6 Things New Mums Aren't Prepared for After Birth
For someone who’d read at least eight books on gestation and childbirth during her pregnancy, I was severely underprepared for the delirium that would follow my child’s arrival.
No part of the birth experience can sit neatly on the shelf of typical ‘tired parents’ stories one hears. It was equally horrifying as it was heartwarming, but looking back, all of it was pretty darn hilarious.
Midwives handling my breasts like grocery shopping bags
‘Pick em up and shove em in the boot,’ was the attitude most midwives approached my breasts with. Except the boot was my baby’s mouth.
It was no different to being approached by a stranger in the car park, asking if I needed help with my bags. Unless the stranger wore a ‘Midwife’ badge, in which case, no asking was necessary. I appreciated the can-do, must-do attitude, but only one midwife politely asked before trying to help me get the latch right. And she made me feel more like a new mum than a cow being milked.
Becoming best mates with nipple shields and sterile gloves
A short, new mother with proportionately small arms and disproportionately sized 16DD boobs does not look dissimilar to a Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to breastfeed.
It wasn’t going down well, especially due to the limited ways I could position my body comfortably after my emergency C-section. Determined to learn how to breastfeed, I employed nipple shields to help dull the pain of cracked nipples. And when we really struggled, we moved between formula feeding, expressing and slapping on a sterile glove before sticking my finger in my baby’s mouth as a makeshift dummy. It worked.
Using those few extra tools enabled me to breastfeed over the long-term where I know I would have given up from disheartenment otherwise. And to think, I was preparing myself for a drug-free, formula-free, all-natural, unicorns-playing-violins-in-the-background birth and breastfeeding experience.
Balling my eyes out to the Physiotherapist on day three
I am a brown-skinned Indian-Australian woman. Dominant genes right? Wrong. My daughter somehow inherited all of her Caucasian Australian father’s features: white skin, blue eyes, light brown hair, etc. Of course I didn’t mind. She’d have been beautiful either way.
Unfortunately, when the Baby Blues Army invaded during my physio session, they convinced me that because she looked nothing like me and I didn’t feel her ‘pass through’ my birth canal, I wasn’t really her mum. Ah dear.
The need for laxatives on day three (it was a big day)
They say that becoming a mother reveals a strength you never knew. But it’s not until you take laxatives three days later that you shock yourself with what you’re truly capable of.
Having to press the emergency button when I thought my husband had died
I had fallen asleep from exhaustion. I woke up about fifty minutes later, not knowing at the time how many hours or days had gone by.
My eyes located our baby sleeping in her crib. How did she get there?
Then I noticed my husband lying face-down on the bed next to me. When and how did he get there? What were we even doing before I fell asleep? Why was it dark?
I tried to wake him, hoping he’d have some answers. No response. I couldn’t hear his breath or locate a pulse either. No amount of shaking would rouse him. I started calling out his name at the risk of waking our baby. Nothing. Shaking turned into violent pushing.
For a few moments, I knew I had become the widow of a corpse, who dropped dead in a hospital, surrounded by people who could have helped him. I fell over him to reach the emergency button and pushed it over and over until a midwife ran in. She saw me melting into a humid puddle of despair, crying, “I think my husband is dead!”
Just as she entered, the zombie next to me rose and started asking the same questions I awoke with. The midwife glared at me and said, “This is what happens when you don’t get enough sleep.” Bloody hell.
My baby daddy outshining every single staff member with his bedside manner
This guy came prepared. Especially when he had to hold our baby girl for two hours while I was stitched up and sent to recovery. He took his shirt off to give her skin-on-skin comfort. He studied every part of her and realised that she did in fact inherit two things from me: a small point at the top of one ear and the shape of her feet. I love that he’d paid that much attention to the little quirks of my body. And his attention to detail carries through to the way he loves us both. I am deeply grateful for him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t die on me again.