Are you the kind of mother you expected to be? Hard question, isn’t it? As women we think a lot about whether we’re living up to the world’s expectation of us as mothers. But how often do you stop and think about whether you’re living up to your own expectations, positively or negatively?
I’m a doctor, a mum of two, and a co-founder of a new app for mums, Tinto. I would say that’s in no particular order, but in fact it’s a bit of a timeline: first, second and third. Today I thought I’d share with you a bit of that timeline and how, frankly, motherhood crashed into my medical thinking in a way I never expected.
I’ve been a doctor now for 13 years and a GP specialising in women’s health for nine. I spent six months of my GP training in obstetrics and gynaecology and absolutely loved the experience and became really passionate about helping pregnant and postnatal women. I developed a real gratitude and respect for the midwives, and I was quite simply in awe of the birthing women around me. I would often find myself in tears when the babies were born, having only known the mothers for a matter of hours or even minutes sometimes.
Despite the amazing women I had around me who showed me that there are many ways to give birth, during this time I became sure that a medicalised birth was the only way that I would feel comfortable having a child. I feared being out of control. I feared the ‘worst’ happening to me. And I feared not being ‘strong’ enough to do it. My medical brain told me that I wanted something sterile, something controlled.
Fast forward a few whirlwind years and I was pregnant with my son. The shift was seismic. I was no longer scared. In fact, although I felt nauseous and tired, I also felt that pregnancy was a very natural state for me. I felt like I understood my body better than ever. This was so unexpected, but incredible.
It was during the first few months of pregnancy that I realised I wanted to do things as naturally as possible. From the food I ate to the medical checkups, I felt like I understood my path and felt confident about the outcome for me and the baby. In the end, the birth centre was an obvious choice for me. I know! Me, the lady who loves the hospital!
In all seriousness, I loved the mother-led approach of my birth centre. I loved practising hypnobirthing both before and during my labour. I remembered and loved how the midwives in my training had just quietly sat with labouring women, respecting their space and their choices, and wanted that for myself.
I was very lucky to have a positive labour experience and my son was born healthy. After witnessing many births, I know it’s not like this for everyone. It certainly wasn’t completely smooth sailing throughout. My son’s heart rate repeatedly dropped during each contraction in the active phase of labour. But the inner voice inside of me knew it would be ok. And as we prepared to be transferred to the labour ward, out he came! Despite the relative urgency of the situation, I felt completely calm and in control. I just knew my baby was fine and was excited to meet him. I felt connected to my body and I knew I could do it.
Motherhood transforms you physically and emotionally. We know that. But I didn’t expect it to so wholly change my perspective like that. At Tinto, the app for pregnant and new mums that I founded after my second child was born, we put this individuality of mothers first. We’re all different, and that should be celebrated. Tinto understands that every journey is unique and has its own twists and turns, and that what mums really need are other mums who just get every single step, however unexpected.
When you ask a question to the community on Tinto, we match you with mums who have had similar experiences to you. This means you only ever get support that is relevant and, well, supportive! My goal every day is to make a better, more personalised approach to women’s health. I’d love you to join me on this journey… wherever it takes me.
Dr Hannah Allen is a mum of two and a GP. She founded Tinto to create a space where all women can thrive in motherhood. Tinto is completely free and can be downloaded here. You can also follow Tinto on Instagram at @tintoapp for loads of amazing mum support and advice!