Esther is a mother of two children. 'I only know that contractions are very painful and when the midwives said 'hold on' I thought I'd say this again and I'll kick you in your face. Not done, of course, and just listened carefully.'

How did you experience your pregnancy?

“I've had two pregnancies, which were very different. The first one went very smoothly. Only at the end of the pregnancy did I have a lot of heartburn . There are many remedies for heartburn, but many did not help. So that took some searching.

With my second pregnancy I had a lot of stomach problems. From week 20, walking 100 meters without a hard belly was a challenge. And if you have a 2-year-old toddler walking around, then that is difficult. At the end I cycled everywhere and parked my bike in front of the door, even if I had to be in the middle of the shopping street.

What struck me most during both pregnancies is the change in your body , your whole body and not just your belly and your breasts. This change starts immediately when you are pregnant, so already in the first few weeks. I never expected that. And then those breasts …”

How did you prepare for childbirth?

'During my first pregnancy I took a Mensendieck childbirth course . I found that quite uncomfortable. I actually wanted to think about giving birth as little as possible. In other words, I had no birth plan or anything like that. In the end my first one also arrived a week early, I didn't even have the 'flight' suitcase ready yet.

I also attended a breastfeeding evening . In hindsight the best choice ever. Through the course you know a little more about the possibilities of breastfeeding, but also to indicate very clearly what you would not want.

I did pregnancy yoga with my second pregnancy. I loved doing some exercises, which I still do, but it didn't necessarily prepare me for childbirth anymore. I especially had to watch out when we closed that I didn't fall asleep.'

How did you experience childbirth?

I've had a positive experience with both. In both cases I completely surrendered to the moment and to my body. My body determined everything, how what and when. And I continuously lay in the position, etc, which felt best. This was completely different in both deliveries. I only know that contractions are very painful and when the midwives said 'hold on' I thought say this again and I'll kick you in your face. Not done, of course, and just listened carefully.'

How was the maternity period? And what physical discomforts have you experienced and were you aware of this?

'The maternity period was very nice, both times we had super maternity nurses and that helped enormously.

With regard to physical discomfort…I think anything. Of course I was told but never realized what that meant.

In other words:

The bottom endures a lot and the first time I was stitched . This I then had to rinse with a bowl of water after peeing . Very clumsy. I was allowed to mop around the toilet regularly afterwards.

Breasts that really hurt, especially on days 3 and 4. And that they will also leak spontaneously when you have showered. Then you feel... yes... how shall I say that... you don't know your body anymore and that takes some getting used to.

The delivery of the second went very quickly. Fine, but then I had contractions . I didn't know that existed. I really cursed everything that night. I thought I'm done, delivery has been, beautiful healthy baby and you're still cramping from the pain . This was really disappointing.

I think the most important thing is that the physical discomfort is part of it, but that doesn't mean you can't do anything about it. Report it. After all, it turns out that many mothers know exactly what you're talking about.'

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