The following poem, LISTEN, was written using the words of hundreds of members of the group ‘Birth Story Listeners‘.
When Claire Kay ask them ‘if they could recommend one change to their care providers which might have lessened the severity of the trauma they experienced – what would it be?’ …
“Listen” please won’t you, don’t forget to explain.
I know my own body, you don’t feel my pain.
Respect me with kindness, dignity, care,
as if I was family, with compassion, and fair
to all of us women; for us, this is new.
You may do this everyday, but we need staff who
will support us, not interfere, hold back and wait,
not rush, shout or bully us, coerce us with bait
of a healthy baby ,yes we want that too!
But we need more emotional care carers who
understand we are human, not statistics, machines;
women with feelings, Mothers with dreams.
Mind, body, souls who deserve your best care.
Listen to us women and just “be there”
to support us when needed, speak honesty, truth;
communication, respect choices, don’t soothe
with false information, cover up, lie.
Speak to us clearly, look us in the eye.
Believe us and trust us ’cause we are in charge.
We welcome your presence because birth is hard!
But we need more support from you cheer-lead us too,
understand when we’re frightened, hope to win through!
We need less interventions less surgery, sweeps,
better pain relief, privacy, less induction, belief
that we can get through this; not watching the clock.
And by the way “no means no” when we tell you – stop!
‘Cause this is “our” body, and “we” call the shots.
You may have the titles, you may know the lot
but you don’t feel my feelings, you don’t feel my pain,
you don’t know my body, you don’t feel my strain.
Please don’t restrict me allow me to move!
Give me choice of position, read my birth plan, exude
a sensitive presence; be aware of my past,
if I’ve had a bad time before… PTSD…at last…
we get to the crux of it, PTSD is real!
The way you look after me, the way I ‘feel’
makes a mighty big difference to the way I’ll recover,
how I bond with my baby, how I start out as “Mother.”
We know many traumas just happen, aren’t planned,
emergencies, surgeries, blood loss …and
if these things do happen, please stay by our side;
explain what just happened, hold our hands, wipe our eyes.
And remember our partners – for we need them too..
don’t send them away, we need our loved ones who
will be there when we leave here, they too may be scared,
they too need compassion they too to be heard.
So “listen” just “listen”, when you do “really hear.”
We trust you’ll remember this thank you kindly dear
dear midwives and doctors, surgeons, GPs,
anaesthetists, class leaders, feeding specialists, trainees.
Please do remember this, and if you do
we’ll avoid the worst trauma, we’ll be Mothers who
can start out with confidence, hope, not despair,
less nightmares and flashbacks, tears, fears, guilt to bare
for our lost birth experiences; soreness, bleeding,
infection, distress, mental illness, un-healing
wounds that remain in our minds, in our hearts.
Enable us, equip us, give us the best starts.
And if we do suffer – please do not tell us to
“put it all far behind us”, to “push on through
with our new healthy babies,” that’s not all that counts,
for we matter too!
Hear our voice, hear our shouts!
PTSD awareness, raise up, make it known,
then we’ll be more equipped, we won’t feel so alone.
So thank you for listening to this chapter, this verse,
we trust you’ll take heed of this, take time to converse
on your courses, in staff rooms, with family, friends;
for it’s time PTSD in Mothers ends!
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