So I have decided to share my birth story with you… it is not glamorous, it does not have pretty professional photos, but it is real and it is my story. A dear friend of mine has also decided shared her story with us. Neither of our births and recoveries went to plan! **Long Read**

My Story

From about 30 weeks onwards we had this idea in our heads that Charlie was going to make an early appearance. I had a lot of Braxton hicks contractions and he was always in the right position. Let just say my body lied to me.

My due date was the 24th March 2018 he however was far to comfortable it seemed. We did think he was going to make an appearance on 23rd however, I was told that I was just in early labour and my contractions were not regular enough so we were sent home.

Saturday the 24th came and went…. still no baby.

Monday 26th we had a midwife appointment and made a game plan. We had a choice get induced that week or wait until after the Easter weekend and have him the following week if he did not make an appearance on his own.

Needless to say we were ready for him to come sooner rather then later it had been a long 40 weeks. So we booked the induction for Wednesday the 28th. We had to go up to the hospital on the Tuesday afternoon to see if I needed help dilating.. luckily I was already 4cm dilated.

Wednesday morning rolled around and we needed to be at the hospital and ready at 7am. They put in a drip, broke my waters and off we went. We tried the best we could to keep me active and in the shower where I was most comfortable unfortunately, Charlie’s heart monitor kept falling off so we just ended up being on the bed.

Now if during labour your husband says no to letting you get an epidural, punch that man in the balls and then the face. He said no with good reason… I would not have been able to sit still long enough to get the epidural.

My body was pushing for a long time without conscious thought and then things got a little scary… Charlie’s heart rate kept dropping and he was not moving down the birth cannel fast enough. The Obstetrician was called as well as the Paediatrician… by the time Charlie made an appearance with his cranky old man face, there were ten people in the room watching. Charlie was born at 2:4pm on Wednesday 28th March 2018

I did not know it at the time as I was too busy staring at the beautiful creature I had created all 52cm, 3.8kgs of him… but I had torn very badly. Once everything had calmed down and the room had cleared a little the doctor came to tell me what had happen… all I could remember her saying was that I needed surgery and next time I have a baby I can opt for a C section…. NEXT BABY WHHHAAATTT!

We had to wait for three hours to get into surgery. I had, had nothing to eat since 6am, I was exhausted starving. Surgery took as little while as they discovered the tear was worse then they first thought. Initially they thought I had a third degree tear, however it ended up being a forth degree tear (I will explain below).

Being induced definitely wasn’t in my birth plan nor was ending up with a tear however it is more common then you think. According to the Australian Journal of General Practice Volume 47, No. 1-2, January-February 2018 “85% of females who undergo a vaginal birth will suffer from some degree of perineal tear” now that is a lot of us all in the same boat.”

What is a tear?

Most tears occur in the perineum which is the area between your vaginal opening and your back passage.

1st Degree Tear

This one is a shallow tear and will sometimes need stitches however, other times can heal without.

2nd Degree Tear

This is a tear to the skin and muscle layers of the perineum. This tear heals better when repaired with stitches.

3rd Degree Tear

This is similar to the 2nd Degree as it goes through the skin and muscle layers of the perineum, however this tear goes into the ring-shaped muscle that surrounds the anus (the anal sphincter). This will need to be repaired with stiches.

4th Degree Tear

A fourth degree tear is the most serious of the four tears and this is what happen to me with my first baby. This tear goes through the skin and muscle layers or the perineum, through the anal sphincter and all the way to the anal canal. This tear is usually repaired in the operating theatre. You will either receive an epidural, spinal block or a general anaesthetic to prevent you from feeling pain during he repair.

Don’t Fear the Tear

Please don’t fear the tear it can be fixed. Be open have a chat to your friends about it or if you like have a chat to me about it. If you feel like I do and hate the scar or you are not coping with body changes since having your baby reach out to your midwife or doctor or someone and voice how you are feeling. You are not in this alone. Your body may not feel the same or look the same or work the same as it did before baby, but it just did an extraordinary thing IT MADE A TINY HUMAN. If you can not deal with how everything has changed down there ask your doctor for a referral to see a specialist they might be able to change something to make you more comfortable in your skin.

Mel’s Story

I had a 7 pound 11 baby boy at 38 weeks 6 days. Happy and healthy. I tore a little when I birthed him but they said it was ‘just a graze’. Then they had to get my placenta out as I was losing alot of blood but it wouldn’t come away so I had doctors prepping me for surgery and shoving there entire hands you know where trying to remove it.

Thankfully my midwife managed to get it to release and so emergency surgery was avoided! I was moved to the ward and because it was my 3rd baby I assume is why I was left to care for myself. Not even 24hrs later I was discharged with a flyer in hand about pelvic floor health.

Fast forward to being at home in that blissful stage of newborn bliss…. I was superwoman. I was still managing to maintain the household, feed the family, teach the two older kids their schoolwork, help the hubby up the paddock, feed all the animals, keep the yard tidy and whatever else I would normally do all while settling our new baby into life at home.

But 3 weeks post partum and my body was tired and had had enough of keeping me together. I prolapsed. I became the one in three women who suffer from POP. Pelvic Organ Prolapse.

There are 4 grades of prolapse and seen as I am no expert I won’t go into details as to which grade means what and I was never diagnosed with a specific grade, nor was I told whether mine was a bladder, bowel or uterus prolapse (my self diagnosis was bladder and bowel!).

Basically my internal organs fell down (they did not fall completely out but that does happen to some). I could feel the weight of my internal organs hanging low inside my body. I could barely walk or hold my body up. It felt like someone had knocked the sides out of my body and there was nothing to hold it up anymore.

I had to get my 8yo daughter to pick up my new baby and give him to me when he needed feeding and then she would have to come take him again when he was done so I could get myself out of the chair. Putting him into his cot and lifting him out was near impossible. I had lost all my strength in my core and pelvic floor and every movement was an effort for me to hold my body together and not collapse.

I was horrified! I was so frightened! Stupidly I asked Dr Google what it meant. Here’s a hot tip! Never ask Dr Google. I thought my life was over as I knew it. No more exercising ever, no more running. I was destined for a sedentary lifestyle according to ole Google. This was a big problem for me – I am a Personal Trainer. I am used to being fit and active! This really messed with my headspace. How was I going to cope?

I made an appointment to go and see my local midwife in town a few days later. I could barely walk, I cried all day every day. I spent most of my days laying horizontally in fear of everything falling out of me if I got vertical. I talked to hubby who assured me I’d be fine and that I can just get surgery to fix it. But then I stupidly asked Dr Google again about surgery and it didn’t leave me feeling positive; in fact it only left me more terrified…so many horror stories again!

Town was a 110km drive with some dirt road. I didn’t have the luxury of having hubby come along to help so I drove myself and my 3 kids to my appointment. I got there and burst into tears. I cried for what seemed like forever on my poor midwifes shoulder. She was so great. She told me it is not uncommon and that I just need to give my body a chance to heal. She instantly made me feel better; giving me a list of things I could do to help my recovery.

She also referred me to a Physio that would be able to help me recover. That Physio literally gave me my life back. It was a long slow recovery but I did everything he told me. Three times a day I was doing my prescribed physio exercises and I did my pelvic floor exercises every chance I got. I completed 6 months of Physio and when I finished I was just back to the point of walking while activating my core and pelvic floor. I still could not run. I could barely even do a lunge. I had to continue to work at it daily. Even today at almost 18 months post partum I still work to maintain my core and pelvic floor health so that I dont experience another prolapse. Some days I still have symptoms of the prolapse (like if I overdo it running or lift an overly heavy weight) but for the most-part I have managed to keep it under control.

Please – If you have just had a baby I beg you to give your body time to heal and just rest. REST! Put your feet up! You know how they say to take it easy when you leave hospital? They say it coz they mean it! You could very well prolapse if you don’t – no matter which way you birthed your baby – even C-Section mummas are at risk of prolapse. Whether you’ve just had a baby or had a baby years ago, it is imperative you see a Womens Health Physio. Your body has suffered major trauma and it needs to recover. If you don’t restore your body now it will fail you in latter years.

So, to recap, as a Mum and Personal Trainer my recommendations to you are:

– Rest as much as possible post-birth

– Ask for help

– DO NOT pick up your toddler or anything heavy!

– Eat a healthy, high fibre, nutritious diet to support healthy bowel habits.

– Retrain your bladder

– Check your posture. Poor posture puts added pressure on your pelvic floor believe it or not!

– Do your pelvic floor AND core restore exercises. (Note: Core restore exercises are not ab crunches and planks! Check with your Physio for Pelvic floor friendly core restore exercises)

– See a Women’s Health Physio

– Do not return to exercise UNTIL you have seen a Women’s Health Physio and they have given you clearance. You need your pelvic floor checked for functionality.

– Remember everyone’s journey is different. Not everyone recovers in 6 weeks, some of us take years and that’s ok.

Big love to all xx

Mel

Find me on Instagram @melneilsenpt