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What Happens After Labour? The true meaning of 'after birth'

Date: 28 February, 2017
Tags: after birth, labour, post natal
Writer: Anonymous

I recently read this article http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/womens-body-childbirth-impact-changes-obstetrician-reveals-pelvic-floor-bruising-bleeding-a7595031.html that described post-birth bleeding as being like 'light period pain' and it made me rage.

This is my response:

Everyone in baby adverts wears white so pre-birth I 100% assumed all the grimness and discharges of pregnancy were left at the door of parenthood once you squeezed out the baby. Ha! The blood bath was just beginning. 

If you haven't had babies and are planning to, look away now. 

If you haven't had babies and never want to, this will vindicate your decision. 

If you have had babies, please give me a 'me too!' in the comments box. Or a 'no, nope, your vagina is weird' and then I'll know. 

So, picture the scene (don't actually): I'm a few hours postnatal from my WHOPPING baby. Everything is hanging out: tits, fanny, clots, dignity. Yuck. I'm laying in a ward bed: beep beep beep drone the bed buzzers. It's like a war zone. We are survivors. Actually, we are aiming for survival: it mostly feels like dying. I am thirsty. I have a gabillion stitches in my bits, a catheter AND a new born baby. I have never felt so ill-prepared or overwhelmed. The midwives were tired, over worked and bloody useless. I am still thirsty. I have to hang my drugs and catheter on the back of the baby cot and put the jug next to my red-faced fanny breaker and hobble, bent double like beggars under gas(n air) and shuffle my way to a tap. 


I need to wash. I have about 5lb of surgical stuffing up me and a labia LITERALLY hanging on by a thread. I need to wash the last 36hours off me. I leave the baby by my bed and shower (still unclear on ward etiquette regard this: was I meant to drag the baby in too?  Every woman's first parenting dilemma!). I watched as clots slither down the drain. It is like the shower scene from Psycho only I wish it was in black and white. 

Later: at home. 

I'm home! It took five shift changes and an enormous piss in a jug (anyone else have to do this post-catheter?) before I could leave.

HINDSIGHT TIP: discharge yourself. If you're kept in for feeding problems, get them to check for tongue tie and DISCHARGE YOURSELF. Who can establish BF in 300oC heat and the sounds of wailing women?

Anyway, I am home! The baby is cute and I'm off my face on co-codamol but my husband is having to inject me with some anti-DVT drug. He has to slam a needle in my bruised swollen stomach every night for a week to avoid blood clots. 

Blood clots. 

No one told me about the blood clots. Great gobs of angry red clumps falling into the toilet bowl every time you brave a wee. At one point, trousers round my ankles, I bellow for my mum who is visiting. She lifts me off the loo, pale and bleeding and shushes me in to her arms: 'it's all completely normal'. 

Cry: wracking crying. I've never cried so earnestly and uncontrollably in my life. I am angry. How can this be what women have to go through? I want to lay down and disappear. I want to wake up from it all. I am so so tired. 

And yet I survive. 

And yet my baby thrives. 

Through nipple blisters, triumphant first poos (mine, not the baby's), midnight colic, blood clots, injections, health visitor visits, anaemia, stitches coming out on and on and on. 

I made it. 

My body is not the same: prolapse that feels like a misfired tampon, an inability to go out in the cold without wee coming out, a tummy, now taut, that has skin like crepe paper and one labia that will forever be a slightly different colour from the other. The legacy of birth continues.

And we don't talk about it.  

We should.

Our silence - my own plea for anonymity - shows how we are shamed in to pretending our bodies aren't battered by birth. 

Women. Are. Incredible. Our bodies are incredible. Our ability to endure, survive, reproduce, deliver, nurse, parent and be is incredible. But my god am I pleased to have sons: I am so relieved they never have to go through what I did.


Join to comment



H 10 August 2017

Nope. Had none of this. Shakey for a few days after. Very heavy period like bleeding for maybe a week tops. Mild tenderness when sitting down for about a week. No clots. Managed a bath on my own at day 3, peed/pooped as normal. No incontinence, no period like pain, went out shopping on day 4, mild gym session at week 2 and I'm hoping to get back on my bike next week (week 4). I guess partly luck, but also I'd like to think my age and general fitness played a large part as well. I made sure my body was as prepared for pregnancy (and bouncing back) as it was ever going to be. I agree ladies need to know all the icky ins and outs - child birth shouldnt be sugar coated, and with the best will in the world a 'worst case' can always happen and glossing over that doesn't help anyone- but there's a lot you can do before and during to make it so much easier on your body. It's nice to have that positive thought that it might not be THAT bad alongside all the blood and gore stories!

Emma 10 June 2017

Yes to all of this! For both of my births, I experienced all of this. Had to have a catheter the first time (and it is normal to have to pee before you leave after a catheter) and the second time got to experience some scarily big clots after some lovely "post birth" internal bleeding.. we should definitely promote what women go through more!

Becki 24 May 2017

Spot on!!! although a bit of my birth was different, a hell of a lot of your story sits with me!! Yes yes to the discharge yourself, me and my son were fine feeding once home, go figure! Love this account, pure honesty and a true reflection! Thank you x Am I mad to be doing this all over again

RebeccaRebecca 01 March 2017

I wish I'd had access to blogs like this before I had children. I was brainwashed by pregnancy guides and articles like the one you referred to. This misinformation coupled with friends and family giving me the 'sanitised' versions of birth, my expectations were completely out of kilter with reality. Thank you for your openness.

Laura Beresford 28 February 2017

SOOOOOO true! Me too! Even after having my third I was still surprised by it all! Having been stitched up 'down below' 3 times, plus after my first i was numb there for weeks, 'normal' is subject to change! Well done for being brave and writing this. To women who haven't had kids, don't be put off by our battle scars because the baby more than makes up for the changes :)

Sally 28 February 2017

Great article! Even after my second child the clots terrified me....

Claire 28 February 2017

Yes! This is the true picture of what it is like. One midwife said my bits looked like I had been kicked by a horse (2 days after giving birth). We should all talk about our experiences and it would give us a better idea of what is "normal".

Natalie 28 February 2017

Brilliant!! This is so true! Also experienced the stitches and the catheter... scarred me for weeks afterwards!


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