Early on during our hypnobirthing course, we establish that other people’s negative birth stories are the enemy.
We wonder WHY?? Why do they wanna tell me about tearing, and bleeding, and shitting in front of their partners, leaving their dignity at the door and throwing their plans out the window etc etc etc etc ad infinitum???
We get super clear that these highly emotional, super triggering tales are not only unhelpful, but actually do us harm,
Why? Because even if you rationally brush it off as irrelevant to you, your subconcious remembers. That part of your brain that’s designed to keep you safe keeps hold of that info, and gets very attached to it. It’s trying to serve you- it says to you- this sounds dreadful, don’t go near this experience.
All well and good until you want a baby. And then your body will respond as if ALL THE STORIES are true for YOU. They’re as valid to your subconcious as if they were your own memories. Even if you have NO IDEA what actually happened, or why… in fact, many women have no idea themselves about what really happened, or whether it could have been avoided. Such is the oppression and perpetual lack of resource of the system.
So you hear HEADLINES. The scary concepts are introduced, and you pad them out, with what you think you know, and what you imagine. You catastrophise. You FREAK OUT.
And so when labour begins, the FEAR KICKS IN. The tension, the adrenaline, the stress and resistance. Then we get compliance with bullshit societal conditioning about how birth is layered on top, and we are screwed.
So it’s fair if you find it surprising that I also talk to my clients about the trials and tribulations of my own perineum, when the headlines there are not pretty either. But the DETAILS… this is where the secrets are, and they are important ones. (Not secrets about my vagina, don’t worry). Secrets about lessons learnt that they can benefit from, both practically, and from a mindset perspective.
It is VERY important to me that women leave our courses feeling absolutely brimming with their own power, YES, AND prepared to accept any birth that may prove right for them and their baby further down the line. It’s important to confront the undesirable. Burying our heads in the sand of our dream births/ considering an emergency c-section in special circumstances to be the only outcomes it, quite frankly, stupid. We work with intelligent women. They are prepared to take responsibility for themselves, and they know that this means exploring how they might handle various scenarios.
So. Settle in. 3rd degree tear number one. Louis’s birth was not easy. The hypnobirthing we had under our belts saved us from a full blown trauma, and provided all the good in the experience, but we were not equipped for a birth in the grey. We were not prepared for my body fancying a bit of bleeding with every surge- not enough for it to be an emergency, or special, initially, but over time it became a real issue.
The long and short of it is that I came under immense pressure, from some extremely unkind and patronising midwives and Drs, to get him out very quickly, even though every indication was that all was well. Worn down, hour after hour, I gave in, and pushed like my baby’s life depended on it, in a weird side lying position on the bed, whilst other people held my legs and screamed at me for doing it wrong. He ended up flying out in one go. Not good. And utterly avoidable.
I was deeply troubled by that 3a tear, because the discomfort and follow up care that came with it served as a constant reminder of the way I’d been treated. The way I had retreated and been shouted down. The way I had been laughed at. Screamed at. Pulled at. All without good need. For a long time I attributed the long term discomfort to the tear itself, which healed perfect;y over time. I misunderstood what was actually going on there.
Because fast forward 3 years to 3rd degree tear number 2. Rory’s birth was absolutely brilliant. He was born at home, in water, fully and quietly supported by 2 amazing midwives. So why the tear? I had a chunk of a baby, with a fair sized head, with a fist on top, and God knows what going on with the cord in amongst all that. There was a degree of ‘hands on’ required.
It was completely, and utterly unavoidable.
Now of course I would LOVE not to have torn. Of course I would. I’m not suggesting it was just awesome and amazing because it happened on my own terms etc.
BUT. 2 things I want women to know.
I really didn’t mind. It was a bit annoying having to go to hospital. The actual injury, and the repair, was fine. I was entirely preoccupied by a general sense of how brilliant me and my husband and midwives were. How utterly empowering it had been to birth in a way that suited me. What a raw and incredible, life affirming experience we had enjoyed.
AND. For me, both times, the tearing was painless in the moment. When your nerve endings are so tightly compressed around your baby’s head, they just stop communicating with your brain. So I didn’t know it had happened, during or immediately after.
That second time, in the weeks that followed, any time it smarted a bit I didn’t get those feelings of vulnerability or despair that had plagued me the first time. Instead, this was a reminder of my strength and resilience. My courage and endurance. The capacity I had within me to create and bring new life and carry on.
This shift in perspective I’d created by using hypnobirthing to prepare for birth in a really flexible, all encompassing and intelligent way meant that even a tear could be considered positively.
So I will talk about my tears. I’ll tell you all the things you can consider doing to reduce the likelihood, I’ll tell you how to manage best afterwards, I’ll tell you that it’s possible to recover entirely and be ‘good as new’ and that if you don’t, there is help available.
We believe that women seize confidence and power through being truly, and fully informed. We don’t shy away from challenging topics- there will be too many headlines being thrown at you on the topic for you to ignore, so we will hold your hand and stare into the truth of it, taking the fear away with the mystery. Tearing isn’t ideal. But if it happens because it was inevitable, you can handle it. You are an absolute mother.
(If you’re wondering, yes, your partner probably will find me talking about my vagina bit odd at first, but will quickly get past it…)