Five hours after giving birth to my third child, my legs are shaking as I stand in the shower. My partner, under orders from the midwife, is keeping a watchful eye on me.
Like Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, the birth had been quick – in the scheme of things but is three hours of grunting agony really so quick? – and I was kind of in shock that after nine months carrying around an increasingly heavy load, I had expelled a small perfect human.
As I stood in that shower – not on the steps of a hospital being watched, photographed and filmed by the world - my grossly enlarged uterus was seriously being kept in my body by a couple of over stretched and fed-up ligaments, my limbs, fingers and face were swollen with retained fluid, and I was so totally exhausted.
And, FYI (or TMI) I still hadn't pee-ed and the midwife was threatening me with a catheter.
Even with a stylist and hair-and-makeup standing by I would have struggled physically (because my core muscles were shot to pieces) and mentally (because I had JUST PUSHED OUT A BABY!) to stand and smile for an adoring public five hours post birth. And here are just some more reasons why...
This is what’s happening to your body in the hours after giving birth
Being in labour and giving birth is equivalent to running a marathon - that's what the University of Michigan found. It confirmed what we mothers know, that birth is the most traumatic event a body can go through.
The scientists analysed MRI scans of birth injuries and sports injuries, and found that the aftermath of childbirth is a lot like injuries sustained in endurance sports.
According to the study, 41 percent of women experience pelvic muscle tears and up to 15 percent end up with injuries that don't ever heal. Who know what injuries Kate was hiding as she stood on those steps, post marathon, holding her baby and beaming.
And then there's just the bog-standard physical stuff that basically every woman goes through. Forget the baby belly that hangs around your waist making you look like there's still more humans living in your body - that's nothing compared to what's going on down there...
The leaking: After a vaginal delivery or C-section, you'll experience a vaginal discharge called lochia, which is very similar to a heavy period, consisting of leftover blood, mucus, and sloughed-off tissue from the lining of the uterus. Expect to wear accessories like ginormous granny pads that go from navel to the coccyx.
Swelling, swelling, swelling: According to Health Direct, your perineum (the area between the anus and vulva) will be swollen after giving birth. You'll be feeling tender and swollen or bruised down there immediately after birth from stretching and sometimes tearing.
Tearing and stitches: Some women will require stitches after birth if they experience tearing or if the doctor had to cut the perineum to let the baby out. Firstly, stitches downstairs will be uncomfortable, secondly, some may find it difficult and painful to wee because of the stitched-wound and the acid in your urine. Ouch!
Painful contractions don't stop: Those darned contractions last well after giving birth. Once the baby arrives, your uterus starts to tighten as it returns to its pre-pregnancy size and location. These postpartum contractions are called after pains. And every time that hungry little human latches on to your delicate nipple, those contractions ramp right up. Those after pains also get worse with each baby you birth.
Duchess Kate: the people's royal
Just reading that clinical review of what is happening to a woman's body in those hours after giving birth has me crossing my legs and clenching my pelvic floor.
Whether you are a monarchist or a republican, you have to admire what just happened on the steps of the Lindo Wing.