This time last year Woody was 2 days old. And I was high as a kite on love. Such a difference to the way I felt first time around after having Bertie. No one could have prepared me for the after-marth…. turns out ‘the giving birth bit’ is just the tip of one very very big ice-burg.
This week’s Guest List hopes to shine a light on that.
It’s written by Becca who started Doctor and Daughter with her Dad (the doctor) after seeing a gap in the market for providing women with insightful, realistic information about having a baby. They run antenatal classes, birth-debriefing in South London and have a website crammed with useful info.
Here’s what she has to say about what happens AFTER you get handed your baby:
After you have finished pushing out (or someone has helped extract) your much anticipated offspring…you may not even want to hold him or her! You may not feel the “overwhelming love” that most dreamy birth stories seem to end with. Yes it’s a bit sad but it is true. If you have had a very painful, tiring or traumatic birth, you just may not feel instantaneous affection for the small, bloody, wrinkly, screaming person who is being thrust into your shaking arms.
But wait..surely this love will start to flow after you have had a cup of tea and bit of toast and the baby has stopped yelling and you have had a moment to you’reyour breath back? Perhaps not, but do not worry, it can sometimes take days, or even weeks to forge a bond with your newborn baby. Try not to let it upset you, those feelings will come in time.
You may feel completely brilliant about ten minutes after giving birth and spring into the shower, squeeze straight into your pre-pregnancy jeans, skip home from the hospital and then throw a dinner party for 12 that night and give your partner a blow job before bed…OR you may feel like been in car crash, be unable to put your own socks on for a week and feel mentally challenged by the thought of even making a cup of tea…OR most normally, somewhere in between!
Try not to stress if you are not feeling or looking as good as you thought you might. Your body and mind have just gone through one of the biggest things ever and you may take a while to feel yourself again. Do not compare yourself to friends and foe on Facebook and do not despair about your jelly belly and impaired cognitive function..it takes 9 months to make a baby and another 9 months to recover. Be kind to yourself and take it easy.
The bleeding. Noone can really prepare you for this. The doctor or midwife might tell you it is like a heavy period…but unless you are used to a monthly blood bath it may come as a nasty shock! It is gross! Sadly you have to grin and bear it…get some mega sanitary towels and some J Cloth Pants (FYI here is Doctor & Daughter’s list of what to buy). You should expect to find quite a few clots at the start, but these should get smaller and the blood should start to get lighter in flow and colour over the passing weeks.
Don’t look at your fanny in the mirror. Not now, not next week and not next month! By all means have a feel in the bath to assess the damage, but a newly postnatal fanny is not a pretty sight! I am sure you have heard the expression, “badly packed kebab”…that is for a fanny before a baby…this kebab has been dropped on the floor, mauled by a stray dog and been kicked around all night!
It WILL get better. The swelling will go down and if you start your pelvic floor exercises immediately then things will tighten up again quite quickly. Tea tree oil in the bath can be very soothing and help heal any cuts or tears.
On the subject of Pelvic Floor Exercises you should do these religiously throughout your pregnancy and you can even start doing them again as soon as you have delivered the placenta or as soon as you are off the operating table. Do them several times a day, every day for the rest of your life and hopefully you will avoid a prolapse and incontinence in later life and you will be a great (tight) lover! And Squeeeeeeeeze!
Breastfeeding does not always go as you had hoped or imagined. For a variety of reasons you may just be shocked at how difficult something so natural may feel. You will no doubt have been made aware of how wonderful breastmilk is and how evil formula is and you may be terrified that a sip of the manufactured substitute will render your child stupid, give him disfiguring eczema and make him allergic to everything except quinoa…but we can assure you this is not true.
Whilst breast is undeniably best, like in pregnancy and birth, nature does not always get it right. The NCT hold free breastfeeding drop in sessions in many areas, there are Peer Supporters/Volunteers in many hospitals and also Lactation Consultants who charge around £100 an hour. Speak to your antenatal teacher, midwife or health visitor about your options, make sure you are aware of local sources of support and try your best to solve the problems but also know when to admit defeat.
There is no shame in mixed feeding or bottle feeding.
A baby is expensive!!! Ignore the claims that all a baby needs is a blanket and his mothers love! BULLSHIT!!! After you have forked out for the antenatal classes• and the buggy you will need to take out a second mortgage! After you have done the trip to John Lewis and staggered home with bags of stuff you don’t need (a special dispenser that warms baby wipes??!) your partner will need to start working nights to foot that bill and THEN…
…the baby comes and will start haemorrhaging money all over again! You will be up all night googling “how to make my baby sleep/stop crying/feed” and your will find the answer on Amazon and it’s promise of next day delivery! You will think nothing of a 2am transaction for £199 for a specialrocking/vibrating/singing contraption that promises to cure colic and promote sleep! You will find yourself waiting outside Jojomamanbebe at 8.55am so you can buy a sheep that plays white noise and another 3 muslins.
So…what to do? Hold off on the initial spending- wait and see what kind of baby you produce before you start stocking up on all the gear! Talk to friends and see what they recommend. Pop into Fara or look on Facebook groups and try and get some stuff second hand!
The Unsolicited Advice and Comments no doubt started when you were pregnant…”oooh heartburn..she’s going to have a lot of hair….ooh you’re all out front- definitely a boy/girl/goat” but just you wait…it will multiply twenty-fold as soon as that baby is in your arms! The bearded lady in Sainsbury’s, the jolly dustbin man, the girl you hate from school that you keep bumping into in Boots when you are buying your Anusol, your mother, your sister and your best friend will all have A LOT to say on your parenting style.
Get ready to hear the following phrases and try not to roll your eyes or punch the messenger:
You’re making a rod for your own back…
In my day…
Oh is that how they do it now
You’re spoiling him
She’s over tired
You should leave her
You should pick her up..etc etc
New Friends! One of the best and most unexpected parts of the whole postnatal experience! Shy? Anti-social? Prudish? Snobby? All of that goes out of the window when you bond with another mother as you stand there covered in shit or puke with a screaming baby! If she smiles and hands you a wipe or even offers to hold your baby whilst you wipe the chunks off your shoulder- you may just find yourself a life long friend. You probably can’t imagine going on a family holiday with someone you met when you were crying in the baby food aisle of Waitrose- it sounds odd now, but trust me it’s true!
Mothers are a remarkable bunch – and their solidarity and support is second to none!
Whatsapp – if it is not your communication method of choice now – it will quickly become so! With your phone on silent and baby on the boob or having a nap – you can tap away to your hearts content..keeping up with old friends and new. Arranging coffee dates, swapping tips for dealing with poo stains and errant husbands, and generally keeping in touch with the outside world in a non intrusive way!
• Doctor and Daughter offer an If Money is Tight Scheme on each of their courses. Have a read, its sounds life a real saver.