Megan : not sure if her birth was bad enough to be there

Megan after her second (much more empowering) birth

Megan after her second (much more empowering) birth

Megan attended Birthtalk’s Healing From Birth group, unsure initially if she should even be there. She then attended some antenatal sessions and had some private sessions with Deb from Birthtalk, before moving cities.

Birth Does Matter
I think the caption ‘Birth Matters’ on Birthtalk’s brochure really caught my attention. I still had mixed feelings about my first birth, and had trouble discussing it with my husband. I had convinced myself that my experience really had been fine, especially compared to many other stories I’d heard, but couldn’t shake a nagging sense of disappointment. I wondered why everyone else seemed satisfied with their births and why I was still frustrated about mine. I think I was looking for validation of my feelings, and someone to listen. The ‘Healing from Birth’ meetings are unique in this way – it is the only environment I can imagine meeting other women and feeling truly understood in whatever feelings you might have.

I started attending Birthtalk ‘s “Path to a Better Birth” education sessions at the same time and found them to be really informative and again unique in what is presented. To me (and my husband when I finally dragged him along), it is the only place I have found realistic, relevant information about how to get through birth and make it work for you, as opposed to the more clinical, factual information of what happens in birth and possible medical interventions delivered in standard antenatal classes.

Before Birthtalk
I already felt very positive about birth and confident in my body’s ability to birth before Birthtalk. However my confidence had been somewhat shaken by my first birth and I felt like I would be carrying more fears and doubts into any subsequent births than when I had started! Most of these related to particular events in the first birth – I wanted to understand why things had happened and would it occur again and what I could do to make it better next time. Birthtalk helped me to realise that it was okay to feel somewhat disappointed about my first birth, and why I had those feelings. It has supported me with plenty of valuable information about making the right choices for me and helped to restore my confidence going into a second birth.

After my first birth, I felt lucky that I was able to breastfeed Katelyn immediately after she was born, and my husband made sure that we had skin-to-skin contact. I had a really positive breastfeeding experience and felt confident as a parent, despite feeling disappointed about some aspects of her birth. I did feel quite disconnected from her for quite some time though – I remember thinking that I knew I factually ‘loved’ her, but I didn’t feel it emotionally. I was never sure if that was simply the result of sleep deprivation or it was just me or it was somehow related to the birth. I also had trouble talking to my husband about the birth and my disappointment and felt I needed someone to be able to talk it through with.

Healing From Birth
After my first birth, I did attend the Healing from Birth meetings (albeit a good 10 or so months later!) and they were invaluable for helping me to understand and accept my disappointment and work through my feelings. I felt hugely supported to accept that it was okay to feel disappointed with my birth even though the events of the birth had not been particularly bad. When I later attended the Birthtalk Education meetings they gave me more insight into why I had felt so disappointed and an understanding of how you can work towards a positive experience. I also requested my hospital notes to review with Deb which was very satisfying. Later when I moved away from Brisbane, Birthtalk was able to give me contact details for midwives around Queensland which helped pave the way for a positive and empowering second birth.

After my Second Birth 
Again I was able to breastfeed Ben immediately after his birth. Eight weeks on he is still breastfeeding well and this time round I feel much more emotionally attached to him. I’m not sure if it is the result of such a positive birth, or whether it’s just because I’m more relaxed with a second baby and he sleeps so much better! Physically I felt SO much better than the first time; I left the hospital after one night and we went straight to the shopping centre for an hour to buy some blue clothes while we didn’t have our toddler with us!! I had similar perineal tears to the first birth but they weren’t stitched this time which was so much more comfortable. I think the fact that I gave birth in a kneeling position rather than lying on my back meant there was less impact on my body so it has recovered so much faster. I just can’t believe how fantastic and normal I felt almost immediately after the birth. I also feel so much closer to my husband because we both had such a positive experience together and felt that it was our experience completely.

Benefits of Hindsight
I wish I had attended Birthtalk’s Education meetings before having my first baby as it may have helped me realise that I could change my choice of care even well into my pregnancy. It might have also given me more insight into what can potentially happen in some medicalised hospital systems and given me tools for managing the birth the way I wanted it to be. I really feel that my first birth stalled because I had no trust in my obstetrician and was so intimidated when she ended up being there. Meeting other women who have had positive births would have been empowering and if I had met some of the doulas and other support people that attend I may have ended up choosing to hire one as I had originally hoped.

I would recommend Birthtalk to anyone open to learning more about birth and wanting to be informed and knowledgeable so that they can feel empowered to make their experience what they want it to be.

To read Megan’s second empowering birth story see here