WHAT HAPPENS AFTER LABOUR
When your pregnant there is usually so much focus on labour and what will happen that often what happens after labour is rarely discussed.
I know I spent hours on google searching for things like 'how do you know when your waters have broke?' and 'how to tell when your in labour?' and i literally didn't think for a split second about what happens afterwards apart from the fact I would have a gorgeous baby to swoon over!
Because I went into it so blindly I really had a tough time in hospital 3 days after my daughter was born and the after care I received was a worse experience than labour itself. I feel if I was more mentally prepared for this I may have been able to cope better.
So today I want to discuss exactly what happens (from my personal experience anyway).
1) If you have had any type of pain relief - chances are your going to be pretty out of it to some degree. I had an epidural and I couldn't feel my legs for at least a few hours. This resulted in me being bed bathed (wiped down) and then transferred onto another bed (lifted on by two midwives) as they removed the bloody sheets and then I was whisked away from my private room where I had given birth to a ward with 5 other women.
2) Yes I completely thought the room I had given birth in was the room I would stay in until I left home. Nope - you get carted off to a ward and plonked there with numerous other women and their crying babies. I was so upset as there was zero privacy or space. (This isn't necessarily the case if you have gone to a hospital which specifies that the room is privately yours throughout the duration of your stay)
3) The fear of going to the toilet - during labour some people may tear or have stitches due to something like a ventouse or forcep delivery and that first urge to wee (or bowel movements) is terrifying but not as painful as you think (It still is painful though and may take you a while to wee). You are often asked to go to the toilet with a bed pan and to wee into it so the nurses can monitor how much blood you pass (and yes you will pass alot of blood and it is not pleasant sitting on the toilet waiting for the nurse to come and collect your bed pan!)
4) You're told to sleep when the baby sleeps but you are obsessed with checking whether the baby is ok. If you are on a ward with other women it will be near possible to get a good night sleep. Not only will your baby constantly wake wanting to be fed, you will also have one eye on the baby at all times checking that everything is ok with them. Only by pure exhaustion you will fall asleep for an hour or so at a time.
5) The ward is HOT! I remember reading a list about packing socks and slippers for hospital but it is absolutely boiling! I packed hotel slippers which were great when hobbling to and from the toilet and luckily I packed some short pjamas and vest top and I was still roasting!
6) You may not be able to establish feeding straight away - Many people go into labour with an open mind about breast feeding afterwards and can be left shocked when it doesn't work. Get used to people seeing your nipples as if you are trying to establish feeding the midwives and nurses will do their best to really help support you. In my case it didn't work but they brought an express machine in for me to express milk and I gave it to my daughter through a syringe.
7) If you opt for breast feeding you may not get to home as quick as you like. If you do have difficulties breast feeding the nurses will want to keep an eye on you and baby to make sure baby is getting fed an adequate amount of milk. Be prepared that this may extend your stay in the hospital.
8) You will be in a world of your own - after enduring labour and going through such an incredible experience you will be in this world of your own where you have no concept of what day or time it is. You will want to run down the corridors shouting 'I'VE JUST HAD A BABY' and no doubt you will have a surge of hormones raging through your body so you may not 100% completely be as switched on as normal
9) As mentioned above - a surge of hormones hit and you could be in for the baby blues! I wasn't ready for them and had them for 3 days along with absolutely complete exhaustion like I have never ever felt before. I spent 3 days in hospital completely out of it and also had frantic moments where I would hysterically cry from tiredness and also being so bewildered. This is where good partners and family come in handy and you may want to keep visitors limited to a select few.
10) Your stomach doesn't necessarily go flat and back to normal - again I wasn't prepared to still have a bulging stomach after my daughter had been delivered. I literally thought my stomach would go flat and back to normal. This isn't the case for everyone and for me it actually took a good few months. So be prepared to still be wearing those maternity clothes for a while longer.
11) Your boobs will be HUGE - think your boobs are big in pregnancy well they go even bigger after birth and will be filling with milk. If you decide to breastfeed/or express your boobs will let you know when they need emptying as they will be rock solid and likely slightly painful too eeek!
It's not like me to share blogs with a bit of a dampened tone but it's important to be realistic and I wish I'd known a few of these things before I had gone into labour. Some of you may or may not be able to relate to these experiences and if you have got any of your own please feel free to share them with me as I may be able to include them on a future blog!