Nature takes over
It is helpful to understand that, even in a straightforward labour that follows a birth plan, a woman will not be ‘in control’. Your brain follows the same instinctive processes of all mothering mammals. During childbirth, the mammalian brain—the part of our brain from the earlier stages of human evolution— helps control the hormones that progresses labour. It tells your body how to birth, but you may only be aware of the urge to push.
Adela Stockton, a psychodynamic counsellor and former midwife, says that in order to connect with the process of labour women need to let their mammalian brain take over. However, this often doesn’t happen fully. “During labour, mothers are often disturbed by bright lights, noises, strangers and being moved about,” says Adela. “This means you become conscious of what is happening around you and can start to feel anxious.”
Medical complications such as your baby’s heart rate dropping, or needing procedures such as a forceps delivery or a c-section, are frightening during labour. These worries are unlikely to disappear in the aftermath of delivery. However, there is no time to talk it through as the midwives will have moved on to other labours and your attention will be on your baby.
In the early days after birth, the main concern is the physical wellbeing of you and your child, and any psychological worries are put aside. Yet women who have experienced a difficult labour may have symptoms—flashbacks, tearfulness or apathy—that disrupt the early months with their baby. The goal of having a birth afterthoughts meeting with a midwife is to make sense of your experience and to help negative feelings reduce and disappear. Without closure, you may feel anxious and fearful of going through labour again. So if your symptoms are preventing you from coping with the normal stresses of everyday life with your baby, speak to your midwife or GP straight away. And even if you feel you are able to function well, yet have concerns and questions, book a birth afterthoughts meeting and move on from your labour experience. |MB