“I need help!” … a phrase I did not mention when my first born entered the world but that I was determined to ensure was part of my 2nd pregnancy and when our little girl was born in September 2020.
In January 2020, I saw those two blue lines appear on the pregnancy test; I was ecstatic but in the back of my mind I was really apprehensive! I didn’t want to feel the same way as I did with our first!
At 36 weeks pregnant with our little boy I found out he was breech. I decided to have a caesarean birth but how I really felt was that I had trained for my marathon and wasn’t able to finish it! I felt like I had failed, I had failed becoming a Mum from a woman. I wasn’t going to experience contractions, ring of fire and fully birthing my baby!
Following his birth, I was scared to ask for help. I remember thinking if I asked for help, I would be admitting failure so I suffered in silence, quietly sobbing in the shower so no-one would hear and shrugging off feelings when my husband tried to tell our Health Visitor that something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t need help, I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, I wasn’t that bad, I didn’t want people to think that I was failing!
“I didn’t want to feel the same way I did with our first”
I had postnatal depression and PTSD and it took me 18 months to ask for help and receive therapy.
This all came out at my booking in appointment with the community midwife in January 2020. Lots of tissues were handed over to me as I sobbed my way through the appointment. I really didn’t want to feel the same way again! I promised myself that I would be open and honest to ensure I had the best support around me.
My community midwife made sure my anxieties were written in my notes and that things that were important to me were included in my management plan so everyone involved in my pregnancy could see without me having to go through my story again. I was also referred onto the pathway that enabled me to access a birth choices appointment with Rebecca Thomas, Perinatal Mental Health Midwife.
“I promised myself that I would be open and honest to ensure I had the best support around me”
Rebecca listened, she cared, she understood, she didn’t judge! She listened to my wants for this pregnancy & birth and ensured this again was put into my notes. She also suggested having a meeting with the Birth Centre Manager. This appointment was great and we chatted about plans for a birth centre VBAC but also touched on how I could make a labour ward room homely & non-clinical if that was where I did birth. These words were wise as I did at the last minute decide to birth in the labour ward. I created a space that was lit by tea lights and a light from the Resuscitaire, had my music playing, my tea tree cooling flannels smelling the room and laboured in an upright position … all things to make me feel comfortable and relaxed which kept me in a positive mindset!
I had prepared for this birth by seeking support, increasing my birth knowledge through education & mental preparation and my body was physically ready. I did not hide away, I was truthful with myself and to others.
Our little girl was born on 28th September at 5:12am and I got my VBAC!!
The post-natal period was another huge part of my plan … I was going to recover and get to know our baby. I decided to have a week in bed and a week in the house, which I did do apart from going in the car to get newborn photos taken. I think this helped massively as I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself. My Mum also came to stay for the first 5 days and that helped so much too. I allowed my body to heal and allowed me to be looked after whilst I was looking after our little girl. I didn’t cook, clean, tidy or sit patiently for visitors. We had our own time for our family to learn how to be a unit of four.
“I allowed my body to heal and allowed me to be looked after”
And I’m happy to say 7 months post-partum I feel great! Apart from a wobble in lockdown 3 with home-schooling a 5 year old and having a baby going through the 4 month sleep regression, I’ve been ok! I haven’t sobbed in the shower, I haven’t been anxious and I haven’t been depressed! I’ve actually really enjoyed being Mummy to a newborn again!
So please, if you are feeling not quite right (whatever that may mean to you) after the first 2 weeks of giving birth, please do speak to someone.
Source: Charlie Mackesy
There are so many people who helped and supported me through my pregnancy and early weeks with a newborn. You know who you are, so thank you once again. You all played a part in my healing birth and I will be forever grateful!!
Wakefield Mumbler Chat Group is a supportive and friendly place, where members can ask for advice, insider tips and help from fellow local parents and carers. Here are some tips they have shared when becoming a new parent:
You are not a failure for asking for help; whether it’s someone to clean your toilet or help with feeding! [Vicki]
Don’t feel pressured into having visitors until you’re ready! My husband and I didn’t want visitors at the hospital. Then it was just our parents and siblings the day we got home and everyone else had to wait for an invite (some friends waited a couple of weeks). [Helen]
Take your time, let your mind and body adjust. [Sarah]
Build a village! [Sheryl]
“This too shall pass” – Just know and remember that everything is temporary and whatever you’re struggling with, it will end/change/get easier [Becky]
When you feel up to it, get out and about. Go to mother and baby groups. I found this great to plan in, plus I got to eat cake and chat with other mums. [Sarah]
You don’t have to feel all happy and loved up all the time or even at first, its a big change [Abbie]
Get a sling! … a sling makes it possible for you to get on with other things [Madeleine]
Go with the flow and trust your instincts. You grew your baby and will know what suits you both in time. Everyone will have an opinion, some will help others not so much but even they will help reaffirm what you want/believe to be best. [Lauren]