When my daughter was born, she had to have lots of help to get her breathing. Or that’s what they tell me. I couldn’t see for myself, as I was laying unconscious on a table with my stomach sliced open.
But, despite the fact that I had a poorly baby, had undergone major surgery, been under aesthetic, survived 20 hours of labour, had a blinding epidural headache due to a punctured spine, missed days of sleep, eaten little sustenance and could barely walk.
Just 24 hours later, I waved goodbye to my husband as the hospital staff booted him out the door and was left completely alone (and still very poorly) to care for my newborn baby.
And, just two weeks later, despite still recovering from a major physical and mental trauma, I was left to care for a energy ball of a 2 year old and a 2 week old on my own for 10 hours a day. What? Seriously, what?
I look back now and I can’t really believe I got through it. My husband was brilliant, but he had to go to work. And my extended family and friends are super supportive, but they had their own lives, their own jobs and their own small children to care for.
And as for any aftercare on the recovery ward, at home or by the so-called health visitors, I could describe it in one very bad word, that rhymes with PIT!
[I know they are under pressure, understaffed and work their bottoms off – this is NOT a dig at hospital staff as a whole, we would be lost without them, but more a reflection on my own experience and the state of the NHS and society as a whole].
And I’m not alone. Every mother I meet has their own traumatic birth story. From a 45 minute birth on the bathroom floor [slightly jealous of this one, to be honest], to collapsing in hospital due to undiagnosed blood loss, after being told they were just being lazy [definitely not jealous of this one].
What I don’t understand is why this bloody [literally, blood everywhere], traumatic and life changing event we call labour, isn’t taken more seriously?
Why aren’t mothers cared for like other post surgery patients? Would you expect someone to care for a puppy immediately following knee surgery?
In 2018, 657,076 women gave birth. That’s 657,076 ladies who suffered physically and mentally. How many of these women were really taken care of?
And I don’t mean made a cup of tea, I mean really looked after. My guess is very few. Instead these women went straight into caring for a new life [and often other children too] 24 hours a day.
Maybe it’s because mums always undersell their birth stories? I once heard a mother say ‘I was only in labour for 10 hours’! ONLY? If a man was kicked in the balls every few minutes for 10 hours, do you think he would say ‘only 10 hours’?
So, next time you tell someone your birth story, don’t play it down. You went through battle mummy. You were scared, traumatised, in pain and doing it all by yourself. Wear your battle scars with pride. You are amazing.
And for god sake, if you know someone who has just given birth, look after her. She deserves it.
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