Birth Trauma Stories, Caesarean

Playing the Part

We’re very grateful to Laura for this short but important post with a simple message – ask yourself how you are really feeling before it’s too late. Laura is writer, historian and mummy to a busy toddler. She is particularly passionate about birth trauma, perinatal mental health and tongue-tie.

Laura blogs at Find her on Twitter @MrsJellybobUK.

MM Laura 2was very moved last month by honestmumma‘s post about how we can wear a mask and deceive others about how we are feeling whilst in the grip of postnatal depression. For me, this has not even been a conscious choice, but instinctive. I do it unthinkingly. I always have, really. But, once we are parents, the pressure intensifies: the pressure to be ‘a good mum’, the pressure to bond with our babies, the pressure to be suitably happy and grateful.

What shocks me is how immediately that mask went on. I nearly died having my son. After four days of labour, the epidural and the drip, four hours of pushing, the failed forceps delivery, the emergency c-section, the incision tearing, the haemorrhage, all of it, I was intermittently conscious and questionably aware in the recovery bay. Apparently I was chatting away but I have no memory of it. I was already performing. I updated my Facebook status with the obligatory happy announcement and newborn photo, putting the wrong time of birth. I was handed a telephone and dutifully told my mother and whoever else that my son was “beautiful.” He was. I can see it now. I don’t think I could see it then. I think I was just saying what I was supposed to say. Some time later a close friend recounted to me the phone conversation we had while I was in that recovery bay. I said the baby was beautiful and my friend said, “But how are you?” I hesitated. “I don’t know.” That was the honest truth. I was so unwell that I didn’t even know it.

MM Laura 1The mask, however unintentionally adopted, stayed put until I totally unravelled five weeks later and found myself in a Mother and Baby Unit. I wish one of the health professionals caring for me had taken the time to probe a little deeper before it got to that point. The moral of the story, then, is certainly not ‘fake it until you make it’ – unless you what you want to make is a mess of your own sanity.

It is always a good idea to take a moment to ask yourself how you are. ‘I don’t know’ is a valid answer, but check in with someone else if you can.


Editorial, Pregnancy

#MisCOURAGE: my story

Tommy’s the baby charity are urging women to share their stories of miscarriage, in a bid to break the silence. To end the isolation. To end the fear. The charity want to destroy the taboo that surrounds the loss of a baby in early pregnancy. Their #MisCOURAGE campaign launched today, and I want to share my story.

I wasn’t yet a mother. I knew nothing of the absolute joy and pain (in equal measures) that awaited me. Nothing of the journey that would take me to the highest peaks of happiness, then plunging down to the deepest depths of sadness. Because parenting, for me, has been kind of all or nothing.

I wasn’t yet a mother. Yet, when I saw the image flickering on the screen before me, I felt like one. A tiny, tiny little heart beat. There one moment, gone the next. Nothing.


Yes, the silence really is very loud.

Maternity Matters, Pregnancy

Maternity Matters Link Up: Online Support 

BlogBumpClub is now passed on its 5th Mama. If you don’t know about it it’s a group of pregnancy bloggers and new mums started in 2014 by Molly Forbes. It provides a public space to share pregnancy tales as well as a private space to share parenting woes and ask for advice. A bit like ante natal and post natal groups but all online. 

The main idea of BlogBumpClub was to share our pregnancy tales but it’s grown so much that on a daily basis many of the Group chat and ask advice from each other. It’s turned into a much needed online support group essential to many of us who can’t always get out and about or who feel too silly to ask something in a more public space.

This month I (Chelle) handed over the reins of the linky to the lovely Hannah. I’ve got a short time left until baby number 3 is due and Hannah is now into her second trimester. I offered to come on board and do a regular joint link up with Hannah to share some of your amazing stories and advice! 

  Both myself and Susanne have felt a wealth of online support especially during out last pregnancies and with Hannah starting her second trimester while working from home we understand that online support is very much needed. That’s why this month the joint Maternity Matters / BlogBumpClub link up is all about support! We want to see your posts about support networks, any advice you have shared on your blog or those blogs that have really helped you through the highs and lows of parenting. 

Ask the Midwife

Ask a midwife, Dads and #PTSD

IMG_20151019_084202I am Lucas, an average guy from Yorkshire, Halifax. I wore a smile but that only lasted a short while. I am a first time father of a boy called Boston, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, not from war, not from an accident but from the birth of my son. My hands are cold, my body feels numb as I am still in shock birth what have you done? I see your mouth is moving yet I hear not a word. A million pieces of me on the floor as my fiancé gives birth, I bounce and ricochet around the walls before bursting through those delivery doors.

I am Lucas, a dad with #PTSD after birth trauma

It was not a text-book birth, nothing like I had read, seen or heard. I wish to this day someone had told me or I had learned what would happen if it was anything but a textbook birth? I watched the trolley wheels clapper down through the corridor, “Lucas… She needs you. It isn’t time for you to break, you must be strong,  it isn’t you having the baby” so you let me slip, from that moment on I kept it inside without a blip whilst telling myself I was alright even with that dull look deep within my eyes. I knew I was struggling but didn’t want to admit it and when I did try and speak up everyone just missed it. I was asked “why don’t you just forget?” But how can I? I am not holding on to the past it’s my past holding on to me, it isn’t my character, it wasn’t my fault so surely it is just my body and it’s chemistry? I have seen to many doctors who all offered different meds which is not what I wanted I just needed a listening ear instead. My brain was full of thoughts and intrusive ones at that, fused in my brain without a place to go each day getting harder to contain. So at this very moment I ask for you to sit and read, I am not asking for you to understand but hear of a Dad reaching out in need and asking for some time, a dash of compassion, love and humanity.

I am Lucas, a dad with #PTSD after birth trauma

#PTSD? Post traumatic stress disorder, this is where trauma effects and impacts a persons’ life such as a military solider from war, rape, a car accident (the list is sadly endless) but also a person can develop PTSD  after being a witness to seeing something or seeing someone go through something horrific, it comes with many emotion’s anxiety, guilt, fear, loneliness and brings intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and even nightmares. Before diagnosing PTSD the person will be asked about the event that took place before the person and the triggers that it causes and how exactly it affects them.

I am Lucas, a dad with #PTSD after birth trauma

“Lucas, what has triggered you to feel this way?” The GP asked. The question which never made true sense as to why I was feeling the way I was, I felt confused and isolated. I was not a man who had been to fight for his country or been on the front-line, my trauma came from what many had told me would simply be one of the best days of my life?

I was geared up for a textbook, simple and straightforward normal birth, I’ve found such little support for fathers after a traumatic birth and only seem to find a wide support network for men with PTSD after military experience (I take my hat off to them, I couldn’t do it) but why should fathers be left out? As the saying goes it takes two to tango, we both welcome the baby, we are both parents, we are both equal. Dads should have a small area in which we can turn to for support, talk, gather advice from. I was a dad wanting to be by my partners side, welcoming our baby son together and on many occasions throughout her traumatic birth I was told “She needs you to be strong” so with this I was strong, I hid away and made my loved ones the main focus but before I could blink I was quickly told “say goodbye to your fiancé Lucas” as she was wheeled off down to theatre when everything became an emergency. Thinking this was it, it was the end and all I was offered out of any of this ordeal was “Sir would you like a sugary cup of tea?” Like that was going to help. I needed someone to explain the not so textbook birth, to be given those moments to talk and express my emotions and to be told “Sir it is ok if you need to cry” not “you need to man up” because at that very moment I could not just man up as I stood outside those doors feeling helpless and hopeless. I am left with Post traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic birth, Nicole my fiancé lost her life three days after the birth of our beautiful son Boston, I campaign for change, support fathers at coffee mornings, speak at antenatal classes, take part in research and blog to raise awareness. It can happen to anyone, PTSD can affect you but if we can change maternity services for fathers, those who are sadly affected will have a better support network and recover well. Together we are stronger.

I am Lucas, a dad with #PTSD after birth trauma


I have spoken with Mandy from Bellenger midwifery, Mandy has supported families in the past, mainly to guide them through a subsequent pregnancy with compassion and understanding, she has also spoken to families post trauma to debrief on the experience and start the healing journey. (This is something many mums are not given the chance to have, let alone Dads. So thanks to Mandy and others who take the time to go through our traumatic experience so we can take those small steps to recovery) Mandy has worked within the NHS and privately. She is currently working as an Independent Midwife. Many of her clients come to her after experiencing birth trauma as they understand the importance of continuity of care.

I wanted to know more about how Mandy supported fathers and the response blew me a way, a midwife with understanding and compassion, here is what Mandy said, “As a midwife I have learnt the art of true listening. I take time to sit with both parents to listen as they talk through their experiences. I often find that the experience differs slightly between mum and dad, in that dad has seen events unfold from a different perspective so holds some ‘extra’ trauma unseen by mum. This often means that I need to look through the birth notes with the couple to understand the entire picture as mum and dad can ‘see’ things slightly differently. Indeed, a partner can feel that they were ‘hopeless’, unable to act, to take care of the ones they love. This brings a great level of trauma to them that needs to be talked through and supported. My work as a midwife is to limit such events of trauma. Offering safe care and acting quickly and appropriately in the event that the birth is not going to plan. Keeping a woman and her partner fully informed and normalising all birth’s is part of my role. Partners need to be fully involved and understanding of all events AS they happen, not tackling afterwards. Talking through as events unfold helps.

I further asked Mandy, do you have any tips for fathers in coping with birth trauma? It often brings flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and sleepless nights with lots of triggers, even from a siren to the smell of a hospital. Just a while back I found a newborn baby grow from Boston’s time in hospital, I was physically sick after the flashbacks.

Mandy offered some great advice; “Tips for fathers; I urge all birth dads-to-be to be fully involved in preparation for birth. To have knowledge and empowerment through learning about the normal, natural process of birthing. This can then help a father to understand events as they unfold and themselves begin to understand deviations from what’s seen as normal. I do urge all mum and dads-to-be in my care to then spend some time considering the ‘What If’s’ as you can not plan birth. Considering the possible reasons for the need of assistance in the birthing process can then begin to normalise all events, I then urge fathers to talk through all events so that they may begin to understand what just happened. These traumatic events can effect us at any point in later life by the smallest of trigger”

Mandy and I then shared our sadness, a statement from Mandy “I am saddened when I hear of mothers and fathers who feel so traumatised by a birth that they are too afraid to try for another baby. Great healing can come from birth :)”


With us dads having such little support I then asked Mandy for some advice. If a dad was unable to feel he could talk as he had to look after his new family what would you say to him? I believe that the way forward from a professional perspective is to offer continuity of carer, individualised care, one to one support. This all needs to be throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond. Due to the constrictions of funding (Mainly NHS) midwives are not currently able to offer such support, unless they are an IM like myself. The minimal should be one to one care throughout labour and birth. This should involve full explanation of events as they unfold. Such a statement would flash a ‘red flag’ for me. This dad needs support I would offer to talk through his feelings and encourage him to express his feelings openly. We must never just hide them inside. I would always suggest a ‘safe space’ for discussion with the right people. Counselling is a good idea. Sometimes a dad will say something to me about what he had witnessed and simply by listening and often going through the notes, I can find an answer that can make him feel a little better. Helping a father to begin to understand.

It is a breath of fresh air hearing Mandy talk about the support she gives to fathers, we need more midwives like Mandy.

I wanted to finish off on a positive note so asked Mandy what touches her most about working with Dads and she said “The most touching thing has been making a difference. Watching a family move forwards and grow together. Being that constant support throughout a new pregnancy that ends in a positive birth” see dads? We have hope, we have light. Things will change, we must keep speaking up and keep stepping forward.


Thank you Mandy for taking part,  you can follow Mandy on (@bellengermidwifery)  and thank you to those who have taken the time to read.

I am Lucas, a dad with #PTSD after #birthtrauma and Dad to Boston. Take care.


#BirthTraumaChat, Birth Trauma Stories, Maternity Matters

#BirthTraumaChat: What is Birth Trauma?

Last week we kicked off the very first #BirthTraumaChat on Twitter, with co-host @UnfoldUrWings. Our topic was simply What is Birth Trauma and we asked participants to tell us what they thought the definition of birth trauma was. I wanted to summarise briefly the thoughts and stories that were shared with us.

Our first question: What is Birth Trauma and how would you describe it?

Thank you @TheDoulaElement. Birth trauma is certainly individual and unique to the person that experienced it. Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings are silly, or invalid. Don’t let anyone dismiss you. Don’t let anyone silence you when you speak out for help or to raise awareness.

We also acknowledged the fact that a birth does not need to be ‘REALLY bad’ for those involved to feel traumatised…

Our next question asked about whether or not others were able to show understanding towards birth trauma. The answer was overwhelmingly no. Many told us that they felt alone, isolated and dismissed when they tried to reach out for help. This has to stop!

and when we asked Do you think there is enough awareness of birth trauma, again we were told NO.

SO how can we make changes? Ensure that women are listened to? Ensure that families are supported? Ensure that our stories are heard?

We need to overcome our fears of speaking out.

We need kindness, compassion and understanding.

We need better support systems for those who need it.

And ideally we need to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

HUGE thanks to all who took part. Emma and I were over the moon that so many joined us, helped to raise awareness and
supported others for the very first #BirthTraumaChat.

Tomorrow we’re talking about signs and symtpoms of birth trauma and PTSD and we hope to see you there. 8pm on Twitter- #BirthTraumaChat


Mark your diary for the #BirthTraumaChat

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Maybe even since that first night at home with my newborn son. The weight of his little body wrapped in a blanket, warm against my skin. The chill of the air around me in a house that had been empty for hours. The enormity of what was happening pressing down on me. And in that moment, there with my son, I had never felt so alone. There had been- and continued to be- streams of visitors coming in and out to see us. Cards, presents, well wishes. Phone calls, flowers and little bags filled with ‘goodies’. Tiny little vests, cuddly bears and pictures drawn at school for the new baby brother. And yet I felt so alone, so isolated, and so very scared.

mark your diary for the birth trauma chatBringing my son home from the hospital was not a happy occasion. And I hate admitting that. Instead of looking down at his beautiful face, my eyes were drawn to the ugly bruises that snaked from my neck down to my knees. Instead of breathing in the scent of his beautiful body, all I could breathe in was the acrid odour of a sterile operating theatre. Instead of loving my beautiful baby, I was filling up with hatred for myself.

I was alone. I was broken.

And since then I have searched for people who understand. I’ve found them too. Readers who understood my rambled blog posts. Other writers, scratching away at their own wounds. The Birth Trauma Association group. Friends at toddler groups. More recently, friends who have formed the #MatExp campaign and taken it further than I ever imagined was possible.

When Elsie first came home from the hospital the darkness threatened to take over me again. And one lady in particular saw that. I don’t know how, but she did. Emma would message me words of encouragement, advice and support. She didn’t know me, and yet she took time from her life to hold my hand. I will always be grateful for that. And when I got to know her, I discovered that she understood more about me that I realised. She has her own story to tell, and I hope that one day she will share it here.

Emma writes at Unfold Your Wings, a blog dedicated towards sharing the stories of women who have suffered a traumatic birth, and PTSD as a result. Emma understands.

Next week, Emma and I are launching the #BirthTraumaChat on Twitter. It is what I was looking for all those years ago, as I sat in the silence of isolation.

Our aim is to provide a safe place for women and families to come and talk about their feelings surrounding birth trauma. Professionals are also welcome to join in the conversation; we want to break down barriers and open up pathways to learn more on both sides. We want all to feel welcome. Most of all, we want to be there.

We hope you’ll join us next Monday at 8pm. We’ll be asking the question `what is birth trauma?

Caesarean, Labour, Maternity Matters, Parenting, Pregnancy

Nothing is perfect

Nothing is perfect. To be perfect a thing must be completely and utterly flawless. Not a thing to be changed. No second thoughts, no ‘if onlys’ and no regrets. Nothing can be that way, and certainly nothing in the labour and delivery room. We can have our ideals, our plans and our preferences, but there will always be something that doesn’t sit right. As is life. As are humans. As it should be.

Nothing is

If we all walked around being perfect all the time, there would be no room for improvement. Nothing to work towards. Nothing to learn. We’d be done. And if we truly did have the ‘perfect birth’ what kind of pressure does that then put us under as we enter the incredibly challenging post natal period?

Nothing can be perfect. We should not want it to be.

I’ve had four very different c-sections and while my third was what I called (at the time) my healing birth, it wasn’t perfect. It was outstanding in comparison to my second birth, but it wasn’t perfect. I can still taste the fear I felt as I walked into the theatre. Legs shaking and teeth chattering. Knowing what was going to happen. Knowing they would put knife to skin. Knowing it could all go wrong. It didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from thinking it could’ve been different. I didn’t want to be in that situation again. Next time, I wanted a perfect birth.

Birth Stories, Editorial, Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters link up: Birth stories

Welcome to the new Maternity Matters!

Maternity Matters link up: birth stories~
Please bear with us while we iron out any design/ teething problems. We have a few new pages to add too, and some updates to make, but hopefully we’ll be up and running perfectly in no time at all!

Over the last six or so months the Maternity Matters link up has been running on Ghostwritermummy and Mums the Word and we’ve found it a privilege to share in so many of your journeys- such varied maternity experiences, pregnancy journals and stories of post natal experiences! Thank you each and every one of you for linking up.

From now on, the Maternity Matters link up will be hosted here, and it will be once a month, running on a theme with #BlogBumpClub. We thought this would be the ideal way to gather together your stories and involve more of the blogging community too.

This month we are linking up birth stories. If you would like to join in, please do. Each and every birth experience is welcomed as the purpose of this link up is to highlight the many varying degrees of childbirth.


Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

Link as many posts as you like, old or new, and grab the badge while you’re at it so that others can join in too. Please visit as many other posts as you can- spread the love!
Thanks for dropping by…

Birth Stories, Birth Trauma Stories, Caesarean

When birth trauma creeps up on you

This post first appeared on Ghostwritermummy

Sometimes things in life creep up on you. You don’t see them lurking around the corner, breathing silently in the deep of the night.



You don’t realise that all the things you’ve been saying and writing and believing are not actually true. None of it. Or some of it. It’s all so muddled you’re not actually sure any more.