When we talk about our “water works” after having a baby, we often think about it being uncontrollable, leaking or going more than before the ring of fire but we hardly ever here about the women who can’t go after giving birth.
Well, readers I am one of those very rare people who somehow forgot how to pee after given birth after those nasty forceps nipped my bladder (yes, ouch).
I start my story right back before my little CC was born and while I was about day 2 of labour I had an epidural and anyone who has had one will know they place an ever so glamorous catheter up your urethra as you can’t move from the bed and therefore can’t go to the bathroom. I guess it’s a convenience thing but please correct me if I’m wrong.
Day 3 of labour and I was tired and baby was tired but I was ready to push but the doctors decided I needed a little hand and introduced the forceps. Now I couldn’t see anything but my husband informs me it was horrific to watch these massive spoons being pushed in my vagina, after being cut too so they could fit in but as I had no feeling due to the epidural I didn’t think it was that bad. Add a 3rd degree tear in there and when I got the feeling back, I can tell you I was feeling it.
They give you 6 hours after birthing to pass urine, so out came my catheter and we waited…nothing. I felt no urge to go at all. The nurse then used this handy little thing that I can only describe as a straw into me to empty my bladder, I was then told I would have another 6 hours. Those 6 hours came and went, the nurse repeated as before and I was left to wait again.
Now normally I would have been discharged at this point if everything had been fine but it wasn’t, I had no feeling of needing to go to the toilet at all. I would sit on the toilet and I just couldn’t figure out what muscles I had to release to pass any water, I had literally forgotten how to pee. My 2 years old was using the bathroom better than I could at this point, I was told I needed to stay in until I went but I wasn’t. I was drinking so much water because I was breastfeeding and needing the nurse to come in every 3 hours with her straw to relieve me and overnight I was given the ever so stylish overnight catheter bag that I could empty myself when it was full. Who said postpartum was glamorous, eh?
My mood was low, it was now day 3 in the hospital (6 if you count labour) and with the hormones, overwhelming feeling a new mum gets and having to be in there without my partner by my side or family to help I was really struggling. I wanted to go home so badly, I wanted to take my baby home and change her in all the little clothes I had bought, place her in her freshly made up Moses basket, I wanted to take her for strolls in the park to show her off but it wasn’t meant to be as I was still not allowed to leave.
On day 5, I begged and I cried so much that they sent my home with my new fashion idea- a lovely catheter that could be trapped to my leg. It would be easily hidden under my trousers but it was very inconvenient. I was still bleeding and trying to stop infection was tough but I did manage, it was a lot of hard work. After a week I had to go back, sit 6 hours and if I hadn’t passed urine they would bag me up and I had another week of the leg bag.
We went back, my baby and me and as there were no beds we had to sit in the old disused staff room for 6 hours hoping that I would pass some urine. I sat in the dark, unused room, breastfeeding, crying and bored out of my head but I still couldn’t go. It was the same feeling every time I sat down on the toilet, I couldn’t remember how to go. I was devastated that I was going to have to do this all again for another week. They bagged me up and I had another week of the same, people were wanting to come visit and it was hard telling people we weren’t up for it yet and when my close friends did visit I was embarrassed of the big bag of pee I had strapped to my leg. They are mostly nurses so they weren’t bothered but I was.
I couldn’t go for the walks I dreamed of as the bag would slip down my leg if I tried to walk any more than a couple of steps and I felt disgusting, I didn’t want anyone to see me.
The next appointment we saw a specialist who showed me how too self-catheterised so I would have to use the bag anymore and I just couldn’t stop crying during the whole thing. I felt useless and hated that I had to do this, it had ruined the first 2 weeks of my baby bubble and now the bag was off, it was time for my husband to go back to work. I hadn’t gotten to experience any of the lovely things most new parents get to do in the first few weeks because I had this massive bag of piss spoiling it all!
Before we left I decided to try one last time to go to the toilet, I headed off and took my little cardboard bowl so if I managed to go they could measure how much I had passed. In the past I hadn’t so much as passed one drip, seriously, nothing. I sat on the toilet and bared down, surely if I push something will happen. I couldn’t feel anything but I manged a dribble, tried again and the same. Oh My God! The joy I felt, I can now express how my daughter felt when she did her first wee in the potty. I WAS A BIG GIRL AGAIN!
The doctors were not impressed with my little widdle but they had no idea that this was the first piddle I had passed in 3 weeks. That little puddle in the bowl felt like a bigger achievement that actually pushing out my daughter. It really did, I had learned to urinate again!
The doctor still wanted me too self-cauterised but I thought “stuff that” and continued to use my newly re learnt skill and do it all by myself and it worked. I never had to use that niffy little straw at home.
It’s never gone back too normal as such, I don’t have the same kind of sensation though I do feeling something when I need to go, I also can’t tell if my bladder is empty so they taught me a technique called “double voiding”. That’s when you go to the toilet and when you think you have finished, you wait a moment and then you may go again. This stops those “oops” leaky moments which I have been so grateful not to have after all I have been through with my bladder.
I was worried after the birth of my son, as they put a catheter in as I haemorrhaged and it was a precaution as I may have needed surgery but thankfully I didn’t. As soon as they took that bad boy out I headed to the loo and PRAISE CHEESUS I could go, no questions!
Postpartum urinary retention after vaginal delivery is a relatively common condition. Awareness of risk factors, including prolonged second stage of labour, episiotomy, perineal lacerations, and macrocosmic birth, may allow us to take the necessary precautions against this complication. In most cases, urine retention is a temporary problem, which may take a few weeks to resolve.