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When I found out I was pregnant with my youngest child Benjamin, I knew he would almost definitely be my last baby. I already had two children, and I felt our family would be complete once I had given birth.
I had a bit of a rocky start to my pregnancy. Benjamin wasn’t planned, and I was on antidepressants at the time. Despite this, I was adamant I wanted a homebirth. My first labour was induced, and my water birth didn’t happen for my daughter after she fell asleep during labour (totally lazy that girl), and I dreamt of a nice, straightforward birth in our living room for what I planned to be my last time giving birth.
I was assigned a home birth midwife, who I found really kind and supportive, and six months into my pregnancy, I managed to come off my tablets, and soon after I was cleared for my home birth by my consultant. I was so pleased, and, as I reached full term, I happily hired a birth pool in preparation.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I had a couple of periods of reduced movement. Having always been a bit of a worrier, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and went in to be checked over. The second time, which was just two days before my due date, the midwife suggested I have a scan the next day just to make sure everything was ok, as I was so close.
As part of my consultant led care, I had been given additional growth scans, and during this scan we were told that Benjamin hadn’t grown much since our last scan several weeks before. They decided that it would be best to induce me before I had the chance to go overdue. They booked me in for the next morning, on my due date.
It all went so quickly, and all I was thinking about at the time was making sure my baby was born. I didn’t even stop to think about what this meant about my homebirth until that evening, when it all suddenly hit me. I wouldn’t be getting the home birth I had planned. I would instead be induced for the second time.
The next morning I headed to the hospital, where I was induced and spent a few hours on the ward watching Friends on my laptop before the familiar sensation of contractions began. Things ramped up very quickly from then on, and the staff barely had time to move me onto the labour ward.
I always go from 5-10cm very quickly, but this time it appeared that with every contraction, Benjamin was getting more and more distressed. The midwife, presumably concerned about this, demanded I stay flat on my back on the hospital bed, and told me I was not able to get up and move around.
She was busy trying to attach a clip to Benjamin’s head when I told her in no uncertain terms that I needed to give birth, and with three pushes, Benjamin was born. It was a whirlwind labour. It was painful. It was scary. Afterwards, I was informed that I would need to stay in for 72 hours for Benjamin to be monitored for withdrawal from my antidepressants.
I refused. I self-discharged myself. The same midwife who had kept me on the bed during my labour bombarded me with scare stories and statistics about the risks. It left me feeling incredibly bitter towards her, and the hospital in general.
Back at home, I tried to enjoy my new baby, but I struggled to get over the regret I was feeling about how the birth went. I had the painful reminder of the birth that didn’t happen when I had to return the birthing pool I had hired, having never used it. In the weeks that followed, instead of enjoying my new baby, I became obsessed with the idea that there was something wrong with Benjamin. I struggled to bond with him.
I felt let down by the hospital, and I felt a huge amount of guilt for not having the strength to push for the birth I had planned. I also felt frustrated that I had no answers about why Benjamin hadn’t grown much at the end of the pregnancy, or why he got so distressed during the labour.
These feelings lessened a little over time, but they have still been there in the background. Despite having three children, and not originally planning more kids, I felt myself wishing I could have another baby to get the closure I felt I would have if Benjamin’s birth had gone differently. Everytime I heard about a homebirth, I felt a pang within my heart.
When I heard that Lucy Parker offered birth trauma therapy, I knew it would be worth a shot. I didn’t feel I could truly move on from Benjamin’s birth until I came to terms with what happened. Lucy’s birth trauma therapy takes part over three sessions. The first is an initial video telephone call, in which she discusses whether the therapy is right for you, and pinpoints what you want to achieve from the therapy.
I will be honest, as somebody who suffers from anxiety, and hates speaking on the phone, let alone on video, I was dreading this call. However, Lucy put my mind at ease straight away. She was both friendly, but assertive during the 30 minute call, and managed to cover a lot of ground, encouraging me to speak about how the birth went, and how it has affected me, and continues to do so.
At the end of our call, Lucy summarised what we had discussed, and what I hoped to get from the next session, and we scheduled this in for the following week. Lucy was able to work around my schedule, and came to me to make things easier. Before our session, she sent over the link to a YouTube guided relaxation of hers, for me to listen to in advance, to get used to things. I managed to listen to this twice, and found it really did relax me.
Lucy asked me to put aside an extra half an hour after our hour long session, to be able to fully benefit from the therapy. When she arrived, we went over what we had discussed over the phone, and filled in some forms, covering any medical conditions I might have and reassuring me that the session would be confidential. Lucy then went over what we would be doing in the session, checked whether I needed the toilet or a drink, and asked me to get myself comfortable either sitting or lying down on the sofa. She explained that it may feel chilly whilst I was relaxed, so I grabbed a blanket and we were ready to begin.
Lucy talked me through the whole thing in a calm and relaxed voice. She remained totally professional, even when she had an unfortunate coughing fit halfway into things. I was so relaxed by this point that I barely registered the noise. I was able to shut everything else out and focus on what Lucy had asked me to do, which was to replay the events of Benjamin’s birth, as if watching it on a TV screen, then watching it all in reverse and back again.
Whilst I was in the state of relaxation, I felt like I was spinning, it was such an odd sensation but not uncomfortably so. I felt extremely light and happy. When Lucy counted me back, I felt I slowly came back to reality, and opened my eyes with a huge smile on my face. Lucy explained that we had one further session, which would be over the phone again, to ensure that my thought pattern had truly changed towards the birth, but the initial result was positive.
I felt instantly like a weight had been lifted, and this continued the next day, when I felt so much more relaxed going about my day to day routine. I was smiling more, and took time out to enjoy Benjamin alongside working in the daytime.
We had scheduled the follow up session for the next Friday, as Lucy explained it was best to leave 7-10 days between the sessions. The session was over a video call, like the first one, and I felt a lot more at ease by this point talking to Lucy as we went over the last two sessions, and how I had been feeling since our meeting the week before had finished.
I explained how odd a sensation it had been, that I had felt more smiley, relaxed and happier in general since, and that I had felt I could focus on and enjoy my children and Ed more on a day to day basis. I had also been to visit a friend and her new baby earlier in the week, and I hadn’t once felt jealous or like I wanted or needed another baby, as I am certain I would have done before. I was able to hold the baby and enjoy the cuddles without feeling upset or resentful because I didn’t get the birth that I wanted. It was odd, but such a lovely sensation, to no longer have those feelings.
After we had recapped, Lucy explained that, in order to cement these new feelings I had been experiencing, she would do one final guided relaxation with me over the phone. I propped up my phone against something and lay down as Lucy once again took me into a state of deep relaxation.
This time, the spinning sensation wasn’t as strong, but I did feel like I was detached again, and although I could hear Lucy, she sounded far away. By the time Lucy was bringing me back, I felt I had been in a daze. As I came back fully, a very strong scene was playing in my mind of me playing with Benjamin and him giggling, which made me smile. When I told Lucy, she said she hadn’t told me to think of Benjamin at all but that she had the previous session.
The session ended with Lucy going over what we had done, explaining that I could use the tools I had learnt with her from the sessions in future if I ever needed to again, and reassuring me that she would be available to talk to, if I ever felt I needed to, and reminding me that there was a Facebook page she ran as well, should I wish to use this for support.
I came away from the session feeling happy and at peace. I had a few tasks to do around the house and I was singing and humming as I went, which is totally abnormal for me as my mind is usually all over the place. I think it was a sign that Lucy had really helped to take some of that noise away, and had helped me to relax and enjoy life a bit more in the process!
Lucy’s birth trauma therapy is priced at £199, which is fairly reasonable when you consider a spa weekend would be around the same and the results from this are more long lasting. If the initial sessions don’t bring you the results you had hoped for, Lucy is prepared to follow up with another session. As with most therapies involving the mind, there is an element of what you put in you will get out. If you go into things with a pessimistic attitude, you may not get as much out of your session. If you are interested in discussing whether the therapy is right for you, you can check out Lucy’s website or contact her on her Facebook page Dorset Birth Trauma Recovery.
I was provided with the Birth Trauma Therapy for the purpose of this review, however all words are my own. Images taken by Hey Little You Studios – Ferndown.