Brooke's adorable baby girl, Serena

Brooke is a 29 year old first time mum to a beautiful baby girl, Serena. It was definitely not a textbook pregnancy, birth and postnatal period for Brooke. She had midwife care in a public hospital, and had to be induced because it was suspected her baby was getting too big. After an emergency caesarean, she then had some breastfeeding struggles before settling in to motherhood.

I was on my way to work, I bought a packet of pregnancy tests and did the first one in the bathroom at the shops. It was faulty, no lines came up whatsoever and I waited about 10 minutes. Went to work and took the second one in the bathroom on my tea break and it came up positive. I was super excited and happy! I called my mum first. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole day.  

I did not enjoy being pregnant. I’m not really sure I found any of it easy. I had morning sickness from 13 weeks pretty much until the end (minus a few odd days here and there), I was taking anti-nausea pills pretty much the whole second trimester. I had really sore hips after 15 weeks and visited the chiropractor fortnightly. I got sore if I stood too long or sat too long. The third trimester was exhausting, I was tired all the time and I ended up reducing my hours at work. I was working 4 hours in the morning, coming home, having a 3 hour nap, getting up, having dinner and then went back to bed. I often woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn and then couldn’t get back to sleep despite being so tired. I even almost fell asleep driving in the afternoon one time – thank god my mum was in the car with me. I had horrible bright red stretch marks. Also I was told my baby was going to be “off the charts big” and that I had too much fluid, so I was quite stressed about that towards the end. Having said all that, I did love the little moments, like when you’re lying in bed and all of the sudden your stomach starts rolling like a wave. The first movements that feel like someone is blowing bubbles in your stomach; the first time my partner felt bubs’ movements and seeing the joy in his face, when we had our first ultrasound and saw bubs heartbeat my partner teared up…those are the best parts of being pregnant, the parts that made pregnancy beautiful for me.

I had my care with midwives in a public hospital. I was very happy with the care I received. I did feel in a few appointments I was just repeating things I’d said in the last appointment because the midwives were often different. Or that I’d have to bring up things other midwives had said that were relevant to the new midwife. It did make me feel a little like just a file in a computer, but they were all lovely and if I have another baby I will choose to do midwife care again. 

In terms of preparing for everything…I google everything! I was given a bunch of pregnancy books but I never read them. I binge watched ‘One born every minute’ (I don’t recommend this!). We did the parenting class through the hospital and we did a paediatric first aid course. I didn’t change my diet but I did swap pole dancing for the hydro pool and aqua Zumba, which was fun and something different, definately give aqua Zumba a go! I actually had gained quite a bit of weight before my pregnancy, which I was not happy about and I am 100% sure attributes to why I had such an average pregnancy. I would defiantly like to start the pregnancy healthier than I did, and just maintain a healthier diet while I was pregnant.

My birth was pretty smooth. I needed to be induced because it was looking like the baby was getting too big, and I had too much fluid. I was induced 8 days before her due date. The induction completely failed and I was given to choice to continue trying to induce for another 12-24 hours or I could have a c-section. We decided to have the c-section. I was told my procedure textbook. Everything went perfectly and Serena was in fact only 4.2kgs – not off the charts at all! I stayed in hospital for 3 days after Serena was born, I had a private room and my partner Shannon was able to stay with me the whole time. I found the stay fine, we had no issues at all. Serena slept great, 5-6 hour stints the whole time we were there. Feeding was a bit tricky. I did struggle with that but the nurses helped me and she was feeding fine.

Things at home for the first few weeks were full on. Not being able to do much after a c-section and being in pain made it hard. And it is such a big adjustment going from being child-free to having a completely dependent child. But I had great support from my partner, my mum and my future mother-in-law. Someone was constantly home with me for the first 4 weeks, which helped a lot! The lack of sleep is really hard at the start and also my partner and I argued quite a bit in the first few weeks, I guess because we were both tired and he was adjusting too.

 I really, really struggled with breastfeeding. It hurt so much, I had grazes, bruises, blisters, cracks. I didn’t even know these things could happen and to be honest, was a bit blindsided by it and was very unprepared for it. It was so hard. I had no idea I could be hard, I just thought “everyone does it, I’ll be fine”. Boy was I wrong. I asked the midwives and the maternal and child health nurse and even posted a few times in the facebook pregnancy groups about my breastfeeding issues. I saw an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant - more in this post) when Serena was 6 weeks old. I found out I have nipple vasospasm which is why breastfeeding was so painful for me. I tried to troop on with the recommendations from the IBCLC, but ended up expressing and full bottle feeding both breast milk and formula and then a few weeks later went to full formula. I felt like I had very little knowledge of breastfeeding. I felt like a failure because I was trying so hard and just couldn’t seem to do it. I didn’t even know an IBCLC was a thing until Serena was almost 5 weeks old. I feel pregnant women need to be educated more about this prior to giving birth and I think everyone should be given the details of an IBCLC and told that meeting with them even before the baby come can be very beneficial. I feel like when I learnt the most about breastfeeding was with the IBCLC but it was just too little too late for me, I was very disheartened by that stage.

I don’t think I had any serious problem with my mental health after having bubs but for a good 2 months I cried all the time. I would get upset so easily or I’d be trying to breastfeed in the middle of the night and I would be sore and tired and I would just cry. My partner and I struggled in our relationship early on. He’d enjoyed the pregnancy, but had been concerned about things going wrong when we were in hospital and felt helpless. He didn’t like that. But he was great with Serena – always hands on, great at changing her nappies and giving her a bottle, holding her all the time. But it was an adjustment for us because my attention was on the baby, or I was trying to shower, or eat, or look after myself, and he felt I wasn’t making time for him and for us. He hated the lack of affection and intimacy in the first few months.

I would do things a little differently if I have another baby. I will see an IBCLC prior to the birth and I will be giving breastfeeding another crack. I would like to find out about having a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC - read about this here!) and see if that is maybe an option for me...sometimes I do feel a little like I missed out on the natural process. But Serena is here, she’s healthy and beautiful, and I know it really doesn’t matter how she got here.

To new mums and mums-to-be, I guess I would just say really explore your options, listen to the doctors and midwives, but also do your own research and ask as many questions as you can to make an informed decision about what you want. If I had have known Serena wasn’t going to be as big as predicted, I might have chosen for her to come naturally, but I just did what the doctors told me to do because I’d never had a baby before and they are the experts! After Serena was born one of the midwives made a comment that I probably had a lot of fluid because I had a bigger baby. If that was all it was I probably could have had a natural birth! I wish I’d known to ask about things like this at the time! Also so many people said to me enjoy it while you can, pregnancy is such a short time. But I can honestly say, I did not enjoy being pregnant. I don’t miss it at all. I’m not looking forward to being pregnant again. And you certainly don’t need to try and enjoy it if you’re not enjoying it! It’s okay to not like being pregnant. I did not like being pregnant, but I love being a mum!

Brooke and her beautiful little family

I hope this has been a helpful read. Please share the love by sending this post to a supermum or supermum-to-be, who might benefit from this article. And I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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