Piles of medication, endless vomit and multiple hospital trips... my pregnancy definitely wasn't enjoyable. I'd go as far to say that it was terrible, but I was one of the lucky ones.
My daughter made a smooth and safe entrance to the world, leaving our new family of three able to bask in newborn bliss, just as all families should.
Sadly, not all do.
You see, it’s no secret that black and brown women are five times more likely to die during childbirth than their white counterparts. Clearly something needs to be done to tackle the UK's black maternal health problem.
That something was revealed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently, who recommended healthcare professionals to offer induction to black, Asian and ethnic minority women at 39 weeks into their uncomplicated pregnancies.
Yes that’s right: uncomplicated pregnancies.
Image:Getty Images/Tetra images RF)
Understandably there has been a lot of backlash and concerns that the real, deep-rooted issues causing these risks to black and ethnic minority people giving birth are being disregarded and cast aside for a quick fix solution.
One major concern is that the guidelines could result in a huge number of people being denied the choice to give birth 'naturally'. Induction in itself has huge risks; they don't make you sign all the paperwork for no reason.
As a black mother who was induced before giving birth I am certainly not against induction. I was induced at 37 weeks due to severe SPD, which was affecting my own mental health.
However, upon reflection I now see that a lot of what I was told by my consultant was merely guidance and not a rule. During a highly emotional time for myself and my partner, we relied on the experts to help us and followed what they told us.
In the early months of pregnancy we were eager to learn as much as we could and quickly enrolled on a hypnobirthing course. They taught us about the BRAIN acronym where they encourage you to question things during your pregnancy and birth, think about the benefits, risks, any alternatives, use your instinct or potentially do nothing.
I felt so prepared going into the later stages of pregnancy, but when it came to conversations with our consultant we definitely didn't feel in the right space to use our brain. We were vulnerable and completely put our trust in them.
They are the experts after all and surely they have our best interests at heart, right?
A recent systematic review (Lou et al, 2018) reveals we're not alone in following the advice of health professionals. The review revealed many people felt passive in the decision-making process, and unable to request anything other than what the health professional suggested.
In addition to this, written into the NICE guidance is the instruction for health professionals to revisit a decision to decline induction at least once a week.
I had wondered if I was alone in my thinking, however, registered midwife Adelaide Harris' thoughts mirror my own and that of many others.
She said: "Some have said that pregnant people can still make the choice not to follow the guidelines regarding induction, but I think they are failing to recognise the weight that a recommendation from a healthcare professional carries."
The Royal College of Midwives also responded to the draft 2021 NICE guidelines on induction of labour and highlighted their concerns, saying that "offering earlier induction of labour to all healthy women, will affect their experience of labour, birth and limit their options available to them in terms of place of birth and care".
Adelaide Harris also spoke about the risks of inductions.
She said: "Induction of labour leads to more intervention and more adverse outcomes for both the birthing person and the baby. In most cases, it limits place of birth as continuous foetal heart monitoring is required in labour, and this sometimes means a birthing pool cannot be used.”
This was definitely the case for us and the induction put a huge spanner in the words in regards to where we were able to give birth.
We had planned to go to a local birthing centre, which was a five-minute drive from home. My wife would have been able to practically crawl back into bed after what we envisioned to be a tiring time, but the induction meant we were limited to a completely different hospital in a cold and sterile environment.
It wasn’t what we wanted.
Clinical midwife Rochelle Love of Melanin Mothers also found the guidance to be “extremely offensive to both myself and the rest of the black ethnic minority community”.
She continued: “It is simply racist and discriminatory. By explicitly stating that being coloured is a reason for induction, you are creating a belief that being black or brown is a pathology in itself. This is wrong.”
Giving birth is a normal process that happens every day all over the world, however for a group of people it is being completely undermined by the new guidelines.
The deaths of black and brown people during birth is due to the care, or lack thereof, received during pregnancy, labour and birth.
Being a black or brown person is not a risk factor, our bodies are not broken and this is not a reason for someone to be deemed as high-risk during pregnancy and birth.
Instead of masking problems with induction we should be investing in educating on the warning signs of pregnancy complications and continually supporting and protecting all patients, no matter the colour of their skin, to make sure their needs are addressed before it’s too late.
Ultimately, it’s the policies that need fixing, not us.