One of the biggest things that I have struggled with since having Archie (well, actually since becoming pregnant) is the total lack of control I have over my body. During my pregnancy, I had to accept and surrender to the fact that I couldn’t just go-go-go all day and needed to rest and take care of myself for the sake of the growing baby in my tummy. My pelvis was literally splitting in two, I vomited constantly for the first three months, and my skin and hair took on a life of their own.
Since having Archie, I am lucky to only be a couple of kilos heavier than before I got pregnant, but my shape has changed completely. There has been quite a few meltdowns when I realised that despite being the same size that I was before I got preggers, I am a completely different shape now and hardly any of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. The stack of vintage dresses that I wore pretty much constantly are meant for someone with a much tinier waist than the one my 9lbs 11oz baby left me with. Only a handful of my clothes are suitable for breastfeeding, so I have three outfits that I rotate daily. For someone who used to look forward to getting dressed in the morning and spent way too much money on clothes, this has been an interesting experience. In a way, it has made me more carefree and relaxed as I don’t need to think about what I’m wearing, but I do miss putting together an outfit and feeling nice about myself.
The first six weeks or so of breastfeeding were great, but Archie has recently been getting really agitated during feedings and pulls off every few minutes to scream and flail around in pain. It is pretty distressing as it seems like I am hurting him somehow. The GP and maternal health nurse both diagnosed it as have an oversupply of milk and a Overactive Milk Ejection Reflex, meaning the milk squirts out too fast. The health nurse likened it to trying to drink from a fire hose blasting into your mouth, so no wonder Archie was struggling to feed! The milk does literally squirt across the room, all over Archie’s face and up his nose. I can saturate the disposable breast pads in minutes and if he goes more than a few hours without feeding in the night I wake up in a sodden puddle of milk. Lovely. I have started only feeding one side per session to help regulate the amount of milk being produced, and feeding him laying down with him on top of me, so he has to suck ‘uphill’ instead of the milk pouring into his mouth.
I am learning to embrace my new mum body, complete with poochy tummy, thinning hair (!) and enormous leaky boobs. I’m slowly becoming more comfortable in my skin, despite the enormous overhaul I have been through physically. My body grew and sustained new life, birthed a big, healthy baby and now provides nourishment and comfort to a hungry, growing little boy.