Mums-to-be deserve to know the truth about giving birth

When it comes to giving birth, is there such a thing as TMI? Can you handle the truth?

Does hearing about the pain, the blood and the potential problems make you unnecessarily afraid, or is it just preparing you for the reality of what you are about to face?

This week Catriona Jones, a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Hull, said that when it comes to birth stories, women are being filled with tales of horror which is making them fear labour. 

She said social media could be driving a rise in tokophobia – an extreme fear of pregnancy and childbirth. 

“You just have to Google childbirth and you’re met with a tsunami of horror stories,” Catriona told the British Science Festival on Wednesday.

“If you go onto any of the Mumsnet forums, there are women telling their stories of childbirth – ‘Oh, it was terrible’, ‘it was a bloodbath’, ‘this and that happened’. I think that can be quite frightening for women to engage with and read about.”

I could not disagree more with this call to censor the sharing of information about pregnancy and labour. 

Far too many women are still being sold a lie that giving birth should be natural and pain-free.

But the truth is that it does not feel like that for so many women. 

Some of us didn’t “just know” when to push and some of us felt totally out of control. Some of us cope with the entire experience far better when we have pain relief. 

I’ve shared my own birth stories on the blog before, you can read birth story one here and birth story two here. 

From my own experience, the best way to approach giving birth is to have all of the information, to talk about it with others who have done it before you, and then use what you have learned to figure out how you are going to cope with it. 

Giving birth isn’t something you can bury your head in the sand about. If you are pregnant, it’s going to happen!

The very suggestion that women shouldn’t be talking about birth, that we shouldn’t be told what it’s really like, is actually pretty insulting. 

Trauma is far more likely to emerge in a situation that took you completely by surprise. 

If someone were to give me a vegetarian burger to eat and claim it’s juicy beef, I would feel thoroughly let down when I take that first bite. Just because you told me it’s veggie, doesn’t mean my brain will believe that when I bite down. When something doesn’t taste how you were told it would, you’re going to feel pretty miffed. 

(Please forgive this analogy, I just take my meat really seriously!)

The same goes for childbirth. If someone tells you it should be a magical experience, filled with calm and wonder, and you end up screaming for 72 hours before having an emergency C-section, you’re going to feel like you were sold a lie. 

So let’s talk about giving birth more, not less. We need to know the truth about giving birth. Warts and all. We are grown women who are about to become parents, we CAN handle the truth.

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1 Comment

  1. September 16, 2018 / 10:03 am

    This is a really good post. I was dreading giving birth, but also felt a lot of pressure to aim for a natural birth without pain medication. In the end I had an epidural and it was all fairly straightforward, so my worries had been for nothing.

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