As part of our #BehindTheBump campaign, we caught up with Lauren, aka @laluxblog, to talk about her son Arthur arriving late and post labour blues.
Everyone’s experiences of pregnancy are completely different, can you tell me a bit about yours?
My husband and I were very lucky to get pregnant quickly, we’d been married a couple of years and we felt it was the right time. We weren’t especially broody, we didn’t feel like we need a baby in our lives, but we thought the time was right. So from a mental health perspective, I didn’t actually think too much about it. Even when I was pregnant, the realisation that there would be a baby at the end of it didn’t hit home for quite a long time. I really enjoyed being pregnant, I really enjoyed the way it made me feel, the fact that I was confident in my body for once. I loved my new curves, I loved my legitimate belly that I could be proud of. I loved dressing it, I loved buying all the different clothes and I loved the practicality of preparing for a baby.
Sounds idyllic, did you have any experiences of mental health during your pregnancy?
Yes, where my mind set took a bit of a turn was around 37 weeks pregnant. As my due date was getting nearer, I was off work and I just started to feel really pregnant. I was slowing down, I was getting bigger, stretch marks were starting to appear and I generally started to feel quite gross. My wedding rings wouldn’t fit, my shoes wouldn’t fit, so that’s when things started to go downhill. Probably the biggest turning point was post 40 weeks for me. I’d always planned to have a home birth using hypnobirthing techniques. In my head, there was no way it wasn’t going to go as planned, but once we got to 40 weeks I started having to have the conversation with my midwife about induction. Intervention of any kind was something I really wanted to avoid so having to have that conversation was really tough.
Every day for the next two weeks was like groundhog day and I really had to grapple with the fact that my body had failed me. My body had grown this baby but I was unable to get over the final hurdle of actually giving birth naturally. I felt as though it had all been a failure because I couldn’t cross the finish line.
I was so desperate to birth Arthur naturally that when I went in to be induced I was actually 42 weeks and 1 day pregnant. It was long! My labour experience was also long, arduous and painful. It was every intervention other than a caesarean and subsequently Arthur was born in the theatre via a forceps delivery.
At this point I was so delirious, so exhausted that I wasn’t thinking about the reality of what was going to happen. So when this little thing was raised up, I was just like ‘Oh my God’, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t feel him come out, I didn’t see him come out, I’d never felt the urge to push! I’d still be pregnant now if that hadn’t dragged him out by force!
I think the fact that I didn’t see or feel him come out is the reason I was feeling so emotional and so down. I do feel like your birth experience has a huge impact on how the early stages of how you feel as a mum. You’re so envious of mums who have had a normal birth, who have this instant connection to their baby.
I just didn’t feel that. I didn’t not love him, but I didn’t get this overwhelming emotional rush which I’d always been told I was going to feel. The expectation on women to have a baby put on their chest and instantly, it’s love and you’re a mother and you can do anything, is crazy! I compare it to if you met a long lost relative, would you instantly feel that family bond? Probably not. You know you love them but it’s not going to come as a bolt out of the blue. So for a few weeks I almost felt inclined to love him.
That sounds really tough, what have you found that has helped you overcome that?
I think what’s helped me is actually realising that no thought is too dark. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to want to shut your baby in a room – it might be horrible to think and very scary, but you’re not alone in thinking it. You are not the first person to think whatever it is that you’re thinking but the sooner you articulate it, no matter how dark, the easier it becomes. Defining it in words to another human being is probably the best thing you can do.
I told my midwife initially which was amazing because I knew there was no judgement there. Once you can overcome that hurdle and get the support around you, that’s the first step. Don’t be a martyr, do what you have to do to get through every day.