Labouring Under Misapprehensions
It’s no secret that when you get pregnant there are some pretty significant changes that take place in your body. Apart from the obvious small human growing within, there are many commonly known side effects of getting knocked up.
I’m fine with this. Most of it is true, at least in part. Most of us experience at least some of these at some point during our pregnancy.
The problem I have with it is how romanticised it all gets in the telling:- Breasts of a Grecian Goddess?! Well hello there puppies!… Hair that shines like the sun?! Don’t mind if I do!
Even the obvious negatives often get sweetened in the telling:- “Morning sickness? Lots of ginger, and peppermint tea will make it all ok. You should eat little and often. Here, have another hobnob.” … “Puffy ankles? Poor you, pop your feet up on the couch for a bit.”
Before I got pregnant it sounded like it was going to be 9 months of being pampered, told to take it easy, and allowed to eat all the cake. Whilst looking like some sort of sexy, fabulous, Earth Mother and being congratulated purely on my ability to procreate.
Sounds like a frigging dream! I want to be pregnant forever if this is what happens.
But what no-one really tells you about is all the grotty, embarrassing, sometimes pretty painful stuff that will inevitably occur somewhere along the way. Plus, no-one tells you about all the changes that you get stuck with – the bits that DON’T CHANGE BACK once you’ve popped.
Unless confiding in forums and Mum’s groups, lots of us have had to put up with all manner of shitty symptoms in relative silence. Mortified about our rank bits, and not wanting anyone to know.
Well… I’m calling bullsh*t.
I mean, its pretty much false advertising isn’t it? If we keep on telling Mums-to-be how fluffy and wonderful everything’s going to be it’s inevitably going to come as quite a shock when things turn out the way they tend to. Shouldn’t we be upfront about the grot and horror?
Perhaps if we lost the self conscious secretiveness and started being upfront about things, we’d realise that it’s all pretty normal (even if it feels very not normal to us at the time) and accept that bodies do weird, sometimes gross, things to adapt.
The Truth About What Happens To Your Body When You’ve Had A Baby – As Told, Truthfully, By Mums
Those of you who are already members of The Mum Conundrum Facebook Group will possibly remember that, a few months ago, I mentioned that I was in bed recovering from what I vaguely termed ‘an operation’, the result of which led me to recuperate in bed for a couple of weeks, off my chops on some fairly hefty prescription painkillers.
In the midst of my aforementioned post-op delirium I realised that between having three babies and my most recent medical intervention, I had altogether left my dignity at the door.
Christ, It wasn’t even at the door. It might have been at the door after having my babies… Now it had pegged it several miles down the road, and was in a pub downing pints and challenging Dave the Barman to a pool contest, winner buys the next round.
It was at this point that I resolved to write this post – resolutely and with zero shame and blushes.
You see; my medical woes were entirely rooted in the changes that happened to my body through my pregnancies. And in all honesty, if it hadn’t been for my own personal awkwardness and embarrassment about my baby related side-effects I could have saved myself a world of pain.
With this in mind I spoke with friends, some fellow Mum Bloggers, and asked around in several Mum Groups. I wanted to find out what other people’s experiences were. The response was HUGE. I had literally hundreds of replies and PMs from Mums regaling me with their experiences.
None of it was pretty, but all of it was truthful. And lots of women had lots of stories to tell.
So without further ado, here’s the truth about post-baby bodies, in all their imperfect glory.
The Grapes of Wrath
Piles. Rrhoids. Bum Knuckles. Sounds funny, but dear God I have never known any pain like it. These little b*stards first made an appearance during my second pregnancy. The pressure of the baby’s head on my lower bowel blew out the veins at the top end like a weakness in a bicycle tyre.
They chilled out a bit once my son was born, but I’d still get flare-ups, I sort of pretended it wasn’t happening (except when it most definitely was happening and I was howling in pain.) But once I got preggo again with my youngest daughter things really got ugly.
At one point I waddled up to the Doctor’s, heavily pregnant and with two small children in tow, and tearfully begged them to do something to help soothe the pain.
The Doc examined my bumhole, gasped audibly, and called the hospital, only to be told that they couldn’t treat them whilst I was still pregnant. I couldn’t even get a prescription to help soothe the pain, because: Pregnancy.
Moreover, once I’d had her, they stayed. FOR GOOD. When at their worst I’d be unable to walk and on the brink of tears for weeks at a time.
Reluctantly I accepted that I had to do something about it, which is what led me down the route of the op. A circular-stapled hemorrhoidectomy procedure, to be precise. Laughably touted as a new ‘pain-free’ surgical treatment for bad hemorrhoids.
If I ever meet the person who named it thus, I will cheerfully kick them in the arsehole for a couple of hours and see how they f*cking like it.
The worst part about this story is that, if I’d got over the whole embarrassment thing I could have had treatment sooner, when they were less spectacular in size and number, and avoided this hardcore op completely. Dozens of the Mums that I asked had been plagued by Farmer Giles through pregnancy and beyond.
Don’t be shy about your bum, ladies. Look after your pooper proudly, because this is what happens if you neglect it.
Other Tales Of Woe:
And it turns out that sore bums are just the tip of the post-baby iceberg. Don’t take my word for it, Here are some of the other weird things that have happened to other Mums:-
“My boobs are f*cked. They’re big anyway but I need serious help after breastfeeding two – all the ‘meat’ has vacated the top of them. Getting a bra that makes me look un-geriatric is IMPOSSIBLE as try as I might there’s always that hideous top to side gap and horrid fold jive going on. I’m a wreck.” ~ Donna
“My hair changed completely after I had my first baby. I started out like Farah Fawcett, all shiny and full-bodied, and ended up more like Ken Dodd” ~ Lucy
“My feet grew too. Half a size when I had my daughter and half a size when I had my son! I also have never needed fillings in my teeth except once after having my daughter and once after having my son.” ~ Star
“My first daughter ripped me a tail downstairs… I need to get it fixed really…” ~ Jade
“I got shorter by 2.5cm. Only found out as I changed surgery and they took my measurements again. I couldn’t believe it until I compared it with the ones taken at my booking appointment.” ~ Victoria
“Anal Fissure – That was nice” ~ Laura
“I swear my ribs never went back to their original place! My babies were so big they’ve stretched my rib cage.” ~ Alana
“Sneezing in public now scares me.” ~ Stevie
“My thyroid broke! I was super skinny after giving birth, then I got fat & tired AFTER pregnancy. Typical!” ~ Sarah
…So there you have it: Bigger feet, thinner hair, sore bums, weak bladders, tattered undercarriages, and all sorts in between. There were a load more examples I could have used, but this blog post would have turned into an encyclopedia of knackered Mum bits.
My advice? Be out and proud! Don’t be embarrassed about it. Other Mums get it, we all understand.
If you think about it, it would be kind of weird if your body underwent such a radical process and didn’t change as a result. You’d have to be like the Terminator from Terminator 2… Bodies do weird stuff. It’s normal. You’re normal. But if it hurts, or really bothers you, go and get it seen to.
Believe me when I tell you that Doctors see weirder, grosser shit than yours all the time!
Look after yourselves Motherlovers.