Giving birth definitely changed me and I don’t mean becoming a parent, because it goes without saying that having children changed me.
I gave birth to my first baby almost thirteen years ago, I was 29 years old and my beloved baby came at the end of my party fuelled, selfish 20’s. My pregnancy was great but I wasn’t prepared for this giving birth thing – it was the first time in my life that I had to do something really important! Yes, I had had kind of important roles at work, I had cleared copy and put magazines to bed and the buck had stopped with me but this was ME giving birth, something that really mattered and something that I had to do on my own. Of course I had support from my husband and from my midwife but they couldn’t have this baby for me – I had to go with each contraction, I had to dig deep, stay calm and positive and keep going when I was tired, scared and in pain.
I will never forget the moment in my living room when I started to experience longer, intense contractions and I realised just how powerful labour was going to be. Part of me was amazed at my body, at what it was doing to bring me my baby and the other part was struggling not to panic, struggling to believe that I could do this. And I did it, I had a great birth, it was tough but wonderful.
Giving birth has made me a stronger person – I have made babies in my body and I have birthed them from my body and I will always be immensely proud of that. It has changed me in a positive way but I also feel scarred by it – the intensity and the occasional feelings helplessness and being out of control have stayed with me. These scars have impacted on my work with expectant and new parents and they are a reminder that where there is strength there is also fragility. The scars are a sign that I have done something amazing.
We all know that birth is different for every woman and I’m sure it will mean different things to each woman but the impact of giving birth surprised me. Each of my three births have been straightforward but they were still emotionally and physically tough at times and I under estimated how women can carry their birth experiences with them and what giving birth could teach me about me.
giving Birth taught me about…
being stronger and able than I thought
the importance of being calm when the alternative is to panic
listening to and trusting my body
how much I could endure
how the right words can make all the difference
and it showed me the strength of the connection with my husband who was able to relax me in seconds when I felt tense and scared