Birth: there's nothing quite like it, and it's clear no two birth stories are the same. Which is why we're asking everyday women and some of our favourite celebrity mums to share theirs, in Mamamia's My Birth Story series. To share your Birth Story, email [email protected] with ‘My Birth Story’ in the subject line.
This week, we hear from Cate Gilpin from Brisbane, who is a mum of two boys.
When I was pregnant with my first child (now seven) I was determined to have a ‘perfect’ birth and I had a very fixed notion about what that was and how I would achieve it.
I did my pregnancy yoga weekly, read everything I could find about calm birth, and pored over my Juju Sundin Birth Skills book until it was stained with tea spills and pasta sauce flecks.
My plan was to labour at home for as long as possible and then head to the hospital when I was almost fully dilated. I would arrive just in time for a midwife-led water birth during which I’d use yoga breathing, a playlist of soothing tunes and my loving husband’s hugs and hand holding as my only forms of pain relief.
Yes, I was very naïve and, yes, my plans fell to pieces very quickly.
Watch: Questions about childbirth answered by mums and non-mums. Post continues after video.
My birth was almost the exact opposite of this plan from start to finish: the finish being the discovery that my son’s heart rate was dropping, the umbilical cord had wrapped tightly around his neck and an emergency c-section was required immediately or we’d lose him.
Thankfully Eddie arrived safely into the world and we were both physically okay.
I had some mild birth trauma, it felt pretty awful at the time but since then I’ve seen friends suffer with truly debilitating birth trauma and that wasn’t my experience.
But I did feel terribly sad and confused that my birth had been so different to what I imagined. Mainly, though, I felt shame.
Even though I felt no judgement towards other mothers who birthed via c-section, I judged myself. Combine this with major breastfeeding issues (which I’ve written about on Mamamia) and I was convinced that I was a terrible mother who’d utterly failed at the first hurdle.
The difficulty of my first birth, combined with the general difficulty and occasional horror of being a parent meant it took me four years to feel ready to try for another child.
When I fell pregnant with our second son, I knew I wanted to have a very different birth, but I also felt a lot of social and sometimes medical pressure to try and have him vaginally. This is called a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and it was regularly mentioned to me by every medical practitioner I saw.