Clover (pictured) says she has been shamed into silence about saying giving birth was the best day of her life

Clover (pictured) claims she’s been made to feel ashamed about claiming that giving birth was the most memorable day in her life.


Clover Stroud

It is commonly thought that childbirth pain is something women secretly keep to themselves. However, I have found the reverse is true.

Friends often sit with me while I share gruesome stories about their births that seem more like life on the battlefield. But if you admit you actually enjoy it, and feel empowered by it — as I do — you will be labelled a ‘weirdo’.

For me, the hardest and most rewarding part of motherhood is giving birth.

So I applaud the way TV presenter Holly Willoughby has spoken out so boldly about the potential joys of labour, urging a listener on This Morning who was giving birth over Christmas to ‘really enjoy it!’ She added that, for her, labour was ‘the best experience ever’.

Holly, you are my friend! Holly, I’m so glad you are here!

Yet, I often feel shamed into silence about this, as if saying this other-worldly experience is incredible, will upset those who haven’t felt the same, or worse, be seen as boasting.

I’d rather be in labour than do bathtime 

I’m not, for a moment, saying labour wasn’t agony, or that I wasn’t scared by the way my body was behaving, during each of these five labours, but that didn’t cancel out how amazing it was, either.

I’m lucky that nothing went wrong and I do not underestimate how frightening it must be to go through a labour where emergency intervention is needed. Just as each child is unique, so are the experiences we have in delivering them.

It is important to remind women that labour can be — and often is — a truly awe-inspiring rite of passage.

I don’t want to feel ashamed for having enjoyed it, or told I should keep quiet, just because other women haven’t felt the same.

Being a mom is difficult enough. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that mothers are often told not to speak up about moments of joy. Holly deserves my praise and I hope this will inspire other mothers to share their stories without being labeled a freak.

There is, after all, a lot about motherhood I don’t really like.

If you gave me the choice between cooking supper and doing bath and bedtime with my three youngest children, or giving birth again, I’d go for birth, every time.

Helena (pictured) argues holding up childbirth as a close-to-sublime experience will inevitably lead to women feeling either cheated or like failures

Helena (pictured), believes that holding childbirth up as something close to the sublime will invariably lead women to feel cheated and like failures.


Helena Frith Powell 

As I sat in my fibreglass tub in Crowborough’s East Sussex birthing center 22 years ago as I tried to bring my first child into this world, there were many thoughts.

‘When is this going to stop?’ being the most predominant, followed closely by ‘Why the hell did I opt for a natural childbirth?’

I didn’t speak much during the ordeal, except to announce to my birthing partner (a doctor friend whom I decided early on in my pregnancy would be more useful than my husband) that ‘this really, really hurts,’ and once when I demanded of some poor innocent gardener outside the window ‘who the **** mows the lawn at a time like this?’

Some of the best words to describe the day include excruciating, agonising and even unbearable. But at no point did the word ‘magical’ pop into my mind. There was not a single moment, even when it was finally over, that I would describe as anywhere close to approaching my ‘best experience ever’.

I’m thrilled Holly Willoughby has such positive memories of her three births, and perhaps there are many women out there just like her. But for the ones who are pregnant and have been gently contemplating (as I did) that the arrival of this baby is likely to hurt, don’t feel there is anything wrong if you’re not enjoying the prospect as much as Holly. I would argue that she is in a blessed minority, with a pain threshold to rival Iron Man’s.

Holly must have Iron Man’s pain threshold 

And I’m not sure how helpful it is to hold up childbirth as a close-to-sublime experience, as it will inevitably lead to women feeling either cheated or like failures if they feel the way I did. That is what I expect to happen for many of us. There were many girlfriends that called me shortly after my birth to tell me how amazing it was.

A caesarean was my second choice. The third time around, there was no reason to have a caesarean. I tried as many legal drugs as possible. Although better than the first experience, I can’t honestly say I relished either of them. And this in spite of an obstetrician who gave Grey’s Anatomy’s McDreamy a run for his money.

The popular belief that childbirth is overrated, you can forget about it until the moment you have to go back into labor. They began the night before I went into labor. These were my first, and they came out slowly. However, I was able to recall the pain and agony that followed. And all I could think was: ‘Thank God I’m not going through that again.’