Firstly, let’s start with a collective sigh for all the people who offer you out of date, unwarranted advice from the moment you wipe the residue off your positive pregnancy test- yes nanna I am looking at you. Allow me to grab an imaginary feather duster and clean away those negative vibes. Yes, you will drink a hot coffee again, you will return to a relaxing bath and you will fit into your old jeans, so they can shove it up their jumper. Your life is not over.
Now that that’s out of the way we can continue. I spent my nine months of pregnancy preparing myself for birth and baby. I was researched and ready, but what really took me by surprise was the bullshit my body would experience the week after.
After you give birth you feel as though you have drunkenly rolled in a finger licking marinate and casually skipped into the lion enclosure at the zoo, only to be saved by the zoo keeper moments before you are completely ripped to shreds. EVERYTHING HURTS. You sit there with an icepack wedged between your legs, a newborn sucking from your bleeding cracked nipple, battling the pains of after birth while entertaining your neighbour’s sisters dog walker who’s popped in to meet the baby.
Now, I am no doctor, vet, nurse or expert so the following tips come only from my experience and what worked for little old me which I have conveniently collated them into fancy titled sections.
YOUR DARLING DOWNSTAIRS.
Please pause for a moment and credit this incredible piece of the female anatomy…. Ok.
After the trauma it/you go through you somehow forget how to shower. You stand like an 87-year-old grandma watching blood trickle down the drain as you cup water and gently splash it over your wound. I made myself a squirty bottle with water and the tiniest pinch of sea salt. After every trip to the loo I would spray my downstairs and pat the area dry. I also ditched the maternity pads pretty early, cos they’re just too much to handle and downgraded to regular ones.
The hospital should give you icepacks with corners that cut like a zooper doopers so I found these from Ice Ice Booby much better, bigger and stayed cooler for longer.
Every few nights I would have a shallow salt water bath (told you the baths weren’t a thing of the past).
Your nipples may crack and perhaps bleed, but it doesn’t last long and breastfeeding gets easier.. well it did for me. I used Multi-Mam Compresses which you can buy from the chemist. And an old wise midwife taught me to soak disposable nappies with water and then freeze them. I put these on after every feed; it was heaven on earth and I found it more soothing than the cabbage.
The morning my milk came in, my chin hit my boob. And if I didn’t think it would be reported I would share a photo of them. It was absolute painful insanity yet remarkable to look at nonetheless. The midwife took one look and said to me ‘oh honey you’re engorged’ and proceeded to milk me like a cow to release some of the pressure allowing Rosie to latch on. We sat together on the couch and chatted about the weather all while ignoring the fact she was jerking my nipples. Anyway, it does help.
OMFG. Apparently not everyone experiences these, but good gravy I sure did. When you breastfeed your body releases oxytocin, the same hormone that is released in labor to contract the uterus.. soooo each time this hormone was swimming around I would have absolutely excruciating contractions. I would scream for Pat and he would drop to the floor and push an acupressure point in my foot to move my minds focus. I don’t really have any tips for this but wish I could give you a hug.
Due to Rosie being posterior and hefty in size I had a pretty sore and sorry coccyx bone. I didn’t have the time or energy to buy a donut pillow so I used a bath towel, rolled it like a snake and shaped it like a donut to sit on. Rosie is 7 weeks old and my coccyx is still causing me some grief.
When people ask what they can bring tell them food; a quiche, lasagna, chips and gravy. You just gave birth, take their food and keep the tupperware it came in. You deserve it babe.
From belly, birth to baby the thing that had me shook was the healing process. Don’t be a pelican like me, take the time now to mentally prepare yourself and take the necessary steps to plan for an easier recovery. It doesn’t last long, the worst is over in a week, but it’s an unsightly surreal adventure to get there. Use your partner, your mum, your mate or your sister. Be selfish. They are there to help and let’s be honest, you left your dignity in the labor suite no point in acting posh now. Pat, bring me the krispy kremes, the maternity pads and double check whether I have hemorrhoids.
Lastly, the luxury of crisp clean sheets goes along way.