After having a c-section with my first son, most of my dignity was gone. All the nakedness, prodding, poking, blood and subsequent man-handling of boobs for breastfeeding left little room for modesty or pride.
Goodbye, my dignity
The little bit of dignity I was clinging onto finally left me on day three.
I was struggling with breastfeeding and had asked the lactation consultant for help. Sitting together on the bed, with my boobs bared to the world, she massaged my nipple. Of course, a massage is generally associated with pleasure. In this instance, not so much.
But, in case I didn’t already feel like a cow, she took things to the next level. While massaging one nipple, she attached the breast pump to the other. I was (apparently) in control of that.
Read more about labour and birth:
- Now what? Everything that happens to mum right after giving birth
- Fear of labour and birth: Does the language we use really matter?
- Why do hospital staff say you’re NOT in labour – when you know you are?!
So, there we were. Me awkwardly watching my nipple getting sucked into a pump, while trying to make light-hearted conversation. Her massaging away.
It was then that the door flung open and a very young boy appeared holding a bouquet of flowers. He’d clearly missed the common-sense memo that deliveries didn’t go direct to rooms. But at that moment, I think he wished he hadn’t.
His face was priceless as he took in the sight before him. Me? I couldn’t help but smile.
I never felt more embarrassed for someone else than I did right then. And as he swiftly left the room, swapping the flowers for my dignity, I accepted that it really was all gone.
Far from alone
When I asked friends about the loss of their dignity during and after labour, the stories came thick and fast. But, there were a few standouts, and here they are.
“My doctor was stitching me up post birth and all of the built-up gas decided to make its way out of my rear end and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. On about the 10th fart I stopped apologising and just went with it.”- Kylie
“The lactation consultant made me and my husband make ‘maaahh’ sounds with our mouths to try and understand what shape the baby’s mouth was supposed to be for good latching. She was literally saying, “after me: maaaah.” It was 4am on day 3 and no one had slept, so we had no resistance left!” – Imogene.
“My personal shining moment was after birth when the lovely big, strapping, muscular, beautiful male consultant sat down in front of me in my ‘legs akimbo’ state. He began the task of sewing me back up after episiotomy and a giant blood clot landed on his cheek. I was dying inside but he casually backhandedly wiped it off whilst carrying on his needlecraft,” – Vicki.
“Post birth euphoric adrenaline is needed when your other half sends a photo of one naked in the bath with a washer on your head to most of the people at his work with the newborn baby photos. Dignity gooooone!!!” – Michelle.
“Mine was hopping out of the birth pool because the water was too hot and walking stark naked through a horrified ante-natal class in the next room. I was too hot and bothered to care but I think I scared the hell out of them,” – Carolyn.
“I had a HUGE amount of amniotic fluid coming out once my waters were broken, so my midwives put me into those sexy gauze bike pant things with a pad shoved down them. When the anesthesiologist sauntered into the labour ward, he stopped and looked at me in my see-through bike pants and said ‘nice undies’. I nearly died,” – Heidi.