For any pregnant woman, the first midwife appointment is probably always going to be a pretty big deal.

For someone with extreme health anxiety, however, plus a generous dose of what I’m starting to suspect would probably be best described as Tokophobia (fear of pregnancy and childbirth), it’s an even bigger one. This person, after all, has the power to completely change the next seven months for me, and I went into that first midwife appointment feeling pretty nervous because of that. I knew that if the midwife was sympathetic to my fears, and willing to advocate for me on some of the decisions I have to make, she could be the best ally I’d have in this journey (Terry aside, obviously).

If, however, she turned out to be the kind of person who’d just be all, “Now, don’t be a silly girl: baby comes first!”, before trying to strong-arm me into something I didn’t want, then that could easily have the power to destroy the last remains of my sanity, and condemn me to seven months of even GREATER terror than I was already experiencing.

So, yeah, I was pretty worried…. and, honestly, a little confused. All of the pre-appointment literature I’d been sent seemed to revolve around me deciding which hospital I’d give birth in, which seemed a little bit premature to me – er, forgive the pun. I mean, I was still only 8 weeks at that point, and there’s SO much that could still go wrong at that stage that neither Terry nor I had really allowed ourselves to start thinking of the pregnancy as “real”. Making decisions about childbirth, on the other hand, seems very REAL indeed, and, to be perfectly honest,I wasn’t sure I was ready for that: it seemed like tempting fate. I obviously knew that if something went wrong at that stage, nothing would to stop me feeling devastated – I mean, it’s not like I’d be thinking, “Oh well, it’s not like I’d picked a hospital or anything!” – but I also knew that the more ‘real’ it all started to feel to me, the harder it would be if the worst did happen: you get the picture, I’m sure.

With that said, the choice of hospital is something that’s really important to me, and it was something that I wanted to address sooner rather than later, to be able to stop myself worrying obsessively about it, so while I was worried about the whole “tempting fate” thing, I was also quite keen to talk to someone about my fears, and see if anything could be done to help.

So, my main issue here is that the policy in our area is that you’re expected to give birth in the hospital closest to your home. This would generally seem like sound logic to me, except for two important points:

  1. I have a phobia of hospitals – and of childbirth.

and

2. Our local hospital has a policy of not allowing partners to stay with you at the hospital after a certain time of night: I think it’s around 10pm. I think exceptions are made if you’re in the final stages of labour at that time of night, but in general, they will ask your partner to leave as soon as the clock strikes 10 – after which you’re on your own – even if you’ve just given birth, or are in the early stages of labour.

This is something that strikes me as so unnecessarily  cruel that I wouldn’t have believed it could be a hospital policy, until I saw it happen to some of my friends. I totally get that it would be inappropriate for partners to be there overnight on a shared ward, obviously, but I also find it hard to understand why anyone would think that NOT having the support of your partner would be the best thing for either mother OR baby, and it’s something I’ve been worrying about quite obsessively.

Quite honestly, I don’t think I would cope well on my own, under the circumstances, and the thought that I could quite literally be stuck in a room and told to get on with it, without anyone there to support me (This has actually happened to friends of mine, even ones who’ve just had traumatic births, or who were in the early stages of labour etc, so it’s not an idle worry. I know people will probably just tell me I won’t care when the time comes, but all I can say is that the various friends who had this experience DID care, and none of them have health anxiety or a phobia of hospitals, either…) actually made me delay the decision to even TRY to get pregnant for quite a few years, and the only thing that helped reassure me was reading that the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which is the next-closet hospital to home, DOES allow partners to be present throughout, and that I would probably have the option of giving birth there.

The ERI also has a much more specialised unit which deals with what they describe as “complex births and caesarean sections,” and while there’s nothing so far to suggest that mine would be a “complex birth,” my health anxiety obviously tell me that it definitely WILL be, so I find myself in a very contradictory kind of position, i.e:

  1. I am absolutely terrified of hospitals.

but…

2. I want to give birth in a hospital. Ideally one with the best, most advanced surgical team on hand, for the complex medical emergency I am SURE will unfold.

I also want to know that someone I trust will be with me at all times (Well, at all times that I want them to be with me, obviously: I would rather go to the bathroom etc on my own, although I’m told that I probably won’t care about that much either, when the time comes, so…) (That actually freaks me out, too, by the way. I can’t even imagine a pain SO great that I won’t care about pooping on the table or whatever. WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!): ideally Terry, who is the person who is best able to calm me down when I start freaking out. Without this, I will… well, I will freak out, basically.

So, I went into the midwife appointment with all of these issues swirling around in my head, along with a very real understanding of how totally crazy I was going to sound to this poor woman, who probably thought she was just going to meet a nice, normal pregnant lady, and who’d find herself faced instead with a hysterical hypochondriac, utterly convinced that, by getting pregnant, she’d essentially just condemned herself to certain death.

first midwife appointment - NHS choices booklet

(Well, this explains A LOT…)

I needn’t have worried.

As it turned out, the midwife was absolutely lovely, and seemed to instantly get where I was coming from with my anxiety, and with my many hospital-related fears. She was quick to reassure me that there was no need to worry about any of this. “Our aim,” she told me, “Is to do whatever we have to do to get you through this safely and happily, and we’ll do whatever’s necessary to achieve that.” (I was going to ask for a miniature pony next to my hospital bed at this point, but luckily I caught Terry’s eye in time…)

She went on to say that, while the local hospital DOES, indeed, have a “no partners” policy, this is about practicality rather than outright cruelty (I should say here that I didn’t ACTUALLY think they did it just to mean, although it did sound that way in some of the stories I’d heard…), and they’ve actually just been issued with new guidelines stating that every effort should be made to allow partners to remain at the hospital as long as possible. Unfortunately, those rules won’t come into effect until after my due date, but she said that, given the effect my anxiety is likely to have on me, it shouldn’t be an issue for Terry to stay with me as long as needed.

(I know I sound like a complete prima-dona with this: I’m honestly not trying to demand special treatment just for the hell of it, or because I think I’m super-special – my anxiety about hospitals and medical situations, particularly childbirth, is so overwhelming that it’s really important for me to have someone there to support me, who knows how to best handle the situation. I feel so bad about being difficult, and I know how it all must sound to people who haven’t had to deal with severe phobias like this, but I’ve been worrying about this since before I got pregnant – LONG before I got pregnant, really – so it was a huge comfort to me to know that help is available!)

(And no, home birth or midwife-led units aren’t really an options here, as I’m convinced I’ll end up needing an emergency c-section or something, and I need to know I’ll be close enough to surgical care to not die en route.)

The other thing I wanted to discuss was my phobia of general anaesthetics. As I described to the midwife, I am generally able to cope with medical procedures themselves (although, of course, I don’t have much to go on here, so I’m really just thinking about things like having blood taken, getting stitches, etc): it’s the thought of being rendered unconscious that absolutely terrifies me – and, to put this in context, when I was told my last pregnancy was ectopic, and that surgery was a possibility, I told the consultant that I would rather they just let me die. Again, totally ridiculous – and I know that – but the phobia is THAT bad, so one of the things that has been really worrying me here is the possibility of needing an emergency C-section, which I know is often done under general anaesthetic.

I was expecting the midwife to react here with the same amusement/bafflement most people have when they hear about this phobia, but, again, she couldn’t have been nicer or more understanding. She said that one option would be to have measures in place which would ensure that, if I gave birth naturally, it would never be allowed to progress to the stage where an emergency c-section would be necessary: so, basically, if it seemed like I was possibly going to end up needing a cesarean, I’d not be allowed to continue to labor, and they’d (hopefully) have enough time to administer a spinal block, and do the c-section that way.

Another option, which would more or less eliminate the risk of general anaesthetic, would be to have an elective c-section. I know I’ll get a lot of strong opinions about this, and that most of them will be from people wanting to scare me out of it (Please, please don’t try to do this, by the way: I know it’s an emotive subject, but given that, even with the best will in the world, I could STILL end up having to have a c-section, regardless of how I feel about it, it would be actively cruel to try to scare me any more than I already am!), but honestly, it does sound like a possible option, so I’m not going to dismiss it out of hand, even although I know I’m supposed to be reeling backwards in horror at the very suggestion, and crying over the idea of missing out on the opportunity to try to expel a live person out of my body.

That’s just not me, though, I’m afraid. I’m really not the earth mother type, and I honestly don’t give a crap how the baby gets out, as long it’s OK, and we’re both alive at the end of it. (There’s a birth plan section in the folder they’ve given me, and all I can think to write in it is, “BOTH BE ALIVE.”) I’m doing this because I want to have a baby, not a “birth experience,” and although I’m sure this will make me an absolute monster in some people’s eyes, as long as we both it make it through the experience alive, I don’t intent to feel even a shred of guilt over how it all goes down – honestly, I just feel really lucky to be able to do this in a time and place where medical advancements have made childbirth so much safer, and where I know that help will be available if I need it.

The outcome of all of this, is that the midwife’s referred me to a consultant to discuss the various options for birth (This is apparently standard for my age group anyway, as I’m automatically classed as higher risk due to my age), and she’s also going to refer me for some kind counselling: I can’t remember the exact name of the department, but it seemed to be specifically for people who are pregnant and dealing with anxiety, so hopefully that should be another source of support.

The rest of the appointment was fairly routine: the midwife took some blood, plus a urine sample (Because of my health anxiety, this kind of thing would normally scare me to death, because I’d be convinced the results would show I had cancer, or some other hideous disease), but while I DID spend the next few days feeling vaguely anxious about the results (They all came back clear, by the way…), I actually managed to deal with it better than expected. I think the fact that I know I’m pregnant, not ill, is helping me in this respect, so long may that continue.

Other than that, most of the time was taken up with paperwork, which involved both Terry and I answering lengthy questions about our medical histories (“Are you related?” was one of them…), and those of our nearest and dearest. We left clutching a giant pile of literature, which Terry will have to flick through before I do, just in case there are any other images like this one:

OMFG

Reassuring, huh? Either this chick is just seeing her belly for the first time, or labour is really freaking traumatic: thanks, NHS!

[P.S. Speaking of things that are traumatic… I know a lot of people reading this haven’t experienced health anxiety before, but, it basically prevents me from being able to rationalise things the way “normal” people do: my anxiety is a form of OCD, so when I hear a traumatic story about childbirth or miscarriage, say, I will obsess over it to the point where the anxiety it causes is really debilitating. I’m not for a second trying to minimise anyone’s experiences, and I know no one would intentionally try to upset me, but I would really, really appreciate it if you could avoid posting traumatic/sad stories in my comments/social media etc – even ones with happy outcomes, as the “broken” part of my brain will just skim over that and choose to obsess over the traumatic element instead – fun times, huh? Thanks so much for understanding!]
40 Comments
  1. You are amazing. Just saying. You are creating life and that is amazing. But you are also amazing for sharing your story with us all especially when it is so personal and causes you such anxiety. So don’t forget that you are amazing 🙂
    Have you read the Positive Birth Book? I would totally recommend it as she explains lots of pregnancy and birth things that I hadn’t even thought of. But most importantly she helps you make Birth plans for every eventuality not just your ideal so that you are in control what ever happens. 🙂

    1. I haven’t read anything at all – I have to be really careful about how much information I expose myself to, because a lot of it’s really frightening to me, even although when it seems totalling innocuous to people who don’t have health anxiety! I’m mostly just trying not to think too much about birth at this stage – just taking it one day at a time until I can speak to the consultant and see what they recommend!

  2. I’m so glad to hear that your midwife is being so understanding and supportive. I hope everyone you encounter along this process can be the same.

  3. That’s a revolting policy for a hospital to have! I was admitted overnight to an antenatal ward at 27 weeks and their “kicking out time” was also 10pm, however, I was waiting on the extremely busy night staff to give me their first check over etc and they happily let my fiance stay until after 11, just so he could go away knowing everything was still OK. I was mostly in for observation at the time but that’s exactly how it should be. No woman should be left without her birth partner during any point in her labour (or at any time when something important is going on with the pregnancy or baby).

    I’m hoping for a midwife led unit birth but I have the comfort of knowing the labour ward and consultants are three minutes away on the floor below.

  4. What an awful policy to have, each person should be looked after individually and the rules bent slightly if necessary. I’m glad you have a sympathetic and understanding midwife and both coming out alive is an excellent thing to have on your birth plan.

  5. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl 10 months ago after 4 previous miscarriages. The entire pregnancy was completely uneventful, but I was convinced I was going to die – until the post partum bleeding stopped I still thought I was going to hemorrhage and die. Which is silly.

    No joke, my entire birth plan was “both mother and baby alive and healthy.”

    You can do this. You are strong. It will be worth it.

  6. “I want to have a baby not a birth experience.” Those are words to live by. I had two c-sections and several people were convinced I had missed out on the “birth experience.” I’m sorry, but I grew two babies inside me and those two kids are now outside me. That is enough “birth experience” for me. I’m glad you have such a helpful, understanding midwife.

  7. Your midwife sounds great AND I don’t think anything you’ve written sounds irrational (just overwhelming for you). I know plenty of people who’ve had elective C-sections; it can be a really positive experience and the most important thing is that YOU get the birth that YOU are happy with. I don’t know ANYONE who was okay with their partner having to leave during the induction process or the night after the birth – our local hospital simply doesn’t have the room for partners to stay (there’s a new hospital being built which will be much, much better but, alas, not in time for me!) – it is completely normal to want your partner by your side throughout and, if you have the option of that, YOU TAKE THAT OPTION, no matter how much of a prima donna you may feel. Also: if you do end up having a “normal” birth, you honestly won’t care about the toilet thing, not because you’re in too much pain (it DOES NOT HAVE to be that painful) but because you’ll be so woozy on gas, air and whatever drugs you fancy that you’re pretty unlikely to notice! I know: popular culture and the usual doomsayers tell you that giving birth has to be awful but it honestly doesn’t – you are smart and capable and you know your own anxieties well enough to plan for them; you might think your birth plan is just “BOTH BE ALIVE” but you’re already planning for a birth which suits YOU and that’s amazing.

    (I know, I know: I’m leaving all these long, vehement comments on your posts and some of them might be irritating to you but I so badly want this to be a good experience for you! Also, these topics might be a teensy bit on my mind right now…!)

  8. My entire pregnancy was classified as high risk, and was told I would deliver early and all kinds of things like that from a midwife who was trying to “prepare me for worst case scenario.” HOWEVER! She was very wrong. I was 3 days overdue, he was 8lbs and .8ounce and it only took 35 minutes to deliver him.
    She didn’t understand my case, and it turned out the whole reason I was classified that way was because I had asthma and anxiety and an anxiety attack can bring on an asthma attack.

    1. Sorry mom brain moment. I didn’t finish my comment.

      I’m very happy you have a midwife that seems to understand your anxiety.

      I recommend you get it in writing from someone that Terry can stay with you as your decision maker. I had a therapist recommend that all important medical decisions go through my husband first and honestly it was the best and biggest help ever. It was super hard to go to see the hosptial therapist for that recommendation, but in the end I’m glad that my husband made me get it. It saved a lot of stress and heartache because he could make those choices that terrified me.

  9. As someone with crippling health anxiety (specifically emetophobia, or fear of vomiting) I really do get the severity of your feelings. It also feels impossible to explain to people without sounding insane (and I know it is such a stupid thing to worry about, which doesn’t help!) I think It’s lovely your midwife was so understanding, and Terry is obviously ace, but you have to do what you feel good about. Everyone always seems to have such strong opinions about pregnancy/babies/labour, but you are the one doing this so it’s you that needs to feel ok!

    Quite why the stork can’t just drop the baby off at the window I don’t know 😊

  10. That’s so great that your midwife is understanding. It makes all the difference.

    I was readmitted with my little one and pretty much said I wouldn’t be able to stay in the hospital if my husband couldn’t too as I’d panic too much. So they let him stay. I’m not sure what the hospital’s policy was but they found us a room so he could stay with us.

    You’ve got to do whatever works for you and is best for you and baby. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. I had lots of comments from family about my choice of hospital (I choose a midwife centre) and family were so worried that I was far away from a surgical team. But I did what was best for me and my labour was okay. I have a fear of hospitals so if I was sent to the main hospital rather than the calming midwife unit I would have been so panicky. Whereas I was able to keep calm (as calm as you can be while in pain!) in a place that I felt more comfortable. You make whatever decision is going to make you feel safe during labour.

    Debbie x http://www.hellodeborah.co.uk

  11. Maybe this is my American showing, but LIKE HELL I’d give birth without my partner. Are they insane? I would never have made it without him, not even kidding.
    Also not even kidding, when my nurse mentioned a birth plan, I legit did tell her “have a baby and we’re both alive at the end”. Goals = reached!
    I was not in so much pain that I didn’t care about pooping during childbirth; rather, I was way too busy trying to give birth to even remember that pooping on the table was a thing until afterward. And now I don’t even know if I did, because I had an epidural and my partner didn’t bother to look.

    1. They don’t make you actually give birth alone, but once the baby is out, or if you’re in the very early stages of labour and they don’t think anything will happen overnight then, yeah, they’ll make the partner leave – they do have extended visiting hours for partners, but there are periods during the day (plus all night) when no one’s allowed on to the ward, and you’re on your own, basically! (Well, I mean, there are nurses, obviously, but I’d really want Terry to be there too!)

      1. After what you have said – I don’t expect for a minute that the hospital would actually force Terry to leave ( particularly if you are not comfortable), but if things are looking like an “uneventful” night is ahead during labour, and you can see that they would prefer Terry to leave, then one option could be for Terry to wait overnight sleeping in the car park (sorry Terry!). Because you both have mobile phones you can text or talk at any time overnight and he could be back at your side within 60 seconds if he needs to be. Terry looks as though he could go several nights with little or no sleep if needs must, but after the birth, it would be helpful to let Terry get a good night’s sleep each night because he may have to be your “voice of reason”or even your “decision maker” on everything from the size of your baby’s clothes to whether he agrees you could cope at home if you feel fully rested and want to discharge yourself early. Maybe a compromise might be that he sleeps in a hotel nearby, or a friend’s sofa, so that he can be back within a few minutes if called? Hope these suggestions don’t cause more stress – they were meant to help reduce pressure, rather than increase it 🙂 Best wishes for a wonderful baby

  12. I’ll be thinking a lot about you over the next 7 months – I hope you get all the support you need to get through the otherside with a beautiful little baby Amber (you can buy twice the number of gorgeous skirts!?) <3

    G is for Gingers xx

  13. I have some general medical phobias (mostly hospital and needle-based) and have been really impressed with how lovely and supportive all the NHS staff have been to me throughout my pregnancy. It sounds like they’re being the same for you, and I’m sure it will continue! You have to do what’s right for you – yes, getting baby out alive and healthy is a priority but it’s not the only priority. You’re still a person, even when you’re pregnant! My phobias have definitely led me the other way – we’re planning a home birth and I want to do everything I can to avoid going into the hospital as it just makes me so stressed to even be there. We went to the counselling thing, too, which was really helpful. I was worried she would dismiss me because I find it quite hard to articulate how scared I am (and my logical brain knows not to be, it just takes a back seat when there are needles involved!) but she couldn’t have been more on my side! Keeping all my fingers crossed for you!

    1. “You’re still a person, even when you’re pregnant!”

      This so much! One of my biggest fears, even when we were still just thinking about it, was that so much of the discussion I seem to see around pregnancy and birth seems to revolve around the idea that the woman immediately ceases to matter, and her feelings and wishes are no longer important, which seems so odd to me. I’ve been so relieved to find that the attitudes of the people I’ve been dealing with hasn’t been like that at all, though – I think sometimes I spend too much time on the internet!

  14. I understand a lot of this. The idea of an emergency c-section terrifies me as well! It sounds like that midwife is lovely though and that you’ll be in good hands. Good idea to talk to someone too who specifically deals with pregnancy anxieties. I’m sure they’ve heard it all! The rule that a partner gets kicked out after 10pm is awful by the way! I would hate that too, most people would!

  15. I am SO looking forward to reading your blogs. I am also Tokophobic and have general anxiety disorder, and though my husband and I would like to try for a family in the next year, I’ve been informing my GP of my anxieties and fears around childbirth for a LONG TIME.

    Your blog posts so far have been FANTASTIC. I especially loved this: “That’s just not me, though, I’m afraid. I’m really not the earth mother type, and I honestly don’t give a crap how the baby gets out, as long it’s OK, and we’re both alive at the end of it.”

    At the end of the day that’s all that matters. I saw a specialist for some treatment last year and she reminded me that babies are not born with a label that tells people how they got here!

    Really looking forward to future posts 🙂

  16. Hi, I read your blog (and some other blogs) but NEVER (or practically never) comment. I’ve decided to leave my comment today because I would hope that it may be helpful. I think many women have some mild form of anxiety about hospitals and medical procedures, particularly childbirth- I’m definitely one of them. BUT I gave birth to my first and only child at 36y old, the delivery was so fast and relatively easy, it took place in midwife led unit, 0 complications. Seriously it took me by surprise PLEASE PLEASE remember this story and try to focus on this example. When I was pregnant I hated the “horror stories” and of course they are in some cases true, but I choose to focus (or even to force myself to focus) on the true positive stories.

    PS. Just for your attention: I didn’t pee or poo on the table
    PS 2. I apologise for any possible mistakes but English is not my first language.

    Rose

  17. It’s really interesting to read how these things work in other countries. Is it a standard thing to have a midwife from early stage of pregnancy in the UK?
    About the whole having your husband there with you… It seems to be the normal thing today, everybody just assumes you’ll want him with you, but I’m actually not so convinced about it. When I feel bad or in pain, I cope better when I’m on my own. I love him, of course, and I want him to be there when the baby is born, but not sure about the actual process. I thought about it a lot when I was pregnant – but then things went wrong (week 11, which is already behind you, so hopefully you will not feel bad about my comment), and now I hope there will be a next time when I will get to figure it out.

  18. aaah the Bounty packs, fond memories of tiny pots of sudocreme squirelled away that you can never find when you actually want them… RE: The wanting a baby not a birth experience thing, I get you; I had two vaginal births with gas and air plus a shot of pethidine but I was as high as a kite so I can’t remember a great deal of either experience! I also had no birth plan other than, get the baby out… So yeh, however the baby has to come out as long as you are both safe and well, that’s the main goal. With luck you’ll forget everything else involved as they grow up x x

  19. I’m so glad you have a sympathetic midwife. I don’t personally have health anxiety but nothing you’ve said sounds irrational to me. I’m appalled at a policy that would force a woman in labour to get on with it by herself without a partner staying overnight. It just never occurred to me that it’s something that would actually happen!

    I also think an elective caesarian sounds like a brilliant idea. I’m not sure why there’s such a big thing made out of having a ‘birth experience’. I was born by caesarian and so were most of my friends and it doesn’t seem to have done us any harm! I’ve not personally gone through the experience of childbirth, but I have to agree, having mother and baby alive and healthy at the end of it sounds like a top plan.

    1. It wasn’t something I’d ever considered would happen either – I was so shocked when my friends started telling me about their partners being kicked out! I was also born by cesarean (AND exclusively bottle fed!), and my mum and I have always been really close, so I guess I’ve never really seen it as a huge negative!

  20. I’m so so glad you have a midwife who understands. It really sounds like you are going to get excellent care.

    Hypobirthing might seem like the crazy earth mother type stuff you aren’t into but I know mum’s who have used it to prepare for elective section found it really helpful. Which ever route you decide to go down it might be worth exploring to have as another tool in your kit to help you feel safe, calm and in control.

  21. Hi Amber. I have quite a similar back story to yours, including the health anxiety. When I gave birth last December my birth plan was exactly the same as yours – both come out alive! And let me have all the drugs I need! I was open to a c-section or a natural birth – whatever was safest. Like you, I was completely convinced something would go wrong. I was recommended the book Mindful Hynobirthing by Sophie Fletcher and I honestly can’t recommend it enough – no matter what kind of birth you end up having. Some of it was a bit hippyish but I found it invaluable in preparing for labour and staying in a positive mindset. To the point where I honestly wasn’t even slightly scared of giving birth, which still amazes me now! In the end I had an amazing birth which I look back on really fondly, as mad as that sounds. I’d wholeheartedly recommend the book and hope it helps you like it did me! Xxx

  22. First off, I have to say, nothing about what you’ve talked about in the post makes you sound like a prima donna. I don’t suffer from health anxiety, and yet I would under NO circumstances want to go through the whole experience of being in the hospital during labour and birth without my partner by my side. Yes, you have health anxiety, but I’d hate for you to feel like you constantly have to justify your concerns to people/medical staff for fear of being dismissed as a drama queen. You have every right to want Terry/your mother/whomever close by you at any point.

    Also, your wanting a birth plan that is simply “BOTH BE ALIVE” is just simple common sense. For the life of me, I do not understand why there is so much judgement and stigma surrounding different options for childbirth. Surely, the aim is to do whatever is required to make sure the mother and the baby get through the experience with as little stress as possible?

    Where I’m from, there is such pressure placed on giving birth naturally, and planning for a c-section ahead of time is frowned upon socially. The results can be infuriating. I, personally, am all for doing all one can to aim for a natural birth – I just think it’s better for the mother’s body and for the child, etc etc. But I do acknowledge that that is simply MY view; MY opinion on the matter.

    I remember when my older sister had her first child, I thought it a no-brainer that she should plan for a c-section. She is also far from the earth mother type; I just could not see her dealing with the stress and the fuss of a natural birth. She’s just not that type of person; I wanted her to be as comfortable as she could possibly be when dealing with childbirth, and scheduling a c-section ahead of time would have offered her that peace and comfort. But, naturally, she got bullied into thinking that she “had to do the right thing for her baby” by trying for a natural birth – whatever the hell that means. She went through labour, and ended up having to do an emergency c-section anyway. Why in the world make her and her baby go through all of that, just so that people wouldn’t judge her?! It made me so angry; I was so upset for her. Being the second youngest in my family, of course my thoughts on the matter meant nothing in the eyes of the “more experienced and knowledgeable” women in the family who forced her to change her mind about the c-section.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, absolutely aim to have a natural birth if you feel it’s something that you would like to do and is right for you and your baby. But also know that you know yourself better than anyone else – if scheduling a c-section will give you the comfort and peace of mind that will enable you to be able to better deal with all the other stuff associated with going through a pregnancy, then don’t let anyone bully you out of doing that. Your mental and physical health comes above everything else, and it’s not like anyone else cares more about the health of your baby than you do!

  23. Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, I was genuinely shocked about that partners policy. I would have been a mess without my husband there (for our first child anyway). In fact, he went home for a few hours during the day and I lost it. And that was without health anxiety, just struggling to look after a newborn alone! And does this apply if you’ve just had a c-section and can’t get up? That would be crazy.

    Anyway, thirdly and most importantly, I wanted to give my support for an elective c-section if you decide that’s the best route for you. I did that twice, when it wasn’t really ‘required’, mostly because of anxiety about what could go wrong with my personal medical issues and natural birth. I guess it boiled down to a fear of giving birth. It wasn’t an easy option in many ways but it is still a “birth experience” and I found it a beautiful one. We are all healthy and the way that happened matters less and less as time passes anyway. Good luck with whatever methods you choose!

  24. Just wanted to say congratulations Amber! It’s funny how I feel like I know you a tiny bit just from reading your blog, so I was very pleased to hear about your pregnancy. I don’t have health anxiety. I would NOT have wanted to be alone without my husband during my birth. I don’t think it’s prima donna-ish of you in the slightest. I think it’s perfectly normal to want to be supported through the whole process. Don’t feel bad about sticking up for what you want, because you’re doing such a good job trying to think about what will help you best beforehand and how to make that happen. It’s not selfish to want to do labour with minimum stress. Totally awesome plan. All the best with it.

  25. I have to say – My wee boy was born at 3.51am at ERI and at 6am they sent my husband home 🙁 no partners on ward before 9am apparently. I had a C-section and I had barely come around before he was gone 🙁

  26. I’m so glad you feel supported! It is really crucial. I love the way you explain your feelings and point of view while respecting other people’s different ones. I’m also getting a lot of useful info about anxiety disorders. It’s funny how the Internet can get through when therapists fail to. There are things that I wish to say, and in the past I would have felt some silly need to attempt to educate, but I don’t here. You can figure it out. I have not had much success making or keeping friends in the past because I’ve been so opinionated. About a year ago, I had someone allow me to TALK about many things I had been through and accepting the fact that my experiences have been MY experiences has really changed me. It’s also very interesting to learn how things are done in different countries.

  27. You are as important as the baby– no one needs to make you feel that one must be chosen over the other… you can meet both your needs! I had a c-section (almost 20 years ago, I feel old!) and have never felt one bit “less”. My son coming out of me somehow and he and I being healthy was my goal in childbirth. So glad you have a midwife who listens and is attentive to your needs.

  28. I am so, so relieved that you found a midwife who GETS it. Health anxiety couldn’t be further from “demanding special treatment just for the hell of it”, but with NHS resources being stretched as tightly as they are it wouldn’t have surprised me to read an update in which you were asking for advice to deal with a health service that was struggling to take your circumstances into account. So YAY MIDWIFE THAT IS TEAM AMBER.

  29. Hey Amber

    Please don’t feel bad about entertaining the idea of a a CS! I honestly assumed that because of your anxiety you would totally want to go for an elective CS, as I share a lot of your fears and after a TON of research, I think this is the only type of birth that is remotely suitable for us anxious types, especially with control issues or dislike of things being unpredictable. A lot of people will say things like ‘you just have to believe in yourself!’ but however unpopular an opinion this may be, attitude isn’t everything.
    You have to do what’s best for you.

    (with a spinal of course, I am also horrified by the idea of a general.)
    Birthrights are a great organisation to speak to if you need any help with the request if you go for it. Good luck x

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