I am a firm believer that if you have a positive frame of mind things will generally work out well.
Of course there will be times when unforeseen things happen and giving birth is one of those times. No one can predict how a labour will go, whether there will be complications, or if the mum will breeze through it with no problems. Despite old wives tales claiming that wide hips will mean easier births I know that’s not always the case as I don’t have particularly wide hips and, proportionately my babies were a healthy size for me (small by other people’s standards). But I was lucky enough to get through both births with minimal pain relief and no cuts, tears or stitches.
Yes, I put much of that down to having a positive outlook. I didn’t have a birth plan and thankfully I had no pregnancy complications. I also have a wonderful husband who put aside his misconceptions and came to the hypnobirthing classes with me. He supported me throughout the first tiring process and the second blink-and-you’ll-miss-it birth.
But I also put it down to where I gave birth. Despite the midwife’s encouragement I did not give birth at home either time. I wanted to be in a hospital because I wanted to be looked after following the birth. Being at home would mean my mind would wander and see all those little jobs that need doing around the house.
I wanted to give birth at St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon. The midwife-led unit has all of a couple of dozen beds if that, and two delivery rooms. If anything had gone awry during the birth I would have had to be sent by ambulance to Broomfield Hospital (formerly St John’s) in Chelmsford. But I was willing to take that chance and have the opportunity to have my baby in an environment where the midwives were supportive, let you take things at your own pace and leave you to it and not hover over you, putting pressure on you.
The beauty with St Peter’s is that, if they have space and you feel like you need a bit of support, you can stay for a couple of days. And those couple of days make all the difference between leaving hospital a little bit confident and getting home hours after the birth, feeling overwhelmed and dissolving into a pool of tears.
That is why I have signed a petition to save a similar type of maternity ward in Clacton. The Clacton Gazette and Harwich and Manningtree Standard are campaigning to Save Our Baby Services following proposals from North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Colchester University Hospitals Trust to close Clacton and Harwich maternity units.
This means mums from the coast will have to endure a journey to Colchester to have their baby. I only had to travel six miles to Maldon. Clacton and Harwich mums will have to travel about 20 miles to give birth in a hospital that is larger, unfamiliar to them and may leave them fighting for attention.
While my years since giving birth have been manic and my children “spirited”, I can at least say the way they came into the world was serene, supportive and in the presence of midwives who were encouraging and the second time, known to me.
I’m sure that the Colchester maternity services will do their utmost to care for mums-to-be as best they can with the resources they have, but there is nothing like having your baby where you want to with minimal fuss and maximum support.