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Interview 07

Age at interview: 24
Brief Outline: Unplanned pregnancy after graduating from university. Supported by partner but felt a lack of institutional support for young, unmarried women. Looking forward to balancing motherhood with a career.
Background: Children' 1, aged 4 months at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- post graduate student, Father- Engineer. Marital status' single. Ethnic background' Mixed Irish/Polynesian. Read by an actor.

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When she discovered she was pregnant unexpectedly it was hard to tell her family, but they were...

When she discovered she was pregnant unexpectedly it was hard to tell her family, but they were...

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When I first discovered that I was pregnant I told my partner straight away, and then I went to the doctor to confirm it. And then I rang a friend of mine who I lived with, throughout my time at university and talked to her. And after that I didn't talk to anyone apart from my partner for a long time, I didn't tell anyone else for weeks. And then after I'd known that I was pregnant for about five weeks, I told my, my mum. And then I started telling my other friends. And it took me about two months, three months from when I was pregnant to, to tell everyone, slowly. It took me quite a long time to, and it's not because I wasn't, or it's not because I was unhappy about having a baby, it was more that I was getting my head round having a baby, and I wasn't happy or sad, I was just confused and, and that's why I think it was so slow. And like I said, I think I was slightly in denial about the whole situation as well.

Was it, was it quite tough telling your parents that you were pregnant?

Even though I'd finished my degree and I was 24, telling my parents that I was pregnant was still really hard because they've always had quite a traditional line on things. And I wasn't married and they'd only met my partner twice before and they had quite big ideas about what I was going to go on to do. And so to tell them that I was pregnant was difficult. But I was relieved, and I did actually go and see them three times to tell them, before I actually told them. And I was glad when I told them in the end. Their initial reaction, although they were shocked, was that they would support me. My father was much better than my mother, which is surprising I think. I was surprised. But, but now they're both very supportive, extremely supportive and, yeah it was difficult to tell them. I don't know if it was because I was worried about what they were going to say, or because I was, that would make it real for me, telling them as well, so. But I felt that I was old enough to get on with it, and it was my decision.

 

In the first months of pregnancy she felt completely exhausted and needed lots of sleep. (Read by...

In the first months of pregnancy she felt completely exhausted and needed lots of sleep. (Read by...

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Physically I didn't feel that much different in terms of how I looked, or, or feel that I looked any different. I felt exhausted and the first three months, or the first - it was more like the third month was I think the most exhausting month of my life, I've never been so tired. I couldn't get out of bed some days because I'd just wake up, eat some food, sleep all day, eat some food and go back to sleep again. And that was difficult, and I found that no-one understood that at all because - I don't know whether it was, it was because I was slightly stressed about the situation, maybe, and that the best way I dealt with it was by sleeping through everything - but I really, I was just exhausted all the time. Yeah, but my appearance I didn't worry about too much at the time.

 

Early on, her main worry was how she would manage financially. (Read by an actor.)

Early on, her main worry was how she would manage financially. (Read by an actor.)

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What sort of hopes and fears did you have in the early weeks, the early part of the pregnancy?

My biggest concern I remember was that I wouldn't be able to support, to bring up the baby because I didn't have any money. I'd just graduated and I didn't have a job and I had thousands of pounds of debts and I felt a bit lost because, because it had been a surprise and because my parents weren't quite sure how to react and my partner wasn't quite sure how to react. And, and so I was determined to go through with the pregnancy but I did feel quite stressed because I knew that emotionally I could give him all the, all that he needed but financially and, and I didn't know how my circumstances were going to, I mean I, I didn't know what was ahead of me. And so that worried me, so I worried about money a lot at the beginning. But I knew that, well I felt like I knew that I could give him all the love that he needed and the support and the, and so I wasn't too worried about that. It's just all the practical things.

How did those things get resolved? I mean did you, were, was it quite, reasonably easy to kind of figure out how you were going to manage and so on?

No, I just it wasn't easy to figure out how I was going to manage. I had to take each step, each day as it came and it was difficult, it was really difficult but I just had to, to know that the next day would be another day and that things would change and I just had to trust in, that, that the whole situation would evolve. And it did and I got through it but it was difficult.

Who supported you through that difficult period? Where did you go for support?

I went to my friends for support initially. Not so much my family because they were getting round the idea as well, and to my partner who, despite being stressed and confused about the situation, was supportive and, yeah. I went to him quite a lot, and my friends.

 

She worried whether smoking and drinking before she realised she was pregnant had harmed the baby...

She worried whether smoking and drinking before she realised she was pregnant had harmed the baby...

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Before I became pregnant I used to smoke and drink a lot and when I found out I was pregnant it all stopped straight away. And it was, because I drank a lot as a student I used to think, well it was, almost, it was a good thing because it meant that I had to take control of my life, which I hadn't done for years, and I did. And I just, and I found it amazing that I suddenly felt this new responsibility and I was capable of giving up smoking and of cutting my drinking down to a bare minimum. And in the early stages the thing that worried me the most, it was probably what, what damage I'd done by smoking and drinking through the first bit of the pregnancy, before I knew I was pregnant; what that would have done to the development of the child. And so I wanted to find out lots of information about how it might have affected him. 

 

She went to a physiotherapy exercise group. The physiotherapist gave her advice about painful...

She went to a physiotherapy exercise group. The physiotherapist gave her advice about painful...

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I went to two different sorts of antenatal classes. I went to one organised by the midwife that she, that you learnt about labour, the processes, process of labour and pain relief and breastfeeding. And I went to a physiotherapy one which was based in our local hospital, maternity hospital. And it was the same group of people at both, so I suppose it was one but split into two different places. Both of them I found really useful.

What did you learn at the physiotherapy one?

At the physiotherapy one you learnt about how you, what pains you had in pregnancy. I had really tingly legs and it was because I was standing in a bad position and other people had really bad back pain. And we did some massage and we did breathing techniques for during labour and we did exercises to do after the birth like pelvic floor exercises and ones to try and get your stomach back in shape.

How's that going?

Slowly [laughs] yeah, yeah. No, it's, it was a chance to ask a physiotherapist about any problems that you might be having, and actually at the end of one of our sessions she asked me to stay behind at the end because I'd been complaining of some symptoms that no-one else had and so she asked me if I wanted private sessions which I didn't have in the end, but that was, that was helpful.

What were the symptoms that you were having?

I had this tingling sensation in my legs that I'd [laugh], it's funny because I didn't feel very confident in the classes and I plucked up the courage to say, “Oooh, and this symptom” and then no-one else had it [laughs] so my confidence just went right back down again. But she'd asked me to stay behind and I talked about it, and she showed me some exercises where if I stood with my legs in a different position - I can hardly remember now - then it stopped the pain. But it also, it meant that I couldn't walk very far and I couldn't stand to do a whole basin of, a whole load of washing up because it got too painful. But, it's funny, it's just all gone now. I've forgotten about all the pains and the, everything now.

 

Her birth plan was to be as natural as possible but to be open to everything. She got very tired...

Her birth plan was to be as natural as possible but to be open to everything. She got very tired...

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My birth plan was to try and have a natural birth, natural labour unless I had any complications, and I'd known during my pregnancy that the baby was back to back, and that might make the contractions much more uncomfortable and less effective. And so if the baby hadn't turned, then I made, then I said that I was quite open to any sort of pain relief. I was hoping that he'd turn round and that I could try and have a, use a water bath as a form of pain relief and stay in a birthing suite rather than - in a midwife-run suite rather than in the delivery, doctor-orientated one. 

But because I had to go in to be induced, even though I wasn't induced in the end, but I was monitored right from the beginning of my contractions starting, from the beginning of labour and so I couldn't go anywhere near water because I had all the things on. And because the baby's heart rate dropped a couple of times with the contractions so they wanted to keep monitoring me. And because the contractions were really ineffective, I did decide to have pain relief, so my birth plan was to be open to everything, and in the end I was really relieved that I hadn't been really firm about not having an epidural because it was brilliant and it made the whole thing so much better. 

But during, during the labour I remember vaguely wanting to carry on not having an epidural, and my partner talked me into having an epidural because, because I wanted to carry on trying to do it naturally and I was getting exhausted, and so I did have to be talked into it, but I knew that I wasn't, I knew that that was my original plan, so it wasn't like I was compromising myself, because I'd decided that if it was complicated in any way then I would be open to having an epidural. And it was complicated, so I felt that I, it was due to me to have the pain relief so, yeah.

 

She found it easier than expected to adapt to being a parent and changing her lifestyle. (Read by...

She found it easier than expected to adapt to being a parent and changing her lifestyle. (Read by...

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There haven't, being a parent hasn't been as difficult, so far, as I anticipated. Having a baby hasn't been as difficult as I anticipated, and I know that my partner feels the same way, but I know it's just the beginning [laughs] so I'm not sure how it's going to change. But I am expecting for it to be very difficult at times. I feel that we've settled into it quite quickly and got used to the lifestyle change. And I was really someone that went out all the time, and now I can't ever go out [laughs] but I don't mind. And it seems to be all worthwhile and it's just, it's funny because I saw people before I had the baby that would say, “Oh, but you know, it's all worth it.” And, and I thought, "Oh God, I'm not going to be like that at all." But I feel really funny, but I do, that it, it is worth while and that I just felt that I, it hasn't been too challenging so far, it's just come to me, that I want to look after him, or that I'm enjoying the change in my life.

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