Not all birthing people are women
Ryan’s birth centre story
My name is Ryan, I’m a transgender man and I gave birth to my son on the 30th of September 2019 at the birth centre at Royal Oldham Hospital.
During my pregnancy I was lucky because I was put into the care of the continuity midwives, as I was concerned about being misread as a female during labour and this making me dysphoric and not being able to focus on giving birth. My assigned midwife from the team was Linda and she was super kind and supportive from the start, as she has a daughter who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, she introduced me gradually to some of the other midwives on her team by bringing them to my at home check-ups, which was unbelievably considerate of her to do considering they usually meet their other expectant parents at coffee mornings and groups like that, but because I was so afraid of making other parents uncomfortable and of being misread as a ‘mum’ by them I didn’t want to go to any lessons or groups or anything like that, so Linda and her team were very accommodating towards me.
My son – Hendrick, came 3 weeks early, I’d told Linda from the start of it that I wanted him to come early because I didn’t want to get to be too big and she would always laugh at me and tell me he will come when he wants to, but if I wanted to be on the birth centre it would have to be after 37 weeks, so lo and behold, I went into labour when I hit 37 weeks and had him at 37 + 1.
I think that labour started around 3PM on the Sunday because I remember feeling slight tickle-twinges and asking my family whether they could be labour. By around 8PM I had them mildly stronger but still just similar to an occasional cramp so I didn’t believe I was in labour. I got into the bath to try and relax thinking I must have hurt a muscle or something from playing with my niece and as I got in the pains got worse, at 10PM I told my best friend I was in pain and she offered to come round to support me, I declined saying I wasn’t in labour and tried to watch an episode of American Horror Story. I couldn’t watch it because I was in that much pain so I went downstairs to sit with my dad as my mum had gone to sleep.
At midnight my best friend insisted that she came round and I was in that much pain that I didn’t want to refuse, though I was still in denial about being in labour, insisting that it might stop any moment. She encouraged me to ring the midwife but I am so awkward I didn’t want to until I knew I was, so after about an hour and a half of being in pain and her getting to a point where she said she would phone them if I didn’t I gave in, Rachel answered and asked us to time the contractions and to ring again when they get to 4 really strong ones within either 5 or 10 minutes, I can’t remember and she told me to breathe through them as I didn’t know that I was meant to do that I’d been tensing up each time.
At about half 4 in the morning we rang Rachel again and I was in that much pain I could barely speak to her so she came to the house to assess me and found that I was 4cm dilated! She was really mindful of me being trans and spoke through what she was going to do to check and explained it might be uncomfortable and checked that I was okay at each stage. I was still in disbelief and asked her if she was sure I was definitely in labour and she said yes you’re going to have the baby today.
Me, my mum, my best friend and my dad drove to meet Rachel at the birth centre and I remember struggling to walk to get there from the car, having to take breaks on the walls. When we got there at 6am Rachel was already there and we got onto the birth centre and into one of the rooms with a birthing pool. I can’t remember whether Rachel offered or whether I asked for gas and air but I had gas and air to help me through the pain while Rachel ran the water of the birthing pool, she went to go and grab a thermometer to check that the water was a good temperature but my mum ushered me into the pool because she could tell that I was in that much pain that I wouldn’t have been able to get up the steps if I’d have waited, Rachel was a little surprised to see me in the pool but checked the temperature and was okay with it.
The birthing room was gorgeous, when I was in the pool I looked up at the ceiling and there were stars on it and the lighting was low, when we first entered the room there was aromatherapy on and I remember it smelling nice and somehow smelling warm? Like a comforting warm though.
It was like being in a dreamlike state being in that room and having gas and air, there were affirming words on the walls like ‘relax’ in a wiggly font which I think helped my subconscious to feel safe in a relatively unknown environment. Rachel came and checked on me a few times and I asked her how long until I would give birth and she estimated that it could be midday.
My grandma and grandad arrived and said hello and Rachel apologised but said that only two people could stay in with me, which is totally understandable just incase anything might have gone wrong and they’d have had to rush me out. But as she said that I felt my waters break and I gave birth with two strong contractions, it was a beautiful feeling to know that everybody I wanted to be there was with me, I had my mum, my best friend and my grandma – which I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky as me, even more so due to covid.
He arrived at 7:06 in the morning just an hour after I’d arrived on the birthing centre, Rachel and the other midwife she had with her offered to give me an injection to help bring the placenta away but I had brain fog and couldn’t decide and as I was deciding it came away by itself. But the two of them were patient and didn’t rush me into any decision despite me swaying from wanting it to not wanting it.
When he arrived Rachel congratulated me on becoming a dad and gave him to me straight away, I was shocked and the first words I said was “Oh, a child!” as if I was expecting a kitten or something.
They took good care of me on the birthing centre and offered me food, I was only misgendered once when Rachel left because I assume there was some kind of miscommunication somewhere, but on the whole it was as pleasant an experience of birth could have been, even when I stood up and blood went everywhere Rachel was so calm about it all and got it cleaned up, I had no stitches and I was able to leave the centre at about half one in the afternoon.
Thank you to my lovely team of continuity midwives, especially Rachel and all of the team at Royal Oldham.
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