November 2019

Imagine you go through a pregnancy, labour and give birth to a little human being. Your world is turned upside down and from this moment on your life has basically changed forever. In a lot of ways! You are happy. Exhausted. Scared. Worried. Excited. You feel every possible emotion and it all goes around in circles while you are trying to figure out what this new life is actually going to be like. You are now a mum. You have given birth to a person who you now have full responsibility for 24 hours a day and in a way all you can do is to focus on this little one and everything that comes with them. But all of a sudden you get reminded of your own body, but wait a minute! It’s not the same body you once had?? It has changed – Dramatically! You have concerns, complications, pain. You may struggle with going to the toilet properly. You have questions. Wondering if what you experience is actually normal? But it’s all a bit private and difficult to talk about. Since your midwife discharged you day 5 post birth nobody has checked your healing or asked you anything so you assume it’s only you thinking too much. Maybe you have to expect certain things after giving birth, maybe every mother has their bladder positioned on the outside of their body by now? 6 weeks postpartum you have the baby and mother checkup at the GP booked. A chance to get some answers!

This is my story in the doctor’s office. And it went literally like this:

All the mandatory baby checks were done. My little girl was alert, healthy and everything was positive. The GP made her notes. Then turned to me: 

GP: ‘And how are you doing mum?’

Me: ‘Well. Not so good to be honest. I’m suffering a lot from two things – one being my coccyx which is an old injury. Although not as extremely after this birth as after my first – it was still aggravated I am in quite a lot of pain from it and struggle to sit too much which is hard when i feed the baby etc.. 

Secondly there’s the prolapse which is my biggest problem at the moment. I originally got it after the first birth but I think it’s been worsened after this as it feels very low… it definitely feels worse than last time and I’m struggling to…….

//I get interrupted//

GP: ‘Why are you telling me this?? There’s nothing I can do about that! That’s normal after giving birth!’

…………………………………………………….

She actually said those words: ‘Why are you telling me this?’

WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?????!!!!!

Well – I am at my postnatal checkup and you asked me how I am doing postpartum. I am sorry if you were hoping for me to say that I’m doing ok so that you could tick that box and move on to the next patient. I am actually clenching my jaw in anger as I am writing this and reliving the moment…!! The room around me got dark as I quickly snapped back at her that:

Me: ‘I didn’t actually expect you to do anything at all about it. But I thought that you as my GP could send me to the right person who might be able to help ’.

I think she then realised that I might not be that mother. That mother who would now say ‘ok thank you’ and leave and her GP life could go on. She mumbled something in a somewhat nicer tone. And moved on to if I wanted her to examine me. Again – excuse me but why is this a question? Of course I should be examined! Why wouldn’t she want to see that the healing is going the right way (even if I had come in without any concerns/symptoms) it’s 6 weeks postpartum!! So early days! I was so annoyed and angry at this point so I wryly replied to her that:

Me: ‘If you cannot do anything anyway, what is the point of you doing a vaginal examination?’

She would do one she said to at least check stitches etc. So even if I was very put off by the situation I agreed for her to do it. And here’s to the ironic bit. Upon examination she very soon realised that: 

GP: ‘Oh. You’ve got a quite severe prolapse here. You need help with this.’ 

…………………………………………………….

I just hope she regretted in that moment what she had said earlier. And that she will never say something like that to a new mother ever again.

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It didn’t take long before I understood that the pelvic floor had taken a massive toll from the birth of my second baby. I knew my body so much better now and a bit more about what to expect (and what not to) after giving birth. 

But I also knew that even if the prolapse felt very low initially after the birth it didn’t necessarily mean it was a long term worsening. So I stayed positive. I didn’t want to ruin the good emotional feelings from the birth experience and I really wanted to just enjoy the moment. I tried to put any thoughts about my pelvic floor to one side for the time being, there would be time later to deal with my physical side of things..

Of course it wasn’t entirely easy to ignore my body, especially because that cough I suffered before labour kept lingering. And of course kept affecting the pelvic floor and my stitches.. Soon enough I ended up on antibiotics because of a diagnosed chest infection. At least that meant I could finally start to recover from that bit.

Midwife J came to do my Day 3 checkup at home. She straight away identified that my cervix was positioned too low to be considered normal at this point and referred me to women’s health physiotherapy. And that would be to the same physio I had seen lots both before and after my previous baby. 

However, there is really not enough of these type of professionals out there, and I assume there are not enough fundings for this area, women postpartum are basically not very much prioritised. This means that those few that work with women’s health get very, stretched. To give you an idea: I had my baby end of May, the referral to physio was sent through in the very early days of June. I got my physio appointment the 22nd of October…

Lucky for me that this was my second baby and I had done so much pelvic floor physiotherapy in the past so I kind of knew a lot of what I needed to do. Plus I had the cube to go back to eventually. But for a first time mother who may have no idea at all, and might be experiencing prolapse issues or other pelvic floor problems – imaging having to wait for that long to get any kind of help!!!? 

In my next post I will tell you what my GP said at my 6-week postpartum checkup. 

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