Friday, June 14, 2013

Women's Health

Probably not one for the guys...sorry, guys.

I'm feeling the need to share vent write about some postpartum experiences, particularly the parts that have more to do with me and my feelings than the baby (though there will be overlap.

The first issue I would like to address is that of the physical healing from childbirth. I was fairly disappointed with the aftercare that I got, in both the U.S. and Russia.

When you have just been through a very graphic medical experience (natural or not), it's not the best time for delicacy and people withholding certain details that would be useful. Following childbirth, you want to know how to feel as normal as possible again. This is probably true about major operations, too. My other main experience was wisdom teeth extraction (don't laugh), and that took WEEKS of recovery, due to complications that also could have been avoided.

Childbirth IS natural, after all, but that doesn't mean we are born knowing what is going to happen. When it was all over, I really wanted to know things like how long, what color, how big, how thick, how painful. When I was still on the maternity ward, the nurses were great and even walked me through a few things like bathroom visits. But after that I really could have used a personal nurse for, say...a few months.

I was sent home with a 30-page printout with a list of recommendations like calling the doctor when I had a fever. It was all very surface-level, general, unhelpful information.

I sometimes feel like until you actually try to troubleshoot, they will give you the minimal information. As I said, I wish I'd had more detailed information, like how to bathe myself properly for healing purposes, or how to protect my stitches from ripping.

The most helpful resource has probably been online forums where it's possible to ask some of those sensitive questions, while remaining somewhat anonymous.

I do realize that numbers aren't always helpful, though. A lot of sources state, "it took you 9 months to grow the baby, give yourself 9 months to recover." Below I will address the issue of still looking pregnant a YEAR after having a baby.

Meanwhile, I managed to get into the OB/GYN at 4 weeks and again at 6 weeks postpartum, before heading back to Russia. The doctor, busy as always, said that I "wasn't completely healed yet" but that I WAS healing, and that I would "just know" when I was done healing.

It was an interesting experience to read over the copy of my records that I requested to bring back to Russia with me. There I was able to find out what degree of tearing I'd had, what tests they had run, etc. As well as a complication that the doctor had described to ME as "not completely healed," but was actually written down on paper as something worse...continue reading/-

...Back in Russia, having been waylaid in Estonia for a month, I finally went to visit the OB/GYN who had done my pregnancy checkups. Her assessment was that the only way out was surgery under general anesthesia, and that it would be best to wait until the baby was weaned. (!) She prescribed a bunch of creams, which I was not able to use as they were not safe for breastfeeding.

I decided to revisit the issue at a later date.

Meanwhile....

It was fun to be "all baby," but it had its consequences, too. When I had visited the Russian clinic during pregnancy, they looked at my spine and said I would need to wear a belly support during and after pregnancy, to prevent back pain. I never had increased back pain during pregnancy, though. Another garment during the summer months didn't sound very comfortable, so I didn't bother.

When David was just a few weeks/months old, I did get a few comments as to when my "due date" was. I was fairly good-natured about it and gave myself time. However, having a thin frame, I lost the weight everywhere else and I was left with this belly bulge. But it wasn't FAT, it was something else.

Something was not right.

People suggested crunches, but you know when your instinct causes you to hesitate? My body just still felt "broken." Was rigorous exercise really the care it needed?

10 months postpartum. I did some scouring of the Internet and found that I may have an abdominal wall separation that is causing this protrusion. Not surprising given the weight I carried around, but surprising considering the 10 or so people who examined me during and after pregnancy and never said a thing.

I haven't gotten an official diagnosis, but I'm exploring some tummy-safe fitness options to move on with healing.

Not wanting to find a trainer here and try to explain my situation, I ended up ordering a book for my Kindle, I think it's the one by Helene Byrne. However, as a non-fitness person, it was pretty hard to decipher how to do the exercises just going by the drawings and descriptions.

Another thing I had heard about in blog circles was an online fitness portal called "Fit 2 B Studio." I was skeptical, but gave it a try as a last option. I was pleasantly surprised by the first few workouts. It is very easy to figure out the exercises (at least the beginners level), and the instructor talks in this calm way that makes the time go by really fast. It's different from counting repetitions. You just listen to her narration while trying the new moves, and the next thing you know, you've done the workout! I also joined the members forum and everyone there is really helpful.

I'm not doing any measuring, though. Just trying to work some gentle tummy exercises into my daily routine and we'll see what the doctor says when I have a chance to check in.

So, hopefully no surgery on either count.


2 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth, I'm a long-time subscriber to your blog. I can't remember how I found it, but I've always enjoyed it because I relate to you. A girl about your age, living in Houston (not St P!), interested in ministry to internationals, in a cross-cultural marriage, and with an 8 month old baby.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your discouraging, unhelpful postpartum care. I was blessed to have a caring and wise midwife. But I've heard so many stories about careless OBs, it makes me sad. I'm glad you're listening to your body and I hope your body will heal soon! Praying for you.

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  2. Thanks, Phoebe! I suppose my situation could be worse, but it's hard kind of being your own advocate, you know?

    I need to pop over to your blog!

    ReplyDelete

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