Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Bodies, Babies and the Real Truths About Motherhood...

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with TENA.
Trigger warning: Childbirth and medical themes.
For many women, motherhood is the greatest role in life we could ever hope to undertake. 
I am fiercely proud of being one of these women. I neither doubt this, nor question it. I just know this fact is wholly true for myself, plain and simple.

Worldwide and throughout time, women have been primed and purposed from our own very first steps for this specific major role in life. From the outset, we're joyful receivers of dolls and playthings, along with a plethora of mothering accessories to enjoy them with. Our innate, feminine and caring natures are nurtured, honed and moulded carefully by both loving family members and society at large. Even our world's permanent obsession with princesses and 'living happily ever after' are all too, greater themes intrinsically linked to guiding our goals, wants and needs towards this ultimate of feminine destinations...

To want and be, good mothers.

I personally have never had an issue with the thought of becoming a mum, though if I am entirely honest, there were certainly times in my life where I rebelled at the thought of the role, or was even blatantly repulsed by the entire idea. Nothing new there. I think every woman goes through this natural process and truthfully, possibly again and again over the course of their lifetimes. For some women, even after their kids have arrived on the scene, this turmoil with the pulls of the role continues. If this is you, our collective maternal hearts go out to you. You are certainly not unique to hold these feelings.

I want to talk about the realities of the hard-yards of motherhood though: The pregnancies, births and beyond and some of the ill-effects that can happen to our bodies via the process. AKA; the bits that get left behind by all other avenues because they're definitely real and not so attractive.

I have lost count of the number of mums who have approached me over the years, about the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period. I have been always happy to discuss when I am asked, but I never seek to advise. So here's a very rare and personal share of my first pregnancy and childbirth experience.

Becoming a mother multiple times was a move I never thought I would undertake following the traumatic birth of my firstborn.

My first daughter's arrival 17 years ago was an absolute shock.Yes it was blissful too, (for all of the reasons I opened with), but there was a darkness that came with my appointment as a mum and its effects continue to live with me to this day. This is true, despite returning again to pregnancy six more times and with one emergency ectopic pregnancy under my belt.

My first pregnancy was by far my most difficult pregnancy. I experienced terrible morning sickness that lingered the full term. It was so bad in fact, that I had to commence my maternity leave at just four weeks along, as I could only crawl to the toilet before miserably making my way back to the sofa for almost six long months. 

Add to this picture the fact that I experienced the horrendous distress of a threatened miscarriage for a full four months into my pregnancy. I continually bled and endured an endless round of stressful ultrasounds to check for signs that things were progressing. It was a truly horrible time and this particular memory alone, has left me scarred emotionally to this day. 
Our baby was so precious and long-awaited, but the constant threat of losing her was just too much to bear.

Thankfully the most difficult part of my pregnancy slowly petered-out by the end of my third trimester stage, but the effects of a low-lying placenta combined with extreme nausea had left me with around a 22 kilogram weight gain on my petite frame by my term's end.
I was exhausted, heavy, tired and so incredibly unfit.

I was clueless as to the physical extremes of childbirth having had no prior experience and stressfully wondered how I was going to cope with delivering a baby that was constantly mistaken for twins from the time I was halfway along.

The panic set in.

My due date came and went. Doctors expressed growing concerns about the size of my enormous baby; my fitness, my own size and my ability to handle her delivery. Still, the aim was for a natural vaginal delivery in their view and quite innocently, it was the preferred option in mine too. (How hard could it be? Foolishly, the tone of my own thinking.) 

In my mind this decision to birth a large baby haunts me still. Had I known how things were to go, I would never have opted under the circumstances to continue with this option...

Our daughter's birth was induced. As inductions go, they're a known downward spiral. Things went rapidly wrong once my baby became stuck in my pelvis in a serious medical scenario known as shoulder dystocia. There was so much intervention to free her and that included everything from failed vacuum extraction to a violent double-attempt forceps delivery. (I am deliberately sparing further details here. The scene is recalled by my husband as like witnessing a car accident.)

Our baby was born blissfully alive but she was certainly not well. She had suffered severe nerve damage to her neck and right arm from the violence of her delivery. She alone would endure 14 months of intensive weekly paediatric physiotherapy in our home to rectify her injuries. (I am so happy to report that she recovered fully in the end and is a superstar in our eyes to this day.)

As for me however, the story was different and remains so to this day. 

Nothing could have prepared me for the bombshell of a mess I had been left in, following my first childbirth experience.

I was bruised, battered and physically scarred permanently. In the months that followed, my days of expected 'easy and carefree' new motherhood joy, were robbed from me; stolen and darkly overshadowed as I walked in striking pain following the birth from hell.

Seventeen years on and I still experience chronic pelvic pain today. My pelvic floor remains irreparably damaged from the trauma of my daughter's birth and I now suffer from urge incontinence as a result of my many injuries. I did spend months in rehabilitation with a physio trained in this particular women's problem, and with time, things have improved considerably. My particular condition will remain a permanent and life-altering one however.

Incontinence following childbirth is a very common problem affecting 1 in 3 women in Australia. (Even 1 in 10 men are affected by this condition.) There are many things you can do to help yourself if you too are suffering from this affliction.

TENA have created simplified infographics to help your understanding of incontinence and prepare yourself for it. From the place of my own personal experience, I am so willing to share these with you.

My own advice to all prospective mothers - please ensure you approach your health and fitness seriously before embarking on your own pregnancy journey. Be your best fit-self, nutritionally well and healthy. Once you're pregnant, continue to safely exercise in any capacity you can manage, and please, never overlook the importance of maintaining your pelvic floor at this vital stage in life, and actively for the rest of your life.

Have you yourself experienced a life changing health issue since you became a mother?


  1. Thanks for the reminder to do my pelvic floor exercises! Having given birth to twins pelvic floor exercises are so important to me.

    1. Pelvic floor maintenance is such an important part of becoming a mum. It really is so undervalued. The subject really does need to be focussed on more widely so that women in particular, know the facts.
      Twins are mighty! What a blessing! X

  2. Motherhood does change you. I've still got the weight gain. LOL. Even though I had 3 C-sections, I still need to practice my pelvic floor exercises. Maybe the pressure of three pregnancies and the weight gain has meant they are weaker. Right now my health concerns are ensuring I get enough sleep and have enough energy to meet the needs I'm presented with everyday. I do want to get back into exercise. It's been a bit hard to maintain this year unfortunately.

    1. Yes, C-sections don't discount the need to maintain your pelvic floor either. It really is the weight of the pregnancy combined with the hormones that do quite a bit of damage before we even reach the birth stage. It's great that you are meeting your health needs. x

  3. Gosh, I couldn't finish reading that! Shoulder dystocia was a big fear of mine last time- shouldn't have watched so much OBEM!!

    1. So sorry! It really is a birth experience that I have never really talked about before and believe me when I state that I have left a lot out of my experience because it was just such a traumatic one.

  4. Oh Jody!! What a tough birth! My friend went through a similar thing with shoulder dystocia and her daughter was born not breathing. She is fine now, but yes. So scary. I'm with you on the pelvic floor issues. Mine are stress incontinence issues and they're not fun. Pelvic floor exercises are so important.

    1. Glad to hear your friend's child is well now too.
      The more we talk about pelvic floor health, the more the subject will be normalised. That will benefit everybody. Thanks for sharing your own experience too. x

  5. I'm hoping to get pregnant in the near future...these kind of articles are scary but important!

    1. So sorry to scare you but from experience, it's so important to be prepared. Read, read, read and ask other mums. Most of all, make sure you are so healthy and that you practice keeping your pelvic floor in top form. All the best with your journey to motherhood. x

  6. Oh my goodness..that was all so horrid for you but the fact that your daughter is OK now is a win. Nothing prepares you for motherhood..I thought I was ready (and I always wanted kids!) but the sheer tedium of care of one small person drove me back to teaching stat! I was 21 when I gave birth to her and with a nurse holding my hand following 2 days of so-called induction. It was 1971. I did this only with gas and looking back I think in some ways ignorance was bliss. Fast forward to baby 2 (after being told I was infertile for around 6 years!) and he was induced but, without realising, he was posterior lie and his birth was excruciating. I tried to do it drug free but an epidural was required and even then it only worked partially. I recall being told about pelvic floor exercises then but did them intermittently. I know that being overweight for decades and having IBS has given me problems that I will eventually have surgery for ...but as my GP says, let's get the surgeries for your mouth over first. Sigh! the things we go through. I am a great user of Tena products and now buy them on line for free postage. I got sick of trying to find the ones that were best for me.

    1. Thank you so much Denyse for sharing your own story. It will no doubt help others who visit here. Like you, I may face surgery one day too to correct the issues I am left with. I have used TENA products and find them helpful. All the best with your health Denyse. I am thinking of you. x

    2. Thank you Jody. You are one very inspirational person and my heart and love are sent winging their way to you today. Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 39/52. Next week: Letter to My 20 year old Self.

  7. I started doing Kegels at the mere sight of the word at the end of this post! Thanks for being so brave to share your story xx I think it is so important to share the realities of childbirth and motherhood.

  8. Last year I had a normal delivery but still got bad pain in pelvic area. For almost a year, I didnt exercise which lead to more unbearable pain. Now I have started zumba class and my pain disappeared.


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