I hear the words "I failed. I feel a failure" quite a bit. And I wonder about it.
First time mums (and they are not exclusive) find it hard when they've done all that they can do to facilitate the 'perfect birth' and in reality it is not perfect at all. The makers of Persian carpets (actual Persians, not factories), so I'm told, always put a slight flaw in their carpet patterns. This is because only God is perfect. I kind of like that.
I've mentioned before the mothers and grandmothers who have told the new mum how difficult breastfeeding was for them and how it will be for her. I'm sure that I also mentioned that we needed to be careful of the things that we take on board. These are the things that become stumbling blocks and not stepping stones.
My heart breaks a little when I hear a new client tell me why they don't think that they will do so well at the birthing bit. It breaks a little more when they tell me that their mother said so. I tell my children (for as long as I can get away with it) that Mummy's always right and Mummy knows everything. This is one thing that my children won't hear from me, "my labours and births were difficult and yours will be as well". I don't think that those mothers mean to put fear into their daughters, but that's exactly what they do. That fear is something that I have to work with and help the expectant mums to put aside or at least come to terms with so that it doesn't revisit them whilst they labour.
We look to the mothers and grandmothers in our lives to tell us stories about birth and babies. It is sad when we teach our daughters to fear childbirth. When we complain that a BBC series like Call The Midwife is too graphic and hide it from our children because we hear labour cries, well what example do we set? What is it that we are teaching them? Is not birth as much a part of life as death? Birth is not always a thing of silence, nor is it necessarily bloodcurdling screams. We need to tell stories of birth, but not just the blood, guts and gore and "I almost died" stories. There are plenty of those about and many people to share them.
Why not share the stories of how we persevered and did better than we expected, even if it wasn't quite the birth that we wanted. Why not talk about the VBACs and HBACs, the second time arounds where we went beyond the 4cm that kept us stuck previously? Let's make our Plans B and C and tuck them away so that when our Plan A goes awry, we can reach into our bags for the contingency and know that ultimately we didn't fail.