Nichola's Story

What was this experience like?

I gave birth to my daughter in January. The care given to me was okay during my pregnancy.

I had many challenges along the way but did feel heard by my community midwife.


It was mostly during my hospital visits that I found my maternity care most challenging.

I used [my inner] resources to support my choices and counteract HCPs coercive language (high risk), there were constant barriers to my choices.


Due to my age, the size of my previous babies and the fact that baby was breech and often felt emotionally manipulated to make decisions that didn't sit well with me. I was determined to have my baby at home, I did have a supportive Healthcare Professional that helped me on my journey. I had the agency and confidence to challenge where necessary, but you do need to be strong. I understood a lot of their advice and took this on board as I was mindful that ultimately I wanted both me and baby to be safe.


I was advised to be induced at 39 weeks again based on age, size of baby (9lb) and possibly breech position. Baby decided to move head down but I was still advised to be induced. After weighing up my choices I decided to do this.


My induction appeared to be going well. I choose to be induced using the rods as this would open my cervix naturally. I also requested a private room due to my anxiety. This was agreed by the consultant, however on the day I was told that I was not able to do so due to a mother losing her baby. This mother was using this room.


My natural induction did not happen as I was told that I required an emergency C-Section due to babies heartbeat disappearing while I was on the monitor.


I informed my husband straight away as he made his way to the hospital. I was very scared as I was told that they could not wait for my husband. They also said that they might have to put me to sleep which I refused.


My husband arrived just in time. It was very scary and emotional where I was constantly told to stop panicking as my heart rate was high. This was out of my control and I felt that there was little understanding as to how scared and frightened I was.


My daughter was delivered by C-Section. My first ever. The whole experience left me traumatised.While it was a blessing to have my baby girl especially after 3 boys I dipped emotionally for weeks after.


When I had my check-up with the Community Midwife check – I was really tearful due to what had happened during my C-Section. It was a feeling of being both blessed and sad.


I requested to see my notes so that I could understand why certain decisions were made.  My community midwife got these for me and explained what happened. I was happy with what was shared and why but felt that my rights had been taken away with little information being shared with myself or husband in that moment. You don’t take a woman’s rights away from her.


POSTNATAL


The 40 days rest were needed – my milk didn’t come through – my body was traumatised.

Breastfeeding in the first 6 weeks was a challenge. I had to give my daughter formula although this was not my intention and was forced to give her formula while on the labour ward. I had no choice in the formula either which was upsetting as couldn’t say anything in the moment as I just wanted my baby to feed.


I did not have a BF peer supporter. But was supported by staff on the ward. After the 40 days I felt an energy shift. Breastfeeding established, baby in a good routine I felt that I was coming back to my normal self.


I have been reflecting on the C-section and its scar and what it means. It is a strange sensation to touch. The whole experience of the c section felt like a traumatic ancestral memory.

PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH


During the pregnancy I was sick and lacked energy, this caused a lot of wellbeing issues. I felt in very low mood. I spoke to my community midwife about this who recommended that I speak to MIND. As I started to feel better, I did not pursue this.


What do you think stops Black women from seeking help for PMH issues? Fear of children services involvement and being seen as having deeper mental health issues. There appears to be a stigma that black woman cannot be vulnerable. I felt this the most while in hospital.

I would say “Would you rather suffer through the issues or risk Social Services getting involved?


“White women are allowed to be vulnerable and Black women are not – it’s not fair.”

REFLECTION


I think black women need space where they are allowed to be vulnerable without fear of judgement. Not just the fear of judgement by others but also the fear of judgement of ourselves and our community. I think it starts and end with us. I think we need to unpick the narrative of this myth we call the strong black woman. Once we understand it for ourselves, I feel it will create the space for others to understand this too.

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