Birth injury: ‘The woman beside me complained of a smell – the smell was me’

Jokes about trampolines, difficulties with sex and years of discomfort — what happens during birth, however traumatic, is often viewed as the price of a healthy baby, but should it be?

"Even where birth has been medically uncomplicated, there is recovery involved, and a range of short, medium and occasionally long-term issues, including pain, pelvic-floor weakness, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and sexual dysfunction that can occur."

Emily Hourican

Variations on “you wouldn’t be going on the trampoline” and “I didn’t go out without planning in advance where the loos were” were some sample results of a straw poll of mothers on post-birth complications. One woman spoke of claiming that her toddler was desperate for the loo so as to get to the front of a queue in a cafe toilet, when in fact it was she who needed to go urgently. None called this incontinence, by the way. They rationalised it as “just what happens”.