After three miscarriages, Kitty Galsworthy tells us about the joy of motherhood and how her doula training helped
Exciting times were ahead. We were expecting a baby in January 2014 and due to move to San Francisco soon after. I thought I’d be on maternity leave and the baby would be a few months old when we left. Such expectations are not necessarily realised. At almost five months pregnant, our baby stopped kicking, and I was induced at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital. It was incredibly sad waiting for test results and I had mixed emotions when we were told there was no answer to why it happened. Having had two previous early miscarriages, it was hard to hear it was just one of those things.
What I found most difficult was the expectation; a natural adjustment takes place to allow for the impact pregnancy and a baby will have on your life. It takes time to readjust and it’s important to grieve. As a level-headed person, it rocked me to feel so low in the weeks that followed. I couldn’t see how it was going to pass until I had a baby in my arms. In fact, the realisation it was out of my hands helped me to enjoy things again.
In San Francisco, I trained as a postnatal doula. I had become fascinated by birth, labour and the first few weeks of life for mother and baby. I was lucky to have had an inspirational midwife at Queen Charlotte’s, Jenny Smith. Her book Your Baby, Your Body, Your Birth introduced me to hypnobirthing and her concept of surrendering to and protecting “the pink bubble” in the first six weeks after the baby is born. She describes it as being “hazy” with a “rose tint” and stresses that, although it might not feel like it, it’s a short time in your life.
I had discovered I was pregnant again on my last day of work in London, just a few weeks before we headed to San Francisco. Training while pregnant was a great focus, and I felt I couldn’t have been in a better place.
Hypnobirthing was an amazing discovery and I truly believe that, if you can break the cycle of ‘fear equals tension equals pain’, it will have a huge impact on your labour. I would encourage anyone to read about it, whatever type of birth you intend to have, because it has so many benefits – I still use the breathing techniques when Isadora is screaming. I was also inspired by my mother, who had me and my brothers naturally and was positive about the experience. I hoped to do the same. My husband Sam was curious – albeit with a bit of scepticism – and would happily fall asleep listening to the relaxation audio at night.
We returned to London and Isadora arrived on November 11. The pregnancy had been straightforward, and we went back to Queen Charlotte’s and Jenny the midwife. The baby was head down and engaged a few weeks before my due date so we waited excitedly. I went into labour the evening of my due date and into hospital the next morning, where she was born in a birthing pool. I believe the mental preparation helped: I felt empowered with knowledge.
My strength of feeling since becoming a mother has amazed me: the responsibility, guilt, anxiety, protection, pleasure, joy and the enormity of love has been surprising. And I have had so many questions, from how to get pregnant and how to stay pregnant to what to do if the baby hates the car. Despite being the most natural thing in the world, it seems there are questions about pregnancy, birth and motherhood that may never properly be answered, which makes the fact we’ve been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years all the more miraculous.
Support – where to get advice after a miscarriage
The Miscarriage Association
This charity offers support and information to anyone affected by miscarriage through its helpline and website, which also has a free private forum where you can share your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Miscarriage: What Every Woman Needs To Know by Professor Lesley Regan
This is a definitive account of the causes, prevention and treatment of miscarriage written by the director of the world-renowned recurrent miscarriage service at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
More information can also be found at nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage