15 things I wish I’d known about childbirth…

15 things I wish I’d known about childbirth…

After having three babies… 4 pregnancies (I had a missed miscarriage too) I don’t feel qualified to be lecturing people about childbirth BUT I do think it’s only kind to pass on those little nuggets of information that I wish I had known pre-babies. Because people don’t tell you lots of stuff about giving birth.

I have experienced a range of things during childbirth, including… 3 vaginal births with gas and air, one waterbirth, one high blood loss and High Dependency Unit stay, one instance of shitting the bed post-baby, one super quick birth that happened 12 minutes after arriving at hospital, 2 retained placentas, 1 third degree tear, 2 spinal blocks and theatre trips post-baby, 1 birth with no stitches (yay) 2 overdue births and one a day early and I feel like there’s a few things I wish I had known or been told before I’d had my first. Obviously this isn’t going to apply to everyone and everyone is different but this is my list of what I wish I had known.

So… here goes.

  1. Don’t rely too heavily on your birth plan.  It’s nice to have a birth plan but you can’t assume everything will go perfectly. Childbirth can be complicated, messy, scary, easy and you will never know each time how it will go. It’s great to have a loose plan in place, but above all, you need to plan for the unexpected. I planned a hypno birth for my first and it all went out the window as soon as I was made ‘high risk’ due to being ‘small for dates’ on arrival. (Baby was 8lb!)
  2. Leave your dignity at the door. You will go to the hospital with all the best intentions to ‘keep covered up’ and keep the gore to a minimum. But think about it. A human BABY is going to come out of you. Blood, wee, shit, sometimes sick although I was lucky to not be sick during labour, amniotic fluid, sometimes baby poo, it will all be there and once things get going, you will be concentrating on getting through each contraction, a bit of vomit or wee will not faze you.
  3. You don’t get any medals. If you end up using all the pain relief, so what? If you end up with an emergency C-Section – so what? As long as you and the baby both end up safe and well, that’s all that matters once the birth is over. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
  4. It’s normal to feel like you are about to shit yourself. This is the baby’s head ‘coming down’ and basically it feels exactly the same as a giant dump. The midwives will have seen it all and this is normal.
  5. It is not uncommon to have a vaginal ‘tear’ after birth. Some women are cut (episiotomy) either way, stitches to your vag after birth is quite normal. I had a ‘third degree’ tear after my first baby, meaning the skin, flesh and muscle was torn. BEAUTIFUL! Usually a first degree tear isn’t stitched, and a second degree is stitched with local anaesthetic.  After a baby has emerged, this will be a minor incident!
  6. Weird things can happen. They are all rare and it’s not meant to scare you, but I think women should be told. Complications can arise after birth that you have never heard of. Retained placenta (I had 2 of those!), haemorrhage, etc. It’s not nice but stuff does happen that you won’t have planned for or even heard of – keep an open mind and you will probably not experience it, but if you do – it happens.  Remember the midwives and doctors know what they are doing and will be looking out for signs of anything going wrong.
  7. If you do shit yourself, you really WON’T care. Giving birth is the weirdest thing ever. Before my first baby was born I was so worried about pooing during birth. Having suffered with IBS, I’ve had many poo-induced worries before. However I can safely say I really did not give any fucks if I shat in the midwife’s face. When another human is bursting through your delicate vaginal opening, you will really NOT give any shits, about shitting.
  8. You may change your mind. When the pain starts kicking in, you may have a fleeting moment of ‘I don’t think I want a baby now’. I remember thinking it was a bad idea and wanting my birth partner to cut off my arm instead.
  9. You can do it! You are a woman and you were MADE to do this. Your body knows what it’s doing. Stay as calm and relaxed as you can – slow 20/20 breathing really does help. If not, get an epidural and relax!!
  10. Don’t be worried if you don’t get the RUSH OF LOVE. Everyone and their dog tells you about the rush of love you get when baby is born. I didn’t have it with all 3 of mine. I felt numb, and a bit detached if I’m honest. And quite relieved that it was over. The love came on slowly and gradually for me.
  11. After the birth you will be shattered, but may be unable to sleep. I remember feeling so tired and so awake all at once, the endorphins of labour stay with you and can make resting tricky. If you are lucky enough to be able to sleep then please DO IT!
  12. Another poo one. Your first poo after a vaginal birth will be scary as hell. Especially if you are fearful of ripping your stitches out. Breathe, take it slowly and make sure for the love of God you don’t get constipated after the birth.
  13. It’s normal to feel a bit traumatised. Well I did. Having your first baby is scary shit. I felt a bit numb and zombie like for a good 2 to 3 weeks after having my first. Not to mention hormonal. Embrace help, staying in, and if you want to cry or punch pillows, you do what you need to do. Use the I just had a baby card until the baby is at least 2 years old.
  14. Nothing quite prepares you for your first birth. You can read all the books, get all the advice and speak to everyone who has been there, but it really is something that everyone experiences differently.
  15. Lastly. It is one of the most magical experiences, poo and all. Take ALL the photos, even if you hate them at the time because you can see your bum hole or you think you look swollen – because you will want to look back and have these memories for yourself. Time speeds up after the baby arrives and you will wish you had more photos/videos.
Breastfeeding isn’t the same for everyone

Breastfeeding isn’t the same for everyone

Today I have a guest post from my good friend, I will call her ‘2 Kids No Formula‘ on how her decision to Breastfeed affected her as a new mum.  Her 2 sprogs are now 7 and 4. Over to you 2KNF: *Hands over imaginary microphone*

“I found myself in that camp… where you eat moss and breastfeed…..

Did you ever realise that by having a baby you were going to make huge statements about your parenting orientation? No, me neither. I thought you’d whip this baby out and watch on lovingly while it grew up. Oh boy, how wrong I was. I fall into a very elite camp!

I am a hypnobirthing, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, front sleeping goddess who laboured for three days on no drugs. When I walk along the street my children glow full of my antibodies, a huge sign in neon lights above my head lights the moonlit after bedtime sky ‘hippy mother’. For miles around I am called upon to give my opinion on nipples and flow and whether your darling baby is getting enough milk, because I made it to that golden 1 year mark. But do you know… still no fucking medal in the post 7 years down the line!!!! I initially lap up the glory when we hit that emotive subject in the soft play, in-between shifting my darling child from one knee to the other so I can strain my teabag with one hand without shooting it across the table and scalding all the babies crawling around my feet; all because my sodding child wont actually venture into the soft child size boot camp.

Three other lovely mummies who I have found on my circuit of the baby classes sit round the table eagerly awaiting my input – how the hell did I make it to a year breastfeeding without my nipples dropping off??? Errr I don’t know… I basically persevered because I would rather my nipples dropped off in bed than actually crawl out of bed and venture downstairs waiting for bottles to ping in the microwave then spend 5 minutes cooling them under a freezing tap (this is pre Perfect Prep machine – like what the hell, has the inventor of this only just left school? All the inventors before him need to be sacked I think).

My story doesn’t have a very earth mother ring to it, and the three other mums smell weakness and pull rank on me, stating how unhappy their kids were until they shoved a bottle in their mouths. I am left feeling like a hippy again, one that starved my kids of thick yummy milk. But here’s the mental bit…. No matter your feeding orientation they still bloody alive, go figure!!!!

The problem with me is, I will do what I want, no health visitor pushing me to breast feed or lactation specialist being my best mate for the first month of my life will sway me, if my nipples had dropped off, that bottle would have been in my baby’s mush in a shot, but they didn’t.

My boobs however look like death, but I am planning to have enough children to save the money on formula to get them perked up a bit by a nice doctor….. and In that case I will take the drugs!!!”

 

For me, it was very different: I started by breastfeeding all 3 of my babies, but only for 3, 2 and 6 weeks respectively. I honestly found breastfeeding the worst part of having a baby. The pain from feeding was FAR worse than the pain of late pregnancy, childbirth, and recovering from third degree tears and infections afterwards (that’s a whole other post!)

With my first I had mastitis early on from a bad latch, really sore nipples because I didn’t know how to prevent it or help it, and I was too young/shy/scared to ask for help. Second baby had oral thrush and we passed it back and forth until I was so sore I couldn’t do it anymore. Third baby I probably had really bad vasospasm/raynaulds (so my breastfeeding guru friend told me!) and pain when feeding, he had minor tongue tie but with MAJOR pain. It was all over Christmas time and I didn’t want to ask for help, I thought he was my third baby I should bloody know better by now. I really enjoyed breastfeeding, the closeness the bond… but I just sucked at it. By 8 weeks all 3 of my babies were solely formula fed. I felt awful at first, but then I saw them thrive and develop and I’m happy with that. I still feel passionately about breastfeeding, but I just think every mum and baby experience it totally differently, no 2 babies or mums are the same. So I just say, feed your baby however you feed it, as long as it’s not Greggs sausage rolls (yet).

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What are your experiences of the big Breast vs Formula?  Did you find judgement from the way you fed your baby?

Mother knows best… doesn’t she?

Mother knows best… doesn’t she?

When you have a baby, usually it’s because you are in love with someone and want to produce little mini humans to share your life, hopes, dreams and family with. Sometimes you find yourself pregnant by surprise, and you aren’t sure you want a baby, but you decide to go ahead with the pregnancy and have a baby. Some people try for years to get their bundle of love in their arms, experiencing heartache, loss and many tears. Some fall pregnant easily. Some people adopt. Some have a baby via surrogate. Whatever your situation, however you found yourself here – you now have a new role that you’ve never had any training in (even if you think you have!), being a ‘mum’ means all of a sudden you are the whole world to a tiny person, who needs you, every inch of you. Being a mum isn’t a job you can quit from, you can’t call in sick, and lunch breaks are few and far between.


Babies are hard work, we all know this. They need feeding, comfort, love, changing, cleaning and constant care. When you have a baby you think this stage lasts forever, it feels like sleepless nights and nappies never end. Oh the crying! You are trapped in a cycle that means you put someone else’s needs before your own. You’re exhausted. It’s gotta get easier right? WRONG!
Then your baby grows, becomes a toddler (see here for my views on them at the moment:My Toddler is an asshole!) and the hard work continues, just in a different way. The toddler grows again, into a child, and all of a sudden, there’s a LOT of questions. The child questions you about the big wide world, how did we get here, why does this and that happen, and you start to realise you might not actually have all the answers. You in turn question yourself. Why don’t I know the answer to this? Should I? Where’s the mum manual? I don’t know all the answers! Help! Am I cut out for this?

 

There’s so much pressure to do things one way or the other. Are you a gentle parent? A routine based parent? Strict?  Rewards/naughty step? Attached, comfort, love, no punishments? Breastfeeding/bottle feeding? Weaning early/BLW? Is your child allowed screen time? Are you an outdoorsy mum? A craft mum? Football mum? How are you going to shape this child into being a decent, loving, happy, rounded, emotionally stable human being…. when you’re not even sure that’s what YOU are at the moment?

 

Well the point of this post (I’m getting there slowly!) is that yes you are the mum and you do know best for your own child. Trust your instincts. Of course ask for advice if you need it (we all need it!), but you are the BEST person to care for your child because no-one else loves your child like you do. No-one else has their interests at the forefront of their priorities like you do.  You are absolutely the best mum for your child/ren. You know best. Doubting yourself is part and parcel with being a mum. That mummy guilt that niggles at the back of your mind with every decision you make is only there because you care. Do your research, ask people but ultimately YOU know what to do. Even if you think you don’t!

 

Also, with this in mind, and on the flip side. You are allowed to not have all the answers. You are the mum but you are not the information central of the world. You may have to sneakily Google stuff, we all do (thank you Google!) How did my mum survive without Google? But it’s OK for you to not know everything. I’ve found my Big Boy doing stuff in first year Junior school that I didn’t do til Secondary. I can’t remember some of this stuff! But that’s okay. *

 

So this is sort of a shoutout to mums (and dads of course, but I’m a mum!) everywhere. You are amazing, you are exactly what your child needs and you are the best parent for your children. If you have the awful guilt or the constant worry about things then it just means you care and you want the best for them. Don’t beat yourself up for the little things, no parent is perfect. Even the ones that seem to be. Just be yourself, try to do your best every day. Some days you’ll shout, cry or want to run away. That’s okay, everyone feels this way at some time. Some more than others, but everyone is different, no two children or families are the same.

 

Trust yourself, give yourself the credit you deserve, and try to keep a positive attitude. Motherhood will be the hardest thing you ever have to do. But it also will be the best thing.

 

Please share this post with a mum who you think needs to hear those magic words:

 YOU ARE A FANTASTIC MUM!!!!

Disclaimer – I need to remember all of the above myself, as I am the worst for thinking I suck at this job. But today I’m giving myself a pat on the back. I am a mum and I am the best mum to my three demons darlings.

*Please note I have no idea on the trials that come with having teenage or older children – my biggest is 7 and this is hard enough! Here’s a nod to the mums of teenagers, you did it this long! Keep going! xx