I was so, so worried about childbirth. I tried to put the thought of it out of my mind for a long time. We had some success with a hypnobirthing-style class (Wise Hippos), which did help me accept that I couldn’t control everything. On the day I actually went into labour, I felt quite at peace with it all.
Although the reality of giving birth was pretty grim, and maybe I was right to be so worried!
But quite honestly, my recovery from childbirth has so far been really easy. It’s almost made up for the rough pregnancy and awful labour!
Having this one to cuddle certainly helps!
I must warn you: I’ll be talking about the after-effects of childbirth here. If you’re squeamish, don’t blame me if it offends you!
When she was first born, I was not in good shape. Not at all. I remember this tiny slippery purple baby being dumped on my chest, a midwife barking at Adam “You want to cut the cord, Dad? Here, quickly!” before they whisked her away to be checked.
We had wanted a lovely long leisurely skin-to-skin session, and I’d hoped to deliver the placenta naturally. As it turned out, we couldn’t do either of those. I remember being jabbed in the leg and the placenta coming out, baby coming back to me briefly and my gown being whipped off so I could do skin to skin, having a tiny little hold and then having to hand her to my husband because I was about to pass out.
The next thing I remember, she was already dressed. I came round and asked the first person I could see if I was dead, much to everyone’s amusement! But I felt so woozy and it had been such a surreal morning.
I spent much of that first morning and afternoon passing out. Even sitting up for a bed bath was too much for me at first. So I guess my recovery didn’t look overly promising there.
Also, I couldn’t walk as my epidural hadn’t yet worn off! Transferring to a different bed so I could be moved to the postnatal ward was rather funny.
But by the end of the afternoon, I was able to walk myself to the loo (still needed a wheelchair on the way back!), and took a deep breath as I prepared myself to pee, having heard that it was going to be horrifically painful. It wasn’t. Yes, it stung a little bit (I’d had an episiotomy and a fair few stitches), but it hardly hurt at all.
The immediate bleeding was nowhere near as bad as I’d been expecting, either! I’ve had heavier periods.
I felt exhausted and sore, but honestly, after how bad I’d felt during labour, I felt pretty wonderful.
Longer term recovery
I left hospital in the evening of the day after she was born. (Not long at all, really! Less than 36 hours!) Walking to the car was difficult, sitting in the car was painful (my mum drove us home and had brought a pillow for me to sit on!), but I felt a lot better once I got back.
The bleeding continued to not be that bad. By two weeks after the birth, it had pretty much stopped, although there’s still there very occasional bit nearly a week later. I had two packs of 24 maternity pads which lasted me nearly 10 days, and since then I’ve been using my cloth pads. Before the birth, I even bought black towels and bath mats just in case! No need for them.
The mythical first post-partum poo was scary but didn’t actually hurt. I’d built it up in my head as this very scary thing. My husband was waiting outside the bathroom anxiously for me after I’d complained so much about the idea of it, but it was all fine!
I had a very tentative bath the morning after we got home. It stung the stitches a bit, but the worst part was trying to get in and out! I’ve had showers ever since.
The midwife checked my stitches at our 10-day discharge appointment and said they were healing beautifully. My uterus has also gone back to the right place, apparently.
I definitely feel that my belly has pretty much gone back down. It’s rather baggier than it used to be, but I don’t mind. I’m proud of that! It achieved something wonderful.
How I helped myself
I know I’ve been really lucky with my recovery. I can’t really say that I did X, Y and Z and that’s why it’s gone well. But there are a few things I’ve done that have helped, I think.
I rest a lot. My husband and parents have helped a lot. They pretty much did everything for me in the first few weeks. I just had to sit and feed and cuddle! Ignore the vacuuming!
I drink a lot of water. Diluted urine is much less painful to go near the stitches! Also, lots of fruit, for the fibre intake.
Eating plenty, and sleeping when possible. My husband and I took shifts in the first few days so I could have some proper sleep to get over the trauma of childbirth.
No visitors, unless they’re helpful. My parents are great and can come round whenever. I’m keeping everyone else to a minimum right now!
In general, pregnancy was rough. Childbirth was horrible. Recovery and adjusting to being a mum – pretty good! I’m loving it.