My eldest daughter this week told me she wanted just one child. “Why just one darling?” I asked out of curiosity. “Because I know it hurts but I know you really want to be a granny one day so I would do it once just for you.”
She’s only seven.
I told her giving birth was not something she really needed to worry about or think about now. Or for at least 20 years. “But I only want a girl though,” she added. “I won’t be pleased if I have smelly boy,” she added, looking pointedly at her three-year-old brother.
This conversation did start to make me think – especially about being a granny! Having only had the last child just over a year ago I don’t think becoming a grandmother is really a top priority just yet for me.
I also started thinking about giving birth and was it really a painful experience? At the time it was excruciating. But for some reason you forget that pain – otherwise I think we would all just have one child.
Nature seems to trick you into thinking it wasn’t that bad really. And for some lucky women it isn’t. They just breathe their way through the whole process and one tiny push later out comes a beautiful baby. And most likely they have just had a few twinges without any full blown contractions which leave you staggering for breath and doubled over in agony with barely any time to catch your breath before the next one hits.
I had my last two children at home in my bedroom with my husband hovering nervously over me as I tried to remember the words of my yoga teacher about “breathing away the pain” as I lurched through the final stages of my labours.
Having attended a natural birthing course with me (much to his amusement at the time) he had clearly remembered some of the mantra from the teacher.
“You need to get on all fours and sway like a donkey swishing its tail,” he helpfully commended to me at one point. “Get lost” I spat out at him through gritted teeth as I manically reached for the bin to be violently sick into. No one warns you labour can make you so sick.
Alongside my faithful husband – who even videoed the whole process for me so I could watch it back later – were a team of home birth midwives. In my first experience with my son I couldn’t have had a nicer experience. But by baby three the whole thing was just not as great. One of the midwives was even trying to persuade me to go to hospital!
That and a trainee midwife who I had never met coming into the room at the crucial moment and the constant mobile phone calls the team were taking all the time, makes me look back and wonder if I would have been better off in hospital.
I should have opted for a doula – a lady who helps keep you calm during the whole process. In olden times women only ever gave birth with other women present – ladies in waiting if you were a queen, but always mothers and sisters and sisters-in-law. These women, history dictates, made giving birth much more natural and easy for ladies.
Although I would thoroughly recommend having hubby there, having experienced women there to just help you keep calm and cool really would be the ideal.
Now Sheffield City Council is looking for women who have the time and passion to make a difference to come forward to help expectant mothers. The Sheffield Doula project provides support for mums and their family during pregnancy.
The scheme is still in its early days but already 21 women have expressed an interest following an open day earlier this week. For more information go to www.sheffield.gov.uk/doulas