One of the most prevalent memories I thought I recalled from the fog of this time was a discussion between clinicians about my 'anatomy' and the obstetrician being 'unable' to examine me properly. Before I knew it I had signed an authority for an epidural. I was wheeled into theatre pretty quickly and with the assistance of ventouse and forceps my daughter was safely delivered.
I was emotionally and physically drained, medicated and felt like I'd been in a car crash. This was not what I expected or prepared for. What had happened to my natural labour free from intervention? I'd consider myself a bright, articulate, professional achiever and felt I'd let myself and my daughter down. I couldn't shake off the comment regarding the examination and why this couldn't be performed. I assumed there was something 'wrong' with me that prevented a 'normal' labour and birth. I was devastated.
The reality hit me hard and I just couldn't fathom what had happened and why. My recovery was slow and when I became pregnant again in 2014 I was determined to seek help and support to ensure I had a labour and birth that I wanted. My body, my baby and my choices respected.
My first decision was that I would do anything for a natural labour and deliver this baby at home free from intervention. Secondly, I decided that I needed to find out exactly what had happened previously and why. My community midwife was incredibly supportive of my decision to birth at home as I was low risk, but agreed that I needed to address the anxiety I was feeling over my previous experiences so I contacted my hospital for a Birth Stories session. In the interim I contacted my local home birth support group and discovered the Positive Birth Movement through them.
With these issues addressed I was then able to fully focus on getting the birth I wanted, free from intervention and therefore continued to attend the PBM group meetings. I was inspired, supported, informed and respected for my decisions. It helped me to broaden my understanding and respect for other women who were considering different options and I even found myself supporting those who had worries and concerns. My anxieties were replaced by hope and excitement and my usual steely determination was back.
I started maternity leave and focused on enjoying this special time with my daughter before I knew her life would change forever and didn't worry about the estimated date of arrival. Finally, one evening I realised I was in labour and went to bed to get a good nights rest. I woke to regular contractions and my son was born at home, as planned later that afternoon. It was so easy, gentle and free from drama and intervention. Exactly how I wanted it. I was fortunate that I had excellent NHS midwifery care and it's only right that I acknowledge their support and care, they really did just let me get on with it without any intervention. It was a wonderful experience and I felt elated.
Regaining my birth choices through PBM has had a significant impact on my health and wellbeing, as well as my family. The resources PBM provided also helped my husband understand why my choices meant so much to me and he is now an advocate of this for other expectant parents. I am so grateful for the support I received from my local group to turn my previous labour and birth into a positive experience second time round.