The following story was shared by our reader Dessi. Birth stories matter; and her story is an important one as it sheds light on a topic that’s not often talked about. Here’s what happened to her:

It took me two years to speak about this. I was too traumatized to even recall the events. I am sharing this here because I want to end the abuse against women in labour.

A lot of women around the world experience it, but often first-time mums don’t even realise they’re being abused. They think it’s part of the game. But that’s not how it works: the more we talk about it the more awareness we create.

I had a difficult and abusive labour – I was mentally abused and lied to, accused of negligence against my unborn child.

In my native country, Bulgaria, it’s all about money. It’s not profitable to go for a natural birth. A shot of Pitocin makes for a cost-effective delivery, for the hospitals, of course. (Pitocin: A brand-name drug, which is the synthetic version of oxytocin, a natural hormone that helps your uterus contract during labor. Oxytocin is secreted as your body readies for childbirth, but if you aren’t contracting quickly enough or aren’t in labour at all and need to deliver for health reasons, Pitocin can be administered as a medication to kick start those contractions.)

I chose this private hospital carefully. I did my research in advance: I went and had a look around, I spoke to the doctors, I used the power of the internet to evaluate everything.

But no matter how organised you are, you never know who is going to be on duty when you’re in an emergency situation. I wanted a natural delivery so I resisted any sort of medicine… until they shouted to my face that “I WAS NOT THE DOCTOR.”

I went to the hospital a few days before my due date because I felt my baby wasn’t as active as usual. They had a look and said we both were fine. Next, they wanted to record his vital signs. The first check showed things were bad. The doctor came immediately and ran another check. He said everything was fine; the first recording came out faulty because the equipment wasn’t placed properly.

But they still hospitalized me, three days prior to delivery. They kept a close eye on us every few hours. Each time they ran a vital signs check, it came out just fine. My baby was totally fine.

At around midnight I felt minor contractions. Around 2am my water broke, just a day before my due date. My boy was ready to come out. They moved me into the birthing area and immediately asked me if I wanted Pitocin. I said I didn’t. This was when my horror began.

I wanted a natural birth – and even though the whole department knew that, there was this one doctor on shift who didn’t. Now this is a very famous and respected doctor in my native country. He’s well known from the media, and he’s used to operating under difficult circumstances.

But he’s not used to mothers being so actively involved in their own labour.

“It is my body, it is my child, and I want to know what’s happening.”

I was expecting some level of arrogance, due to how high he is in on the professional ladder – but I did not expect him to mentally abuse me to the point that I would have a panic attack.

He basically told me to go and lie down on the bed, don’t move around  – because he’s the doctor, and I’m a nobody. I have to do what he says. And I should hurry up because he’s got a scheduled c-section to attend.

They gave me medicine to speed up the labour against my wishes, but not only that – the injection of Pitocin I got was a double dose. All of a sudden I went from a relaxed, calm labour to extreme labour – and my body couldn’t handle it. They basically forced my body into severe contractions to the point that it started shutting down. I was losing consciousness, I didn’t know how to breathe, I didn’t know where I was. Things were out of control.‍‍‍

After eight hours of pushing and trying to give birth in the most natural way possible, I told the doctor to operate on me. He genuinely wanted to spare me the c-section. Regardless of his arrogant behaviour two hours earlier, I saw it in his eyes. His arrogance was gone, I saw concern and honest desire to help. This lasted just five minutes. He went back to his usual self the minute a decision was made to operate…
”One last push, Dessi”, but I felt I shouldn’t. I told him it was over. I wanted him to save my baby.
A few hours later he walked into my room. He said, ”he would have never made it out, he was badly stuck. Not pushing was the right decision.” He walked out.

Now, two years later, I’m ready to share this story with the world – and I would also like to offer a few tips that could help you have a better labour experience:

– Have your partner with you. David did a great job being there for both of us throughout the entire time. Including joining the surgical team throughout the one hour operation and holding our newborn son right beside my unconscious body, welcoming him into this world. Best partner and dad I could ask for.
– Plan your delivery well but be flexible to change direction any moment if that’s what’s in your baby’s best interest.
– Choose a delivery doctor and stick to her/him, and have a back up one on call. Trust me, a doctor knowing you inside out is crucial.‍‍‍‍

– Never ignore your motherly intuition. We are all human, and sometimes doctors could make a mistake – but a mother always knows her body and baby best. Always speak your mind.

Every woman who reads this post should understand that during labour things don’t always work out the way we want to – and that is okay. You have to prepare for the impossible, because no matter how prepared you are, you can never predict what will happen with exact certainty.

Thank you Dessi for sharing your story with us ♥

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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