What will your birth be like? Unique. Dianne Mallet was willing to share her story: For my husband Ian and myself, the birth of our daughter Amy was perhaps the most dramatic and impressionable event of our lives, although, medically speaking, it was routine and unremarkable. So much goes into making up the event covered by the words ‘birth experience’ that it is difficult to know where to begin and end. It is like sorting through old photographs, trying to decide which images are both significant and relevant.

I should begin by saying I am a trained nurse and midwife, since that coloured so much of the experience for me. I had delivered dozens of babies, but all my working hours were put in prior to giving birth myself. How differently I see everything now, having lived through the labour and delivery of my own child! Asa nurse, I tried to empathise with my patients, but there is no way of appreciating the pain of labour or the joy which makes it all worthwhile until one has been through it. When I think of the advice I gave women in labour — ‘remember your exercises’, ‘breathe deeply and the pain will ease’, ‘just relax’ — I realise that, although the words were sincerely meant and seemed appropriate at the time, they appear mere platitudes in retrospect.

Ian and I were thrilled by our pregnancy. Though I was familiar with the information handed out in prenatal and pre-parenthood classes, we were happy to receive instruction at our local hospital in order to get into the spirit of the coming event and feel fully prepared for it as a couple. So much depends on attitude and I was determined to have a casebook pregnancy and labour, not to mention baby.