Pregnancy and Birth Worries :((40 Posts)
I hope this is ok to post here. I wasn't sure whether childbirth would be better but I am worried about the whole process so...
My husband and I are starting to think about having a baby. I know that we both definitely want a baby and we are financially prepared enough etc. I was sexually abused for much of my childhood from a very young age and I am terrified about the process of pregnancy and childbirth.
Intimacy with my husband is brilliant with no problems except very occasionally, which he always handles well. I have also managed smear tests but only with my GP who I have developed an excellent relationship with over many, many years. It is still horrid and traumatic, but possible. My concern is strangers being involved in the process, touching me in any way and especially if what they are doing will cause me pain, I know it will be impossible for me to stay present and not have flashbacks etc.
I have spoken to a few close friends who have had their own babies, all of whom tell me that 'in the moment' nobody cares who has their hand up your fango and any embarrassment etc goes away... but I havent found that reassuring because this isn't embarrassment. It's terror and reliving a decade of the worst, worst moments of my life.
I'm scared of everything that might be done to me but I am also scared that I will be so triggered and stressed and upset that I will not be able to be a good mother to my new baby. That they will suffer because of me suffering. I don't want the people who harmed me to be able to harm my baby, through me.
I'm not sure what my question is, it helps to have written down these thoughts. They swim round my head all the time at the moment. I would be so grateful if anyone would share their experiences or thoughts? If not, thank you for just reading. x
I don't have experience of this but would imagine in your circumstances they'd allow you to have a c section, or even a trained midwife. Have you had counselling? When you have a child I think it does make you think of your own childhood but mainly how you'd do things differently, you sound incredibly brave and please don't let what happened to you stop you living the life you deserve, one of happiness, light and laughter xx
I am so deeply sorry to hear of the abuse you sufferered. I was attacked when I was young and as I got a bit older and I had to go to the doctors for intimate issues I found it incredibly difficult. I just had to keep thinking to myself that this is for MY health. Nobody else.
It seems like maybe you have issues trusting people as part of your terrible time. It's easy for people to sit and say "don't worry" etc but really try and trust the professional in what they are doing.
Perhaps the best idea is to visit your doctor or family planning doctor and tell them you want to have children but also your fears. They may be able to offer you some form of counciling or therapy to help you and even some good advice!
Don't let those disgusting vile human beings destroy the past and present. They were your
Past and you shouldn't allow them to destroy having a beautiful future that you deserve. Xx
Hi, your experience sounds horrid.
I recommend speaking to your GP to discuss your options. Together you can make a personalised plan that limits your exposure to flash backs.
Good luck, you sound thoughtful and prepared, don't stop your future joy and happiness because of your appalling past.
Thank you all.
Yes, I have been seeing a counsellor for my entire adult life (a LONG time now!) and I have resigned myself to an acceptance that I probably always will be going to counselling. It has helped in lots and lots of ways but when it comes to physical touch and being triggered it doesn't seem that I can change that.
The only way I can explain it would be imagining a physical scar. Initially it would be immensely painful when it's poked(triggered) but with time and treatment(counselling) it wouldn't hurt as much - if you poked it hard enough though, it would always still hurt. What worries me is that pregnancy and childbirth will be the ultimate in hardest 'pokes' and it is going to trigger that scar no matter how hard I try.
It scares me reading threads where people say their midwife didn't listen, they carried on with painful examinations even when they said stop etc. And I'm not even sure if I would be allowed to say no to internal examinations etc - I'm scared they would take my baby away from me if I refused because surely examinations are to look after baby and if I wont let them do that then they will decide I'm not a fit mother? My amazing GP said that examinations are only done if absolutely necessary, so I would be putting baby at risk if I said no? I would never forgive myself if something happened because of me but equally if I'm too triggered and traumatised to be a good mother then I could never forgive that either?
(Having had no secure attachment as a child I have studied it in depth and am hyper aware of the importance of early bonding... I know I wouldn't be able to do this if I was in a really heightened triggered state)
And then I read threads where they say that husbands are sent home overnight, not allowed to stay with you... I would flip out if this happened, there is no way I could be in a medical setting with all those triggers and not have him there - but then I know I will be seen as being difficult and will the nurses treat me badly because of that?
A friend suggested hiring a doula but I'm not sure how that would help. Adding another stranger into the chaos?
Sorry that is so long. Once I started typing it poured out
My one experience of childbirth so far (DC2 due in 2 days...) was very hands off. DS was born in a birthing pool, no hands anywhere, no one saw anything and I was the first person to touch DS.
I have to say I was completely lucid for the entirety of labour and retained 'dignity' throughout. I would've cared whose hand was where and I didn't have that completely carefree 'thing' that people talk about.
It's not like that for everyone.
I don't know how far you are from London but there is a special maternity clinic for survivors of abuse who are very sensitive and understanding of the issues. I think you can travel down to it from anywhere in the country, the link is here: www.mybodybackproject.com/
I really hope you get to have a baby with as little trauma as possible
That is reassuring, Luckystar. Thank you. Best wishes for the second!
Wow, puzzled. I've only had a very quick look but that website is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing that. I will definitely look into that more (miles and miles away from London but they seem to offer lots of different types of support so something might be possible)
I had some very minor issues, in comparison to your situation, with the process of childbirth due to previous experiences of medical situations as a child. I explained this to the midwives and got referred to a midwife counsellor who worked through with me what could be done to make the process easier for me. She then made sure that this information was passed onto those people dealing with my care. I would imagine that the same sort of thing would be available to you as well. Having it formally recognised made it a lot easier to deal with each health care professional that we encountered during the birth.
It's also worth making sure that your birth partner really understands what will cause you issues, and is prepared to advocate for you if you're unable to in that moment. I agree that you could also consider hiring a doula, who isn't a medical professional, who is there to focus on your welfare. It would also mean that should your birth partner be out of the room for a moment, you still have an advocate there for you. You choose a doula that you feel comfortable with, and they visit you several times before the birth to get to know you and what issues you are particularly focussed on. So they didn't feel like a stranger by the time it came to delivery.
Thank you SpeakNoWords. That is reassuring. Did you find that all the medical professionals acted in accordance with what you had discussed? I am concerned that so many people might be involved (doctors nurses midwives randoms.........) that even if I told some, I couldn't tell them all and some might not be aware?
Also, even telling them all is horrendous. It is sharing the absolutely worst moments of my life, things that only my absolute closest friends know, to total strangers. It would feel better if I only had to share in a detailed way with one person who could then distribute the key points that will affect my care.
I guess that's also my logical to hiring a doula.
I haven't had much experience of hospitals but the one time I did, I did share my background and the nurse just didn't 'get it'. She did something that would be dubious for anyone but was horrific for me and I ended up screaming and sobbing and yelling at her some really, really intimate details of what happened to try and make her see why what she'd done was so bad. But then she told me I was being inappropriate (I was, I was screaming at her...) and I felt like a really awful person. I worry that if I behave like that with a midwife they will take my baby away from me.
Nearly all of the HCP that I met acted in accordance with what was agreed. The midwife counsellor wrote a covering letter that was stapled to the front of my notes, which didn't explain in detail my issues, but did explain what they needed to do to work with me in accordance to what I had discussed with her. It was easy to refer them to that letter as a starting point and ask them to act in accordance with it. Only one or two of the midwives in post natal didn't initially read the notes, but then did so and changed how they dealt with me. It saved a lot of hassle to have it all clarified up front and written down "officially".
I didn't even have to go into lots of detail with the midwife counsellor, it was mostly just me explaining what could trigger an unexpected response from me, and how I was likely to react. She then made some suggestions about how they could be avoided/minimised, until we could agree on the best way to handle it all.
I would also say that there is no way that the midwives will take your baby away! They can't any way, and they are going to help you if you're distressed and upset. The nurse that told you that you were being "inappropriate" was really doing a bad job, and not acting as professionally or as empathetically as she should have been!
Do you really have to go into detail? Perhaps it would be sufficient to outline what happened and focus on what kind of intervention and examinations would be acceptable to you. Staff don't need to know the details to be made aware of how you feel about physical examinations, for example. Also, your history and requests would end up in your notes so you wouldn't have to talk about it with everyone.
There is no obligation to have any kind of medical examination you do not wish to have. Patient consent is required by law for all procedures, so it is within your rights to refuse a vaginal examination, you can even refuse to be touched by a male doctor. No one can force you to do anything you don't want to, and it does not necessarily mean you will be referred to social services! The best thing would be to talk to a midwife about this.
Also, if you are low risk you could consider having a home birth.
Wishing you all the best
Thank you very much, everyone.
I would hope that not going into detail is sufficient. With the nurse experience I'd had recently though, I had given an overview (very brief I thought but also very clear about how I needed to be worked with etc) and then it all went wrong when she made an assumption that I was scared of the needle and just kept shouting at me that I couldn't have the surgery I need without the blood tests - I did keep saying it isn't that but it's the restriction of the rope around my arm, but she was not listening to me at all and just kept talking about the needles - in the end I had to be much more detailed than I wanted to be and felt very exposed.
I do think that spending some time thinking about the support I'm going to need might help me then steer the discussion in that direction.
Thanks again. X
I could not leave this and run- name changed just for you! I can't offer lots of advice but I can share my experience.
I was abused as a child for several years (7-12). The only person on earth other than the abuser who knows about this is DH. Bizarrely, I have always just been able to put it in a mental box and I've been lucky that it has not affected my life in any significant way despite having no counselling etc. If I think about it, it makes me sad and angry but I have buried it for years it is as though it happened to someone else. That said, I do not like strangers touching me and am not particularly affectionate, apart from with DD.
I was planning a natural birth with DD but for medical reasons she ended up being a planned c section. It does not give you any more dignity- you are on a table naked from the waist down, legs akimbo whilst they put the catheter in etc. However, because I was completely clear on what was happening and therefore felt in control and no one had to put their hands anywhere to"check" dilation etc but rather for a medical insertion etc, somehow, being "medical" made it seem OK to me and I did not feel vulnerable. I did request no Drs / midwives in training to avoid extra people in the theatre. There is an unavoudable inevutability to having to be checked and looked at post birth to check how you're healing with both options - can be someone different each time so you may have to prepare yourself for this. As I had such a positive c section experience last time, I'm opting for this again. But if anyone tells me I am too posh to push, I might just lamp them- this is a lesson for us all- no one knows why people choose what they choose and sometimes there are very real psychological reasons why people make their birth choices. We should not judge one another. Best of luck xx
Thank you for sharing. I also wonder whether a c section would be better if it felt more medical rather than having some stranger's hand up my bits... but I guess that is something to discuss.
I think preparing for the inevitability of after birth checks etc might be key... maybe it would help to know which are deemed absolutely essential and which are nice to have but not essential. My GP when I discussed it with him said that checks to see how far you are dilated aren't essential. Just very helpful. So I guess I could refuse those unless they had an extremely good reason to believe either of us were in real danger.
Thank you for sharing your experience and best wishes for the next time around x
Nobody will take your baby away. Absolutely nothing in the way or checks or procedures is essential, even in an emergency, you can decline even if it puts your baby at risk.
How would you feel about a home birth? Just your husband and a midwife and no examinations?
A home birth does appeal in some senses because I would be in a safe environment but I don't want my lovely home to become a reminder of an awful experience if I am triggered. Also not sure that if I had to be rushed to hospital if that would then allow me time for people there to know about me.
Feel like crying tonight.
What location are you in OP? You could look at whether the One to One Midwives service is available in your area. You would have a named midwife who would see you for all ante natal appointments, accompany you to scans and also do your 6 weeks of post-birth care. You could book a home birth with your midwife and if you chose or needed to transfer to hospital your midwife would accompany you in a doula support role (they cannot deliver you in the hospital for insurance reasons).
I dont know about the various counselling services available so I will leave that to others to advise on, but One to One might be something to look at. I had an emcs under ga first time and it was fairly traumatic, so I had a home birth second time with a midwife whom I knew and trusted. I had no examinations. I would think you would need to have contact with your chosen hospital beforehand to make your wishes known in the event you transfer.
The idea of a doula is definitely worth looking into too. Having someone you trust who is able to advocate for you (I think this is a difficult role for a partner to perform well, as birth is new to them too and they may prioritise following what a medical professional tells them out of a feeling of stress or ignorance rather than question them and seek infornation etc). Having someone who is much less emotionally invested and who is highly informed about birth in general and your wishes to speak out for you when you may be too stressed/tired/preoccupied to do it yourself can be very valuable.
I am sorry that your reaction to the nurse you mention was met with such a lack of understanding and empathy. Best of luck with everything.
There are midwife-only units in many parts of the country, and they are a lot less "hospitally" than a delivery ward, ifyswim. If there's one near you then that might be an option? They're meant to be more like a home setting, and would only have midwives there, so no doctors etc.
Also I think it would be really worth contacting the new centre in London that's just opened, through the charity "My Body Back Project". Even though you're not near London there may be things they can do to help and advise.
I don't know if this helps any, but I'm 36 weeks and no one has looked any further than my stomach so it would probably just be the birth you needed to worry about rather than the whole pregnancy too.
I have debated whether or not to post this as it is a very negative experience but thought in the end that it is relevant.
I had a 35 hour labour with my son who was in the back-to-back position. Most internal examinations were not at all painful, just uncomfortable. However, when I had been in labour for over 30 hours I was transferred from the midwife-led unit to the labour ward. I was shouting hysterically at this point as I had lost confidence in the people around me (the midwives at the birth centre had failed to spot the malpresentation of the baby), I had lost the pain relieving effect of the water bath and was desperate for an epidural. The first midwife was simply watching the clock until the end of her shift and did not engage with me in any meaningful way. The new midwife who started her shift was very judgemental, and I don't think she had any regard for how long I had been in labour or how much pain I was in. There was a long wait for the anaesthetist to come and then problems with getting the epidural in. Before the epidural was sited she gave me what felt like an intentionally rough internal examination. When I screamed in pain she didn't stop. When she took her hand out her fingers were dripping with blood. It was pretty horrendous.
I can't imagine what that situation would have been like for someone with a history of abuse. Whether or not it was intentional can never be known. All I can say is that it certainly felt that way to me at the time.
Please know that what mercurialrising has posted is extremely unusual and not at all representative of what happens. I'm not sure how she thought it would help you to post her experience in detail, as clearly all it has done is scared the crap out of you.
I hope that mercurialrising complained about her treatment and that the midwife concerned was disciplined. Tbh it's also an assault (to continue a medical exam after consent is withdrawn), so she could also contact the police I feel.
This is where your birth partner and/or a doula are invaluable for advocating for you if you become unable to do so yourself. In your situation, a midwife should not be able to even start an internal exam without understanding your particular needs.
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