The truth behind the post birth body (not for the faint hearted!)
Im one of those women who prefers to know EVERYTHING when it comes to what to expect from a new experience. So here's my brutally honest truth about what goes on in your post birth body.
Cracked and bleeding nipples (and cabbage!)
As soon as I started breastfeeding my boobs essentially decided to torture me (and not in a good way Mr Grey!) As we all know breastfeeding is a learning curve for you and the baby - and by god, it's a bit like being back at school and struggling with a hard maths equation! One minute the baby is screaming because I can't quite direct my nipple to his nose quick enough (apparently you need to do this to get them to open their mouths wide enough to feed!) and the next I'm recoiling back in horror as he latches onto my nipple and sucks FAR TOO HARD!!! (Toes curling at the memory!)
So as a result I got cracked and bleeding nipples ( I would post a photo but no one needs to see that!) This resulted in a dash to the chemist for mama nipple soothers (which have a cooling gel on them) and cabbage (yup cabbage!)
You see, unbeknown to me (and thanks to our incredible maternity nurse who noticed) my boobs were also getting HUGE, rock hard and red. Whereas I just thought this was a normal breastfeeding result (hello double D's!) she spotted the first signs of mastitis (more on that later!) and so suddenly I found myself with cold cabbages stuffed down my bra. Patrick found this hysterical when he found me fast asleep on day, spread eagled on the bed with cabbages poking out of my my ugly nursing bra. Who said pregnancy wasn't glamorous?!
If you've had a natural birth then you can rejoice as this is one symptom you won't have to suffer, however for c section mums it's a guarantee unfortunately.
After a c section, for 7 days you have to inject yourself with a blood thinner (which will first be given to you at the hospital and which you take home and do yourself.) I was PETRIFIED. Stab myself with a needle? Are you joking?! Patrick was therefore drafted in to play "doctor" (again, not in a sexy way) and at 6pm every evening he would come and find me, brandishing the needle and then grabbing my thigh fat and stabbing it in (ok, so it wasn't actually that dramatic. In truth the needle is TINY and it honestly doesn't hurt at all.)
The important thing is that you find the fattest, flabbiness part of your thigh and do the injection there - that way it simple feels like a slight prick and then it's over (so much easier than all those blood tests we have endured through pregnancy.)
But yes, it does leave you with bruises. However it's a great way to get attention:
Me: ooh, agghhh (making puppy dog eyes) look at my poor bruised leg.
Patrick: oh darling I can't believe I did that to you. Would you like some chocolate?
Pumping in traffic
Ok so not strictly a "post birth body symptom" but still something most women are likely to endure. Unless you are solely breastfeeding, pumping can be a SAVIOUR. Although I was petrified of the Madela Pump when I first bought it (see video here!) I now want to smother it with kisses. Why? Because not only does it help with my mastitis (you need to get rid of access milk when you have mastitis and this is an efficient and quick way of doing it - it takes just 15 minutes!) but it also means our maternity nurse (or husband!) can do the night feeds whilst still giving Rupert breast milk!
The problem with pumping - when you need to do it, you need to do it. Meaning that when I was on the way to the Hospital for a check up, I had to sit in traffic with the pump attached to my boob and just PRAY that any passing cars wouldn't have that sudden urge to look into the car next to them!
My top tip? Take a shawl with you to cover up. I'm not sure lorry driver who passed me with a pump attached to my boob was that impressed judging by the look on his face!
The Big pants and boob accessories
To illustrate the point I am about to make let me create a picture in your mind:
I'm standing in our bedroom whilst Rupert sleeps and am tidying away the hospital bag (check out what I packed in my hospital bag) I am wearing the following:
- A HUGE black nursing bra (which looks like a crop top bra that I wore when I was 12 and desperately wishing for boobs!)
- Big Black Granny Pants (See photo above!) - and I mean BIG. After a c section you're told to wear knickers that sit above your scar and are three sizes bigger than you usually would wear - so I'm in sexy M and S pants which go over my belly button and are triple my usual size. Also, you bleed after a C section too, so the big black pants are stuff with sanitary towels. Oh. The Glamour.
- I have bruises all over my thighs (see previous entry!)
- My bra is stuffed with the following:
- Cooling gel strips (for bleeding boobs)
- Breast pads (for leaking boobs)
- Cabbages. Enough said.
I also have big swollen eyes from crying so much (ah yes the wonderful baby blues!), haven't washed my hair in days (can't be bothered) and am hobbling slightly as had forgotten to take my painkillers (blaming baby brain.)
It is at this precise moment that Patrick decides to walk in the room to see his wife in all her glory.
A word of warning to all new fathers - knock before you enter! Otherwise you might be scarred for life 😳
If you're breastfeeding you will get used to wearing, what are essentially mini sanitary towels in your bras. Nipple pads are a must have for any new mummy as your boobs are very likely to leak! Ever wondered what it's like to be a cow - wonder now more as fabulous Mother Nature let's you experience it with leaking boobs/udders! Breast pads have got to be one of the most unattractive things about giving birth but there really is no getting away from them (unless you would prefer having milk stains on your tops!)
So there it is ladies - the truth behind your post birth body. But you know something else? You actually don't really care! Why? Because YOU HAVE JUST GIVEN BIRTH TO A TINY LITTLE HUMAN and your body SHOULD reflect that! (not to mention the tiny little human is VERY good at giving cuddles to cheer you up!)