We’re over halfway through Blogtober now, folks! How’s it going? How are you doing?
Every evening when I get ready for bed, I inevitably see myself in the mirror. This is a mostly unpleasant experience. I’m the most overweight and least fit I’ve ever been in my life (while not incubating a tiny human) and I hate it. I know my stretch marks and still-saggy belly are supposed to be badges of honour from the ordeal that was giving birth, but my heavy body and shrivelled muscles just mean that I feel tired all the time, and I struggle to find anything about myself to be proud of. I’ll lose weight again, I’ll get fit again, I tell myself, once the baby is a little more independently mobile. Once I stop feeling so tired all the time. Someday soon.
When I was off work before the baby came, I had all the time in the world to relentlessly google everything I could about pregnancy, the baby’s development, giving birth, and so on. I watched a whole course on hypnobirthing. I did yoga every day. My hospital bag was packed by week 34. But there was some stuff for which the internet had not prepared me at all.
- The adrenaline. Now, I knew that you’d have a rush of adrenaline after giving birth, but “for a few days”. Mine was more like a couple of weeks. I had SO much energy for what seemed like forever. I felt great! I was ready for anything! No sleep? No problem! Let’s go!
- “Take it easy” is FOR A REASON. They always tell you to take things gently ~because you’ve just given birth so will be tired~ but they never actually tell you WHY. THERE IS AN IMPORTANT REASON and that is this: after giving birth, your uterus is still contracting back down to its regular size and the wound inside you from where the placenta was attached is still healing. You need to take it easy to allow that wound to heal so that you don’t suffer excessive blood loss! This is particularly true if you are older, or got pregnant via IVF! Nobody told me this!! So there I was, feeling great (see previous point), going off on hour-long walks with the dog a week after giving birth, and then at my two-week checkup they were like “yeah, you’re still losing too much blood and your iron levels are awful”. Whoops.
- The six weeks immediately after giving birth are far harder than actually giving birth itself. For me, at least, the worst part was not being able to do anything for the first five or six weeks. Even after I’d healed from delivery, I was stuck, every single day, in the armchair or on the bed with the baby, feeding and feeding and feeding and feeding, and when I wasn’t feeding her I was being a pillow for her to sleep because she wasn’t quite ready to nap elsewhere. If I’d known that it was after delivery when you really need your body to help out I probably would have put more effort into maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy. My muscles faded out of existence. My back constantly hurt(s) from weakened core muscles. I got heavier, and heavier, and more and more tired.
- Weak pelvic floor means my tailbone still hurts?? This is almost six months on, by the way. It somehow hadn’t occurred to me that the pelvic floor would involve more bits of you than just the parts you need for peeing and delivering a baby. Sitting for a long period of time hurt (which made those first 6 weeks pretty agonising) and is still uncomfortable now. Why are bodies so complicated!
The other stuff is addressed on plenty of mummy-blogs and websites so I don’t feel the need to cover any of that here. I feel like I will never have energy ever again. It’s not even particularly a lack of sleep thing (since the baby sleeps well), I’m just so exhausted all the time. “Walk!” they tell you. “It’s great exercise!” I walk the dog 35 minutes to an hour every day, rain or shine, up and down hills with 7+kgs of baby strapped to me. I eat healthily. Nothing changes. I know I have to break this cycle, but until the baby is a little more independent I have no idea how I’m going to be able to do it 😭 I need a fairy godmother to magic me into better shape…