Me at 30 plus weeks and looking not a day shy of it. Can you imagine carrying a BIG, honeydew melon size baby inside your belly? And it is only going to grow bigger for the next couple weeks! Do you know this pregnancy caricature? I looked more like a cartoon than a human.
Abdominal pain & stretch marks
I had abdominal pain and stretch marks appearing about the 20-week mark. Pelvic pain and stretch marks were normal and common enough, I was told. And, as it turns out, that wonderful elasticity that we have in our skin? Well, my body wasn’t there for that hand-out. Ignorance was bliss though as I had no idea of the full spectrum of pink and purple hues splashed across my tum, until after I delivered my Sumo baby.
My belly button, popped out from about the same time and enthusiastic friends and family would touch my tummy and excitedly gush about all that I had in store. My belly button was so sensitive though that I lived in a state of hyper-vigilance anytime someone would look like they were going to caress me.
Friends would mime holding my bump, as if they felt sorry for me and knew it needed all of the support it could get. I seemed too to leave a ‘wake’ not behind me, but rather in front of me. Everyone moving out of the way as if they might get pulled under the concrete with the inertia of my movements. What was it with men? They seemed to think that if they got close enough to me, that I would somehow spontaneously combust that baby onto the sidewalk and spill fluid all over their freshly polished Hush Puppies.
I remember mischievously having fun with men on the train. Some poor innocent guy would be facing me, nervous as hell, and when I could tell that he’d noticed my bump, I would experiment by seeing what facial expressions it would take, to move him to another carriage or perhaps even off the train all together.
There would also be the shape in-hale or groan at my predicament and the well-meaning comments - ‘Not long now’. ‘Twins?’ Or the motherly looks and expressions of adoration for my ‘plight’. The ‘Oh, I remember like it was yesterday’ looks.
And that’s not to mention the TOUCHING! Get away from me, you belly-molesting psychopaths! But of course, you could never say that. Not being the confrontational-type, I’d just smile and inwardly despise it as people quite literally felt like they had a license to feel me all over, simply because I had a bump.
Just as my skin had no elasticity, neither did my abdominal muscles have staying power. My muscle separation… was huge. You know those two bands of abdominal muscle that usually cuddle each other and act as a ‘corset’ for our organs and back - mine turned their backs on each other and parted ways heading for the opposite coasts. Nobody had told me that I was supposed to wear a support belly band through pregnancy. I’d never even heard of it.
When you’ve got the baby inside - you’re naturally careful. The bump you carry triggers an innate caution in all your movements. Amongst other things, you feel heavy and so you don’t find yourself attempting anything particularly gymnastic (unless you’re some type of athletic masochist).
Postnatal back pain
Once the baby is born you’re just not as conscious of the baby’s weight by the simple fact that the baby no longer resides within you. So, holding the baby, carrying a capsule, especially placing the said capsule into the car or even sitting with good posture to breastfeed are all taxing exercises on a body, that in many cases, like mine, has no functioning abdominal muscles. Bring on the world of back pain!
Finding yourself in a place where you dread getting a pram out of the car and lifting a child into it, and hence avoiding it, is just a miserable position to be in. Because, otherwise a walk in the park, whilst talking and singing with your baby can be one of the most pleasurable experiences in your life. There’s so much at stake.
The headaches and the soreness are just not what you need when you have this fresh (and cute!) demand, disrupting every part of your life. For me, this was a ticking time-bomb. Not only did I have to live with the pain, but all manner of deterioration was occurring and I was fast becoming a candidate for a vast array of chronic muscular and skeletal pain. None of this is to mention the tens of thousands of dollars that will potentially be going into the bank accounts of physiotherapists, remedial masseuses, chiropractors and maybe even surgeons.
My tip, if you’re still with me, watch very closely to what’s going on with your God-given natural body brace. If it is ceasing to function, strap on a man-made one. Or better yet… just wear one anyway. AND don’t forget you’ll want one after the baby is born!
Mom of six fabulous kids and foster-mom to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counsellor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all moms out there giving it their best crack!