There’s little I hate more than hearing someone’s birth story.
It’s up there with last night’s dream, the loft extension, or what your wedding dress is going to be like for topics of conversation I try to avoid.
And yet I think we need to get better at being more honest and open about birth.
This will hurtThe BBC’s controversial comedy-drama, set in a maternity ward, has been criticized for keeping a generation of women from giving birth.
Yes, it’s graphic and frighteningly gory. But that’s birth.
TV tends to show a woman with a slightly sweaty forehead who, after a pep talk, “Push again!” shoots out a perfectly clean baby in five seconds.
The reality is more blood-soaked floors, slashed stomachs, and a doctor who “carries a woman like Kermit the Frog,” as series creator Adam Kay memorably put it.
Before I had my daughter Blake in 2020 I thought I was prepared. I attended childbirth classes and did a hypnobirthing class.
I had ideas about what I thought I wanted (natural birth = good, medical intervention = bad).
I even spent a couple of evenings massaging my perineum with oil and gently stretching it with my finger to “prevent tearing.”
Cut to me lying flat on my back, covered in blood and vomit, in a brightly lit room full of paramedics as one of them brute force pulled me apart.
Even though I knew I probably wouldn’t be “breathing the baby out” in a candlelit pool like in the videos I watched, I was still massively unprepared for what my body was going through.
At times during my labor I was so shocked by the pain that I actually became convinced that I was going to die (and then decided that death would be sweet, blessed relief).
I was bruised, bruised and bleeding. The whole experience felt medieval.
And yet I got off lightly compared to many of my friends who were just as clueless as I was.
A friend was horrified that a forceps delivery left her baby with a cut on the forehead.
Another was so shocked by the possible side effects on the consent form for her epidural that she almost didn’t sign it.
And yet these are all things that we could recommend to pregnant women in advance.
We need more basic facts, not breathing exercises and birth balls.
Of course, going into labor positively and confidently is important — and many women have an empowering time doing so.
Giving birth was the most physically traumatic event of my life
Holly Willoughby recently said she “loved” and “really enjoyed” all three of her works. Good for you.
But we also have to prepare and support women when they don’t.
It is impossible to predict how your labor will go. Every woman (and every baby) is different.
And yet, just last month, hospitals in England were told to abandon years-old targets for “normal births”.
It will be even harder to change the unspoken pain shame that still exists for those who choose epidurals, or the sense of failure many feel when their labor doesn’t go to plan.
Giving birth was the most physically traumatic event of my life. I still have flashbacks and it doesn’t surprise me that approximately 9% of women experience postpartum PTSD.*
This Is Going To Hurt may be a TV show, but it’s still more accurate preparation for the reality of childbirth than pregnant women are currently getting.
And that says it all.
● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
This week I am…
Hear from… Serial
The podcast’s latest series details the Trojan horse scandal that shook schools in Birmingham in 2013 – and I’m thrilled.
Lovingly… Silver Cross Motion 360
This clever car seat rotates all around and is suitable for children from newborn to 12 years old.
Obsessed with… Skin Republic foot scrub
Put those socks on and watch that dead skin flake off over seven gross but mesmerizing days.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/17802278/childbirth-kate-wills-honest-discussion/ The birth was so bad I thought I was going to die, my doctor pulled me apart with brute force