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by Anna

It's complicated (post natal)

I need to back track a little bit to Little One's arrival.

I remember Daddy’s presence as being calming and helpful. I thought he was taking it all in his stride. It was only after the initial shock of the birth that I found out his side of the story.

The main thing from Daddy was that he was in awe about the whole thing and he said he was really scared. Apparently he was very overwhelmed with how hard I seemed to be working. He is the sort of person who, like many, hates to feel helpless and he found it quite difficult watching me dealing with contractions and feeling that there was nothing he could do. He was really scared that something would go wrong and that he wouldn’t be able to fix it.

This is a million miles away from my perception of Daddy’s involvement. My birth plan was for Daddy to handle any questions from health professionals so that I could focus on relaxing and letting Little One and my body do its thing. To my mind he did this beautifully and I found his presence reassuring and helpful and I think it played a huge part in letting me have Little One without any tears, cuts or intervention.

Unfortunately something did go wrong… Before you read on I have to tell you that it sounds far worse that it was and Little One is absolutely fine and, as you can probably guess by the fact that I am here to tell the tale, so was I.

Basically I managed to "pop" something in either my lung or windpipe. Daddy is a doctor and he recognised the symptoms developing during the pushing stages. My chest and face went puffy and after I have given birth we noticed that when you touched my puffy skin it made a crackling noise.
The next morning I was sent for an x-ray which confirmed that air had managed to escape into my chest but that there didn’t seem to be any suggestion that there any infection had gotten into my lungs (which is a good thing).

There was a bit of interest from staff about this because it is a very rare condition (1 in 100,000 which means if 20 babies are born at the women’s each day, 75% of which are born vaginally then they will see my complication once every 18 years… I hope my maths is right).

So I guess I’m not a one in a million after all!

Anyway, like I said, I didn’t feel too bad and it sounds far worse than it felt from my perspective. I had some shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing for a couple of days but I was still fully mobile and able to look after my beautiful Little One.
The big downside to me was that after I had the x-ray I was told not to breastfeed for 24hours so I had to express and discard whilst Little One was formula fed with a cup.

This was really difficult. We had just managed to get Little One latching on and accepting milk from me when this happened and I was finding it hard to soothe and comfort her. I also found cup feeding really difficult and messy (the midwives could pretty much pour the milk in without mess, on the other hand when I tried it more went on her than in her. Daddy was marginally better at it than me but still.
As for expressing. I was getting 0.1ml at best (yes that decimal point is in the right place). It was really hard going and uncomfortable and time consuming. Just really rubbish!

Because of the complication I had to stay in hospital a little longer. After the birth I had moved from the labour rooms to a post natal room on the midwife led unit. It is funny when I think back to it. When I first went to the room it seemed so dark (it was the middle of the night) and scary and I was a bit freaked out that I was being left alone with my teeny tiny baby… in the morning, despite my lack of sleep from Little One’s insistence that she try to eat every hour and a half,  I discovered that it was a lovely bright and airy room and we enjoyed lots of lovely visits. When the doctors decided I should stay an extra night (because of the complication) I was moved to a medical ward.

I was not a fan! I was in a ward with two other beds (one had another mum and baby and the other was empty when I arrived but late at night another mum and baby came and joined us.

If Little One wasn’t making demands then one of the other babies was, although I think Little One was probably the loudest of the trio. Everyone was very polite about it in the morning all apologising for our own little screamer and pretending that we were not disturbed by all the other noises… but I didn’t rate it. At this time I was also unable to breastfeed Little One so I was reliant on the midwives to help me every time we she wanted a feed.

We were seen by so many people those first two days. On the midwife led unit we had a show bath, doctors and midwives coming in and out, breastfeeding supporters and obviously Daddy, and the very proud grandparents.

When we were on the medical ward we had the same string of medical professionals, including a paediatrician who checked Little One over. Daddy also went and registered Little One’s birth with the registrar. Busy Busy Busy.

Your body is a weird thing after you have had a baby. Your tummy looks like you still pregnant but has a funny jelly like wobble to it also your bits don’t feel like your own (sorry for too much information). Everything felt tender but also a bit mis-shapen. I was a little bit alarmed by this and thought that there had been damage but I was checked over and the midwife confirmed that everything was as it should be after giving birth and that everything would go back to normal shortly (which it did).

Early evening we were finally discharged and got to show Little One her new home.
Nobody was more excited than Daddy for whom this was his first night with Little One. I was excited but also very tired.

We are a family!

Clinical Comment

 Simon Mehigan Consultant Midwife

I know just how your partner felt Anna. I wasn’t a midwife when my children were born, and particularly when our eldest was born I didn’t really have a clue what was going on. As a midwife I can see know that the labour and birth was textbook but way back then………scary.

It’s great that you felt your partner did everything you needed him to do and I’m sure next time he will feel much more relaxed about it, and when it comes to number three, he’ll be a dab hand!
Things can go wrong when you have a baby and sometimes it is, as in your case, an extremely rare complication. (I’m not going to comment on your math’s, especially as its one of those exams that, despite numerous attempts, I never passed!) I’m pleased that you have not been left with any ill effects.

When complications do arise the midwives and doctors will keep you and your family informed off what the problem is and how we intend to address it. This may involve moving you to a more high risk area as this ensures you are being looked after in an area where more staff are available and where there is more input from the medical staff. Unfortunately this can mean it is much busier than an area used for women with no complications. We have tried to address this at Liverpool Women’s Hospital by reducing the number of beds we have in a bay and by implementing a staffing model that facilitates the staff spending more time in the room with women.

Your body will never be quite the same as it was before you had your daughter but over time it will go all go back to where it’s supposed to be, and with some exercise those muscles will tone up. The midwives in the hospital and in the community will check everything’s as it should be and give you the reassurance that you may need that everything is ok.

Now your home make sure you make time to enjoy your baby and life as new parents, it will pass so quickly.

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03 April 2013