I'll start today's post by explaining to you my personal situation in regards to my up and coming birth of baby number two aka 'Bear'. We live in the large seaside town of Eastbourne on the south coast, it has a district general hospital that covers a very wide area which includes several large, neighbouring towns. Until recently the hospital included a delivery suite (consultant-led), special care baby unit, paediatric ward and maternity ward. In April big changes happened and all of these services were terminated or downgraded; apparently this had been an ongoing struggle for years though I only moved to the area in 2009 so I sort of only came in at the end, as it were. Now our hospital has a paediatric ward that only works standard office hours, a midwife-led delivery unit, no special care for babies and no maternity ward though the day unit is still the same (though eerily quiet...). Our nearest replacement services for special care babies, paediatrics and consultant-led birthing are now in Hastings. It's about a forty-minute drive, however the distance isn't the issue. It's the route; a single-lane, twisting, turning country road that follows the coastline (though not along the coast) down through another large, busy town and then on to Hastings. It is a notorious road locally that jams easily and regularly during busy periods. At the moment it is the only route between the two. It jams so badly that even an ambulance on blue lights isn't guaranteed passage through.
It has caused a major upset within our community and in many cases, divided opinion dramatically. In the chaos that ensued, there were a lot of negative stories and scare-mongering flying around from both sides. Because I'm expecting my second baby and haven't lived here all my life, I was able to take a step back from it all and think rationally, though I know that there were a lot of scared first-time mums out there. Where my parents live there is no local hospital, women all over the country regularly travel over forty minutes to give birth, this is not a new thing. However, the local people here have always grown up with this service right on their doorstep and I can understand that it is very frightening to have that taken away. I know that a lot of parents with children who have ongoing health problems are suffering due to the change to paediatric services, it is something that needs to be addressed, however I'm here today to talk about giving birth.
So, in my area now, if you are a low-risk pregnancy you can either opt to give birth in Eastbourne under midwife-only care (this means no epidural, no consultants on call in case of an emergency) or you can travel to Hastings (if Hastings is full, it's Brighton which is another 40 minutes along the coast in the other direction). If you are of medium or high risk, you must go to Hastings or book yourself under the antenatal care of the team at Brighton and transfer to there. In an emergency situation, an ambulance will take you to wherever has space, regardless of distance. This could see, in high-birth periods, people travelling as far as West Sussex or Kent.
So, anyways, that's that situation. The point of me telling you all this is that it got me thinking, and I spoke to some other expectant mothers; giving birth, why so many horror stories? I feel like everywhere I turn I read tale after tale of birthing woe and I know that things happen and it's a scary world out there but c'mon, really? Why are there first time mums out the only being fed the scary stuff? It's all so daunting; SIDSs, forceps, cesareans, complications and lets not even go into this whole Bounty a mutiny nonsense that's kicking off at the moment...
Why do we do it? As mothers why do we shout from the rooftops our horrific experiences and keep quiet about our great ones? Would, in twenty years time, we want our daughters to be terrified in the run up to giving birth? I'd be horrified...
And so this is me, appealing for mums to share their birthing stories. The good, the bad and the most-likely ugly tales of how your little darling/s came into this world. Some will be scary, sure...but some will be flawless and all will be honest, and that's the goal here, to share true, honest and frank accounts of what it's really like to go through the most natural experience on Earth.
If you'd like to contribute your birthing story to my new feature My Story Monday and share it with (and hopefully help) others please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject 'My Story Monday'.
Labels: Baby, birth, labour, My story Monday