birth

What they don’t tell you

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This post might end up having ”too much information” for some of you, but I’m going to be brutally honest. When I was pregnant I was told of all the different things I could expect to happen to my body and yes, some of those things did happen, but there were other things which happened which I had no forewarning or idea of whatsoever. So these are my ”what they didn’t tell me’s”.

I had an assisted birth with forceps which, in itself, can bring on more problems than you’d expect. Unfortunately for me, 7 months on, I’m still not sorted and am currently waiting for an appointment to come round! Anyway, I digress as that’s a whole different blog post.

The first thing I had to do was learn to inject myself with ‘Clexane’, an anti-blood clot drug, for 7 days post birth. I think this is because I’d had an epidural and the anaesthetic had taken ages to wear off. I know some women have to inject this for a longer time than me, throughout their pregnancy even, but nonetheless, something I didn’t expect I’d be doing.

The second, and probably most obvious, was the post birth bleeding (Lochia). Some people don’t bleed for very long, others for ages. I bled for about 3 weeks. I found this so hard since I cannot bear sanitary towels of any description, and since you’re not allowed to use tampons, I had to put up with them. They made me feel so unhygienic, were uncomfortable and just generally disgusting. It also doesn’t help that I was paranoid you could hear it ‘rustling’ around. Yuck.

Incontinence is a new experience for me. I only really suffer lightly with it now, mainly when I’m playing sports or in the gym. But the first few weeks home I genuinely couldn’t hold my bladder for very long, if at all. Not only are your baby’s nappies wet, but you might be changing your underwear a lot too. And don’t even mention going for a poo – when I had the urge, I really had the urge and had to go, there and then! Don’t even think about trying to hold your wind in. All the health professionals tell you to do your pelvic floor, and you really ought to make the effort. I only did it when I remembered, and I even had reminders on my phone using a “Kegel” app.

Big milky boobies! Yes, they’re coming with a vengeance whether you choose to breastfeed or not. I did breastfeed and went from a ‘B cup’ to an ‘E cup’. Super leaky, I’d suggest putting down a maternity pad between your sheet and mattress, otherwise your milk will stain it if you leak through.

I have never lost so much hair in my life. I could literally pull out a whole handful of hair at least twice a day. You don’t lose as much hair when you’re pregnant, and it’s all glossy and shiny and lovely, so when you’ve given birth you lose everything you would’ve done, plus more! My poor hoover must have collected a good few wigs. It gets absolutely everywhere too. The only problem I’ve got now is lots of frizzy baby hair where it’s all growing back.

My episiotomy was absolutely horrendous. Not only did I have the general pain you’d get with a cut down there, unbeknownst to me, they had stitched me up wrong, although it took forever for it to actually get sorted. Sitz baths with some liquid Savlon helped as much as they could, and I found that changing sanitary towels and underwear regularly helped lots too. I never dried it with a towel after a bath/shower, I’d either air dry it with my legs open on the bed (men, this is NOT an invitation for sex, or for you to have a good look at the damage) or used a hairdryer – on a low setting please ladies!

I’m convinced I’ve had a slight prolapse, but the nurses and doctors don’t seem to think I have. It’s not protruding out or anything, but it’s just kind of there. I’m also 99% sure this is adding to the other problems I’ve got “down there” for which I’m due to attend an appointment. I just know that it’s not what was normal for me (not that I expect miracles and to have no lasting effects) and surely you know your own body, right?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what kind of things you can expect, but these are what I have experienced since having Toby.

What did you experience that you wish you’d know about before? Is it ongoing or resolved?

J

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Who needs a birth plan anyway?

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Birth plans, or preferences as they’re now being called, are in my view.. pointless!

After being pregnant for what seemed like 9 years, rather than 9 months, I was ready for my “birth plan” to be put into practice. I knew exactly what I wanted, had run through it numerous times with my other half and I had even played it out in my head about exactly what would be happening.  It was going to be the most beautiful water birth, using only gas and air, pushing my baby out the natural way.

I was hell bent on having as few drugs as possible, no instrumental intervention and definitely no c-section.

How stupid was I? In hindsight, I can’t think of anybody I know who recently had a baby without any kind of massively invasive intervention, so what made me think my birth would go by without a hitch? Optimism? Naivety? A little bit of both?

I was already 2 days overdue when my waters broke (although that was after much debate between the midwives) and I actually went into labour. The drugs, unsurprisingly, got stronger as I went along; paracetamol, gas and air at the hospital, sent home with codeine then back to the hospital for more gas and air. How about a TENS machine? Oh go on then. Moving swiftly on to pethidine, and then eventually an epidural, or four. Unfortunately, you can already see the plan isn’t going well. After lots of people in and out checking my progress, the decision was made that, as I was fully dilated but completely exhausted, a caesarean would be the best way to deliver our baby as he was stuck with an unstable heart rate. Fortunately, he was able to be delivered safe and sound with forceps.

Looking back, and even now, I get so bitter that my birth didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to. It has, unfortunately, affected me in other ways which now means any further pregnancies will have to end in a caesarean. I can’t watch any programs involving birth without feeling really upset. Why do these women deserve to get the natural water births that they wanted? Could I have done something more, or less even?

If I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with another baby or two, then I will definitely be going in with my eyes wide open. I’m absolutely devastated that I won’t be able to try and do everything exactly how I wanted it, and even that I won’t really get the chance to do labour again – although some of you are probably thinking I’m mad.

My advice is, if you do have a birth plan/preference, the only way to be fully prepared is to accept that literally anything can happen, go with the flow and accept all the drugs they offer you!

What was your birth plan? How did your actual birth differ from what you expected?

J