Tonight I googled "childbirth"...

Tonight I googled “childbirth”… 3 listings down the page I found this little gem of an article, so aptly and elegantly titled “Childbirth is horrific. Why did no one warn me?”

sydney birth photographer - baby crowning during childbirth

To summarise, an incoherent rant on how horrific the author’s birth was without actually giving any real information on the birth story… and coming from an angle of wanting to ‘warn’ women to ‘help’ them but then also stating that she herself can’t write an article that will help prepare you for labour…

The author waffles on about how she felt ‘betrayed’ and ‘blindsided’ that no one had prepared her for the clearly horrific birth she had experienced, blaming friends, family and the ‘numerous professionals’ she was exposed to during her pregnancy…

The truth is, the system won’t prepare you for birth. That is on you. That is your responsibility.

The onus is on you to research, garner support and decide what sort of birth you want. The onus is on you to prepare yourself and surround yourself with the right people who will support the birth you want, the birth you need.

The onus is not on the medical system, or your friends, or your family or the ‘numerous professionals’ you will see during your pregnancy. It is on you.

And that is exactly how it should be.

Women didn’t fight for generations for equal rights and full bodily autonomy (which we are unfortunately yet to achieve) just for it to be signed over at the first sign of pregnancy. Women who are fit, healthy and intelligent are treated as though they are suddenly incapable of making their own decisions and taking care of themselves when they fall pregnant.

But unfortunately, that is how our current maternal health model operates.

sydney birth photographer - mother and father embracing after the birth of their first child

Our system cultivates an environment that demands 100% trust in your healthcare provider, blind trust. It’s the patient mentality.

We see our GP, they say ‘jump’ we say ‘how high’ – they give us enough ‘choice’ to keep us placated; “hospital A or hospital B?” or “GP shared care” or “midwifery group practice”….but we must obey the strict and overwhelming rules and adhere to the pregnancy guidelines “or else”.

What does this do for us?

It ushers us into a false sense of security that our health care providers have it all under control. They’ll give us the best possible outcome, right? We’re placing all of our trust in them so surely they’ll fight for what is best for us, prepare us for all possible outcomes and ensure we come out the other end whole and healthy… right?

Unfortunately, and clearly as the author of this article found out, that is often not the case.

I am not saying that you can’t achieve a positive outcome when birthing within the system, far from it – I am simply saying that you need to take initiative and be proactive about achieving said positive outcome.

Feelings of disappointment and betrayal arise when our expectations aren’t met. What the hospital expects of your birth and what you expect of your birth are going to be 2 entirely different things. What they want to achieve and what you want to achieve may also differ…

The medical system’s goal is to deliver your baby and keep you alive. At all costs and to a fault. Bottom line.

At all costs. Think about that.

sydney birth photographer - mother and father embracing after the homebirth of their baby

It is on you to decide which ‘costs’ you aren’t willing to pay. Costs such as mental wellbeing, an intact perineum, unnecessary separation from your baby immediately following birth….those sorts of costs are nothing to the system, but to you they might be top priorities.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t feel ‘blindsided’ and ‘betrayed’ following your birth?

Educate yourself. Read up. Know what your choices are, what your rights are and which ones are the ones you want to fight for. Let your team know what you need, what you want and where your bottom line is.

You need to take action and put remedies in place that will support you and your needs when and if the time arises that you are unable to do so for yourself.

Childbirth can be beautiful, it can be powerful, moving and transformative and yes…sometimes it can be ‘horrific’ but you can help determine how your birth story plays out for you. Take that into your hands and shape it as you will, to what your soul feels your birth should be…

And please, don’t go reading depressing articles laced with fear and trauma whilst pregnant. Researching risks is one thing, reading or listening to another woman’s horror birth story is another.

There is a place for women to share their traumatic birth stories, but this place is not with women who are actively trying to prepare themselves for the birth of their babies and are trying to operate out of a place of positivity and empowerment.