Should we tell the truth about the aftermath of birth?

I’m in a dilemma. Two of my family are pregnant and they are both pretty focussed on the birth. Their birth plans read the same as mine a natural water birth, immediate skin to skin, no epidural and I will breastfeed.

As it turned out none of the above happened for various reasons, I had a 36 hour labour, an epidural after 26 hours as I was in agony, not dilating and needing to rest. I ended up in a theatre with a forceps birth and after 24 hours of trying and failing to breast feed collapsed in tears and chose to bottle feed just so my baby could have something to eat.

But all of this, was sort of taken in my stride as due to the circumstances this was best for me and baby and I’m sure that both of my pregnant family members will do the same.

It was the aftermath I was completely under prepared for, that bit when Daddy goes home and you’re on a post natal ward with lots of other new mums who look so much
more accomplished at feeding, swaddling, generally getting on with life with a newborn than you are.

My idea was that baby is born, we have photos and cuddles, baby is put in her bedside crib and I rest for a while until baby wakes up for a feed. I feed her, cuddle her to sleep, put her back in the crib and we all go back to sleep.

Post Birth Bliss

Post Birth Bliss- A result of exhaustion and lots and lots of drugs

I’m sure this happens to many women but what if it doesn’t? What if the first few nights of having a baby are more like mine and several of my friends?

Rather than the post natal bliss I had dreamt of above, my first night went a bit like this…

  • Daddy went home I was transferred to a ward full of mums half my age but twice as competent.
  • Within an hour baby wanted to feeding. I realised with a catheter, drips in my arms, far too many stitches and the remains of the epidural and spinal block I was
    unable to move very far off the bed.
  • Buzzed the midwives.
  • Tried to feed her, it was agony, baby screamed, midwives were very helpful and accommodating but both baby and I were so exhausted we just kept falling asleep.
  • Baby went back into her crib, I closed my eyes to shoot them back open ten minutes later when I heard her make choking noises and bright yellow gunk flew out of her
    mouth, covering her and her crib top to bottom.
  • Buzzed the midwives.
  • Had help cleaning her and her crib up, got her changed and put her back down. Both started drifting off to sleep.
  • Woke feeling really uncomfortable down below. Realised my maternity pad was soaked through, no one had helped me put underwear on and my fresh pads were too far out of reach.
  • Buzzed midwives- again
  • Had help putting pants on and new pad after initial ‘Can’t you get up and do it yourself’? Err no, I am strapped to a million tubes and still have limited feeling in
    my legs. I have been told not to get up yet!
  • Settle down to sleep.
  • Nurses come round to take observations and give pain killers.
  • Settle down to sleep.
  • Baby in another bay starts crying, mum buzzes for midwives.

The above is repeated several times with me laid in bed crying my heart out.

I was literally counting down the minutes until Mr Happy Tired returned and could help me.

This is just one example of when life post birth was so far away from the dream. So do I tell them what it can be like or do I let them go along thinking the birth is the hardest part and the aftermath is just a breeze in comparison? Or, do I tell them what it could be like and prepare them for the worst in the hope that they get the best?

I guess whatever I choose, they will probably do the same as me and filter out the negatives anyway.


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