Childbirth - Blood, Mucus and Other Bodily Fluidsby Sarah Hurst
Blood, mucous, bodily fluids…hands up who’s in??!?
It sounds like a list of ingredients for a witch’s spell, doesn’t it? Or the stuff zombie dreams are made of – not the necessary evil that must first be navigated through before you can claim your right to the throne of Motherhood. (Speaking of thrones, if you’re thinking ahead, here’s some great advice on surviving the first post-pregnancy poo)
As much as we would all love to imagine that babies slide into this world on a shimmering rainbow, cocooned by a cloud of calm – the reality of having a baby is VERY different. Whilst it doesn’t have to be stressful, scary or even painful (depending on whether you take pain relief) there’s no getting around the fact that a baby is not the only thing that’s going to be exiting from your body during this very special time.
Let's start with the easy one:
(For the avoidance of doubt, and to explain the complicated English language, same spelling/different meaning issue - I’m talking about the wet stuff that comes out of your eyes, not the lacerations that may need stitching back together after a rather large head decides to go through a very small door. Will I ever get my pre-pregnancy vagina back??)
The truth is, you’ll probably cry at some point…whether that be due to pain, happiness, joy, or the fact you’re absolutely starving and this is taking WAY longer than you imagined, tears will fall. If not by you, then someone else, and almost certainly your baby. Let’s get those lungs working!
This usually accompanies the crying tears. If you’re trying to breathe deeply through your nose and mouth, it’s probably going to make an appearance then too.
There’s really no getting around this one I’m afraid, whether you have a vaginal birth or a C Section, there’s going to be blood, and there’s going to be A LOT of it. This is the one thing that shocked my husband after I gave birth to our children – he wasn’t really prepared for the aftermath being such a shade of crimson. Whilst we’re on the subject, just a polite reminder that if you are planning on a C Section, you will still need the sanitary towels afterwards. Just because your baby didn’t exit through your hoo-haa doesn’t mean you wont get a whole 9 months’ worth of periods afterwards. Sorry.
Now, this one could go one of two ways. When you’re heavily pregnant, you can’t stop weeing because of the pressure on your bladder. When you’re in labour, you may find that you can’t go. My contractions were so strong that every time I tried, I didn’t get long enough to ‘relax’ the muscles in between the contractions to actually go to the loo. My advice would be to try and go as soon as you believe that labour may be starting.
Whatever happens with your own waterworks, you can be certain you’ll be dealing with an awful lot of urine from a teeny, tiny someone else very soon! Baby girls tends to pool all over the change mat and wet the back of their clothes. Little boys aim high! Using a small wash cloth, a breast pad or a nappy over their groin area when changing them should help to avoid a change of parental clothes being needed!
Do your best to go before you go into labour if you can. If not, pray that the start of labour also brings on a sudden urge to evacuate your bowels before you get anywhere near the pushing stage.
Your baby’s head WILL push down and into your bowels during labour, and you will feel like you are actually doing a poo. Most of the time, this is just your baby’s head. Sometimes, it will be a poo too. Its very common, lots of women do it, and your midwife will have seen it all before, so don’t worry ( or go into hiding and shame afterwards!).
This one relates mostly to your baby. If you had a C section, or a fast labour, your baby may not have had all of the mucous ‘squeezed’ out of them during their progression down the birth canal. Often this means they can be left with a bit that works its way out. It can be pretty scary to hear your newborn choking or gasping for air because of the mucous they are unable to cough up – if you are in hospital still, call for a midwife to help whilst leaning them forward and rubbing their back in an upward motion. They may need to have their tummy aspirated – don’t panic, it’s just a tiny tube inserted up their nostril and down into their tummy and water is squirted down and then sucked back up (along with the mucous) to help clear it out.
If you are looking for a few more truths about childbirth and beyond, have a read of my post – The things they didn’t tell me about pregnancy, labour and motherhood.