Arnold and baby Georgia
A Christian Life

5 lessons about faith from my postpartum recovery

When pregnant, we spent a lot of time thinking about birth – but what about postpartum recovery? The week following the birth of my daughter was pretty complicated and not at all what I expected. But, it taught me a lot about trusting in God and my need for prayer.

Before I dig into the story, if you haven’t read my birth story yet, check it out here!

A bit of background

A little bit about me and my pregnancy. Whilst my pregnancy had been straightforward, there had been quite a few little niggles. I had low iron and needed an infusion. I had quite severe pelvic girdle pain but thankfully not to the extent of needing hospitalisation or crutches. Then, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, but only on the day of my induction so this didn’t change anything about my birth plan.

The birth

As you’ll have seen in my birth story blog, I was induced at 38 weeks pregnant due to reduced growth and reduced amniotic fluid. Whilst I wasn’t aware of this at the time, I was also diagnosed with HELLP syndrome part way through my labour which is a severe complication of pre-eclampsia and was the reason for my reduced platelet count. When I look back at the photos taken of my and my daughter immediately after her birth, I clearly look very pale – although I didn’t feel particularly unwell at the time!

HELLP Syndrome

You can find out more about HELLP syndrome here but it is quite a scary sounding complication. I’m quite glad that I was not aware of this during birth itself! Thankfully, I did not have all of the elements of HELLP syndrome. My main symptoms were reduced platelets and hemolysis but it didn’t impact my liver.

My postpartum recovery

After I gave birth, I was moved onto an observation ward within the labour ward, an area of 4 beds where women could be closely monitored either immediately before or following birth. Here I received treatment to begin tackling my HELLP syndrome, including a 24 hour magnesium sulphate drip to prevent seizures, and three blood transfusions to increase my platelet and blood cell counts. Whilst a lot of women came and went during my time on this ward, usually spending less than 12 hours there – I stayed for 3 nights!

Finally, the doctors decided that I no longer needed to be monitored quite so closely, but my bloods hadn’t yet returned to the levels that they should have been at. I was moved down to the post-natal ward (where my baby was able to stay with me thankfully). I stayed here for another 4 nights and received another blood transfusion as well as many, many tests trying to discover what was going on.

Even after all these tests, I still don’t know why my bloods didn’t go back to normal as the doctors expected. Thankfully, by the end of this first week they were heading in the right direction so I was allowed to go home a week after giving birth and just had to continue to have blood tests at the GP.

So, what has this experience taught me…

5 lessons from my postpartum recovery

Submit your plans to God

Pregnancy wasn’t what I expected.
Birth wasn’t what I expected.
The first week postpartum really wasn’t what I expected.

When you’re pregnant, to some extent you have to make plans. You plan who is caring for you throughout your pregnancy, where you’re going to give birth, what you’re going to need. These are important plans to make, but that doesn’t mean that they will go smoothly.

When making all of these plans, we need to submit them to God. As much as we want to feel in control, pregnancy and birth really do remind us of our lack of control. This can quickly feel overwhelming. But if we submit our plans to God, we know that we are in good hands. Loving hands.

That doesn’t mean that our plans will go smoothly now because we’ve given them to God. But if things do start to head for unexpected territory, we can trust in him, and feel peace rather than panic.

Accept (and ask for) help

One of the good parts of spending a week in hospital with my newborn baby, was that I spent a whole week surrounded by a team of wonderful midwives, doctors, and nurses for both me and baby Georgia.

We had the gift of as much help, advice and support as we needed – as long as we asked for it. This does feel daunting to begin with. You don’t want to bother people who are clearly very busy. And maybe your questions don’t seem that important.

But this is such a valuable resource and everyone that I spoke to was so happy to help. Whether I had questions about my baby, about my postpartum recovery, about my medication, about breastfeeding. If you have that kind of support (whether in hospital, or from family and friends when you get home) – take it! Ask ALL your questions. Because being unsure and confused can be so isolating and make this time so much harder.

Sometimes we don’t get to know why

As Christians, we often like to justify the bad and the hard things with a reason why. To be able to say that God allowed this bad thing to happen so that this good thing could happen, or to avoid something even worse. It helps us to feel like we understand.

And maybe that is the case. Maybe I needed to stay in the hospital for an extra week because it brought about something good. But I will probably never know. I don’t get to know why.

God understands. God is in control. He is working for our good. But I also have to be ok with the fact that I don’t get to understand. I just have to trust.

It won’t be like this forever

That first week of postpartum recovery was a long week. But looking back now, many weeks later it feels like a lifetime ago. Those issues, those struggles, those feelings – they didn’t last forever.

We got better. We got to go home. She continued to grow and develop and is so different to how she was during her first few days. Nothing lasts forever, and it’s helpful to remember that whatever you’re struggling with with your baby, it won’t be like this forever.

And this works both ways. The struggles will pass. But also, your baby will never be this small again. They’ll never look quite like this again. They’ll grow and change so quickly – so enjoy the good that sits alongside the bad. Because it won’t be like this forever.

Pray!

Hospitals are very weird places. You spend a lot of time alone, yet have very little privacy from the people all around you. People flit in and out but you often don’t have someone to talk to for many hours at a time.

There are so many things happening to you and around you. So take the time and remember to bring it all before God – the big and the small. Your prayers for healing and protection. Your desperate cries to be able to go home. And your small plea that you brought the right number of nappies to last you. Your prayers for the miraculous and the mundane.

However God answers them, continue to bring them before him and find his peace.

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