I’ll start by saying that this was my own personal experience following a forceps delivery – I am by no means an expert and if you’re unsure about anything, ask your midwife or health visitor.
While I was pregnant and thinking about giving birth, the one thing I said I never wanted to experience was a forceps delivery. The thought absolutely petrified me. If you didn’t know, forceps look like metal serving spoons and are inserted on the side of the baby’s head to assist in getting them out. I’ve seen the procedure happen many times on One Born Every Minute, but never thought it would happen to me.
Well, it did.
If you’ve read my birth story, you’ll know that I was taken into theatre for an emergency forceps procedure because my baby wasn’t coming on his own (we now know that this was because his arm was raised like Superman!) Fortunately, I was given an epidural so I couldn’t actually feel anything from the waist down which was lovely! I also needed an episiotomy to allow more room for the baby’s head to be born which is an incision the surgeon makes in the perineum to allow this to happen.
Following the birth of our son, it took around an hour for the surgeon to stitch everything back together and to insert a catheter. I’ve always heard that a catheter is awful and whilst it’s not the best thing to experience, it does mean you can wee freely without having to think about it!
Most women are given standard painkillers to deal with the pain following an episiotomy but I’m actually allergic to most painkillers so I was given liquid morphine which made me feel great! On the ward, it was really difficult. Trying to answer to my son’s needs was non-existent because I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to press a button to summon a midwife to lift Raife to me every time he made a sound. I desperately wanted to do everything myself – I wasn’t even able to change his nappy for the first time or put him in his first outfit.
It was agony sitting down and getting back up. The best way I can describe the pain is like you’ve ridden a camel for three days solid. After a few hours, I was encouraged (and I wanted) to take a shower. This was the worst part of my whole hospital stay. It took an age to actually reach the shower and when I did, I had to shower in front of my husband just in case I fell over or had a reaction to the morphine. This wasn’t pleasant for me – I’d given birth around 7 hours previously, and my body felt like it had been run over by a bus multiple times. I stood in the shower and hated every second of it. The water stung the sensitive, bruised bits and I just wanted to get back into bed. Which I did.
Weeing was another obstacle. As I mentioned, I had a catheter inserted which then had to be taken out a few hours later to encourage me to wee by myself. I’ll be honest – the thought scared me. I felt like the world was going to come out considering I’d just had a baby. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. Yes, it did sting a bit but given the trauma your area will have suffered, it’s hardly surprising really! Each time I wee’d after got easier and easier so there’s really nothing to worry about.
Going home was difficult. There were stairs to combat, bending up and down to pick things up from the floor and just walking around generally proved tough. However, this actually helped me to recover a lot faster. I went out for a walk with the baby and dog 2 days after coming out of hospital and being out in the fresh air definitely helped. I would say that you need to go at your own pace and don’t be disheartened if you can’t go as far as you normally would – you’ve just given birth! I’d also advise that you take regular showers to help with soothing the bruising and to keep the area clean but try not to use body washes or perfumed products as these can cause irritation and increase the risk of infection.
This may sound crude but I do think it’s an important thing to mention. You’re advised to wait around 6 weeks after giving birth to have sex (if you have a normal vaginal delivery) but each and every couple and individual is different. All I would say is not to rush it – wait until YOU are ready. Things for me aren’t entirely back to normal even now and Raife is almost 6 months old, but each time does get easier!
In terms of the pain and bruising, I’m completely fine now and have made a great recovery. I’ll be honest, the first few weeks were tough (probably because I can’t take painkillers) but for me, it was more mentally challenging. It took a while to accept that I had needed some help and that I had been to theatre – something that I definitely had not anticipated happening to me. But it did and I had to accept that. Giving birth anyway is gruelling (hence why it’s called labour) but I think that having an assisted delivery does take some time to get your head around and if you’re ever feeling a bit down, TALK to someone about it. You’ll feel much better for doing so!
I hope this has helped some of you out there – it’s important for me to say that you should never be scared of having an intervention during labour, whether it’s forceps, ventouse or a c-section. Meet every obstacle head on and you’ll be absolutely fine – you’ve got this!