Monday, 28 November 2011

Where did my dignity go?

Before I got pregnant I was worried about how often I would have to get my bits out to strangers during pregnancy and childbirth. Stories about how women in labour walk the hospital wards naked "because you just don't care any more" and the what I was lead to believe was the inevitable pushing out poo while trying to push out the baby (my main concern about having a water birth) really didn't help.
I was pleasantly surprised that the first time I had to get my 'bits' out was in Triage when I was in labour, the second to see how I was progressing (and it's true by this point I didn't really care), the third when I was giving birth and the last to check if my stitches had got infected. Now my lower bits are back to their low profile existence. My boobs on the other hand...
So my point is I was mentally prepared for what I thought would be the indignities of pregnancy and childbirth and I was pleasantly surprised. What I wasn't prepared for was the loss of dignity after childbirth.
My partner and I have a relationship where the toilet door has always remained closed; there are some things we don't feel the need to share.
In the week after Baby M was born I went through several things that normally I wouldn't talk about, but I didn't want to (and couldn't) go through the discomfort and pain alone.
I could barely stand for the first week: the pressure on my bits was so painful. I could also barely sit or bend because of my stitches. This meant sitting, standing and bending were all difficult and painful.
Going to the toilet was hard as sitting was so painful I basically stood to go for the first week. I could just about manage this alone, but I did feel the need to share some of the more graphic details with my OH (which I'll spare you here).
Other things I couldn't do alone. Like drying myself as I couldn't reach half my body. By the end of the first week I was leaking from my boobs, leaking from my stitches and had heavy lochia. J had to help dry me resulting in exposure to these leaks. Not very sexy. I also had really bad wind and risked wetting myself if I laughed or sneezed. I wasn't prepared for this and I suspect my partner wasn't either.

I'm all sorted now except for the leaking boobs. My boobs can also squirt milk some distance. I'm impressed by this, but again not sexy.

An article in November's Prima Baby & Pregnancy magazine gives the average amount of time couples leave it before having sex after having a baby. This ranges from 2-4 weeks in London to 9-11 months in Leeds. Based on my experience avoiding sex is less likely to be about the pain of childbirth or allowing time for everything to heal and more about how much exposure my partner has had to distinctly unromantic bodily functions. I am now working on keeping quiet, regaining some mystery and one day becoming an object of desire again.

(No photo as I couldn't think of a relevant one that wouldn't be unpleasant)

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