As women, when we find out we’re pregnant we have no choice but to accept the inevitable changes that our bodies will be subjected to as we grow a small human inside of us. We accept that stretch marks and weight gain are just part and parcel of the journey we’re about to embark on, and that it will take time to adjust to our new bodies.
But what they don’t tell you is what happens after childbirth! It doesn’t matter how many antenatal classes you attend, how many books you read or how much research you do, nothing can prepare you for how ruined your vagina ACTUALLY is, the daily boob fluctuations and a complete lack of sex drive! With that said, here are a few of my own postnatal experiences… The good, the bad and the damn right ugly!
No.1 Going for a wee post childbirth
That first wee after you’ve just let a human slither out of womanly parts feels like an acidic waterfall. Who knew that weeing in the bath was acceptable? It is the only way to relieve the agonising sting of pissing on your own wounds… literally!
Ladies, if you’re pregnant with your first child and are planning on a natural birth, take it from someone who learned the hard way and do NOT go for a wee unless you have a jug of warm water to pour over your vagina. And if you need to pee in a public place, take a bottle of water into the toilets with you. Thank me later!
No.2 The first POO!
This is arguably the most terrifying physical postnatal experience of all, especially if your darling child ripped you a new hole. Even the midwife will ask you, “have you had a bowel movement yet?” You’ll probably think she’s being a bit rude if you haven’t been yet, but trust me she has your best interests at heart!
I had an epidural, so luckily I didn’t feel the pain of my first post-childbirth-poo, but my god did I make up for it a few days later when the numbness disappeared. I was also lucky enough not to need stitches, so it could’ve been a whole lot worse. Don’t panic though, it is normal to feel like your large intestine is hanging out of your bum hole, the chances are it probably is!
No.3 The never ending period
I already knew that my first post-pregnancy period would be slightly longer than usual, but I mean COME ON (pardon the pun)… A whole month?! I couldn’t use tampons either, because my poor lady garden was still recovering from the trauma, plus my hole was probably SO wide anyway, that had I been brave enough to use one, a tampon would’ve just fallen out.
Also, maternity towels are like bricks! I found after two weeks of using them, my lady bits felt more bruised than they did straight after giving birth. And don’t even get me STARTED on the monstrosity that is disposable knickers. They are about 6 sizes too small and a complete waste of money – just buy some granny pants, you’re only going to chuck them out anyway!
No.4 The Overwhelming Baby Blues
Why does nobody tell you that around four days post baby, you will hit a brick wall?! When Alfie was four days old, the baby blues hit me with a resounding crash. I would cry over completely irrational things, like accidentally being given a veggie hotpot instead of a beef dinner. I felt completely useless, like I was failing at being a mummy already and he was only a few days old. Little did I know that the way I felt was completely normal and I needed to give myself a break. I had to remind myself that I had just given birth, and what I did was incredible. “I can do this, I am amazing!”
No.5 Involution of the uterus
The body works in mysterious ways, and one way of your body knowing that you’re no longer pregnant (aside from the gaping hole between your legs), is by breastfeeding. When you breastfeed you produce a hormone called oxytocin – the same drug they give to induce labour – which makes the uterus contract back down. These contractions can vary between mild and making you think you’re in labour with your baby’s long-lost twin!
If you don’t breastfeed your uterus will still contract back down, but nursing just helps to speed the process up, and I can categorically say it is f*cking painful!
No.6 You will have your breasts milked like a cow
Call me naive, but I thought that babies just knew how to breastfeed the second they are born! It actually took about five days for me and my little man to completely crack the whole titty feeding thing, but until then we needed a little help.
If you thought childbirth was undignified, wait until you have a midwife milk you like a cow into a syringe in front of your entire friendship group. She would literally take hold of my entire breast like an udder, and pull my nipple forward until she had emptied enough colostrum to feed Alfie’s tiny tummy.
No.7 Getting to grips with my new boobs
Breastfeeding has it’s ups and downs. It is incredibly demanding and you spend half of your life with a small baby hanging from your nipple, but it also creates an unbreakable bond between you and your baby that only you will ever be able to feel. You also become a master at doing things with one hand, like making cups of tea or sandwiches (that you will never get to enjoy) whilst breastfeeding! All of which is great, but why doesn’t anyone tell you about your ever-evolving boob shape and consistency?
At around day three post-baby my breast milk came in, and my soft, perky B cups inflated an entire cup size literally overnight! I felt like I was wearing bowling balls in my bra. I also made the mistake of not wearing any breast pads in anticipation of my breast milk coming in, and I woke in the middle of the night to find myself lactating everywhere. I remember waking up and thinking “WOAAAH MAMA, congratulations you got some titties!”
Then once we got into the pattern of feeding every two hours or so, I realised that as soon as I had emptied one boob, the other one was a completely different size. Sometimes I’d look down and think “I am sooooo unsexy right now!” Not only were my boobs leaking continuously but one looked like a pancake too.
Getting to grips with my new soggy breasts was tricky at first, especially as Alfie was particularly fond of my left breast and totally neglected the right one. Everytime I went to feed him from my right boob, it would be so full that as soon as he put his mouth to the nipple, it would squirt him in the face like a water pistol! Sometimes I would have to milk myself into the sink to relieve the pressure of my ballooning bosoms.
No.8 “WHERE DID MY BOOBS GO?”
So after six weeks of breastfeeding, I’d had enough. I was exhausted and wanted Ciaran to share the load with me, so I gradually weaned Alfie off the boob and onto the bottle. But what I didn’t realise was, I’d be joining the itty-bitty-titty-committee once again! That’s right, my amazing new feeding machines had deflated back to their pre-pregnancy state. I was GUTTED, but at least it meant if me and Ciaran wanted to get jiggy he wouldn’t be soaked in breast milk.
No.9 Why isn’t my milk disappearing?!
I thought that a couple of weeks after I stopped breastfeeding, my milk would just disappear, but that isn’t the case! My milk took about four months to dry up after I stopped feeding Alfie. I thought, “why is my body still producing milk? I’m not a f*cking cow!”. Then I realised the fun I could have with my redundant breast milk…
“FIREEEEEEEEEE”…. Is what I would shout as I squirted Ciaran from across the sofa.
“INCOMINGGGGG” Just as he was about to fall asleep.
I found it hilarious but Ciaran failed to see the funny side and tried to forbid me from giving him a random milky spritz every now and then.
No.10 Belly’s gonna get ya!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly lucky with how quickly my stomach snapped back after just a couple of weeks, but it doesn’t mean I felt any less conscious of it. When you’re pregnant your abdominal muscles separate to make room for your protruding bump, and can take months to close back together properly. So although my stomach appeared to be flat again, it was still squishy and wobbly!
I put on three stone during my pregnancy, and at one point I was convinced Alfie had a Big Mac as a twin. I continued to exercise right up until four days before I gave birth, but I stuffed my face so much that I still managed to pile on three stone!
No.11 Sneezing and weeing simultaneously
No panty liner? You’re f*cked my friend. Your beautiful bundle of joy has now completely destroyed your pelvic floor muscles and your ability to hold in your wee. Don’t go on a trampoline without taking precautions, and if you feel a sneeze coming on then you better brace yourself! One time I was so desperate for a wee, that as I run up the stairs to the toilet, the p*ss ran down my leg.
No. 12 Low Libido
Now this is a subject for a totally different post altogether, which I will get round to writing at some point, but I this is something I never in a million years thought would happen… My sex drive took a nose dive. It literally plummeted, and didn’t come back until about 8 months post-baby. Talk about blue balls… Sorry Ciaran!
No. 13 Learning to love yourself again
It doesn’t matter if we choose to have our babies when we’re 20 or when we’re 40 years old, these things come to us all. And joking aside, it isn’t about how quickly our bodies ‘bounce back’, it’s about embracing the changes your body had to make in order to accommodate for your little person. Don’t worry new mama, you’ll get your body back eventually, but right now it is time to enjoy your baby and find comfort in the knowledge that your body did something amazing.
Learn to love your curves and embrace your stretch marks, after all you are a tiger who earned her stripes! xx