Positive birth stories - they really do exist
When one heavily-pregnant Mumsnetter asked for good birth stories to balance the 'universally negative' ones she'd been hearing, other MNers were delighted to oblige
1. Lots of births are brilliant - you just mightn't hear about them so often
"I have a positive story! I always feel a bit guilty sharing it in case people who didn't have a positive experience think I'm being smug. It was all really straightforward and I had brilliant midwives who listened to me and were nothing other than encouraging and supportive all the way. I also had wonderful midwives on the postnatal ward. I'm currently pregnant with my second, and actually looking forward to labour, as weird as that might sound!"
2. Have faith
"I had two great births! I didn't go to childbirth classes because I thought they'd frighten me - I just knew my body was built for this and I could do it, and I did! Highly recommend Ina May Gaskin's book, and the natal hypnotherapy CD from Amazon: they're brilliant and have some great relaxation techniques."
3. An epidural needn't stop you having a joyful birth
"I had been quite anti-epidural before DC1, but I had one because I was exhausted and the contractions were very painful, with no breaks in between. The epidural was lovely - not too strong, just right - and the birth was really calm: baby on chest and boob in mouth straight away. Felt very euphoric."
4. In fact, any kind of birth can be positive
"Positivity in birth is nothing to do with method of delivery. You can have a textbook delivery and feel traumatised - or an intervention-heavy delivery which ends in c-section, and it be the most positive thing in the world."
"I was induced at 35 weeks with my first set of twins because I had pre-eclampsia, so I had a very medically managed labour and birth, but I felt happy, safe and comfortable throughout. The people that cared for me were wonderful; they listened to me, they explained things to me and made what was actually a high risk delivery into an enjoyable experience. The labour was six hours in total."
5. ...and that goes for caesareans too
"I love hearing tales of natural and straightforward deliveries. But I also love to hear people talk with joy about their inductions and caesareans, because they are not negative by default. My second caesarean in particular was so joyful. I smile and laughed and cried with happiness. I felt supported and proud. It was a wonderful day and my story is the story of me meeting my son for the first time in a room full of love and positivity."
"I had a repeat emergency caesarean and every member of staff was friendly, professional and supportive. I smiled and laughed throughout, had immediate skin to skin, breastfed within 15 minutes of birth and was up and about a few hours later. Recovery was easy and the baby was bloody brilliant."
6. Thinking through all the outcomes can really help
"It's worth spending time getting yourself into a positive frame of mind where you feel like you can cope with any surprises that may come your way. I highly recommend Birth Skills - lots of great tips and includes techniques to keep you calm if an emergency situation develops, as well as visualisations to help you push if you can't feel contractions because of an epidural."
"I am 33 weeks with first baby. I am truly relaxed, not because I'm going in under an illusion that hypnobirthing will magically give me a zen birth, but rather that anything could happen, and I'll be ready with all my heart. I am resting well, sleeping well, and have left it to the future to enfold itself."
7. Work out what's making you anxious
"I have had three positive births. Painful, yes, but not to the point of desperation. I moved around quite a bit as I don't much like lying down in labour. No interventions, no drugs. If you can figure out what is causing you the most anxiety/worry, and then eliminate it, the rest might all fall into place nicely."
"I wrote clear birth plans for the different options. In this way I decided what I wanted in the event of non progression, EMCS, ELCS, ventouse, tears etc. I think it's important to be realistic and know that stuff might not go according to plan. If you have thought about those things beforehand you aren't caught on the hop."
8. You might find that it's actually pretty quick
"12 hours from first twinge to baby arriving. Water birth an hour and a half after I got to hospital. Small tear with two stitches that healed well. It can happen!"
"Four hours after waking up that morning I started pushing. I pushed for two minutes (literally) then his head was out and the rest of him dropped into the midwife's arms! No stitches needed. He was 10 lb 10 oz! He's now a squishy six-week-old (who wears three to six month clothes)."
"All three deliveries were straightforward with no complications. For my twins I had to have my waters broke twice (DCDA twins) as I was 5cm dilated and they were both safely delivered in under five hours. Plenty of gas and air and screaming got me through!"
9. A positive birth is the birth that suits you
"Different births suit different people: someone I know had two planned sections, and said they were both a breeze and that the first was the best day of her life."
10. Don't give up on getting the birth that you want...
"I had one good birth (my first: 8 hours), two very good births (the next two: 4.5 hours and 2.5 hours) and a really brilliant birth (my last: 4 hours). They all hurt, and all my DC came down the birth canal to a soundtrack of full-on maternal effing and blinding, but they were the sort of births I had hoped and planned for, with minimal intervention. I know I'm not alone, too: my closest friend had three good births; another friend had four good births. They're not unusual."
11. But understand that things can change
"I feel positive about both my births (I had two twin pregnancies) even though things didn't go necessarily as I'd imagined they would. I think the single biggest thing you can do is make peace with the fact that preparation is great, but there is no failure in birth. If it goes differently it isn't your fault and it isn't failure."
12. … and remember that even the birth you didn't want can fill you with joy
"I still think of it fondly because of the outstanding care of the midwives and how it brought my partner and I even closer and of course - that my son was born. You don't remember the pain - and you're so much stronger than you think you are."
13. Your birth partner can make all the difference
"I spoke at length to my husband about my fears and what I needed him to do. He also read chapters out of the Gaskin book. He was without doubt the most fantastic support and advocate I could have had. He was totally on my wavelength and very clear about what was expected of him. I think this is important because your supporter can feel quite helpless."
"DH held my hand and counted my in breaths and did my tens machine. In the early stages he massaged my back and told me jokes. He reminded me to focus on the surge and not fight it. He stopped me from holding my breath and kept me repeating my mantra. It was the most mind blowing and wonderful experience. I would do it all again. It still makes me feel like the most powerful woman in the world!"
14. If you're feeling anxious, hypnobirthing techniques can help
"Even people in my hypno class who ended up with emergency sections said hypno helped keep them in control."
15. … though there is such a thing as 'too relaxed'
"Hypnobirthing techniques worked a bit too well. When my contractions started I laid down and FELL ASLEEP. Woke to my husband realising I was nearly ready; I wasn't convinced so we drove to the hospital, walked from the carpark and I gave birth to her head halfway in. I was still asleep in the labour ward 30 mins before my daughter was born. Got pissed off that they made me get on the bed. Pushed twice, 9lb baby arrived."
16. And finally…
"I actually had an almighty orgasm having my first daughter. Because I was so relaxed it was like my body was 'taking over' and I was the bystander. I literally just watched as the muscles took over! After a couple more contractions my DD gushed out like a slippery seal and I literally went 'Wheyyy heyyy heyyy' in orgasmic convulsions [blush]."
Preparing to welcome a baby into the world? Be prepared with info and advice at your fingertips, on our app: Mumsnet Baby Bundle, in association with Nurofen for Children.
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Last updated: 17 days ago