I haven’t blogged for months and months but as it’s a new year I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve loved sharing all things motherhood over on Instagram but sometimes there’s just more to say, so here I am on an old fashioned blog saying it. How quaint!
Before we get stuck in I’d like to warn any great uncles or old neighbours who still check my blog for life updates that this post is going to be full of period chat so if you’d rather not read on, I understand. Life is admittedly easier if you imagine periods to be a fun time of rollerblading and blue liquid.
In 2014, some of you may remember that I wrote two posts detailing my decision to come off the pill after more than ten years of taking it. They became two of my most read blog posts and I’ve received literally hundreds of messages from women sharing their similar experiences since. If they’re of interest you can find them here and here. A lot has changed since I wrote them; I’ve not used hormonal contraception since but I have popped out two babies, with a particularly efficient three minute age gap.
And that brings me to what I want to write about today: PMS and periods post-childbirth.
Having a baby undeniably changes a woman, it is just about the most all encompassing thing that can happen. A lot is written about the emotional side (rightly!) but I certainly hadn’t expected my body to take quite such a hammering in a physical sense. My new year’s resolution for 2019 is to address these physical changes that are still causing havoc 14 months on. (And why wouldn’t they? Given I’ve not allowed myself even half a chance to actually address them). But while I know physio will be able to strengthen my core as long as I bother to commit to doing the exercises, I have fears about how easily I can rectify the fact my periods have become pure hell.
I’m not sure if it’s because my womb had to be sliced open for me to meet my babies, but nothing feels “right” down there any more. Ovulation is painful. Menstruation is painful. My scar is painful. For a good half of each month, something in my abdomen is hurting.
Then there’s the stuff that makes the physical pain seem fun: the complete insanity of my mood swings which can practically be timed to the minute. Knowing it’s PMS offers some respite, but not enough to make up for the rage and impatience which seems to unleash itself with no fear of consequence. (Until you feel better a few days later of course, when you get to enjoy the next emotion: shame).
And what about the sweating? The eating? The incessant bleeding? The finally getting to sleep at 6am only to be woken by your child 45 minutes later?
Because that last point leads me on to something else I’ve been wondering: IS everything period related worse post-childbirth or does it just feel that way because you’re living it whilst also coping with the demands of a baby or toddler or two? Pre-parenthood it’s not as though I would have been able to indulge “that time of the month” by laying in bed all day with Dinner Date re-runs and doughnuts, I worked and had to function in adult society like the vast majority of women, but it was definitely easier to have an “off” day. Toddlers are hilarious and wild and magic and brilliant but they can sometimes feel as if they’re specifically designed to be world class wind-up merchants, so wrestling one (or two) into a buggy whilst treating a room full of unhelpful strangers to surround sound banshee screaming can definitely tip you over the edge if you’re already feeling low. (Or the toddler antics won’t, but the man in the Sainsbury’s queue who thinks it’s an appropriate time to mutter “double trouble” definitely will).
I’ve done some rudimentary googling and come up with mixed feedback; some people find their PMS greatly improves post-childbirth but there are definitely lots who find it ramps up a gear. Whether or not you breastfeed will of course make a difference, as will whether you choose to go back onto hormonal contraception. Then of course there are many women who will have needed hormonal treatments to achieve or sustain their pregnancy in the first place. Do the hormone changes of carrying multiples have any impact? I’d like to think so as it would give me an excuse for being particularly unkind on certain dates but I’m not sure there’s any science there.
There’s no conclusion to this post, other than to say I’ve booked to see my GP to ask for advice. I don’t really like the idea of taking anything year-round given it’s a problem which only rears its monstrous head for a few days each month, but those few days are HARD and if there’s a simple enough solution I want to try it. Magnesium? A coil? Evening primrose? B6? Constant Domino’s cookies?
I wanted to open up the discussion though as it’s not right that so many women feel so hideous so often – it’s not enough knowing it’s “just” PMS – and from briefly mentioning I’d be posting about it on Instagram I was inundated with DMs from people who feel they’re suffering worse than ever before.
I know blog comments can seem rather olde worlde in these heady 2019 days but feel free to comment anonymously here or join the conversation over on Instagram, I imagine that’s where most of the discussion will take place.