There are 2 parts to my birth story. The first part is as a result of the experiences from care received during my first birth (emergency caesarean following undiagnosed breech) and the second part related to the unique nature of being a Serving member of the Armed Forces.
My first birth was planned for a birth at a maternity unit, I did not have a clue about choice and options and what ‘I could or couldn’t do’, I just went along with things. My baby was breech at 32 weeks but at 37 weeks I was told that he had turned. However when I went into spontaneous labour at 38/6 and in active labour, my son was again breech and I was ‘blue-lighted’ to hospital where the NHS trust ‘did not allow’ vaginal breech births. Let’s just say the birth (emergency c section) was not good, neither was the recovery, breast feeding or bonding.
With my second pregnancy I came up against another wall; as a Serving military woman the local NHS trust were unable to offer me a named midwife. I had been told I would have to be consultant led, could not have a water birth or be active in labour.
It was at this point that I used the search facility on the IMUK website and found an independent midwife. From this point on things changed. I began to understand the benefits of continuity of care, one-to-one support, options, choice and no longer feeling like I had no control. I laboured at home but eventually had to transfer in, but this time with my IM as advocate I had a natural C-Section, breastfed in theatre and was discharged into my IM’s care within 14 hours. Bonding, breastfeeding and my recovery were all so much better
We never planned to have anymore children, but because of the care of my IM and the
feeling of trust when we found out I was pregnant with our 3rd my first call was to my IM. In addition I was now posted away from home and living in the Officers’ mess accommodation during the week, away from my family and commuting at weekends. Being posted away also meant that I had to have my doctors at my unit and therefore away from the county that my family resides in, the NHS therefore were unable to offer a midwife in the county I would give birth in, the system (both military and NHS) did not understand what it means to be a Serving military mum but my IM did. I was not prepared to feel isolated and ‘a problem mum’ like I had been made to feel previously. This time with her support, loads of physio, hypnobirthing and mindfulness practice I got my VBA2C at home and in water. I tore and had to go in for stitches but I didn’t care, my journey and my family was complete. I have found that I have had to hide my birth choices at times but my IM has always been there to support me, not doing it the NHS way is not easy but this was my birth and my children therefore I wanted the best for us and for me that is and was an IM.