Trigger Warning: This birth story discusses trauma following a c-section. Topics discussed include induction, c-section delivery, VBAC and antenatal depression and anxiety. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
Debbie had prepared for the birth of her first child like most women; reading books, going to appointments, taking all the classes on offer and even undertook hypnobirthing classes. By all accounts, she was educated and prepared for the birth of her son. Yet from the moment she walked into the maternity ward; Debbie felt unsupported and misunderstood. She had planned on a drug free, vaginal birth however, didn’t feel confident to speak up or advocate for what she wanted. The stress was increasing her blood pressure, her increased blood pressure was stressing her, and she was caught in a cascade of interventions after her waters didn’t break as well as not dilating past 2cm within the 12 hours of being in hospital.
Debbie was feeling broken and defeated, her contractions were unbearably painful, she couldn’t get her focus to use the techniques from her hypnobirthing classes and hit a point where she just wanted it to be over. Feeling as though she had failed, she agreed to a caesarean.
This was not the birth she had imagined, the birth she had prepared for; like many women she continued, ‘soldiered on’ just like society expected her too. In fact, she noted that her postnatal period was lovely, she was enjoying motherhood; apart from the occasional unspoken jealousy towards the women in her mother’s group (all who had vaginally birthed) things were going along as imagined.
It wasn’t until her second pregnancy that Debbie started to really struggle, developing antenatal depression and anxiety. Her first labour and birth was traumatic, whilst at the time she hadn’t been aware of it, her second pregnancy bought back what she had buried deep down, what she had to bury to be able to soldier on. This time around she had a doula for her pregnancy and birth; someone there to advocate for her wants and desires during moments when she wasn’t able too. The advocacy and better education allowed for Debbie to achieve a drug-free VBAC.
After several years of healing and processing her experience, she has transformed her traumatic experience to help others, holding space for women who have gone through a similar experience, and making sure that they know they are not alone.
ABTA’s Peer2Peer support allows women to be heard and understood by women who have a lived experience. Debbie is now one of ABTA’s peer support mentors; helping women just like her.