Birthing your first baby is a formative part of your transition to becoming a mother. It’s a rite of passage that all mothers go through, regardless of the choices they make for how they birth.
I have birthed three babies and all three were different, in terms of the experience, the pain and the management of my labour.
Once you go into labour, or walk into a surgical suite, you don’t have any control over what happens. You can plan, and practise, and make sure that you’ve got advocates in the room with you. You can research and hope, but when everything begins, something else takes over and things don’t always go to plan.
If you’ve ever been in a room filled with old men, you will know that inevitably, the tales turn to war stories.
“There I was, stuck in a rabbit hole, surrounded by soldiers. Shells were dropping left and right and I caught some shrapnel in my shoulder. If it wasn’t for Buddy, I’d be dead right now.”
They sit there and tell the tamer stories. They look into each others eyes and nod, and acknowledge the shared exeriences of war. It changes a person, and some things they see, they’ll never talk about again.
Giving birth is a mother’s war. It is, it’s our war. We go into the experience, and emerge an entirely different woman.
Whether our births are low intervention, or high. Whether we had drugs or not. Whether our children arrived via c-section or our vaginas, we are forever changed by what we’ve been through.
Talking about labour was, for me, a healing experience in the wake of my first birth. I needed to talk it through, and from what I can gather, a lot of women are the same. Inevitably, a group of women will discuss their labours and the sum of the experiences that make them what they are.
There is an idea emerging – the idea that we can’t speak of our shared experiences lest we upset a woman who had a traumatic birth.
I can tell you, that in the first few weeks of being a mother, when labour was discussed, women telling their own stories did not make my trauma any less real. It also didn’t hurt me to hear that other people had had a good experience, even as I was envious of it. It did help to work through some of my issues with women who understood how overwhelming having a baby is – how choices are almost taken out of your hands.
We do not share our labour experiences in order to diminish other women and what they’ve gone through.
We do it to share. Not all women have the same experience and that is okay. I am not judging anyone for their labours.
Catch phrases like “Too Posh To Push” that media spits out with alarming regularity does all women a disservice. It assumes that all things are equal, but that some things are more equal than others.
Women, we went to war, and we deserve to speak about the war we fought from a labour bed without shame.
Some of us didn’t come home. Some of us didn’t bring our babies home. My experiences do not lessen yours and yours do not lessen mine. I am not judging you, and you are not judging me.
We should not let anyone tell us we cannot share our stories. We are stronger for them, and we are stronger together. Drugs or no drugs. Vaginal or Caesarian. Midwives or OB-GYNs. Hospital or home birth.
We all have the right to our own experience, and we ought to be able to share without fear.