Tuesday, June 08, 2010

After Birth

Throughout pregnancy, and even before it, it seems like every woman wants to share her stories about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Everyone has their gruesome tales and their unasked for advice. Seriously, I've met people who go on for hours about whatever horror took place during their delivery, as if that was supposed to help me not be terrified for mine. But no one told me about what happened after!

There are even tons of websites devoted to pregnancy, most focusing on the baby, but some focusing primarily on the mother. And none of the websites that I was reading mentioned even momentarily what to expect for after labor. American Pregnancy Association, the website that I frequented most often because of its no-nonsense scientific approach to discussing pregnancy (though I wasn't so appreciative of their very gender-stereotypical advice for mom's partner), DID include a section on After Pregnancy, but this section focused only on the baby, with a small bit focusing on postpartum depression. Yes, PPD is very serious, and needs a lot of attention, but it's a hot topic. You can find information about it anywhere (hell, there's usually even an article about it on CNN's health section's top 5 articles).

What I didn't hear anything about was aftercare for any tears, about the bleeding, clotting, etc., about the soreness that stays with you for weeks, about the utter exhaustion that it never feels like you get a chance to recover from (after all, I'm this baby's only source of food), about the pelvic pain, about feeling like your organs are sloshing around in you, etc.

Keep in mind that I only called my midwives once during pregnancy, and that was to get their permission to travel to Michigan during my final trimester for a funeral. Otherwise, the midwives never heard from me except at scheduled visits. Since giving birth I have thought of calling them every day to ask if _____ was normal. It's only my usual procrastination that keeps me from calling. I'll wait and wait, trying to see if it will get better, until finally their office is closed and I can't talk myself into believing my issue is important enough to bother the on-call midwife.

It has been 11 days since River was born, and I'm still bleeding. Some of it is still bright red, some of it is rust colored. Yesterday I got lightheaded and blacked out in the shower, today I couldn't stand long enough to accompany J on a short grocery trip. My pelvis and tail bone still hurt, and so do my legs, arms, neck, head, etc. My abdominal muscles hardly work. There's other pain too, but I don't want to gross out the family members and in-laws that read this. Yes, I expected some of this, but the intensity and duration are already more that I was told to expect. Even in the hospital they didn't really prepare me for this.

The only mention of postpartum bleeding that I came across in my normal pregnancy and baby reading (meaning not without extra research and searching) came in my most recent American Baby Magazine (a free magazine that I magically started getting after becoming pregnant) that I actually received after leaving the hospital. Still, the article only mentions the bleeding, and manages to skip over the pain, the tears, the readjusting that your entire body is going through, etc.

Basically, I'm saying that there needs to be more attention paid to, and more information out there about, what happens to a woman after pregnancy. I hope that sharing a bit about what is happening to me helps some other women who read my blog.

Other than that, I have a sleeping baby on my chest, and it feels so good ^-^


  1. I am calling you tomorrow to discuss all of these questions that you have...just so you know :)

  2. I haven't had a moment to congratulate you! I loved your birth story.

    The physical postpartum is something I think women are just to embarrassed to talk about. The smells and pains are a lot to handle. At 6 weeks I'm still bleeding and smell like a wild animal. My after pains were so bad they would leave me with the shakes. I take my relationship with midwives and other mothers for granted. Having someone to call when I have an intimate topic to discuss. While my second labor and birth was much easier my PP healing has been a bit torturous.

    Thank you for bringing up the subject.

  3. Cynthia: you rock my socks! best midwife EVAR

    Ashley: Thanks for the congrats, and thanks for responding, it's good to know that I'm not alone in this.