Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Recovery & Being a New Mum

All the new Mums I talk to say the same thing, Why didn't they tell us more about my body and issues in the recovery from childbirth. During pregnancy we are so consumed with the changes in our bodies and paranoid about any niggling feelings. In our mind looms "the big day" when we will be in excruciating pain, we worry, plan, research and get strategic on how we will make it through the 'delivery' and analyze every possible problem that could happen. In the end I could have gone through the delivery with my eyes closed because I was surrounded by professionals that held my hand and encouraged me through the whole process. My birth plan went out the window and I just followed their prompts and by 9pm it was over. Of course it is important to know what your in for, because after all it is all about bringing new life into the world!

What I didn't really prepare for, or put as much time as I should have into, was understanding the recovery and changes from that big day. They didn't tell me about the issues so many women have with breastfeeding, and that 35% of women give up in the first month. You rarely hear about cracked, sore, bleeding nipples and rock solid painfully engorged breasts, infections and the paranoia about 'is my child getting enough to eat', maybe because they don't want to put women off. That pretty much sums up my first couple of weeks of motherhood (but has drastically improved since then!!). That, mixed with the actual physical recovery from the birth, sleeplessness and feeling alone and unsure can be a recipe for a pretty upset Mum. My child health nurse told me last week that it takes your body 18 months to recovery from having a baby. I can believe it, and your body probably still wont be what you started out with. I guess, from my experience, if I had any advice for soon to be Mums it would be, read up about recovery, and breastfeeding, and practice those pelvic floor exercises before you have the baby, afterward you may not have a lot of time. Don't freak yourself out, but be prepared. Have good support in place, and don't be afraid to ask questions or share about what your going through, YOU are not alone. Also, seek as much help as you need from professionals...NOT GOOGLE, nobody expects you to go through it alone.

As Mums we have put our bodies through the ringer, and they don't always bounce back to the way they were. I'm 10 weeks in and still have a long way to go. I know the cliche saying is "but it is all worth it", its true, but that doesn't mean it is easy. It is amazing just talking to other Mums how we share so many of the same experiences. I guess there is a bit of silence around the subject because it is a bit embarrassing. I put so much thought into the birth, and my new baby, it was easy to forget about ME..and it is so important that Mums are healthy, happy and taken care of, so they can do the best job possible.

I really love this quote, and it reminds me again why I did this to my body...
Did you feel you were under-prepared for the recovery? And, what advice would you give new Mums?? I hope this is helpful for anyone embarking on the adventure of motherhood, and I guess it wouldn't be an adventure if you didn't walk away with a few battle scars!

2 comments:

  1. GREAT post, Karen. I couldn't agree more. I felt so uninformed and under-prepared for the weeks following childbirth. My biggest surprise was the emotional strain and drain that I experienced. I didn't have full-on PPD, but I definitely had the "baby blues". My best piece of advice would be exactly what you have said - don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether it be your Mother, a close friend, a Doctor or Lactation Consultant. Also the biggest thing for any new Mother to keep in mind is that all these feelings are very temporary. Even though you might feel like you are never going to get out of this dark place, there WILL be light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.

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  2. Well said Karen! I don't know why more of the after affects are not discussed or even written about in the 3001 publications on becoming a parent. My body is still recovering three and half years later :) The hardest aspect for me was emotionally. I felt completely overwhelmed and operated as a zombie for a least a year. I didn't have PPD, it was just my experience. Thank you for talking about yours. Hopefully it will help others. So happy to find your blog.
    Kel x

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