Baby Struggle

Birth Story & Combatting Iron Deficiency

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Finally, I’m sharing this article. It took me almost 7 months as I didn’t feel ready to re-live those painful moments of my life. But the end result was worth it. I’m only writing this so it may provide helpful information to some of you.

Pregnancy

My pregnancy was pretty good overall. I kept playing table tennis right till the end with my Korean 85-year-old partner. I hardly had any morning sickness, nausea or heartburn. I did feel too full after meals so I started having early dinner. I never ate for two as I know its a myth. I just ate as much as I do normally. That’s why all the weight was on my tummy. I didn’t have any extra weight on the rest of my body (Thank God). Of course, there were issues but nothing major till the last month.

My doctor who looked at me for 9 months suddenly told me on the very last pregnancy appointment that she’s going off on a holiday exactly when I’m due. So she won’t be there for my delivery. I wasn’t happy! That meant I had no clue who would deliver my baby.

My 9th month was very tough as I had severe leg pain and it was too hard to do anything. I had episodes of Braxton Hicks 4-5 times. I went to the hospital a few times before the real contractions.

I asked the nurse ‘how will I know when I have to really go to the hospital for the real contractions?’ Her reply was ‘when the real ones come, you will not be able to speak to me and your hair and clothes will be a mess as you won’t be in your senses’. She was right. My hair was a mess and I had no lipstick on when we rushed to the hospital the final time.

Main challenges with pregnancy

I had the following main issues during pregnancy:

  • Sciatica pain which was cured through Reiki explained here.
  • Messed up urinary system till after birth
  • Severe leg pain
  • Extreme exhaustion in the first trimester
  • Backaches
  • Braxton Hicks
  • Sleep issues due to pain

Delivery

Background

I have been avoiding talking about childbirth. I had a terrible time and even thinking about it, upsets me. It was the toughest thing that I’ve ever had to do. However, without going into too many details, I’m just going to summarize those difficult days.

Nyra’s due date was 6th of September but on our 4th wedding anniversary morning (the 28th of August), I had a doctor’s appointment. The real contractions started had started the night before. I was so used to contractions that I didn’t take them seriously. I drove to the doctor and he said it seems like baby will be born today.

I drove back home and stayed at home and finalized packing the hospital bag. At night, I asked mama if she can come for a walk with me. By this time, I knew that if you walk a lot, the baby comes sooner. My tummy was so big and contractions just wouldn’t stop. It was all just too much to take. Now that my mama had reached me, I felt ready to go into labor.

She agreed. Around 10 pm, we both walked to the shopping center nearby. The moment we reached the first store, the contractions started getting too intense and painful. I kept stopping and putting my arms on my mom’s shoulders to breathe heavily every time the contractions happened. That’s how, we managed to get back home slowly, pausing after every few minutes. 

As soon as we got home, I told Haaris that I’m in a lot of pain and its getting worse. I called the hospital and they said I have to wait at home. I had little idea that the hospital here doesn’t admit you until you’re in terrible terrible pain. They ask you to stay at home (more than half the labor in many cases).

I was calling them up when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. But they kept saying I have to wait at home as there’s’ no point coming now. They said even I go to the hospital, they’re gonna have to send me back. They said I can lie down in a hot tub to relieve pain. I did that for an hour or more. That is true. Hot water is a natural pain reliever. It reduced pain a little.

I had a contraction recording app and was timing each contraction. I also had an eye on the incline of pain intensity. Once they got unbearable and too close together, Haaris said let’s just go to the hospital. We did just that and asked mama to stay at home as we had been sent home last 2-3 times for false contractions.

Admitted

When we reached the hospital at 3 am, I was in horrible pain and couldn’t stop crying on Haaris’s shoulder. While the nurse on duty checked dilation which was 4 at that time, I cried hysterically and still hate her for it.

To our relief, they finally admitted me. I changed into hospital gown and I was taken in a wheelchair to their birth unit. Very soon, the epidural was given to me. I had done my research not to move an inch during it so I was very calm and breathed deeply. The nurse was surprised and praised at how composed I was at this point.

Epidural

I couldn’t believe it when the nurse told me (looking at the monitor) that I’m having a contraction right now. It was the best feeling in the world. The Epidural had worked instantly and I felt NOTHING. NO PAIN at all. Haaris and I hugged and he told me it’ll be okay.

The next few hours were such bliss as I was lying down comfortably feeling no pain till morning/early afternoon when dilation reached 8. When everything was going smoothly, I had a good time chatting with the nurse. She told me that except for my case which would be normal delivery (she assumed based on situation), all other deliveries in the hospital today have been cesarian.

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Our last picture before we became parents. 😳😍🥰

A post shared by Nadiya Najib (@nadiyanajibblogs) on

Nightmare

That’s when the real test started. The nurse suddenly started telling me that the baby isn’t happy and that I can’t lie down and I have to get on all 4s. It was the most uncomfortable position to be in. They kept me in that position for hours (no joking!). I was crying and my whole body ached, the epidural stopped working in some parts and it suddenly started turning into a complete nightmare.

Lesson Learned

When you are patient and are tolerating all the pain (taking it gracefully), they think you’re fine and relax. If you cry and create a fuss, they will finally take notice, increase the epidural dose, call the doctor or do anything useful.

I realized this fact when I overheard the nurse telling the doctor that Nadiya was perfectly fine until 10 minutes ago when she started crying. I corrected her saying ‘No, I have been in terrible pain for 2 hours now. The only difference is that I wasn’t crying and tolerating it then.’ Then I understood why my friend’s only advice was to create havoc if you’re in pain.

Operation theatre

When the delivery got closer, there seemed to be some panic. A lot of nurses came to check. The doctor came and then another male doctor was called to take over my case. They said Nyras face is turned down which isn’t the right position. So they tried a number of techniques. There was a lot of suspense. The baby’s heartbeat was going up and down and they kept me on all 4s throughout. Finally, they said they have to take me to operation theatre as baby’s position isn’t right.

Natural with forceps

We were rushed there. Then I was told that they will try to use forceps to get the baby out. That was the last try otherwise, it would have to be C-section after 13 hours of labor in the hospital! They made me sign a very scary paper stating all that can happen when forceps are used. But thank God, it was a natural birth with forceps and she was fine except a minor scratch on her cheek which healed in a few days.

There were literally like 6 nurses and 2 doctors performing. At this point, they increased Epidural to make sure I’m fully numb. This time it worked great (Thank God). Nyra entered the world within 2 pushes. The moment she was placed on me, I started crying and shouted to Haaris ‘Itni pyari hai ye’ (Shes so beautiful!) before she pooped on me. (:D)

Surprising mama

Following is one of the best birth stories. Surprises are the best, aren’t they?

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Mama came all the way from Islamabad to Halifax for Nyras delivery but I asked her to stay at home as we rushed to the hospital on 29th August. We weren’t sure how long it would take. Also I didn’t want her to see me in that condition and we didn’t want mama to be uncomfortable at the hospital. When Nyra was born, I decided to surprise mama. Haaris was going to pick up mama from home and bring her to hospital. I asked him not to tell her that Nyra is here. He picked mama up and pretended like I’m still in labour. When mama reached the hospital and saw me with Nyra, she couldn’t believe her eyes. This is how she first saw the baby. I was all set with my phone to capture this priceless moment. #grandparentsday

A post shared by Nadiya Najib (@nadiyanajibblogs) on

Another shock

I realized that I had been dreading delivery for so long but I never knew what follows can also feel so much worse. I realized that I could literally get no break, no rest, no sleep after delivery. My body was aching for rest and sleep and I couldn’t get a minute of it. There was literally no help or no place where baby could be admitted for a few hours so I could at least get charged or recover!

Mama had just reached Halifax and was sick herself. Also, her knee pain was terrible so I couldn’t ask her. She still helped so much with the baby. She would change her, clean her and take care of her while I struggled to move on my bed with my whole body aching despite painkillers. The hospital didn’t provide any nursery or any place where baby could be given even for a few minutes. I realized I had to do it myself and operate with zero sleep.

Husbands inside birth unit

In Canada, partners are normally present during childbirth. In Pakistan, most of the husbands are either not allowed or they prefer not to be there. Here’s my take on it:

I think its really important for husbands to be with wife throughout labor and childbirth for the following reasons:

  • One reason is for emotional support. He’s the only person who is the closest to her and she has every right to have his back during the toughest time of her life
  • He needs to witness what she goes through in order to bring their child into the world. This is so he values her for the rest of their life.
  • So he can know that she needs a long time to recover from this trauma.
  • And she really needs his help for the next 2-3 months at least. He would understand that she needs his support
  • So he can act like a responsible man who takes family planning seriously and also respects the sanctity of a marital relationship
  • After delivery, my thoughts were that if every man on the planet witnesses childbirth, there wouldn’t be any rapes in the world as men will develop more empathy towards women and respect them
  • So he can respect all women all his life and start treating them with love

I just don’t see why husbands aren’t present in birth units in some cultures. Of course, it’s a gruesome sight and man has to act strong to witness it. But in my opinion, if the woman is bold enough to face her biggest fears and is bearing the hardship of pregnancy and childbirth, he should also step-up and be man-enough to at least see it and be there for her and with her!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please take a moment to comment below.

Another test after delivery

After Nyra was born, two nurses came to help me take a shower. As I tried getting up, I started shivering and shaking. When we walked a few steps, I felt faint and they said I’m not fit for a shower and I need to rest. They also don’t allow newborns to be bathed for a week so poor Nyra and I had to stay in dirty condition for 3 long days.

When my vitals were checked and blood tests were taken, it turned out that I have had major blood loss due to which I’m unable to walk. The doctor asked me to go for a CT scan to make sure all blood loss was due to delivery and there isn’t another issue.

Little did I know that a highly incompetent woman would be in charge. She literally had no idea how to insert an IV and poked my arms 25 times and did something called ‘fishing’ where you insert a needle in the arm and then move it in a circular motion on every side.

At that time, I reached a point where I closed my eyes and surrendered my body. I had gone way beyond tears and I was pinched so many times that I lost count. I just got into my numb mode and stopped talking. By the time I was discharged from hospital, both my arms and hands were full of needle pricks and bruises. There was no clear area on either of my arms.

My sexist verdict about Phlebotomists

I am not a gender-biased person at all and believe women can do a great job in most professions. But I have had so many bad experiences with women phlebotomists now that I have actually come to believe that men are much better in this field. I don’t know why that is. But there is a guy named Perry at my usual health center and I got around 12 blood tests done by him (throughout my pregnancy and after that) and he is AMAZING. It doesn’t hurt nor bruise one tiny bit.

All women who inserted a needle in my arms did a pathetic job (unfortunately). Most of them pricked me more than once as they couldn’t get it right the first time. Some of them blamed me for having small veins. I asked Perry about that and he told me my veins are fine 🙂

Iron deficiency

I honestly had no idea how important iron is for our body until I got deficient. There was literally zero energy in my body. When I tried to stand up or walk, I would shiver, shake and get pulled towards the ground.

The hospital only keeps normal delivery patients admitted for one night or sometimes only a day but since I had complications (low iron level), I was kept for 4 days. We booked a private room and it was very comfortable. The doctors and nurses were mostly nice (except one) and food service was fair. (Missed my chaat masala terribly though!)

Story of one rude nurse

On the last day in the hospital, the urinary catheter was removed. So I had to walk to the bathroom myself. At night, I mentioned to her that when I have to go to the bathroom at night, I’ll ring the bell so you can help me walk there. She said to me: Once you get discharged from here, you’re gonna have to walk by yourself. So you might as well start now.’ I was shocked by her words and was too scared to ring the bell that night.

How I overcame iron deficiency

Iron Infusions

Once it was established that I have lost a lot of blood during delivery, a doctor asked me that I have to choose one of the following:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Iron infusions

She told me that the first one is more effective and I can start walking sooner but it can be risky and can cause AIDS or infections in rare cases. We googled a bit but decided to play it safe and went for transfusions. They increased my iron levels a bit. But I was sent home with a piece of advice to eat iron-rich foods as I needed to gain my strength back.

Iron from Diet

  • Liver
  • Lean red meat
  • Chicken
  • Seafood
  • Lentils inc beans
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Kale
  • Seaweed
  • Brocolli
  • Asparagus
  • Citrus
  • Grains (whole wheat, brown rice, wheat cereals)

Thank God for my mama darling who took over my kitchen for almost 2 months. She served me 2 fried eggs daily and cooked liver, beef and green veggies for me. I got back to normal very soon.

Iron from tablets

I took between 1-3 tablets daily throughout pregnancy and up to 3 months post-birth. It definitely helped a lot in increasing my iron levels.

An important piece of information is that iron should ideally) be taken on an empty stomach and about 3 hours before or after having any kind of milk/calcium. If it’s taken with milk, it isn’t effective. I wish my doctor didn’t forget to tell me this important piece of advice.

Time frame of Iron deficiency

I was very concerned about a quick recovery as my mom was only with me for a total of 2 months and I wanted to make the most of this time. My doc friend had told me that if I am taking pills, eating iron-rich foods, got infusions and am resting, I should be back to my normal self in about 2 months. Luckily, it happened way before that. I started feeling like my normal self pretty much in a month’s time.

Recovery after delivery

My sister was the only one who mentioned that people only focus on delivery but be prepared that recovery is also a very tough period. She was right. During childbirth, my body was numb so I couldn’t really feel much. But once the painkillers reduced, my body started hurting so bad.

The doctors never mentioned the degree of the tears but they were probably 3rd. They also took a long time to heal and were very painful. Hemroids were extremely painful and uncomfortable and took over 3 months to go away. My nail infection was at its worst and washing hands didn’t help it. Breastfeeding was another stress factor. All in all, recovery was a very hard time.

Helpful tips post natural delivery

Following are the best tips I got (from my bestie & sis) that really helped me heal faster:

  • Salted water heals stitches way faster than normal water. So I kept salt in the washroom and used salted water for washing.
  • Sitz bath with salt is to be done twice-a-day daily for the first 6 weeks. My hospital provided me with it. It is also great for healing hemorrhoids.
  • Since sitting can be painful and uncomfortable, sitting on a U shaped cushion helps during this time.
  • The hospital gave icepacks so stitches don’t hurt too much. They’re pretty helpful and were replaced every few hours.

Finances

Canada provides free-of-charge childbirth services throughout the country. In our province, Nova Scotia you get free services for a 4-bed hospital ward. When you’re admitted, the government covers all expenses including basics for baby and mother like diapers, pads, blankets, formula milk, aspirator, washing spray & sitz bath.

Haaris’s work insurance provided us a 2-bed (semi-private) hospital room but we decided to pay $25 per night extra to get a fully private room with 3 meals a day. It came to a total of $105 for 4 days.

It was definitely worth it and we had a lovely view from the window.

During pregnancy, we had to pay $15 charges for every blood test and buy vitamins our selves. Haaris work medical plan reimbursed most of these.

Funny nurse story by my mom

In Labor room at CMH Rawalpindi Pakistan:

My mom asked the nurse: How long is this pain going to last.

The nurse replied: Only 20 years.

Talk to me

Overall, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me at all. But I feel like whether its C-section or natural delivery, it’s always difficult. I really wish there was an easier way to reproduce. I would’ve preferred babies to grew on trees. 😀 Would’ve saved us all so much hassle. Right? 😀

Whether your baby is a newborn or 10 years old, upbringing a child is never easy. Children, in my opinion, are the biggest blessing of Allah and the most difficult test.

How was your birth experience? Did your epidural work throughout? How long did your labor last? Did you learn any lessons from your childbirth experience? Did you also face iron deficiency? How did you overcome it?

Right after delivery, a doctor came to our room and asked Haaris and me ‘So when are you having your next baby’. Haaris and I both looked at her and said ‘NEVER’. She laughed and said ‘You’ve had your most difficult one, the rest would be easy.’ A few others also said the first baby’s delivery is the hardest. Was that true for you? Do you agree that it gets easier on your 2nd/3rd?

I would love to hear from you.

If you know anyone who has low iron levels or is about to go into labor, do share this post with them. I hope it was useful at some level. Thanks for your time. Have a lovely day!

References

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17 Comments

  1. Sidrah says:

    oh mann.. I can never forget that time. I got fissure after my first baby. Didn’t know what it was and kept bearing that pain 😐
    Second time round was much better because I knew what to expect but got 1 rude nurse. I was bleeding heavily after giving birth and Hammad had gone home to be with Shanzay. I wanted to check up on my dsighter and asked the nurse to hand me the phone. She very rudely said I could pick it up myself, she wasn’t there to hand me my phone 😐
    It hurt me then!
    As I always say, I can go through pregnancy but the aftermath is what scares the heck out of me!

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      such a hard time.

  2. Thanaya says:

    Hi, my heart went out to you reading all the details. Alhumdulillah you’ve come so far, in fact we all do and with the joy of our child we are able to overcome the physical and emotional pain. My experience with my first baby was horrible Najia. I was seeing a doctor at an Aga Khan facility in Karimabad. It’s a nice big, clean hospital. But little did I know that their practices were horrible. I was only twenty years old, and completely relied on them! After hours of uncomfortable labour and their horrible style of checking contractions I finally had a C section. Moreover, the doctor terribly misbehaved with my family members who are incredibly civilised and polite people. Second time round, I went to the main Aga Khan hospital in Karachi where I got excellent care mashaAllah and had a VBAC alhumdulillah.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Thank you.<3

  3. Mahjabeen says:

    Hi, I commend you n respect your birth experience. Unfortunately birth trauma is not considered trauma or real in pakistan.
    My pregnancy has been horrible, i have iron deficiency anemia which was diagnosed when i was 13. When i was pregnant my hb was so low that i had to have 6 iron infusions in my first trimester. I had severe body ache n fatigue all the time. Since I also endured mental abuse, it took a toll n the stress caused more complications n from 4th month i started bleeding too. Doctors barely managed to prevent miscarriage as i had placenta previa and baby was in transverse position. I was put on complete bed rest up till delivery.
    I had been experiencing braxton hicks since 36th week n my ob wanted to wait till 40th week n prepared me for probable csection. In 38th week plus two days I started having pain at around 2am n I thought it was false pain n by the time it was sehri time i was pretty exhausted n i thought it was just due to my complicated pregnancy. I slept an hour or so only coz i was too tired n wokeup with a sharp pain followed by the gush of blood. I knew something wasnt right (though i bled most of my pregnancy) I went to hospital in 15mins (which is quite close to our home) Inshort , it was soon decided by the doctors to do a csection asap as i had severe contractions (i also have high tolerance for pain) so i didnt realise it was that bad n the baby was still in transverse position.
    I can write a long article about my delivery experience but ill just give some advice: read about epidural, pitocin, catheters, breathing etc.
    Be very alert n listen carefully what the doctors r deciding for u coz u r incharge n u can say no to things.
    If u r anemic learn about pros n cons of transfusion and iron infusion n then decide.
    During delivery vaginal or csection if u have difficulty breathing or heaviness in ur chest or any pain anywhere be very vocal n do not hesitate to tell the doctor about it.
    Any allergies or any health issue that uve had before pregnancy even if it was long time ago plz do tell ur doctor coz in my experience when they take ur medical history, they are not thorough n ur past health issues can become complications at ur delivery time. Nobody told me this n i wish i knew more than i did. Nothing can prepare enough the first time moms and every birth is different n u r prone to birth trauma. My son is mashallah a healthy 10.5 month old n still i get nightmares about delivery. It is real and u can get help. Educate ur self, ask for help n try to overcome it. I am way better now but it takes a long time n effort to recover.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      thank you for your feedback. Sorry to hear about your traumatic childbirth experience. Thanks for your tips. i fully agree that we should educate ourselves but I also believe that we can’t fully do that and have to trust doctors at some point. Afterall its all in Allah’s hands. We can’t fully take the situation at hand. But all your points have been noted. I also get nightmares about my time. its the hardest thing that women have to do. all the best.

  4. Aisha says:

    Birthing is not easy! More power to all mums. Plus what’s your take on having a Vaginal birth/normal birth after having a C-sec for the first time? Cuz it’s nostlt said that once you’ve had a c-sec the rest of your deliveries cannot be normal either.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      More power to moms for sure. I don’t have experience of c section so I can’t say. Yeah thats what I heard too.

      1. Farah says:

        You can have a VBAC after c section ; the only risk is uterine rupture which is very very rare.

  5. Kanza Imran says:

    Omg your delivery time made me again depress as it same my condition even I had iron deficiency in my whole pregnancy but remained active in my whole pregnancy with placenta previa , bleeding ,sever legs pain ,carpel tunnel itchy body and swelling.At my last appointment dr told me you should have iron infusion At least three times so I did in my last weeks .my pregnancy go last 41 weeks but in my last 2 weeks I went hospital 3 times for whole night due to sever pains but my body was not ready for delivery so dr send me home and same to do hot bath and walk but at night I had alot of bleeding even I was shivering we called dr she said you should go hospital I had crazy pains as well but my body still not enough dilated dr made artificial dilation put a balloon and it made me crazy and I said. My husband I am dying so dr admitted me and gave me morphine it did well .At morning when nurse checked me it was 8 cm dilated but my water bag was still unbroken .doctor said you have a lot of pain so we should wait to unbroken water bag even they didn’t give me induce pain I was crying but still doing breathing exercise as my husband was with me preparing me for delivery . Dr gave me epidural then I felt relief but still rectum pain.After whole day in pain at evening my water bag break and dr had start my labour I did pushing for 4 hours.One side Was my husband other side was dr and nurses . Nurses and dr appreciated me and specially my husband he helped me and learned me as well . My daughter Alaya’s head was stuck and continuously was saying I am dying please do my c section but dr pumped and suck Alaya,head and thank God it was done .me and my husband was crying and kissed my beautiful daughter even I didn’t notice that dr stiched me

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Hi there. thank you for your feedback. Sorry to hear about your hardship during childrbirth. Reading your experience gave me goosebumps. its the hardest time of a womans life. and thank God it is rewarded with the a beautiful blessing on this planet. I also didn’t feel the stiches as I was too busy looking at my baby. Allah made women such a miracle!

  6. Farah says:

    I think all pregnancies and deliveries are different; it’s not easy. I was in labour for 15 hours and then had a uterine rupture and ended up in hospital for two weeks with my baby in icu and being treated for HIE.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Oh I’m sorry to hear that you went through a lot at childbirth. Its never easy and Allah has made women so strong. Its amazing how we recover from what we go through. All the best and thanks for your feedback .

  7. Imama says:

    I am a first time pregnant woman and this is scaring me so much. Especially with all the covid stuff going on but hopefully InShaAllah, Allah will make it easy. This was such an insightful experience to read and I loved your honesty. I learned one great lesson from it “make a fuss and let it be known” 👍😁

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Oh I’m sorry that it scared you while you’re pregnant. Haha lol. You learned a funny lesson from my post. But I hope it helps. Hehe. Just shared what I learned from my experience. But please try not to get scared from it as its true that every childbirth is completely different. Best of luck.

  8. Faryal says:

    I am so proud of the way you handled yourself throughout this journey. I hope Allah gives you more strength and good health to take care of your baby and family.
    Your post was very useful! I am also pregnant with my first baby. And also having Iron deficiency and in my last trimester. I did many blood test but the HB level is still on the lower scale. No one told me to take Iron tablets on empty stomach or not with calcium 🙁 its been 3 months and not much improvements.. Now its scary for me to think about Iron issues I can face at a later stage.

    I have also lost my appetite due to severe heart burn, eating for two is not happening here. I have the same symptoms like pelvic pain and sleep issues etc.. Plus its so scary to with Covid.

    It is so scary to imagine what will happen, all these things are so unpredictable but I hope everything goes smoothly. Keep me in your duas.

    1. Nadiya Najib says:

      Inshallah inshallah things will go well. May Allah make it easier for you. My Iron case was rare. Most women dont have such a serious deficiency post birth. So inshallah you’ll be fin.e. best of luck

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