Since publishing my birth story I have received an overwhelming positive public response. The messages of support and appreciation have touched my heart. I feel proud that a momentous time in my life has been so inspiring to others. I would like to thank you for your encouraging words. My birth story has been viewed by well over 1000 people worldwide including countries such as Japan, Trinidad, Mexico and Australia and so on. Here I include some of those fantastic responses:
“This is such an amazing story! I had a vba2c in February last year but I had a fight on my hands, and I wish that I had had your strength and courage to keep Drs away. It was a nightmare experience, but I got there in the end. I hope this story can be seen by as many health care professionals as possible and maybe change some minds so fewer women have to find the strength it takes to allow nature to take its course. Thank you so much for sharing!” Lisa
“This is amazing, it made me cry. I’m 35+3 and hoping for a VBA2C. Hubby and I are getting ready for my appointment next week with the consultant team, the last one with the OB’s was awful and my Husband told them off for bullying me and not offering support but instead backing me in to a corner. Since then I’ve felt scared, doubting my decisions and crying on a daily basis. I only want to be supported in my decision to give it a chance, and like you I’d researched the risks associated with the VBA2C and a third section. This is so inspiring, I’m so glad you done it. I really hope I can do it too. Well done, and thank you so much for sharing. Just what I needed xx” Natalie
“Tears into eyes… Sadness at first but joy also for that last paragraph. You are such an amazing woman! I had my first baby by c sect and was also determined not to go through that again. I had an amazing midwife who backed me and my husband up and said let’s go for it! Felt so powerful when I gave birth to my son! Incredible x keep inspiring x” Mel
“Michelle I have verbally heard your story before but reading it here again is very moving. I think you strongly express what I also believe as a HWBAC and mother of 2 that all women need to feel empowered and be able to choose what happens to them. This cannot happen if they do not get good objective medical opinion and treatment. I was lucky, like you to find supporters towards the end of my pregnancy but I felt that all of the earlier uncertainty and stress was an unnecessary bi product of ill informed carers. How we birth is as important as birthing itself and it is beyond the time when good care should be provided that suits the individuals needs. Until this is happening throughout the UK we will continue to see post natal struggles with physical and mental issues caused directly by that low standard of care provision.” Rachel
My story has similar traits to thousands of other women’s stories that I have read on a daily basis over the past two years. It was reading these stories that inspired me to believe in myself and my body. It was such stories that gave me the courage to find my voice and question the choices made by others about my care and my birth. I am part of a community of women that often find our voices are not being heard. We are quite often presented with limited information regarding our options during pregnancy and birth. This deprives us of our choices and could be considered a tactical way to gain our consent to various procedures. This is then considered informed consent, the legality of this I question? How can gaining consent in this way be considered ‘informed’? I intend to personally address this issue. Watch this space!
My intention is not to criticize or to draw negative attention to our strained maternity service. I have told a truthful account of my experience. Parts of my care were unethical and inconsiderate. This type of care left me feeling vulnerable and scared and probably had a negative effect on my baby. What I do realise is that this kind of care is not standard, but it happens. Change will not happen unless this kind of care is exposed. Some show resistance to change, probably because change exposes weaknesses leaving some feeling disempowered. Many will go to great lengths to form allies and keep control of a practice that feels familiar and safe. This has been displayed through public media recently. I am hopeful that as this kind of care giver is out of date maybe one day it will be a breed that is extinct!
Pregnancy and birth has always proven to be a daunting experience ravelled in fear. I would say that it has been one of the most stressful times of my life. I have always felt like a vessel to carry my baby and that others were responsible for bringing my babies into the world safely and that I should be fully compliant. Navigating emotions when I had suddenly ‘given birth’ and being responsible to feed them whilst feeling numb, in pain and weak was somewhat overwhelming, however I have always managed to live up to expectations. My last pregnancy itself was different being that I was healthy and it was problem free. Being in control of the decisions that were made in my pregnancy and birth felt good. Learning about the birthing process reduced my fears as I understood what was happening to my body. If caesarean had presented to be medically necessary, my experience would have still been a positive one as I felt in control of my birth and my body and was at the centre of all decisions. The surge of oxytocin and endorphins that happens at birth has proved to be hugely beneficial to my physical and mental state. I am still on such a high I wonder if these hormones have ever faded? When I gave birth I also gave birth to a new women.
Many women share their stories in private groups and forums due to the fact they are personal and feel safe and comforted knowing that like-minded women will receive them warmly. There are a number of reasons that I chose to share my story out in the public domain. Through my journey I felt l was struggling alone on a path that had many hurdles, stormy weathers and emotional upheavals, however, I made it through to the finish line holding my baby and I deserve to celebrate that!
I want to inspire all women including those that have not found groups like ‘VBAC Support group UK’ and such forms of support.
I want women to know that they have a choice.
I want women to know that it’s ok to speak up if you’re not happy.
I want women to know how to navigate the maternity system and know that there will be someone within the service that will be there to support you and your choices.
I want women to know its ok to expose those that practice unethically.
I want women to know that they should be at the centre of the pregnancy and birth process.
I want women to know that they can be in the driving seat of their birth experience.
I want women to know that if they are told that they are ‘allowed’ or not ‘allowed’ to do something that this is a warning sign and maybe your care provider needs to be reminded that it is your body, your birth and your choice!
My birth story was not the end it was only just the beginning!