When it comes to childbirth, the realities of labour are seldom discussed until you’re actually expecting.
One mum has shared a candid photo of herself just two days after having her daughter to show the “ultimate sacrifice” that mothers make for their children.
Autumn Benjamin shared the picture, taken by her partner Kevin, while she was still on the maternity ward recovering from the birth of daughter Layla. The mother-of-one from Tennessee, USA, says it shows her in “new territory”.
Writing in a Facebook post on her personal page, she says: “Learning to breastfeed this little human being that I just brought into the world. Wearing these big mesh panties, still sporting a pregnant belly - no one told me your belly doesn’t go down immediately. No one told me I’d be bleeding out.”
Benjamin recalls some of the hardest parts of the first few days after Layla was born on 28 January this year.
“No one told me that I would spend hours crying and full of emotion. I remember just laying there in the hospital bed crying. I was crying because my baby girl was finally here...finally! But wait...that means she isn’t protected inside of me anymore. And that’s a scary feeling.”
On one occasion she was just crying “uncontrollably” in the hospital showers.
“I was also in so much pain...no one tells you that typically with a ‘quick delivery’ comes a bad rip. I ripped all the way up and down, and also side to side. The weeks following I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the bathroom. I wore these big depends diapers. I never thought I would be normal again. Kevin had to help me do everything from pee, to walk up stairs.”
She says that being a mum is the ultimate sacrifice: giving up your body to be pregnant, going through labour and all the emotions that come with childbirth.
“You let go of all shame as you walk around your house in diapers and ask your SO [significant other] to spray warm water on your rip while you pee to avoid that burn.”
“But most importantly, mums give up who they were before they were a mother. Most mums give up a lot of their hobbies, dreams, and plans. Mums put their lives on hold so their babies can live out theirs. We deal with so many emotions that we internalise - just so we can be mothers to our babies.”
She says that people shouldn’t ever discredit a mother: “You don’t know the half,” and added: “I used to be Autumn. Fun loving, crazy, outgoing Autumn. But now I’m Layla’s mama. And I’m okay with that.”