No two labours are ever the same. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past year of sharing birth stories, it’s that.
Birth can be empowering and poignant, but it can also be traumatic and painful – as the mums who have bravely shared their stories with us know only too well.
We share these stories in our Birth Diaries series, where women tell us the gory details of their labour, birth and aftermath.
We’ve pulled together 10 birth diaries from the past few months, and shared a little snippet of their stories. Click through to read theiwhole story.
And if you’d like to share yours, get in touch! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘I had a rare third-degree tear – this is how that felt.’
“Very quickly, I was told by the midwife that she thought I’d had a bad tear, but that it would need to be confirmed by a doctor. In order to check, I had to be examined vaginally and anally which was so painful. More and more bloody towels kept being taken up from under me and rapidly replaced, and various medical staff had to come in and check out down below.”
‘I was 11 days overdue when I found out my baby had no heartbeat.’
“As the door closed behind the family and we were left alone, that’s when I cried. Apart from during labour, I don’t think I had shed a tear. I knew this was the only time I would spend with Beatrice so I had just kept smiling, probably wanting to not worry the family or make anyone even more upset.”
‘My birth? I remember nothing.’
“I had to be put under general anaesthetic and I remember vividly saying, as they put me to sleep, “I’m not asleep yet, don’t start!” I panicked they’d cut me open while I was still awake. I woke up in a recovery room. No one was around... at first. And then: “Do you want to meet your daughter?” I felt relief – she was okay, I was okay. Leela was teeny tiny, she was so small, but she was healthy and I was in love.”
‘I only knew I was pregnant 10 weeks before giving birth.’
“We’d returned from a three-day beer festival – yes, really – in Scotland when I decided I ought to see my GP because I didn’t feel myself. I was a bit bloated and struggled going to the loo. When I say ‘a bit bloated’, I don’t mean ‘bulging at the seams with a pregnant stomach’. I literally mean I had some light bloating and I was a size 8 at the time, so it wasn’t much more than a full belly after a big meal. I’d had bigger bloats after a Pizza Hut buffet. But it concerned me.”
‘Giving birth with a disability was always going to be a wait-and-see.’
“At 38 weeks and three days, after being told I wouldn’t be able to give birth naturally, my waters broke in bed one Sunday night at 3am. I was terrified – not because of the pain (I think I have quite a high threshold), but because I didn’t know if my body could handle it, and I just wanted my son to arrive safely.”
‘I lied about my contractions to get into hospital.’
“In the end, I lied. ‘Yep, I have that,’ I said when another midwife reminded me I needed a certain number of contractions before coming in – although actually I had half that number. I know that it was cheeky, but it was what I needed – and, considering how the rest of my birth story panned out, it was actually a good job I went to hospital early.”
‘A 60-hour labour made me feel like I’d failed my baby.’
“I stayed hooked to the monitors for what felt like decades. And then, quite quickly, the mood became very serious. My son’s heart rate dropped a significant amount. Suddenly, I was being handed a backless gown and surgical stockings. A midwife helped me change and wheeled me into theatre – they were going to perform an emergency C-section.”
‘I found out I was pregnant at 14 – and felt emotionless during the birth.’
“When she was born, I felt emotionless. I was exhausted and had been in labour so long that I didn’t know what was going on. My baby was taken from me – I’d told them I didn’t want to see her – so she was whisked away, and I went home a few hours later. I was told my baby would stay in hospital under social services supervision for 48 hours.”
‘I tripped over my toddler and broke my knee at 36 weeks.’
“The consultant had a chat with me and we compromised – he gave me a velcro sports splint. It was still thigh to ankle, but so much more flexible. There was also a lot of chat about C-sections at this point, which I really didn’t like. I had a 16-month-old baby to take care of, so felt like I’d do anything to avoid a caesarean when the time came. I practically begged them not to give me one.”
‘My daughter was born in the back of a moving ambulance.’
“I was in the downstairs bathroom when the paramedics arrived. The man who walked in had never seen a baby in an amniotic sac before. Even though we wanted to deliver at home, he was worried about complications and wanted to get us to hospital ASAP. Don’t push, he instructed me, as he put me on a stretcher and carried me into the ambulance. The journey was about half an hour to the hospital – but six minutes in, I knew she was coming.”
To share your birth story, email email@example.com.