Remember that Deacon Blue song about a ship called Dignity? Well if dignity is what you want after having a baby, you’d better start saving up to buy a boat.
But fear not! Even if you can’t afford to buy back your dignity, there are still ways to get over giving birth.
Here’s my 5 point recovery plan.
#1 Eat Well
I remember the midwife at my ante-natal class telling us how the tea and hot buttered toast we’d eat in the hospital after giving birth would be the best thing we’d ever tasted.
I also remember that when they handed me said toast after my heroic efforts had produced a small human, it arrived at just about the same time as the doctor, who promptly drew a diagram in biro of my butchered body parts on the back of an NHS leaflet whilst simultaneously telling me I might become doubly incontinent.
Needless to say, I didn’t eat it. I prayed instead that someone would bring me a Burger King and a crate of Corona.
Moral of the story? Forget being healthy. After what you’ve been through, you deserve comfort food.
#2 Sleep Often
When your body has been through the brutal beating otherwise known as forceps delivery, sleep is widely acknowledged as a key way to allow the wounds to heal. Apparently it is possible to sleep when your baby sleeps during the first six months of their life. I couldn’t possibly comment. Actually, I could. Piss off.
I mostly spent my baby’s sleeping hours trying to work out how long it had been since I’d taken the last dose of the 546 types of medication they put me on. Which tablet was it again? And did it even matter? I felt like shite anyway.
Then there was the worrying. Why did they ever let me take a baby home in the first place? I mean, the fact that he was my baby shouldn’t really have been a factor. I knew I was already a hapless mother, just hours into the job.
My midnight thoughts would frequently wander into bizarre territory. I imagined my motherly ineptitude becoming the subject of an endearing sitcom starring an ex Coronation Street actor in order that “character me” remained generically northern. And all this meant I was still not sleeping. My arse was still hurting. Then the baby would be awake again screaming and I wouldn’t know what the hell to do.
So in summary, you might not sleep much, but at least lie down. Stick a pillow under your backside for comfort, but bear in mind that the story of the Princess and the Pea was probably inspired by post-partum stitches; because no matter how much padding there is on your chair or bed, those bastards will still hurt.
#3 Ask for Help
To be fair, I never asked for help. I begged for it, which is ridiculous seeing as most people offered it freely anyway. But the warped mind of a new mother is a strange place.
So I’d ring my mum up every half hour crying. I’d sob down the phone to my sister, who eight weeks ahead of me in the motherhood game seemed to have it sussed (she didn’t, but at least she was no longer having to shower and use a hairdryer on her bits after every visit to the loo). I also wailed to be saved from my incompetence almost incessantly to my husband who became an expert at doing the washing and picking up the right bits from the Asda without needing to be told (maternity pay won’t stretch to M&S).
I think the truth I’m trying to relay is that you are not alone, and you need other people to get you through. Do the right thing and embrace them.
#4 Meet Other Mums
I didn’t do this. Basically because all I wanted to do was cry about my birth injury (read the poem here) and I felt that a group of new people would not be the right forum for me to express this sort of emotion.
But I was lucky – I didn’t have to make friends with other mums because I had my sister, sister-in-law and best mate to talk to, all of whom had babies within a few months to a few days of me.
Lots of women find support from keeping in touch with the other members of their ante-natal classes, and that’s brilliant. Unfortunately, the only person I can remember from mine is the arse hole bloke who kept chiming in to say he didn’t know what the point of the sessions was, because wasn’t childbirth was a natural thing? And why did we even have midwives? Well, without them mate, some of us would be dead. The end.
In conclusion – whoever they are and wherever you find them, ain’t no one can help you get over giving birth like a fellow new mum.
#5 Hold Your Baby
I guess this one is the most obvious, but holding your lovely warm baby against your body whilst having a good sniff of their fluffy head is a healing feeling like no other. And even if they’re screaming blue murder, at least they’ll distract you from your many aches and pains.
In a mere matter of weeks you’ll start feeling like you’ve only been hit by a small car rather than a double-decker bus.
You’ll be fine.