She lay in the hospital bed paralysed by shock.
She was a young, healthy first time mum who was two weeks before her due date.
She didn’t quite understand how things had escalated so quickly. Why was she actually been induced early? Why had her obstetrician hastily booked her in before the weekend when at their last appointment she was happy to wait for a repeat ultrasound?
Watch: Questions about childbirth (answered by mums and non-mums). Post continues below.
Nonetheless, she re-grouped and re-framed.
Her obstetrician promised her that once she had artificially broke her waters, she would give her a few hours to establish labour naturally.
She held tight to this promise. In these few hours she would be able to put into play the teachings from her intensive birthing course she had dragged her reluctant partner to, to the positive affirmations she had written down, to the mantra she had been meditating on over the last 30 weeks to trust in her body’s primal ability to birth this baby.
But when her obstetrician broke her waters she coolly commented that she would need to start the Syntocinon infusion earlier than expected.
By the time she thought to ask why, her doctor had left the room and a cannula was being inserted into her arm. The drip began and she lay still.
She had envisioned herself empowered, fiercely roaring through labour but here she was, a passive patient, feeling robbed of her partnership in the labour and birth of her own baby. She was scared and unsure. She was in pain. Things felt too rushed. If only she could have had one more appointment with her obstetrician to understand everything at play.
Ten hours later her beautiful daughter lay warmly on her chest. And yet, despite the overwhelming love and gratitude that gripped her, despite the successful outcome, she would always look back on her birthing experience as disempowering and confusing.
What makes a good birth?
An obstetrician or midwife may leave a room feeling satisfied with patient outcomes, namely a healthy mother and baby. Yet, the reality for many women can be much different.
Whilst thrilled for having survived childbirth and grateful for their baby, feelings of confusion, loss of control and powerlessness can be overwhelming and even traumatizing.