This Mummy Can – What They Don’t Tell You About Your Post Pregnancy Body

By Holly

When you are pregnant you are filled with so much information about your changing body, the little person growing inside you and of course, the looming birth. Midwifes, doctors, NCT courses, bloggers, friends… you could literally spend the whole 9 months educating yourself about pregnancy and child rearing.

Last July I skipped to hospital (scheduled c-section due to my kidney transplant being in my tummy) to have Scout thinking I knew EVERYTHING there was about my daughter’s upcoming birth. I had packed a hospital bag with literally everything you could think of in it. I was totally ready to let my baby crawl up my tummy to my breast (did anyone’s child actually do this!?) and had my leaflet all ready containing my post c-section exercises.

The c-section went well (as ‘well’ as someone effing up your epidural, hitting a nerve and then proceeding to play Pokemon Go whilst you were being cut open can go…) and I was completely in love with tiny 5’lb11 baby Scout. What happened next I didn’t expect though…

Hopefully these tips will prepare you for the things no one ever tells you about having a baby. I mean, one could argue that ignorance is bliss but if you’re like me it’s good to have a heads up on things…

The First Period – my period didn’t kick in for about 3 months after I gave birth (after I stopped breastfeeding) and having been a trouble free period type of gal before I was not prepared for the Niagara falls type of flood that happened. Not only this my PMT is awful and for at least a week every month I am a complete dick much to Kate’s delight. After talking to other Mums I found that this was quite normal. Who knew?!

Complications – Think this is quite a rare one but as I’m sure we all know when pregnant our organs are all squashed up in to our rib cages to make room for the new boy or girl. Then when you have the baby they all come back down and move in to their proper spaces again…. only this didn’t happen. My diaphragm decided to not move back down at all so I was stuck with bloody awful shoulder pain and was out of breath as I only had 50% lung capacity. The Doctors were stumped and just gave me painkillers which barely helped. In the end I needed a few sessions of acupuncture which fixed the problem. I’m sure this risk is all in the small print somewhere we you sign consent to have the CS, I just didn’t expect it to happen.

The Big Cry. I was warned in my NCT class that during the days when the milk comes in (around day 3 – 5) that my hormones would go a bit cray and I might get a little emotional. A LITTLE??? I was in floods of tears for about 5 days about everything and nothing. I banned all visitors as I couldn’t bear to just cry in front of them and howled as I held my precious little baby. I saw the health visitor who assured me this was entirely normal and that it would just go away as fast as it came. And it did.

 

The Fear. Scout was born a couple of weeks after the Brexit vote and as soon as I brought her home I suddenly realised what an unsafe, dangerous horrible world I’d brought her into. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving her side and cried to Kate about what we would do when she became a teenager and on earth would I let her cross the road alone? Crazy Mama.

Skintag City – I’ve spoken to other Mums about this and apparently it’s a ‘thing’ but I’ve never heard about it from a health advisor or in print. During pregnancy I got loads of little skin tags – mainly on my chest. It was really weird and I had to stop myself from wanting to pull them off. After I had Scout they all disappeared almost at once…why?!

Weight estimates on scans can be bullshit –  If having a late pregnancy scan (ie. anything from 34+ weeks) the ultra sound technicians often can estimate how much the baby weighs at this point. Now some hospitals have actually banned this completely as some women have got so worked up that they are going to have their vagina ripped open by the world’s biggest baby that they’ve decided it’s best not to say. My hospital do however give you this info and thought that Scout would be pretty large – in the 90th percentile – I mean, I definitely had the bump size to match this. But obviously they were totally wrong – as they have been for many of my friends so take it with a pinch of salt if you get told a weight.

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The Big Bleed – no one warned me that when I stood up from c-section – once I could feel my legs obviously that so much blood would pore out of me that the whole floor would be covered, as was I and Kate. I mean, it totally makes sense but would have been nice to know and would have stopped us skating around in it…

I would love to hear about any of your experiences of post pregnancy stories that you think other Mama’s might benefit from knowing. Leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the ever growing list.

This Mummy Can Feel Better

By Kate

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me (and Holly) after my last blog about my anxiety. Even though I was not in a place where I could reply to people (sorry about that!) I read every text, email and Facebook message and in one way or another they all really helped me. Even the ones that were just saying they were sorry I was going through this helped.

Things were feeling bleak for a while when I was at my lowest, and I feel like it was made worse by the fact that I would look at Scout’s beautiful little face and wonder what I had to make me feel like this when I have the most incredible and amazing daughter in the world. I also felt guilty that I wasn’t being the best version of myself for her and that she needed a mum who was well, not one who has a disability and a problem with their mental health.

But then I put things into place to start to help myself  -and below I’ve listed some of what I did that helped me. These are all very much what helped ME and they may or may not be the same experience that other people have had.

Things that helped me:

  • My mum and dad came to see me and to help me. This was amazing – I finally told them how I was feeling and they came up the next day. They managed to help me unravel a bit about why I was feeling the way I was, but more importantly they made me feel supported and that I had options ahead of me. They also looked after Scout and gave Holly and I a bit of space together which was really good
  • I saw my doctor and my doctor took me seriously and he also gave me a plan for how I could move forward. He increased my medication and he gave me some other meds (like tablets to relax me and sleeping tablets) for the short term. He also put a plan in place for what help could be available to me longer-term if I needed it.
  • I cancelled my work plans. This one was a lot harder because in my job you can’t just cancel plans, phone in sick or ask someone to cover your work. As a business owner and the one earning the money at the moment with Holly on Maternity Leave, this was a huge amount of pressure. But on the other side of that coin is what happens if I am completely unable to work if this escalates? Well this was the question I was posed by my doctor and I guess it made me think. So, I did the difficult thing and asked for help from my colleagues and they stepped up and made sure that the weekend shoot I was supposed to be doing would go ahead without me. This meant I had a whole weekend that I didn’t have to worry about work which was a massive weight off my mind.
  • I got back into a routine. A friend texted me after reading the blog to suggest this and I thought I couldn’t do it because the way my work is means that I don’t really have much of a routine throughout the week – some days will be off filming, some days will be editing, some will be working from home and some will be working from our shared work space. And a few weeks ago I was all over the place with this and that did make things harder. So as much as I wasn’t looking forward to getting into a long edit (think long days, lots of stress, no sunshine etc etc) in fact the routine of it was actually quite good for me. And so was seeing people regularly every day.
  • I slept. This one is a biggie because this is a vicious circle. For me, anxiety makes it much harder to sleep and then bad sleep leads to feeling more anxious. So in order to break the cycle I took some sleeping tablets. Only for a couple of nights, but it was enough to make me feel a bit more human again and able to cope with the world.
  • I ate better food. Again, this was quite a big one for me because I am intolerant to two quite big food groups (lactose and gluten) and yet I still often eat them and make myself feel bad. Or I skip meals and eat junk instead. So Holly and I made a real effort to eat good food that wouldn’t make me ill and that seemed to help my health generally as well as my mental health.

So, doing all of these things I have started, gradually, to feel a bit better. I know my anxiety isn’t going to disappear overnight. And, most likely, it’s never going to disappear. But it’s getting back to where it was before this last dip. I mean, I’m taking each day as it comes and some days are better than others, but in general things are gradually getting better. 

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This Mummy Can Feel Good About her Body

By Holly

In the little world of Instagram there’s been lots of posts from Mums about body positivity. Following Clemmie (@mother_of_daughters) who first posted a swimsuit photo of herself after having four children and stated that she was proud of her body – stretch marks and all – many other women have followed suit sharing their photos and stated that MOD’s post made themselves realise they are not alone with c-section scars, stretch marks, loose skin and the dreaded c-section pouch and that they too should be proud of their body. After all, it’s grown and pushed out a tiny human in to the world.

Body positivity is something I too have always struggled with. Growing up I didn’t have any major issues – but when I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure a few days after my nineteenth birthday I was horrified when I had to first have a neckline inserted by my collar bone to attach me to a dialysis machine and then shortly after a tube put in my stomach to attach me to a home dialysis machine which pumped my stomach full of fluid making me look 6 months pregnant at all times. Just bloody great at 19! I managed to hide the tubes skilfully inside my bra and tucked under vests most of the time but that didn’t stop me being really self conscious about them. Never mind the dialysis, the fear of lifting my arms up too much and the tube popping out lived inside me constantly. Bikinis were a big no-no as were tight tops and skimpy dresses too, all things I was wanting to wear when I was in my early twenties.

Fast forward 8 years after my kidney transplant which I had when I was 24 and I now sport an excellent collection of scars and of course added a c-section scar to that last year.kidney transplant scar Clemmie and other women’s posts reminded me that Kate and I (Kate has also been through a lot of operations and has the marks to show for them) should be proud of our scars and bodies. They represent battles which we have won – illnesses and operations that we have got through and of course babies we’ve made! Thank you to all the ladies that have shared their photos – it’s great not to feel alone with a post baby body and I’m proud to say that I feel great in my swimsuit on the beach this year, yeah I’m still working on slimming down and getting rid of the excess baby weight but I’m not going to let that get me down and I’ll stand proud instead. 

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