My name is Andrea, and I’m a BirthWise Volunteer. Here is how I came to be involved with the charity.
After the birth of my first child I suffered terribly with anxiety and depression due to post traumatic stress. The trauma came from the circumstances around my son’s birth. In the weeks leading up to his birth I was not listened to. I was not given all of the information I needed to make informed decisions and I was pressured into having a cesarean section which I was mentally unprepared for. The operation itself was also pretty rough and all of this took its toll on me and lead me to be very unwell and unable to cope with life as new mum. At this time I couldn’t even have contemplated becoming pregnant or giving birth ever again.
I eventually got the help I needed and got well again. Finally we made the decision that we would like to try for another baby. This time though, I was going to be prepared. I began doing my research on what birth could, and should be like. How to avoid complications and what my options would be if issues were to arise. This time around I wanted to have informed consent. For my previous birth I had not been informed therefore I hadn’t really given consent as I felt I only had one option. This was what had led to my feelings of loss.
It was through this research that I came across a BirthWise Volunteer, who arranged to speak with me on the phone that evening. I began that phone conversation anxious, fearful and unsure if having another baby was even a good idea (although I was already 8 weeks pregnant by this stage so it was happening whether I liked it or not!). I finished that conversation confident, sure of what I wanted and how I could achieve it and dare I say even a bit excited! Wow, what a turnaround!
I continued to be in contact with BirthWise, they signposted me to where I could find more information and could find answers to my questions so that I could make my own evidence based decisions around what I wanted for my birth. I became more and more passionate about what an amazing service they were providing. At one point in a conversation I was asked if I would like to become a volunteer. I felt ill-equipped, I didn’t know what I could possibly offer (I still don’t!) but I didn’t hesitate, because if there is any way I can help other parents avoid what I’ve been through and help them to achieve better, then that is something which I definitely want to be part of.
The BirthWise Volunteers are made up of lots of other “ordinary mums” and some dads too. Some of them also happen to be health professionals, and all of them are absolutely passionate about working together with parents to connect, empower, inform, and support them. They also campaign for continuous improvements in maternity care and other relevant services. Now, that’s something that I’m sure everyone would agree is a worthwhile objective.