BY HAYLEY MILLINGTON (GUEST WRITER)
Millie’s Birth ended up being a very positive one for me. I wanted a home birth in a pool but ended up doing 12 hours labour at home with no pain relief and then an ambulance trip to the hospital, because I was pushing but she wasn’t moving. We were told in hospital she was back to back and the doctor manually turned her before an episiotomy to get her out. I felt So proud of myself and felt cared for in the hospital, which we decided to stay in overnight for some breastfeeding help and reassurance as new parents. In the time after leaving the hospital it really caught up on me what my body had been through. This was inevitably the fourth trimester.
THE FOURTH TRIMESTER
The pain of the episiotomy was uncomfortable and if that wasn’t enough, the post labour bleeding made my pelvic floor feel heavier and swollen too.
Getting about was hard , a few days after birth we wanted to go for a walk in the fresh air and it took what would usually take 10 minutes to the garden centre and back, a good 40 minutes!
I was loving the new born bubble I was in, dark nights were drawing in and it was getting colder out, so having a baby in October meant we could hibernate and really get to know our new daughter.
But everyday was hard for me, emotions were high with lack of sleep, my milk coming in added extra pain and I was already struggling with breastfeeding.
More than anything I was having to deal with the after effects of the episiotomy, It meant I couldn’t just get up to pick up my baby from her Moses basket, I couldn’t sleep next to her in bed and so she’d be passed over to me and then I would pass her back for a nappy change.
Almost every day we had visitors, I would get myself downstairs ( which also was a slow journey) and then I’d put a pillow under one of my legs so that I could sit as reasonably comfortable as possible.
A week post birth and the pain wasn’t subsiding, so I told my midwife and she agreed that the stitches were taking along time to heal and so it may be worth getting seeing an out of hours doctor to get some antibiotics.
Not only this but Millie’s belly button had also become infected so she would also need to go to the doctor as soon as possible.
The week after, things were starting to get a little easier – I was still in pain down below but was sure to be following the midwives tips, which were, not to use soap when showering, not to soak in a bath, lay on a towel to dry after a shower and to give the stitches some air, don’t go for long walks which increases the blood flow to your pelvic floor, freeze maternity pads and change them more regularly.
My emotional outbursts were starting to subside, I had in the first week, moments where I felt useless and that although my partner Pete was helping in every way possible, I resented him for being able to lift Millie and hold her so easily and often , I felt I was missing out on bonding and all I was being used for was feeding.
I think it hit hard when one day, a different midwife hurried into the house for a quick visit, she was all out of sorts telling us she was in a rush and as soon as she had looked at Millie, she simply said “ Did anyone tell you she had tongue tie?’ Which proceeded with a weigh in and telling us she’d also lost too much weight!
I felt sick – Pete and I looked at each other in shock, I knew we were thinking the same thing “ who the hell is this woman!” She then said She was going to call the hospital and we needed to go right away , next thing she was on her way out of the living room but not without asking if I was eating well and telling me I looked a bit pale !
I literately held back all my tears until she walked out the door and then just broke down whilst I held Millie in my arms.
I’d failed her, I wasn’t producing enough milk and I hadn’t even realised how much weight she’d lost.
After an overnight hospital visit and the doctors confirming she did not have tongue tie ( phew!), we decided to breast and formula feed to help get her weight up and decided I would try and pump in order to see how much I could produce .
Now let me tell you this, Pumping was not something I took to lightly.
The following night as I sat in front of the tele trying to pump for half hour and barely anything coming out, I literately sobbed at the thought of being this thing who’s only job was to produce milk in order to make my tiny human happy , yet it made me feel quite the opposite – I turned to Pete and cried “ I can’t do this , I feel like a cow!”
The next day I had made the decision to stop breastfeeding and go onto formula and I felt so much happier and knew that I also had a happy baby who was being fed too.
The realisation after all of this was that I’d been told about most aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and raising a baby but not one person had told me of just how hard that ‘fourth trimester’ really can be.
I now try my best to check on new mum friends and see how they are feeling after giving birth as it really can feel lonely, tough, emotional and painful even though it’s equally the most amazing experience I have ever endured – and of course, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
You can read all about the fourth trimester on the NCT website (link), did you experience the fourth trimester?
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INSTAGRAM: MUMMY & MILLIE