I don’t really know what I was expecting and while I certainly wasn’t assuming it would be easy, no one told me how vulnerable you feel and how messy it is.
I had to have a forceps assisted delivery and episiotomy as I had been pushing too long unassisted with almost no changes; I had been in labour for at least 24 hours and was exhausted. Due to this, I was given a spinal. If you haven’t had a spinal, unlike an epidural, it completely removes all feeling from your chest down. I had to have a catheter as I could not move my legs for the next 24 hours while the spinal wore off.
Mums and non-mums answer questions about childbirth, and yikes.
While I was forewarned of the physical effects of a spinal, I wasn’t prepared for how stressful I found this with a newborn. Having my little girl within arms reach, but unable to pick her up because I couldn’t sit myself up was deeply upsetting, particularly when she was crying and I would have to call for a midwife to pick her up for me. I wish someone was able to share this with me, so I could have been more mentally prepared.
Breastfeeding can be very difficult and painful
Another thing I wasn’t told about was just how difficult breastfeeding can be. At all the parenting groups and talks, staff would talk about how easy breastfeeding was for a baby as it’s instinct, natural etc. There was a big campaign encouraging women to breastfeed their babies over formula, so I feel they pushed this forward by any means. Yet, when I was in hospital, my baby could not work out how to feed. She wasn’t tongue-tied or had any underlying issues preventing her from feeding, she just couldn’t work it out. Every single midwife and nurse that tried helping my baby feed all said how difficult it is for a newborn to understand how to breastfeed and it takes practise. Completely different to what I was told throughout my pregnancy!
While some babies do learn very quickly how to breastfeed and it rarely becomes a serious issue, I felt emotional over the conflicting information I was given. Unfortunately, my little girl never got the hang of breastfeeding and, after two days of cup feeding or syringe feeding out of desperation, my husband and I caved and gave her formula just so she wouldn’t starve as she was losing weight quickly.
I wasn’t told just how painful full breasts can be! While I did feed my baby formula when she had lost a lot of weight, I still wanted to give her breast milk when I could, so I expressed as much as I could.