Birth Trauma in the Media

My son was born six years ago. When he was four days old, I googled ‘birth was horrific‘ because I was looking for some kind of reassurance that I wasn’t alone. That what I’d been through wasn’t unique to me. That my experience didn’t make me a freak of nature. Until then I had no idea that birth could be like that. No idea that I would be scared, battered, bruised and alone. No idea that the word horrific could even be associated with what I’d been assured would be one of the most amazing life events I’d ever experience. And I discovered a new phrase. A phrase that summed up what had happened to me. A phrase that made me feel sick. A phrase that since went on to fuel me.

Birth trauma.

I’d had a traumatic birth. And so had other women. I was suffering the after effects and had many signs of PTSD already. There was a reason I was feeling this way.

When he was ten months old, I started to blog. And this blog became the sounding board for all the horrible things I was feeling. The sleepless nights. The anger. The isolation. And not long after this I signed up to be a media volunteer for the Birth Trauma Association. I wanted to tell my story so that changes could be made. So that other women knew they weren’t alone either. So that birth trauma would not be a phrase that made my skin crawl. It would empower, educate and unit instead.

birth trauma in the media_ghostwritermummy.co.uk

The first interview I gave was to the BBC, regarding shortages of midwives in NHS maternity wards in England. I had no political agenda. I simply told my story. It was hard. The producer and camera man were both lovely and very patient and seemingly understanding. I spoke for close to two hours about the events surrounding my sons birth, the after care and my thoughts on the midwife shortage. I expressed how grateful I was to the midwives who cared for me and spoke about being kissed on the cheek, apologised to. Cared for.

My interview was heavily  edited and cost me the friendship of a family member who no longer speaks to me. It created a rift in my family for no reason other than the fact that person did not read my blog or understand the context of my interview. But I did not regret speaking out. I still don’t.

The next interview I did was for the Daily Mail, despite my strong misgivings about the paper. The article was about birth trauma be PTSD and the journalist was wonderful. She gave me a lot more control over the tone and voice of the piece and I was very pleased with the result. It was a good article and I have no regrets.birth trauma in the media_ghostwritermummy.co.uk

Beyond these two interviews, I’ve had many many comments on this blog from people who simply do not understand birth trauma, or me. People who believe that what they have been through is a lot worse than anything I have  ever written about (and let’s face it that is as much as they will ever know about me, what I choose to share). People who want to claim victory over who owns the biggest battle scars. I’ve also had comments from people who want to hurt me. Who want to upset me. Want to stop me from writing about my experiences.

I won’t stop writing about birth trauma. And yet I’m not sure I will do another big interview like the BBC and the Daily Mail interviews. Not because I don’t think they will help, but because I’ve learned to look after me a little better.

Should we taking to the media about birth trauma? Absolutely yes. But only if we are in control, and unless we are writing the piece with absolutely truth and honesty we can never really have that control. Unless the journalist we’ve entrusted our story to has a very good understanding of birth trauma, it’s going to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

We can’t lump a woman’s story of birth trauma inside an article about positive birth or hypnobirthing techniques. We can’t lump it in with an article on obstetritians vs midwives. We can’t lump it in to an article debating the rise of C-sections. We have to share these stories on their own merits. With respect. And with dignity.

And if we’re asking whether or not women should indeed share their stories on their blogs, then of course my answer is absolutely yes. Because here, I have control. You can tell me that you don’t understand and I will strive harder to help you. You can tell me that you don’t agree and I will welcome the debate. You can tell me that you have suffered more than me and I will listen to your story, try to understand you a little better. In an article I have no control over I cannot do that. Only through blog can I be sure that my words cannot be twisted.

birth trauma in the media_ghostwritermummy.co.ukI tell you my truth. I hide nothing. I tell you because someone somewhere wants to hear it. Someone somewhere will find comfort in it. Someone somewhere will google ‘horrific birth’, find me and know that hey are not alone.

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I’d love your support in the 2016 blogging awards. Being nominated is a wonderful way to raise awareness of issues that matter, and with your support I can help give a voice to families who have suffered a traumatic birth. This will lead to better understanding for health care professionals when it comes to helping and supporting women and families. It will also lead to better understanding for us all, so that women like me can access support without judgement. Thank you!

Please click the links below to nominate me in the following categories: Inspire, Writer, Reader’s Choice, Best baby, Best Writer.

http://www.tots100.co.uk/nominate-in-the-2016-mad-blog-awards/

http://www.britmums.com/nomination-form-bibs-2016/

4 Comments

  1. Victoria
    March 31, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    I just want to thank you for being brave and speaking out about something like this, which is so controversial although Im not sure why.
    I’ve had two babies. My first was traumatic on paper (induction, days of labour, EMCS) but in reality was very positive. I was surrounded by wonderful midwives who really cared about everyone involved – Baby, me and husband. Also a fantastic aneasthetist and surgeon who were so kind and talked me through everything. I had an immediate and incredible bond.

    My second baby was born ‘naturally’, and supposedly was a textbook birth. I found it completely terrifying. I had an unpleasant midwife who ignored all my requests and questions, telling me to ‘calm down’, that my reaction to the pain would adversely affect the baby (?!?) It felt like ‘one flew over the cuckoos nest’. By the time the baby was born I was unable to even look at him. My husband held him for most of the time when I wasnt feeding. I actually think I hated him (the baby). She had kept blaming him for the pain (and for why she wouldnt give me any pain relief), saying things like ‘its up to baby how long it takes’ etc etc.
    I had constant flash backs, and my weight dropped to six and a half stone. It nearly destroyed my marriage as I – unfairly – blamed my husband for not doing more to support me during the labour, and to fight with her for me.
    My lovely lovely bouncing baby boy is the most wonderful thing in my life now, and I feel terrible that I had such awful feelings about him. I still struggle to eat as I often feel like my children would be better without a mother who could ever feel that way, despite how much I love them now.

    What you have done is so important and valuable. Thank you.

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      April 1, 2016 / 11:21 am

      Oh thank you so much for reading, and for your comment. I am truly so sorry that you had to go through all of that. Someone once said to me, well I had a c-section and I wasn’t traumatised so why should you be? And I think that just about sums up the apparent inability of people to realise that trauma is in the eye of the beholder. The way we’re treated, the way we’re spoken to, the way we’re supported (or not) are all so vital when we’re so vulnerable and scared. It sounds as though you really did not have the best medical team with you and I can see why you found the whole thing so traumatic.Did you ever have a debrief or any chance to talk through what happened? x x

  2. Claire
    August 26, 2016 / 10:32 am

    Hi, I’ve only just found your blog and wish I’d found it months ago. I blog too @themumjobblog on WordPress. I find it helps.
    You say exactly how I’m feeling. I had my son 13 months ago and it was traumatic and horrific like you describe. Rushed into theatre and he was dragged out with forceps poor boy and they put him on tummy and he was lifeless…so they whipped him off again and all the emergency alarms came on and a team of people were rushing in and I had to see my boy being given rescue breaths on a little table in the corner of the room 🙁 it was beyond awful and I felt like it was happening to someone else as I was drugged up so much. I just remember the midwives faces looking so worried and me asking about 100 times ‘is he OK is he ok’ after what was probably 10 seconds…felt like an hour he started crying and was given to me. I don’t remember much of this as was in and out of consciousness. I lost a lot of blood and nearly had to have a blood transfusion and I was being stitched up for a good hour. So all in all it was horrendous and I would never describe it as the best day of my life. I unfortunately won’t ever get the image of his lifeless face on my tummy but I hope that fades one day but it’s part of his story I suppose and he is suggested a feisty strong determined 13 month old now thank goodness so I was very lucky. But at the time it didn’t feel like that. I got a short debrief the next day from the consultant about what happened but I don’t remember much of what she said as I felt so ill from anemia and the trauma. I do want another baby but I worry about it of course and want to book a cesarean now because of what happened. Thanks for your posts they make me feel like I’m not alone. A lot of family and friends don’t talk about it with me as I think they find it difficult to know what to say. I’ve recently been seeing a counsellor who has helped but I still feel down and it’s stopped me from meeting mum friends and I’m not out the dark yet.

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      September 8, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      I’m so sorry for the late reply, and so sorry to hear what you’ve been through. I understand. Its hard, and harder still for others to understand because there is always the assumption that since baby is here now,healthy and happy that we should be too. My son will be 7 in december and I am only just having a debrief. I think its time. I hope that you can find the help and support you need. If you’re on Facebook, check out the Birth Trauma Association Facebook group, and on Twitter myself (as @maternitymattrs) and another lady (as @unfoldurwings) run #BirthTraumaChat on a monday at 8pm. Its to support women and families and you’re more than welcome to join in xx

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