This afternoon, I had the opportunity to talk to April Austin, who is a wonderful mama and birth business owner. She runs an online course called Empowered Birth After Caesarean, which is opening its virtual doors in December.
We had a chat for the podcast, which will be released next week, about all things BAC (birth after caesarean).
While I don’t want to go into all of what we discussed, one thing has really stuck in my mind about my first birth. It’s a funny one, which you won’t understand – unless you do!
What on Earth do I mean by that?
When I had George at 33 weeks, I hadn’t gone into labour at all. I’d had no Braxton Hicks. No bloody show. No bloody anything!
I was pregnant.
Then I was a mum.
A mum without a baby to hold, snuggle, feed, and sniff. Oh how I wanted to just inhale that baby smell.
I remember describing his birth to my own mum – “He was born, but I didn’t give birth.”
Of course, she didn’t really get it. Her reply was “Of course you’ve given birth, a caesarean is still birth“.
And it is – but what I meant, was that I didn’t feel it was something I was an active participant in. I saw George’s birth as a surgical procedure that was done to me.
To me, saying I’d given birth would be like my Grannie saying she’d given herself a hip replacement.
Now, some of you will get this, and some of you will think I’m on crack, but bear with me.
After three years, and a whole lot of work on myself, my mental health, and my birth experiences, I now view George’s birth in a very different light. I still want to share something with you though… and that is, that my experience was my experience. No amount of sugar coating or pretending changed that.
It’s hard enough to share a traumatic birth experience, when you’re being told that “all that matters is a healthy baby”, without having to try to explain any or all of the surrounding feelings that accompany the experience.
So if you have someone explaining their birth in a way that you don’t understand, please, don’t make them wrong. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t even try to understand, unless you really think that you might be able to comprehend it in some abstract way.
If you don’t really understand how I perceived my birth, chances are, you’ve never been through anything remotely similar.
Please respect the mama who is sharing their experience with you. Listen to her, comfort her if she needs it, but don’t try to fix it for her.
The likelihood is, she has chosen you to share her feelings to, above anyone else.
She has probably shared them with you because she knows you won’t judge her.
Listening is often the best thing you can do to help her heal.
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