How to Give Good Birth

Ha!

It would be great, I’m guessing, if women could just be taught to give birth. If it were like any other skill, or an activity or academic subject where enough study and rehearsal would allow you to be confident in how things would go. Still two months away from the event and I already feel hideously out of control. Not afraid. If anything I’m excited. I say “bring it on” and let me see what it’s like. I know that you can’t control labour, but you can have some influence over your experience. Except that is what I feel I don’t have, mainly as a result of my health conditions, and it’s that which makes me feel so out of control.

Tonight’s NHS antenatal class – our first – did nothing to help that feeling. It didn’t do anything to harm it either, but I didn’t come away feeling that I’d learned anything, or grown in confidence of what to expect. Yet ironically, I did get the impression that we were being taught a series of instructions that we should just follow in order to give birth. I already know it’s not that simple!

It was a strange session in a number of ways. A much, much larger group than I had envisaged. The midwife running the session didn’t seem entirely confident in what she was doing – the group facilitating part, that is, not the actual content of the class. There were no icebreakers or introductions and I’m sure many of the other women, like myself, spent most of the evening trying to guess how far along the others were.

What perhaps surprised me the most was the push to “just get an epidural”. I suppose that put the barriers up for me and it also made me feel like I was hurtling in to a black tunnel where every person I encounter is going to push me to do the one thing that I’m most fearful of.

The plastic pelvises, dolls heads, pictures of uteruses (uteri??) and lists of signs and symptoms of actual labour were, however, familiar and exactly what I was expecting. I’m not totally sure that many women can reach this stage of pregnancy without having come across this information – between the internet and book, including the free NHS Pregnancy Book, that every women should be given at booking in.

I’m not totally sure why we went, to be honest. Given that I’ve already read all of the stuff I was expecting to, and did hear. I suppose because I have a voracious appetite for any and all information about birth and parenting that I can get my hands on. And I suppose because I wanted some reassurance, or something. I wanted to be shown something I didn’t know, that would help to reassure me by showing me that I haven’t got the right idea about it all. But sadly, I’m pretty sure that I have. And sadly I’m pretty sure that I have absolutely zero control at all.

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