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The inspiring author and journalist Jessica Hatcher-Moore joins me on today’s episode of New Leaf podcast. Believe me, this one is a good one.
Jess’s new book, After Birth, really made me understand that there is another birth story, the After Birth story, which can be just as twisting, just as physically dramatic, and just as emotional for the mother. And yet so often, it is not told. Birth injury consequences are so often written off as ‘normal’ with a deathly silence of proper research around their recovery. At 6-week checks, stitches are often not checked, compounding a sense of shame, with incontinence dismissed without proper support, with women having to advocate for themselves often in a situation they have never experienced in their whole life. It can affect their relationships, their feelings towards their child, their ability to get back to work, their mental and physical health, and even their journey in old age. Jess’s book navigates the journey from pregnancy to After Birth, quoting absolutely fascinating bits of research to really challenge the current ways in which we ‘do’ birth, and the postnatal period.
There is a so far an enormous, and untapped, power waiting to be unleashed - of prenatal information and education to pregnant women, around the physical process of birth, what can happen, and the postnatal consequences. I talked about this with a guest in my second ever episode of New Leaf, saying that information shouldn’t equal fear, and Jess’s book is this very message but in spades.
She bravely discusses womankind and society’s need to drag birth and its physiology away from being the ‘dark secret’ that mothers wink wink nudge nudge to each other while eye rolling at the blissfully naive pregnant friend, towards an informed and confident pregnant woman, who doesn’t have to say “why didn’t anyone tell me” following their birth experience. I could not agree more. It shouldn’t be this way. Knowledge is power.
As a c-section mother myself, I had other physical consequences of birth, but pelvic floor issues weren’t one of them. I dealt with abdominal separation, the pain of major surgery, and the sometimes longer abdominal recovery period that comes with a csection. But I simply hadn’t lived through how debilitating vaginal birth injuries can be, and my naivety is a consequence of the silence that still surrounds these. Jess hilariously refers to the book as an ode to the pelvic floor, which in some ways, it is, but actually it is so, so much more than that. It walks you through the whole pre-, during and after birth process with humour, factual information, and amazing stories from women just like you and me, in an inclusive and non-judgmental way. Jess’s book opened my eyes to what millions of women go through as part of the birthing process, and places it in a wider context of how better information can make for better births, better birth outcomes, and better long-term health outcomes for women.
Introducing the amazing, Jessica Hatcher-Moore.