Han’s Birth And Recovery Story

Han’s Birth And Recovery Story

I was quite nervous about giving birth. Being a physio, I was probably overly aware of the possible issues women can face after childbirth. But I also felt as though I was confronted with a lot of negative birth stories and hadn't heard many women speak positively about their experience. I’ve spoken to a lot of women about this and most say that they feel a sense of guilt about admitting when their pregnancy or birth goes well. I would have loved to hear more of the positive stories during my pregnancy, so I’m sharing my experience with you in the hope that it gives you a more balanced perspective of what may lie ahead. 

You may already know that I didn’t fall pregnant very easily. I required a process called ‘Ovulation Induction’ because my body wasn’t ovulating naturally. After our first round of OI failed, we were so surprised to discover that our second round was successful and in late December 2021 we found out we were pregnant with Harper. 

I expected to find pregnancy quite frustrating, not being able to eat what I want or exercise how I like to, feeling tired and uncomfortable, having to stop working and ‘pause’ my career. But despite all of that, I actually really enjoyed pregnancy. It was so refreshing to have a bigger purpose and to truly look after myself for the good of my baby. I had pelvic girdle pain, issues with my jaw, fairly constant headaches and boy was I tired, but I can honestly say I enjoyed being pregnant and I’m looking forward to doing it again. 

During my pregnancy, I made a conscious effort to block out anyone else’s birth story or experience, which I now think is a bit of a shame. I just really didn’t want to hear anything that might make me even more fearful than I already was. If I’d been able to access positive stories I might have been able to take on board what these women had been through, instead I decided to go into labour blind and put my trust in my Ob. 

The week before I was due, I found out that Harper was posterior and that I was going to be induced. This sent me into a bit of a spin (literally haha) and I did everything I could to turn her back. I did all the stretches on Spinning Babies, had acupuncture and TCM, burnt a stick next to my little toe, bounced on a fit ball, the lot. 

When I arrived for my induction, I was so relieved to find out that Harper was now anterior, this really settled my nerves and made me feel a lot more confident about giving birth vaginally. The induction process began the night before, I had a balloon inserted into the opening of my cervix to help it dilate and then I spent the night in hospital with some pain relief and an optional sleeping tablet. 

The following morning, I went to the birthing suite at 6am and was hooked up to the monitors (sticky pads on my belly) and the IV was placed into my hand. My Ob broke my waters at about 7:30am and then the drip to start my labour began. Then you wait! 

This is where I wonder whether going in blind was really the best idea. I found labour so much harder than I expected. I don’t say this to cause fear, more just to be realistic about what to expect. I had a TENS machine, a diffuser and my own music, but none of this even touched the sides for me. I tried the shower and the bath, I gave the gas a go, but I found the contractions so intense that I opted for an epidural a couple of hours in. 

After this, I found the whole experience really enjoyable. I could still feel the contractions happening, but there was no pain. When it came time to push, I could feel when I needed to and I still had enough strength in my legs to use them. I actually quite liked this part, it was much harder work than I expected, but very satisfying to be a bit more in control. Matt was holding a mirror so I could see her head getting closer and this was such great motivation. 

To my complete amazement, I gave birth with no tears and required no stitches. I had just assumed that being my first birth and being induced that I was most likely going to have some degree of tearing. 

I really enjoyed the way I gave birth, but I know it would not be everyone’s cup of tea. I was hooked up to machines and a drip for the induction and then had a catheter inserted for the epidural. I did lose some feeling in my legs and after falling asleep on my left side, I couldn’t move my left leg for a while. I shook a lot during the pushing phase, but I’m not sure if this is due to the epidural or a natural reaction to giving birth due to adrenaline and all the other hormones racing around. 

My recovery was good, but it was slower than I expected. I needed ice packs for a few weeks and felt a heaviness if I spent too long on my feet until about the 6 week mark. I built up my walking tolerance gradually and saw a Women’s Health Physio at 8 weeks for some specific exercises for my pelvic floor. I started doing gentle exercises at home very sporadically from about 2 weeks and returned to running after 4 months. So even with a fairly uncomplicated delivery, my body took time to heal and I tried not to rush this. 

I know that everyone’s experience is different and I am not putting this out there for anyone to compare their birth to. There is no point in comparing yourself to anyone else, because there are too many variables, but I hope that my story helps to show that giving birth doesn’t need to be scary and that there are positive stories out there if you go looking for them.

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