Wednesday, 27 May 2015

My Labour was 'Short' and that Doesn't Make it Any Less of an Incredible Achievement.

Birth experiences are different for every woman, and indeed, different for every child a woman gives birth to, but there's one thing I'm sure every woman will agree on and that is, giving birth is an amazing, life changing and intense experience.

Over the years I've heard many opinions about my birth experiences and opinions on various other women's birth experiences. One opinion that has come up often is that I'm 'lucky' or that somehow birth is less of an achievement if the labour was 'short'. Giving birth to my children were two incredibly different experiences, both equally life changing but very, very different. My first labour and birth from first contraction to when my daughter was pulled up out of the birthing pool was five-and-a-half hours- definitely on the shorter side for a first birth as far as statistics go, but just because it was 'short' does not mean it was not incredibly intense and exhausting. From the very first contraction it was incredibly intense and required all my focus, in those five-and-a-half hours I threw up twice from the intensity, I couldn't wait to get into the birthing pool and when I was in it I had mum and Dave holding me up because I couldn't do it myself.
Now, the second time around was very different, I had a show in the early hours of the morning and the odd contraction like the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been getting every night for the previous couple of weeks. It felt like Braxton Hicks but I had a show so I was unsure if I was actually in labour or not. Fast forward a few hours and when morning came I felt like things were not going to happen that day, but after I thought it had all stopped the contractions came again with a little more intensity- but still nothing like that first contraction I had when I was in labour the first time. My second labour was challenging in different ways to my first, I was tired towards the end as I hadn't slept well and towards the end the contractions tripped over each other, never giving me a moment to rest; but I moved around a lot and gave birth standing up leaning over the bed without anyone holding me up which would have been unimaginable the first time round. From the time active labour started to when I pushed my sweet baby out all in one big push it was about five-and-a-half hours but if you include the early signs of labour that I didn't experience the first time round my labour was probably around 10 or so hours long (still on the 'short' side of statistics but twice as long as my first labour).

My 'short' labours were amazing and intense and just because they were 'short' does not mean that I didn't run a marathon so to speak. Being told that I'm just lucky for a short labour or hearing in general conversations the jealously and down playing of a woman's experience is not positive or supportive of the many and varied birth experiences that we as women have. Women who share their positive birth experiences or experiences of short labours do not mean to rub that experience in other women's faces, they are merely doing what we should all be able to do as women who have entered the important rite of passage of motherhood- that is, sharing our own experience. These are my thoughts and my experiences on this matter and overall I think that these things are said unconsciously or in an attempt to ease the distress of a long labour or bad experience, but I think on a cultural level there needs to be more care taken not to devalue someone else's experience whatever that may be in an attempt to make you at ease with your own experience.