I felt pretty prepared for the fact that labour would hurt.
I had no idea what my pain threshold would be like
but I knew that whatever happened
it would hurt
but that there would be drugs available to help me if I needed and wanted them
and that in the scheme of things that pain would be short lived
and I would have a baby at the end of it
What I was totally unprepared for was the pain afterwards.
It was like all the books, the classes and the advice from friends seemed to bypass this part.
The part where you feel battered and bruised;
the part where it hurts to sit down
and also hurts to stand up;
the part where if you walk for very long it feels like all your organs may fall out of you.
I suppose it's hardly surprising that people choose not to share this information with expectant first time mothers,
it would be pretty terrifying to hear that after going through the most painful experience in your life so far,
that you will then continue to be in pain for quite a while afterwards.
I would say that with the little man it was about three weeks before I felt anywhere near human again.
And three weeks of discomfort
on top of sleepless nights,
a stream of visitors,
and learning about my new role as a mummy
was a long time.
I didn't take pain relief after the first few days
because I felt guilty about taking it
because I was breastfeeding and I didn't want my little guy full of nasty chemicals.
I wanted to be a super mummy
who was out and about with a newborn,
while also looking glam and being invincible.
And on the days I did too much I paid the price
in the form of major pain and increasing bleeding.
Why did nobody warn me?
When I got pregnant again
I have to say that it was the recovery time that scared me most.
I knew I had to go through labour again,
I knew a little more about how I might cope with that.
But I just couldn't see how I would be an effective mummy to two children under two
if I was in the same sort of pain as I was last time.
I knew that I still wouldn't want to pop pills like candy
but I did want to see what I could do to be more proactive
about getting myself well and back to normal as quickly as possible.
After reading a few things online
and listening to recommendations from friends
I started to look into what herbal remedies might help me.
I know that herbal remedies can be quite divisive
and lots of people think that any benefit is all mental rather than physical.
The way I see it though,
even if it is all in your head,
if it makes you feel better then who cares.
So with a couple of weeks to go until due date
I went out to equip myself with some remedies which I had researched and liked the idea of.
In my shopping basket was arnica tablets and a selection of essential oils.
I'd decided on lavender, tea tree and chamomile oils for their various different healing and soothing properties.
All these items then went into my hospital bag
and I gave instructions to my husband that it was his specific job to remind me about them
as I was worried I'd forget about them in the throws of labour.
As soon as my labour started I popped a couple of the pills.
And I took two more as we were settling into our room in hospital.
In all honesty once my labour really got going I did forget to take more
but from what I hear the idea is that you keep taking them at regular intervals throughout labour.
Perhaps if you were a very calm and composed labourer then you'd remember,
or if you had a very organised birth partner,
but I was too busy focusing on breathing and pain and contractions and getting pain relief at the time
and it didn't cross the husband's mind at all to give me them.
However I did take two more when I was in the bath afterwards,
and continued to take a couple every few hours for the first 24 hours.
In the days that followed I took one tablet every few hours
as it said to on the packet,
although this was sometimes a case of as and when I remembered
rather than being really regimented.
In my bath at the hospital I put ten drops of each of the essential oils.
That first bath always feels like the best one ever
because you feel so incredibly gross after giving birth,
but I would definitely say that the smell of the oils made it even nicer.
Each of the essential oils offers different physical benefits
but I had also read that choosing oils that you like the smell of
gives additional mental benefits
and can help to calm and soothe you.
Considering I lay back in the bath and fell asleep for a short while
I'd say that I definitely found the smell relaxing.
I had mentioned to the midwife that I planned to use oils in the bath water
and she was really supportive and said they are great.
She said that they especially recommend lavender for its healing properties
and tea tree for its cleansing properties anyway.
I used the same oils in the bath at home
and enjoyed it just as much.
The combination of the three oils makes for a fresh and clean smell
and they all help with healing in their own ways.
I would definitely say that my recovery was a lot better and quicker this time around.
Instead of finally feeling human after three weeks,
it was more like four or five days.
And I had nowhere near the level of pain, discomfort, bruising or bleeding this time around.
Whether I can attribute all of that to herbal remedies, I don't know,
but they definitely made me feel like I was doing something to help myself.
I really do think that the remedies did help me
and I would recommend them to expectant mummies,
because absolutely anything that might possibly maybe make you feel better after having a baby
has to be a good thing.