I had a really long recovery (at least, long compared to most others who have had natural births) after Viviana’s birth. We attributed it mostly to pushing for 2 ½ hours, holding her head in a full crown for an hour and being my first birth, which were all large contributing factors. Consequently, I was really excited looking forward to my recovery with Timothy *knowing* it would be much easier/shorter.
It was definitely better. I only pushed for an hour with Timothy, and held his head in a full crown for a few contractions/pushes. But….recovery was still longer than I (and others) expected. It was about 2 weeks before I could start to get around again without getting super sore. It took a good 5+ weeks before I felt pretty much back to normal. Needless to say, I was thankful for all our freezer meals- and those who blessed us with meals!
I was really discouraged at first…healing felt like it was so slow- and so much slower than it was supposed to be. I had a natural water birth, and didn’t tear. My midwife does an awesome job of supporting the perineum. Sure, his head was big, but still….what gave?
Then I noticed, two or so weeks after Timothy was born, that my labia was still really swollen. And my perineum felt pretty good. It was nice to feel like I knew what I needed to target in getting healed, at least. It seemed kind of strange, though, since the perineum is what typically takes the longest to heal, is most likely to tear, etc. So I decided to ask my midwife her opinion, and together we pieced together the “issue”.
I’m probably always going to push a reasonably long time. I’ll probably always have long recoveries. It’s probably always going to be pretty tough on my labia. And I just might always have a hard time getting past the full crown. But now I know what to expect, and what kind of recovery to prepare for, so I’m good.
Basically, my perineum is extremely taught. It just won’t stretch. My midwife, Cindy, said she noticed when I was pushing that Timothy’s head just bulged there, but wouldn’t move. She tried to help the perineum roll back, like it should, but it wouldn’t no matter how much coaxing was given. So I had to push until enough of his head was down past the perineum, and the labia had to do all of the stretching to allow my little man’s head through. No wonder I dislike the pushing phase and find it to be extremely intense! :-)
When we first pieced it all together- Timothy and Vivi’s births and future ones- I was a little discouraged. I believe that the woman’s body is created for birth….so why was mine messed up? Why couldn’t it work like it was supposed to? And then, I started thinking about the beautiful side….about the fact that my body is so awesomely created that the labia can completely compensate for the short-comings of the perineum. Even though I don’t have a perfect body, I have a body that works the way God intended! Which is awesome….My midwife mentioned that I’d never be allowed to deliver naturally at a hospital. Minimally, I’d get an episiotomy for sure, and possibly a c-section. Timothy’s head was sitting on the perineum the whole hour of pushing (and thinking back through how Vivi’s birth felt, I think hers was for most of the pushing phase with her), and Cindy said it wouldn’t have taken long for doctors to rate my body as incompatible with birth, and slice me.*
But I’m not incompatible with birth. I’m fearfully and wonderfully – and as much as can be in an imperfect world – perfectly made. It takes time and effort and plenty of healing, but my body was made for birth. It knows what it’s doing…and left to its own, it’ll do it.
*Not to degrade doctors or hospitals, because I am grateful to have hospitals in the area for any emergency situation we may ever have! But I’m also grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to give birth under the care of someone who fully understands how the female body works, and is willing to work with my body.