At 39 weeks, I’m busy compiling my hospital bag. This time around I think it shall be more a bag than two suitcases as per my last childbirth experience.
While milling through the contents of my bag I was struck by something I’d forgotten about giving birth to Eliza which led me to muse over those icky childbirth/ postpartum female goings-on which, well, no one really tells you about. Is it because it’s too yeuch a subject or is it simply that we are better at forgetting that stuff?
As I prepared my hospital suitcase duo last time around, a friend suggested I buy some maternity pads for after the baby was born. The woman taking our child-birth class advised us to buy easily washable/ dry in a matter-of-hours string knickers for the same purpose. What? Why?! One look at those knickers and I was just about running for the hills....
Little did I know that when the uterus contracts back to its normal size – which can take weeks – there’s a lot of uterine lining shedding going on. It’s obviously much heavier in the first few days after having the baby, like a super heavy period. Not a one book/ or person had told me this so after delivering Eliza, I was grateful for the heads up from my friend, not to mention extremely glad I’d bought some of those ugly-ass string knickers.
So I’d been scouring the shelves of local pharmacies looking for pads and disposable knickers but can’t find them. I asked one of my US pals who explained that you girls just use maxi pads. As for knickers, it seems disposable or even string ones, are just a British delicacy...
Delving further into the largely unspoken about world of postpartum bleeding over brunch with mum friends the other day (as one does), I discovered more interesting ways of dealing with the issue – and furthermore, some hot tips on self-treating stitches and the like.
One friend was guided by nurses on making a maxi pad ‘sub’, complete with witch hazel pads filling for antiseptic purposes on stitches and episiotomy sites. Gulp. Needless to say, that particular image has put me off any kind of sandwich for the time being. Another friend was just advised to sit on a bucket – no further instructions given. Okay then....
And for ‘ick’ Number Two. Literally. While pumping friends with kids for info on labour and childbirth before having Eliza, a handful mentioned instances of involuntary bowel movements. I was aghast! One described how her husband had to scoop her poop from the birthing pool with a net, much like one does when selecting fish from a pet store aquarium to take home.
Husband N and I attended childbirth prep classes for six weeks or so and all the while I tried plucking up the courage up to ask if this was really possible and what on earth to do about it.
‘You won’t even notice,’ the teacher explained when I finally asked, ‘When you gotta go, you gotta go. The medical staff has seen it all before. And worse...’ This, it seemed, was supposed to make me feel better. I was crapping myself!
As it happened, I had no problems in that department. I couldn’t stomach eating anything for ten hours after getting to hospital apart from gelatine sweets so there wasn’t really anything to relieve myself of. Thank God.
So back to my hospital bag. I now have pads of every description – maxi, breast and even one for writing...Amongst other things, there’re nursing bras, a robe, lots of pairs of my mum’s knickers, an Ipod, diapers, some baby clothes, flip-flops, cotton wool balls and two packets of gelatine sweets (as they seemed to work so well last time..). Have I missed anything?