My postnatal body
There are so many things that happen in pregnancy and postnatally that aren't talked about, plus it’s only when you start to suffer that you realise the gravity of what your body has gone through.
I was lucky in my first pregnancy that my pregnancy yoga teacher Hayley Boulton really focused on the pelvic floor and the golden thread breath. Learning to let it go as well as strengthen it. This really prepared for me labour and allowed me to understand what activating the pelvic floor felt like.
If you have read my birth stories in the blog you will know that I had a beautiful spa like experience delivering Harper. Water birth, Gas and air and she was born in her sack. That's where the fairy-tale ended, 2nd degree tear that was close to a full 3rd degree tear, they struggled to stem the bleeding but we got there in the end. A friend once told me the best remedy after labour was a rolled up towel to sit on as it would be uncomfortable. It wasn't until I got home and finally worked up the courage to have a look down there I now knew what she was talking about, I was so shocked with what I saw. No one told me that haemorrhoids were a possibility and these made the google search result look tame!
A few friends had babies the same week and we joined forces on WhatsApp for 3am support, after a bit of oversharing it seemed we all suffered a similar fate. Boots suppositories came up top of the shopping list along with ointment for the external factors. The conversation was embarrassing, personal and scary about something so intimate, if it hadn't been on WhatsApp I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to talk to anyone about it but the more we shared the more it was clear we were in similar boats in the postpartum body storm.
The midwives checked my stitches on day 2 when I had gone home but that was the last time anyone examined me. I was discharged and off into the new postpartum world I went. My health visitor came to see me and told me about 2 weeks after that I had diastasis recti around 2cm and so the work began on bridging that gap, lots of breathing work and exercises to concentrate the muscles such as pelvic tilts and heel slides. It took a while but we got there eventually after about 4 weeks.
We had all had our 6weeks checks and asked if we needed contraception and whether we were having any negative thoughts, 10mins later we were cleared to head into the world head first. It was not until 3 months passed that the WhatsApp conversation moved from haemorrhoids to heavy feelings down below.
For me it was like a dragging feeling, and it wasn't until some more WhatsApp conversations we realised that we had again reached a similar point.
It took a little while for me to acknowledge that this wasn't “normal”, I didn't really want to discuss it with anyone and I was really embarrassed. My body felt alien to me, like the tissue from the inside was pushing out. It sounds strange but it really itched, I wanted it to be pushed back inside so I tried with a tampon to see if that helped, it didn't. Again the conversations unravelled but I was too embarrassed to actually go see anyone so researched and found exercises I could do to help draw everything back in and thanks to those early yoga classes I understood what that sensation felt like, I also discovered that Hayley did a mum and baby yoga class so started that. Finally I was feeling like myself again!!
It’s now November, my postpartum body has been through so much and despite app tracking my cycles to be careful, we are now pregnant less than a year later. Fast forward to my second labour, incredible second water birth but this time back to back (OUCH!) tens machine and gas and air. The birth story is in the Blog if you're after the details but again it was not all sunshine and roses.
There he was this beautiful baby boy born at a whopping 10lb 2 and another 2nd degree tear for me. My body had really been through it, more suppositories for the haemorrhoids were needed along with that rolled up towel!
The heavy dragging feeling came much sooner the second time around but I really focused on my pelvic floor work and used feeding times to sit and do my internal exercises. I thought I was doing well then I went to a netball session, my first one back in a long time, I was so proud of myself for keeping the tena lady dry. The next day I was in a world of trouble, I had gone too hard too soon and I now officially had a prolapse. I was still too embarrassed to see anyone so went to my pal google to what my options were. I found a whole list of exercises to do to help strengthen everything back up and then I gave myself 6 weeks to focus on it before I would allow myself to see a Dr.
HELLO COVID, well the world went into lockdown and so I couldn't see or speak to anyone if I wanted too. I used this time to really focus on myself, I did my exercises religiously and complimented them with Pilates and Low intensity body weight exercises through a the Working on Mama guide I was kindly given by my Insta mum friend Carly (@thefitmummyofficial)
The lockdown was long but so was my road to recovery, my prolapse started to ease and things got better down below, still too ashamed to talk to anyone properly about it. I would always just say to David I was having “issues” and leave it at that.
Well this brings us to now, January 2021. Ethan is 16, almost 17 months old. And I am still not OK. Things have got better for the prolapse but things have deteriorated from the impact of the haemorrhoids. I have finally worked up the courage to message another Insta mum @Clarebournephsyio who is not too far from me to have a full Mummy MOT. It's booked in for the 21st January and I will share the journey with you as I have suffered in silence with this for so long and it has had a huge impact on my mental health and self confidence.
If you have or think you have a prolapse please speak to someone, I honestly wish I had done it sooner and sending that first message to Clare to say I need help took the biggest weight of my shoulders.