Not all births are ‘beautiful’ is the resounding message from Australian parenting blogger Stevie Niki.
She has four children, and her youngest daughter, born in November last year, was delivered in a way that left Niki in immense pain and unable to hold her newborn.
“I couldn’t even hold her or look at her after she was born – not straight away. Not because of her, but because of me, what I just went through and the pain I was still in.”
It’s a story of raw honesty, when many birthing accounts can – as Niki explains – add pressure to an already difficult situation.
“There’s all this pressure on how amazing it should be and what we should feel afterwards,” she wrote.
“It wasn’t positive at all. I didnt feel encouraged, I felt judged and forced into a birth I didn’t want and that could have been avoided.”
Niki said she was told she didn’t need an epidural “because she’s done this before” and to keep quiet after moaning in pain.
“I was coerced into a shower I didn’t want, promised if I tried that, [the midwife] would give me the epidural I begged for,” she wrote.
“I was told to be quiet, every scream I let out. When I finally gave birth, right there in the shower, after what felt like forever, they told me to look and to hold her but I couldn’t.
“I couldn’t turn around, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t open my eyes. The pain was immense.”
It was only after around 40 minutes, Niki explained, that she felt she could hold her baby girl. It’s a delay that’s left her feeling guilty, in what should be a happy, touching time.
“Thinking back, I’m riddled with guilt. It makes me tear up, knowing I wasn’t the first to hold her, she didn’t get the skin to skin the others got.”
LISTEN: Psychologist Kirsten Bouse talks about post-natal depression. Post continues below.
Since posting about her experience, Niki has faced backlash from many women calling her “ungrateful”.
She has responded to these women, asking why they feel the need to judge her for an experience that was so deeply emotional and personal.
“Come on ladies – if someone shares something, that’s their truth, their experience, their feelings… all of which are valid,” she wrote to Instagram in a later post.
Niki added she knows midwives are “amazing” and that this was just one, “crappy” experience.
Even so, it’s one that will help many other mothers who’ve experienced something similar to feel much less alone. And hopefully relieve them of any guilt entirely.
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