Written by Amanda Purdie, Amma Manager & Birth Companion
Four and a half years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I suspected even then that something wasn’t right. When my mother passed away just a couple of weeks before my daughter was born, I instantly felt a sense of detachment from the growing life inside me. It was as if my brain couldn’t process two of life’s most emotionally intense moments at once—the death of a loved one and the arrival of someone new. How was it possible that I would soon need to mother a child, having just become motherless myself?
At one of my final antenatal appointments, I broke down. I told my doctor how sad I was feeling about the death of my mum and how difficult I was finding it to process everything. His response? I’m sorry. That must be hard.
He was right. It was hard. But where was the follow-up? Had he dug a little deeper, he might have learned that I had spent the last week in bed feeling completely numb and dreading the birth of my baby. But he didn’t ask, so I didn’t tell.
A week later, my beautiful baby girl made her grand and rather dramatic entrance into the world. A plancental abruption led to an emergency C-section, so needless to say it wasn’t the birth I had hoped for—but she was here, and she was healthy. And that was all that mattered, right?
Well, it sure seemed that way to everyone I spoke to in the weeks that followed. When someone experiences a traumatic birth it’s natural to want to reassure them. Our default response tends to be to focus on the health of the baby. And it’s true—their health is important. But so is the health and wellbeing of the mother.