Founder of MUTU System, Wendy Powell shares a little of her birth story.
Wendy Powell My Birth Story
“I believed my body let me down.
I know that women’s bodies are incredible, amazing things. That they are strong, adaptable, powerful and occasionally capable of miracles. But I have ‘wobbled’ on 2 fairly major occasions to maintain that belief, namely my very own birth story.
Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a ‘my gory birth story is worse than yours’ moment. Many women have traumatic or physically damaging birth experiences and just as many have fantastic, unassisted and empowering experiences (I applaud you whilst being just slightly envious).
I needed to re-think the advertising for my pregnancy and postnatal personal training business after I had my first baby in 2005. I had been one of those trainers who with the very best of intentions would assure clients how easy their birth could be if they just followed the correct pregnancy exercise regime. How quickly they would pop out their baby with their finely tuned pelvic floor muscles and how swiftly they would zing back to energetic gorgeousness.
Then I had a go at that Giving Birth thing.
I felt short-changed, bitter and broken. It was so unfair. I’d ‘done everything right’. I had eaten, relaxed and exercised by the book, so how come none of it worked out?
My daughter was a pretty damaging ventouse delivery after 28 hours labour; postpartum haemorrhage; a ‘manual evacuation’ (yuk) and a catalogue of gruesome and crappy moments which I won’t bore you with.
Her brother was born nearly 2 years later, a natural birth with the full support of midwives and doctors who assured me that there was ‘no reason why it would happen again’. His birth was glorious – but then my haemorrhage came again and this time it was vicious. Paramedic helicopter, theatre and a whole series of ‘procedures’. A terrified looking nurse told me the next day how she ‘thought we’d lost you there’.
“Could be anything. You’ve had a LOT of drugs”
At one point I asked, ‘Where did that bruise come from?’ as I groggily noticed yet another angry needle site. She shrugged ‘Could be anything, Love. You’ve had a LOT of drugs’.
When I recovered I was mad. Mad with my body for letting me down. Twice. Bitter because it wasn’t fair. Other women could do it… why couldn’t I? Women who weren’t as fit/ strong/ healthy/ ‘knowledgeable’ as I was. I had wanted ‘that natural birth’ so badly. What was the point of all that preparation and exercise? What did I do wrong?
Back at home my midwife put it in perspective and stopped me feeling quite so sorry for myself. ‘You think most women can still squat after 24 hours labour?’ she asked. She reminded me of my strength and stamina. Of my core and lower body strength and how my nutritional knowledge had enabled me to nourish my body so quickly back to vitality after such massive blood loss.
It helped a little. But the bigger result was it gave me purpose.
Mother Nature and my Midwife taught me that there is an awful lot about labour and birth that really is in the lap of the Gods. We can do some things to help… and by eating for optimum health, exercising to restore, and having confidence and respect for our body, I think we empower it to do (and bounce back from) incredible things.
We play the hand we’re dealt. Our babies are born (thank God… and Doctors and Midwives…). And then we start to heal. It makes me so sad to see women being made to feel they should or could have done it better / more naturally / more beautifully / more anything.
It’s hard giving birth. We did good, however we did it.
I work with women on re-connecting, emotionally as well as physically, with their bodies. This is so important when they have ‘cut off’ from certain body parts when faced with incontinence, discomfort or stretch marks. Their body’s ability to recover and feel amazing is still there, but it needs help, in the form of very specific exercise and great nutrition, as well as a lot of love and acceptance.
I know so much more now
What I know now, is the academic and technical basis of MUTU System. I will never know if I could have changed what happened. But I do know that what I knew at the time, what we are taught and what we understand and what we learn in the gym or on social media, didn’t serve me. I made MUTU to serve other women, as well as to make peace with my experience. Now I teach, write, speak and coach around the world on the subject. But back then in 2005, what happened, happened.
I did feel that my body had let me down. But then I got over myself and realised that (with just a little medical intervention…) it had actually been amazing. So much had gone right, and of course, the results make me grateful every day.
Giving birth is a very big deal, and I know only too well how many women continue to be affected by their experiences (good and bad) many years later. This post is not supposed to be about who has a ‘perfect birth’ and who doesn’t. Rather a reminder that you are a Warrior, a survivor and a beautiful and powerful human who made a human. And that needs honouring, not shaming.