Janine Smith

How has birth changed you?

How has birth changed you? As I have said so many times before , I love birth and I love preparing women and their partners for birth – I don’t think there is one right way of doing it and I am always keen to know more about women’s needs, expectations and experiences.

I am currently thinking about preparing for birth, doing birth and reflecting on birth when there are other issues going on – low self esteem, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, lack of trust in our body. We know that birth is different for everyone, we know that it can be unpredictable, we know what can help labour along, we know what can get in the way and we know that it can be important to say what we need, to speak up but can we all do this? How do we prepare for this? Birth challenges us all in different ways.

And how do we feel about ourselves and our bodies after we have given birth? I know this is a big issue but it’s because it is a big issue that I want to start looking at it and hearing your stories and different perspectives because we are all unique and there is so much we don’t share. I would like to have an honest discussion about birth and how we think about ourselves. Please send me your stories – there’s a message box at the bottom of this page.


Here’s my story…

I am not shy, I can be quite gobby but I can possess a lack of self-worth and a good dollop of self-doubt that can have an affect on how I think and on what I need – I never felt quite good enough because I was not thin enough, pretty enough, fit enough, successful enough, clever enough, capable enough…you get the picture.

When it came to my three pregnancies I read well, I planned well for birth and I prepared as well as I could for the unknown, unpredictable reality of labour and birth. I had to trust and work with my body which I had previously struggled with. And I had to learn to trust me and my ability to do not just the birth but the mothering thing as well.

All three of my births were straightforward and quick – along with raw, tough, painful, exhausting, noisy and panicky in places but I found that I could do it. I could listen to my body and I could say what I needed because I was talking for my baby, not for me and I had the support around me that helped me. My births left me feeling more connected with my body and my mind, in awe of what it had done to make and birth my babies. And in awe of myself, of what I had experienced in growing and birthing my babies.

I had to dig deep, I needed good support when I struggled, when I doubted my ability and my strength, I tore and needed stitches and, with my third baby, I needed stirrups, a spinal and the manual removal of my placenta which left me with PTSD. This has left me feeling violated, vulnerable and anxious. But I did it, I got through it and I do feel stronger. I have enormous respect for my body and for myself, for what I experienced and for what I coped with.

When we experience something tough, challenging and traumatic it can leave us with vulnerability, fear, anxiety and panic and this impact can also leave us with strength, determination and an ability to know ourselves well. My traumatic experience was my last baby but I know my preparation for birth again would have needed to be different – it would have been more about managing fear and pain, about trusting my body more, about working with the doubts in my head and about working out what support I might need.

Birth can leave it’s mark with memories – good and bad – with questions and doubts, as well as pride, amazement and disappointment.

We are all different, we all have our own stories, I’d like to start hearing and sharing more of your stories, not just of your birth but about the change in you. How has birth changed you?

Please send me your words, your stories, your questions – this is an important issue to talk through and I’d like you to help with the conversation.

Janine x

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An experienced specialist in pregnancy, birth & early parenting, I have worked with parents since 2002. I am based in the North East so I regularly work with parents from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and across North Tyneside. Face-to-face sessions will continue with North East parents but digital courses and online sessions means I can work with parents everywhere.