It matters. Of course it matters, more than anything else. When you give birth, the most important thing is that you and your child come out the other side, alive.
Alive is GOOD. It’s the BEST, for most of us, most of the time.
But is that ALL that matters? Really?
Does it matter that you feel like a pregnancy without a person attached? Does it matter that no one seems curious, concerned or even interested in your thoughts and feelings as you embark on this incredible adventure?
Does it matter that everyone has an opinion about your body? Does it matter that you feel like a child being told what you are allowed and not allowed to do?
Does it matter that on paper you have choices, but in practice you feel persuaded, manipulated, cajoled and coerced into things?
Does it matter that on the induction ward you feel alone and lonely? Does it matter that you feel abandoned, confused or let down, promised things that never materialise or told something different by every member of staff you meet (and you meet MANY).
Does it matter that you wait, and wait and W… A… I… T?
Does it matter that you need support or clinical care but you’re fobbed off, or no one comes? Does it matter that you are confined to the bed when every fibre of your being is urging you up, up, up, to rock and rotate your aching hips?
Or does is matter that you feel hurried? Does it matter that people keep prodding and poking your most sensitive parts, not stopping when asked? Does it matter when the infection sets in, or your blood pressure spikes, or the gentle canter of your baby’s heart turns into a gallop or a slow trot in protest?
Does it matter that they talk over you, about you, as you lie on your back, legs akimbo, tubes snaking around your body like vines seeking the sunlight?
Does it matter that you feel you are falling, down, down, down – further and further from the kind of birth you wanted for you and your baby? Does it matter that you worked for this birth, doing your research, making your decisions, understanding risks, exploring alternatives, keeping your body fit and healthy, learning to stay calm…and now all that seems like a distant dream and you are drowning?
Does it matter when staff are not warm and kind? Does it matter that you feel so lonely, surrounded by so many people?
Does it matter when they cut you? Does it matter when you have trouble ‘down there’ for the rest of your life? Does it matter that sex is painful or not quite as fun?
Do the days on the postnatal ward, without your family to support you, matter? Does the heat and noise matter? The cries of the babies, the call bells never answered, the wilting sandwich uneaten or food missed completely? Do the bloody unchanged sheets matter? What about the overflowing catheter bag? Does the heavy handed treatment matter? Or the threats of social services just because you want to go home?
Does it matter that the “healthy baby” you take home frets and fights you as you try to nurse? Does it matter that your baby seems perpetually on high alert and never stops crying?
Does it matter that YOU can never stop crying? Does it matter that you dream of the birth and wake, sweating, night after night?
Does it matter that you can’t get your baby to feed? Does it matter that this makes you despise your body even more? Does it matter that you feel guilty and unworthy of being a mother?
Does it matter that your mental health is in decline? Does it matter that all we can do is give you little pills to paint a smile on your face and plaster over the cracks?
Does it matter that somewhere, deep inside, you blame your partner, for siding with the professionals who assaulted your body and baby?
Or does it matter that you blame yourself?
Does it matter that you struggle to bond with your baby? Does it matter that you are blamed for this? Does it matter that you find yourself wondering if your baby would be better without you?
Does it matter that this “healthy baby” will be formula fed, with all the increased risks of allergy, infection and obesity, to name but a few? Does it matter that you will have an increased lifetime risk of all female cancers because you weren’t able to breastfeed?
Does it matter that every time you hear birth mentioned you sweat and shiver or shake with fury?
Does it matter that your lover feels unable to reach you, struggles to comfort you and has trauma dreams of their own?
Does it matter that, years later, faced with having another baby, you almost wet yourself in fear at the prospect of giving birth again? Does it matter that someone laughs and calls you silly, for even thinking you could have any control over birth?
Does it matter that your older child wants her old mummy back – the one who laughed and played?
Does it matter that 50 years later, on a bus, you grip the arm of a young pregnant girl and hiss “birth is a nightmare, but all that matters is a healthy baby.”
Does it matter that midwives go home every day and SOB, knowing all this, yet unable to change it?
Does it matter that society sees none of this? That you are invisible to government and NHS management? Does it matter that no one sees the ripple effects across lifetimes and down, through the generations?
Does it matter that the PINNACLE of our society’s aspirations is live babies, when this should be the MINIMUM requirement of our maternity services.
Does it matter that it feels like you don’t matter?
Does it matter? Does it matter? Does it matter?
More to read on this subject:
Tell me what you think – I’m all ears. What MATTERS to you?