Ashley James has opened up on her traumatic childbirth experience in order to help other women and raise awareness for Birth Trauma Awareness Week.
The star, 35, took to Instagram on Thursday to speak out about the aftereffects of giving birth to her son Alfie Rivers, 18 months ago.
She revealed she had not been offered pair relief and had been stitched up incorrectly, leaving her with fecal incontinence.
Candid: Ashley James has opened up on her traumatic childbirth experience in order to help other women and raise awareness for Birth Trauma Awareness Week
Ashley said she had had a ‘tough’ birth debrief call with the hospital earlier in the day, but was opening up to try and create change for future women.
Alongside a slew of photographs of Alfie’s birth, she wrote: ‘I’ve just had my birth debrief with the hospital, and as it’s birth trauma awareness week I thought I would share where I am at, in the hope that it encourages anyone else who feels like they need to, to request to find out what happened during childbirth.
‘The more we step forward, the more we can help other women avoid having traumatic experiences.
She went on: ‘Firstly, I should state how grateful and lucky I feel that Alf and I are ok.I think that’s what took me so long to process the trauma, because I was just so happy he was ok.
Traumatic: The Made in Chelsea star, 35, took to Instagram on Thursday to speak out about the aftereffects of giving birth to her son Alfie Rivers, 18 months ago
‘The main reasons I wanted a birth debrief were for the following reasons: Not being offered pain relief despite literally begging for slot online it for hours.
‘Why I was forced to have a physical check in order to get an epidural that never came.
‘Being stitched up incorrectly – a scan from the gynecology department show that my 3rd degree tear was missed – this left me with fecal incontinence.I’m sure you can imagine the impact that has on someone mentally and physically.
‘To request my birth debrief, I went through the PALS (complaints department), they set up an appointment for me, and then I was sent a Subject Access Request form to fill out so I can get my physical notes (still waiting for those).
Awful: She revealed she had not been offered pair relief and had been stitched up incorrectly, leaving her with fecal incontinence
‘I had the call today, and it was tough.I had hoped to get pragmatic answers as to why I wasn’t given pain relief (I begged for an epidural for hours) – I thought perhaps it would be down to staffing issues, or unavailable beds in the labour wards.
‘The notes actually stated that I was coping fine.The midwives decided I was ok and my pain was management and I was happy in the water.
‘It’s a lot to process, I made it abundantly clear I wasn’t coping. I have a high pain threshold by the way – I’ve run marathons and am mentally strong at putting my body through things.
‘But pain is subjective.If we say we are in pain, we should be offered relief.’
Honest: Ashley said she had had a ‘tough’ birth debrief call with the hospital earlier in the day, but was opening up to try and create change for future women
She concluded by saying: ‘The lady on the call was lovely and told me about reports showing that women have not been listened to.Our pain dismissed.
‘But things are changing. And they’re changing because of the women stepping forward and making these complaints. So please, don’t stay silent.’
Ashley welcomed her first child with boyfriend Tom Andrews in January 2021, and has previously spoken about the toll of the experience on her mental and physical health.
In December of last year, she exclusively told FEMAIL: ‘My body has grown and changed so much, not just in the 9 months of pregnancy but also it continues to in the eight months and beyond postnatally.
Opening up: Captioning a slew of snaps of Alfie’s birth, she wrote: ‘The more we step forward, the more we can help other women avoid having traumatic experiences’
‘I think we presume or expect our bodies to just suddenly go back to what they were – but actually it takes time.Often the conversation around the postnatal body is just around weight – but it’s actually so much more complex than that.
‘I’ve struggled with incontinence and prolapses and all the other glamorous parts of childbirth recovery no one really talks about – it’s hard to feel confident when you’re not sure if your body will let you down.’
And it isn’t just a physical change.According to Ashley, going through pregnancy and becoming a new mother (particularly during the pandemic) had a psychological impact too.
‘I think retrospectively, now that I’m 8 months down the line, I realise how much being a new mum in lockdown impacted my mental health,’ she said.
‘They say that when you become a mum a new version of yourself is born – and I really felt like I was mourning the old version of myself whilst learning to adapt to the new me.
‘But at the same time life had already changed so much in lockdown so that feeling of losing my old self was multiplied tenfold!’
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Happy family: Ashley welcomed her first child with boyfriend Tom Andrews in January 2021 (pictured on holidays in Mauritius earlier this year)