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Sex After Third Degree Tear

Note: this is a fairly detailed explanation of my first postpartum experience of sex. If you don’t want to read the gory details of my sex life, I suggest you click onto a different page about now! This is written in particular for other women broaching the anxieties of resuming a sexual relationship after experiencing a third degree tear through childbirth.

Exactly two months after the birth of our baby girl, one day shy of nine weeks, I made a decision: it was time. I needed to face my fear of having sex after a third degree tear. “You’ll never, never know, if you never, never go!” I said to Sean. I was of course referring to pain and discomfort: the scar is painful to touch,and when I saw the physiotherapist and she was testing my ability to perform pelvic floor exercises (ask me later how she does that) there was pain in my lady parts. It seemed almost assured that sex would therefore be painful. However, there must necessarily be a “first time” and I couldn’t very well wait around forever wondering if my downstairs was ready for action. It was time.

We got out the lube, and I prepared myself with mental reminders to relax – tensing up would only make it worse. I decided we’d go missionary to start off with (sorry for the graphic details there; apparently it’s generally recommended that the lady go on top as it supposedly helps her to control what happens etc. I find it easier going missionary. In case it’s relevant, there it is).

The first moments were a bit painful: a sharp, internal kind of pain. I reminded myself again to relax, and the pain went away (fancy that!). It wasn’t a particularly sexy time for me, as I was so focused on determining whether or not I was in pain, but I was indeed relieved to find that my perineum was behaving itself. It came as quite a surprise to me that in fact, it was my pubic joint that was sore! Perhaps it was related to the symphisis pubis joint dysfuntion (SPD) I suffered in pregnancy, perhaps it’s just a normal post-pregnancy thing caused by the relaxing of the joints that occurred in preparation for childbirth, but it felt quite uncomfortable, a dull stretching kind of pain. I suppose I haven’t really had much reason to stretch out the area before that point!

Towards the end I did begin to feel a slight flutter of pleasure, and I have been reinvigorated with hope for the future. I expect I’ll make a full recovery, both physically and emotionally, and be able to enjoy intimacy with my husband once more, increasingly in the following weeks and months. I don’t regret my decision to wait longer than the minimum recommendation of six weeks, but I’m equally glad I didn’t hold out even longer simply in fear of what it might be like.

Oh. And one more thing…. My dear husband did say there was not much difference in the feel of things down there (ie, it’s not a great gaping hole now, but more or less the same as it was before) but I did discover that the muscles in there are not what they used to be at all. Before he withdrew I attempted … let’s call it pelvic floor exercises, for the sake of my prudishness. I was left quite aghast with the realisation that I could barely manage the faintest squeeze, and he really had to concentrate to feel it. That’s something I’ll have to work on!

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Terry Towelling Nappies

A mother-friend of mine gave me my first bunch of terry towelling nappies. Of course, we had no plans to use them as nappies – these days, terrycloth finds more use as a spew rag. With a collection of about 5 of these, I thought I was set. Later Mum bought another couple of packets, and I took them but secretly thought we were now overdoing it. How wrong I was! Within a couple of weeks I found myself in Baby Bunting picking up another packet of 12 because we just didn’t have enough to keep up. Now, with our collection of 30-40, we can get away with doing a terry towel load once or twice a week. As it turns out, terry towels are very handy things!

  • Spew rags – for burping
  • Feeding rags – tuck into your bra while breastfeeding if your bub likes to make a mess
  • Put a towel onto baby’s play mat or cot if they’re prone to vomiting while playing (my reflux baby is always spewing up!)
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A towel in the change mat for going out means baby doesn’t have to suffer being changed on a cold surface, and makes clean-up easier if bub decides to spew, poo or pee in the middle of the change!

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About 1/3 of my collection – you can never have too many!

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Like with the change mat, a towel on the change table protects against the cold plastic and makes it easier to clean up – just throw the towel in the wash when it gets dirty, and give the table a quick wipe!

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Reflux and Our Decision To Mixed-Feed

Today our girl is seven weeks old. She’s growing and learning and I swear she’s becoming even more beautiful with every passing day! But life hasn’t been all smiles and long nap-times these last few weeks. Around the four-and-a-half week mark we hit a growth spurt, and Little Miss became unsettled: she slept in short bursts, fed every hour or two, and grizzled constantly. Our placid baby had become impossible! A day or two later she settled, now noticeably bigger than before! Within a few days, however, she became unsettled again. Reading through Facebook posts from other mums, I started to wonder if it might be reflux. At our 6-week check-up, the doctor agreed that this was likely the case. We had noticed the symptoms gradually; on their own, they just seemed like normal baby things, but when we finally put them together, it became pretty clear that something was wrong.

Not happy Jan!

Not happy Jan!

Clues that Amelia has reflux:

  • Vomiting a lot. Little dribbles of reflux became chunky, projectile spew. She vomits after every feed (sometimes DURING a feed, ew!) and in between feeds.
  • “Wet” hiccups. She started to get the hiccups more and more, and we could hear the liquid plopping up and down in the back of her throat with each one.
  • Random fits of screaming, with no apparent cause.
  • Refusing to be put down – she’d seem to fall asleep in our arms, then cry and scream when we put her in her cot.
  • Feeding often, but not getting enough at each feed. She would pull away before reaching the “hind milk” (where the milk changes from thin and watery to creamy, fatty milk), which just left her hungry again.
  • Pulling away from the breast, screaming and arching her back. Feeding her was becoming a nightmare!

I decided to Google “reflux” and found these exact symptoms (Huggies.com has a helpful page on reflux). The doctor prescribed Losec, an antacid that comes in tablet form. These are supposed to be swallowed whole, but may be dissolved for those (such as babies) who can’t swallow them. You’re not meant to crush them, or even break them; they presumably taste nasty; they don’t dissolve so much as break down into little flakes. I tried mixing it with expressed breast milk and bottle-feeding it after she refused to take it from a syringe, and it just got caught in the teat. I went back to the doctor and got a new prescription which I took to a compounding pharmacy, where they made a banana-flavoured liquid version. Much easier!

I spoke to the paediatrician about mixed feeding as I was concerned that she wasn’t getting quite enough food, between her fussing at the breast and vomiting up half of what she got. According to her growth chart she needs to put on a little more weight, so I felt that my concerns were validated. The paediatrician agreed that formula top-ups could be helpful to fatten her up and help her settle. She recommended starting with plain NAN or S-26, but said that if that wasn’t working out we could try a thickened formula that’s specially made for reflux.

We went with NAN, which is what we had been using for top-ups at the hospital and in the days after coming home. She took to it immediately. She had spent the previous hour sleeping lightly and refusing to be put down (Sean had her while I was at an appointment) but after a bottle of formula she sunk into a deep sleep and has been happy since!

Sleeping Beauty - with a full belly, she is content and completely out to it :)

Sleeping Beauty – with a full belly, she is content and completely out to it 🙂

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6-Week Vaccinations

Yesterday we had our 6-week check up, and Miss Milly had her first round of vaccinations. We went and had them at the doctor’s clinic with the health nurse, as the council immunization program is coming to town the same day as my first parenting group. The nurse was the same lady who looked after me during my pregnancy when an abdominal cyst struck me down with sudden and intense pain, so it was nice for her to now meet my baby.

We sat down, and the nurse explained that there were two needles and an oral medication. The latter was to help prevent gastro, which can be quite serious in babies. The needles – pneumococcal and whooping cough – were to be administered one into each leg. The thigh muscle is the biggest, and the needle does go in all the way, which is a bit scary!

Our nurse likes to do the needles first, because she finds that the oral liquid helps to soothe the baby by giving them something to suck on and distract themselves with. I recommend asking for your nurse to do this, as it was rather effective!

The first needle went in, and Amelia’s eyes went wide for a second or two – and then the wailing started. Something unexpected happened in that moment: I nearly cried! I had not expected to feel so very emotional but there I was, fighting back tears and reminding myself that it was for her own good, that it was much better than contracting a horrible illness. I now understand what a powerful thing the protective mothering instinct is!

The nurse made quick work of the second needle, and then started to slowly inject the liquid into her mouth. It took a few moments, but she finally decided that the liquid was more interesting than her pursuit of desperate wailing. By the time she had finished the liquid, she was falling asleep.

Later that afternoon we gave her some Infant’s Panadol, and she was once again a happy baby. It was certainly a case of (very) short term pain for long term gain!

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