Now I am approaching the 3 week mark since having my baby, I have had some time to reflect not only on my midwifery practice, but also my own experience postnatally. I know.. time… I never realised it was such a luxury!
None of my own experiences are a surprise to me per se, however, the significance of them is much greater than I imagined. I knew and expected all of the following but I didn’t think I would find them so hard! It’s most definitely not over after the labour… I now realise you will feel battered and bruised for much longer than that!
I knew they would be sore, I knew that it would hurt but OH MY GOD, I never realised how much they would affect my day-to-day life. I had an episiotomy and, unfortunately, my wound reopened and I now have a unstitched “hole” (for like of no better term) which is so excruciatingly painful. I can’t drive, I can’t sit properly and I can’t walk properly either. I always thought that following a vaginal delivery I would be back to “normal” almost immediately. I was so very wrong. Which means I’m pretty much house bound until my floo heals fully.
Just to add to the fun, today my GP decided to have a little go at sorting things herself and snipped a bit off with a pair of sterile scissors… there is no end to the delights of perineal repair!
Suppressing Your Milk
As I have blogged before, I am formula feeding. So, as a result, I had to suppress my milk production. My advice for women is always,
“Wear a good fitting bra 24/7, even in the bath or shower. Leave them completely alone and use regular pain relief, cool compresses or a refrigerated savoy cabbage leaf to help with the pain.”
All advice I followed, but the actual pain from my puppies was very uncomfortable. It lasted WAY longer than I anticipated (I thought 3 days… try engorgement and pain for 7 days instead) and it made me thoroughly miserable. One thing I didn’t know was how for a couple of those days I couldn’t even hold my baby as the mere smell of my delicious milk turned her wild! No one had warned me about that!
The hormonal roller-coaster I would liken to the Big Dipper at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I am particularly vulnerable to Post Natal Depression so I have been keeping a special eye out for symptoms along with my husband. For at least 10 days I was completely unaware of whether my symptoms were “normal” or part of a bigger diagnosis. It began with a MASSIVE endorphin kick just after the birth that made me into Super Mum, operating with little sleep. I was found cleaning the house in 10 minutes flat and hopping out of bed like a spring chicken at 3 am, excited to feed my baby. Followed on day 5 by a massive crash. Exhaustion hit and my mood plummeted. I couldn’t face another night getting up to care for my baby, my world seemed an endless cycle of nappy, feed, sleep which I was miserably trapped in. I felt there was no end in sight and I struggled to manage. But I did come through it. It took time and force for me to get up and continue with the new schedule but I did it. Although the night feeds fill me with dread. It’s platonic rather than pathological. Just a fact of life for my little family right now.
I would describe every new mum, especially with their first baby, as an anxious ball of stress. I always reassure them that their anxiety is normal. Now I have experienced it myself, I have a completely different perspective. The weight of the responsibility on your shoulders and the worry that you may miss something is crippling. We have been to the doctors no less than 3 times already. I’m embarrassed to call now as I think that I’m getting a name as “one of those” mums. The little niggle in the back of my head that tells me: “But what if you’ve missed something. If you don’t get it checked you’ll never forgive yourself!” keeps me calling up. So far, nothing has been wrong. But I am still worrying nonetheless.
So I expected this one more than the other 4. You anticipate the night feeds and the incessant crying but a little piece of me dies inside when I set my daily alarm for 2.30 am to swap shifts with my husband. The crying just adds to the mood. My tolerance is low, I’m trying not to wake my partner yet she is STILL CRYING for absolutely no reason. Cue Colief in the bottle stat and youtubing methods to stop her crying… I’m loving the happiest baby on the block method, although I can’t do it yet!
So after being a midwife for many years and thinking I had a well rounded perspective of postnatal recovery I’ve truly found that recovering following a birth is much more involved and lengthy than I anticipated. For me there have been so many peaks and troughs to my well-being over the last 3 weeks. When you’ve had a baby, it really does take 6 weeks to get back to your “normal” self (I’m hoping no longer).
So at the moment, I’m trying to treat myself well and most importantly… keep those legs closed to help with the stitches!! No legs akimbo for me!
If you fancy leaving comment, please do, they always make my day!