After the birth of my first baby, I felt completely traumatised and couldn’t get the horror out of my head. So when Emily Neumann emailed about suffering birth trauma, I could absolutely identify with those feelings of utter terror, anxiety and aloneness.

Emily’s waters broke early and everything happened so quickly, she ended up giving birth on her toilet at home.

What she went through was incredibly traumatic, and the flashbacks she’s had have been unbearable. Birth Trauma Awareness Week starts on Monday, and it’s such an important topic to talk about so that people know they are not alone and can start to heal, both physically and mentally, and find peace.


  • Apparently, it’s illegal for an unqualified, unregistered person to perform the role of a doctor or midwife in labour (article 45 of the nursing and midwifery order)

  • So, technically, my husband and I broke the law. Unable to go to a birth trauma session due to lockdown backlog, I’m hoping writing this out will give me some closure, and maybe help others.

  • At the end of 2019, we decided to try for baby number two. Blissfully unaware a global pandemic was heading our way.

  • As with my first pregnancy, I got pregnant very quickly. We were thrilled, it felt like the right time.

  • Whilst I was in the throes of morning sickness, Boris locked us down for the first time.

  • Scans alone and midwife appointments over the phone were a lot to deal with. I’d also had a long and unpleasant 72 hour first labour, and was unlikely to have my husband with me in the early stages if in hospital, so I decided I wanted to try hypnobirthing this time round.

  • I was low risk, so I got a book, and an amazing friend Zoe offered me a hypnobirthing course as she was currently training.

  • So all was well. I talked through my fears, made a mood board, got my affirmations sorted and practiced my breathing.

  • The pregnancy was going well without any cause for concern.

  • Then at 30 weeks pregnant, I got a water infection. Pretty unusual this late on, but I had the antibiotics and once again, all was well

  • At 33 weeks, an angry itchy rash appeared all over my bump. My midwife wasn’t overly concerned by it, so neither was I, and it went after a week.

  • Then at 35 weeks, everything changed.

  • I woke up at 1am one night to find the bed soaking. A strong bladder my whole life, I knew immediately I hadn’t wet myself.

  • The hospital told me to come in, so thanks to the pandemic I drove alone at 1am to hospital, leaking fluid into one of my daughter’s toddler toilet training sheets.

  • The drive was the longest 30 minutes of my life, I was utterly terrified knowing I shouldn’t be going through this situation yet, with no one to calm me.

  • Was something wrong with my baby? Was the rash a warning? Every thought raced through my mind, and the empty seat next to me reminded me all too well that  whatever news I faced at the hospital, I’d be mask clad, doing it alone, unable to even read the expression of the professional telling me. Pandemic pregnancy is not the best.

  • When I was examined at hospital my instincts were confirmed, my waters had broken.

  • My cervix was closed, so I needed to stay in hospital to see if labour started and to monitor baby for distress.

  • After some monitoring, I crawled into a hospital bed at 5am and text my husband, wishing all the while he was with me. Having had such a long arduous first labour, the thought of doing it alone was worrying me

  • Three days passed under a cloud of no visitors and mountains of hospital custard (the only upside, in my opinion) and nothing happened. I had steroids and antibiotics for baby, a million observations, and went home with a plan to be induced at 37 weeks.

  • I was told to rest as much as physically possible, so started to prep for the end of work before mat leave.

  • The inevitable wait was even worse than last time. I was still so worried about the baby having lost the protection needed in the womb. I was scared to pick up my toddler, scared to drive, scared to move.

  • Six days after coming home I had some pains in the middle of the night. They went after an hour or so.

  • I spoke to my midwife the next day and she told me to monitor them and call the hospital if they got worse.

  • The next night they were back. I got up at 1.45am and walked about as this helped alleviate them previously.

  • After walking around for 30 minutes, the pain had not subsided and was getting stronger.

  • I timed the pains to determine if this was early labour – it was 3am by now and they were around 7-8 minutes apart in intensity.

  • I started to listen to my hypnobirthing affirmations and did my breathing to keep calm – my first labour was three days long so I knew I could be in this stage for a while.

  • Knowing I wouldn’t be admitted to hospital before active labour and not willing to take additional risks due to COVID, I decided to wait to see how things progressed.

  • After around an hour, things suddenly changed.

  • The contractions suddenly became a lot more intense and 45 seconds long, around three minutes apart.

  • I woke my husband, he called his parents to come and look after our eldest daughter

  • I was about to call the maternity suite to tell them we’d be leaving shortly when the pain suddenly intensified more, although still very manageable with my breathing techniques.

  • At this stage in my last pregnancy my bladder completely shut down, the pressure from the fullness of my bladder causing issues with my uterus and rendering my contractions redundant. I had a catheter for weeks after birth, and over Christmas too

  • I decided to have a wee in between contractions, whilst I still could.

  • Once on the toilet, I got the overwhelming desire to push. I couldn’t hold it back, my body took over, and I felt my baby crowning.

  • I shouted for my husband as I couldn’t move at all, and as he came into the bathroom, my newborn daughter was born.

  • No pushing, and all within 30 seconds of sitting on the loo.

  • I was in total shock as she fell towards the toilet.

  • I turned as much as I could so as not to damage the cord and quickly picked her up.

  • My husband rang for an ambulance as I carefully sat on the floor, lifted my t.shirt and put her on my bare chest. My calm hypnobirthing state was eradicated, and once again I was terrified.

  • My husband fetched towels to keep us warm and asked the 999 staff what we should be doing.

  • Minutes later I birthed the placenta on the bathroom floor.

  • The staff on the line erroneously told us we needed to tie off the umbilical cord with a shoelace, we did question this but they were adamant.

  • I’m pretty cross about this as I’ve since been told this is incorrect advice, however it was delayed by around 5 minutes or so after birth, which is recommended.

  • I was still in total shock as the paramedics arrived, I remember very little of the next 10 minutes or so as they cut the cord and helped check baby over.

  • Once this was done we started to make plans to get into the ambulance.

  • My in-laws had now arrived to care for my eldest daughter, and arrived to what I can only describe as looking like an awful crime scene.

  • The paramedics advised me they could see no injuries or trauma from her slight tumble into the toilet, and her APGAR score was also fine.

  • We had to wait another five minutes or so before we could leave as the paramedics checked if my husband could ride in the ambulance under COVID restrictions. What a time to be alive.

  • A huge positive, she latched immediately in the ambulance, and stayed latched for the whole 30 minute journey

  • On arrival at hospital it was determined baby’s temperature had dropped, likely from the conditions of her birth, so she was placed under a lamp to help warm her up.

  • I was checked and it was determined I hadn’t torn, more a severe graze. I was offered one small stitch to bring the wound together easily, which I accepted.

  • Given she was premature, she needed to be taken to NICU to have further checks, and as my waters had broken the week before, she required more antibiotics.

  • As we were still under COVID conditions I was not permitted to go with her, which really upset me.

  • Once I had a little cry, I had a shower to clean myself up and had some tea and toast. Shortly after I was moved from the delivery room I was in onto the postnatal ward to await baby’s arrival

  • This took an excruciating couple of hours, the longest of my life as I knew under normal circumstances we should be having lots of cuddles at that time instead

  • We stayed in hospital for three days to complete baby’s antibiotics and to monitor both hers and my progress.

  • Baby had further blood tests, antibiotics and the usual newborn tests, all of which came back normal, and I started to try and establish feeding.

  • She took to the breast easily and much better than my eldest child, which was a relief with limited access to feeding professionals, and no breastfeeding groups when I left hospital thanks to the closure of sure start centres and no NCT group due to Covid.

  • Every health care professional I’ve seen has been understandably shocked by the way baby came into the world.

  • I’m not sure if this makes me feel better or worse.

  • It’s been nine months since this happened, and the flashbacks have been horrendous.

  • Taking my daughter into the bathroom with me literally gives me cold sweats, and I find myself very anxious and sometimes neurotic about her health.

  • I wake up in the night and almost rip the bed apart looking for her, convinced I’ve squashed her / suffocated her. She is always next to me, in the cot, completely fine.

  • I constantly worry if she has ongoing trauma issues that haven’t revealed themselves…yet

  • As with all trauma, talking about this is hard.

  • When I do talk about it, I’m often told “at least baby is healthy, that’s all that matters”

  • Do my feelings not matter?

  • Should I have called the hospital sooner, I sometimes think.

  • But then I’d have likely given birth in the car on the side of the road, which would have been so much worse.

  • Three hours start to finish, a 30 minute drive to the hospital and waiting for a babysitter at 3am means I’d have never made it to the hospital

  • Although it wasn’t the ideal birthing environment, hypnobirthing really helped me stay calm during labour.

  • I had a graze, no tear, and needed no painkillers in hospital.

  • I would advise ALL pregnant women and their birth partner to do some research on what happens if you give birth unexpectedly without medical help, and how to deal with it.

  • As far as I’m aware, there is no information provided by midwives on this. I certainly haven’t been told anything in either of my pregnancies.

  • Look at BBA (birth before arrival) or precipitous labour

  • I get it, I do, they don’t want to scare people.

  • Yes BBA is reasonably rare, and it’s normally in chat columns that you hear about someone giving birth on the loo, but it does happen.

  • It’s better to be prepared and not need a plan, than need one and not have one, like me.

  • I’m still searching to find someone with the same experience to talk to first hand.

  • It’s definitely worth considering having a back up birth partner who lives with you if your first choice does not.

  • As I was in shock my husband had to take over, and he too has felt the strain of this, having similar flashbacks.

  • People often forget the birth partner shares in the trauma also.

  • For now, writing is the only therapy I have, an unusual birth in an unprecedented world divulged to complete strangers via social media.



Birth Trauma Association UK:

PPROM (waters breaking early) information:


** ‘But why is there blood in the toilet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to preorder now  and also on audiobook.**



–  READ my two lists about all three of my children’s birth stories: A Tale of Two Very Different Births and Greta’s Birth Story. They differed hugely and went from terrifying to healing and empowering. 

–  READ clinical psychologist and hypnobirthing teacher Emma Svanberg’s list on How To Cope With Birth Trauma and why it’s so important to raise awareness around the subject.

–  READ Deborah Caldicott’s piece on Birth Trauma Therapy as she explains that it isn’t something you have to shoulder alone and that it is possible to find closure.

–  LISTEN to hypnobirthing teacher, Hollie de Cruz, on Honestly podcast as she speaks about Birth and how labour isn’t something we can plan or control, but it can be transformative.


Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome, but we are currently particularly looking for lists on:

–  Internet trolling

–  Prison

–  Pain killer addiction

–  Extremely large families

–  Estrangement

–  Lottery winners

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