebook are also good places to start.
Physical exercise is also important. Just getting some fresh air, walking the baby can work wonders. The message I want to get across is that you are not weak or a failure if you have to seek help.”
We’re all in this together, never ever feel like you are on your own.
If you have any pre or postnatal physical symptoms do talk to your GP, midwife or health visitor as there are many issues you can be helped with. Contact us if you feel we can help with anything at all – if we can we’d love to and if we can’t we will try to point you in the right direction.
Dr Helena Belgrave can be contacted via her website and more information about her work can be found there too.
Written by PENNY STRETTON