Finally Going Outside After A Traumatic Birth Left Me Housebound – This Is Family

I had to make the heart-breaking decision to close my business down due to my health. The more time I spent at home in my “safe place”, the harder it was to leave the house. I look back now thinking: how on earth did I get through it?

Karen from Tots Playtime Box shares her story on getting out and about after a traumatic birth, read on to learn her tips and advice.

Picture this, it’s 2019, pre-covid and the world is “normal”. I was going on maternity leave from my business (Children’s music and movement classes) to have my 2nd daughter and I was only planning to have 3 months off, then get straight back to work. I honestly thought I would “bounce back” but I had no idea life was about to throw me not one but two curve balls and I didn’t bounce back after giving birth at all. Instead, I crumbled and couldn’t leave the house.

A Traumatic Birth & Postnatal PTSD

The birth of my 2nd daughter was traumatic, to say the least. A Shoulder Dystocia birth meant her shoulder got stuck behind my pelvis, resulting in a torture-like manoeuvre to get her out quickly. Unfortunately, this was not without damage and I suffered a 3rd degree tear which left me housebound. I had difficulties walking and I was in daily pain until corrective surgery 2.5 years later. I have also been left with lifelong bowel and bladder urgency which added extra stress to leaving the house! 

getting out again after a traumatic birth: Karen cradles her new born daughter

Understandably, I struggled to adjust to all the changes happening. Grieving for the functioning body I no longer had, missing the business that made me feel like more than a “just” a mummy whilst battling flashbacks, sleep deprivation and anxiety meant I was a wreck! After seeking help, I was diagnosed with Postnatal PTSD at 4 months post-partum.

Being Housebound As A New Mum

I was physically housebound for 3 months but my PTSD meant I rarely left the house after that. Leaving the house was a battle and soon became something I dreaded. “What if someone asks me about my birth and it triggers a panic attack?”, “What if one of the girls starts crying and screaming and I can’t cope?”, or “What if I can’t get to a toilet in time?” were just a few of the anxious worries I was plagued with at the thought of leaving the house. It felt easier to just stay at home.

Not only was that enough to deal with but 10 months after Isla was born, we went into lockdown due to the pandemic, once covid hit we had to stay in. Leaving the house wasn’t an option anymore, I rarely left the house for 3 years! 

I lost all of the valuable physical and emotional support from family and friends. I also had to deal with the delays to my medical appointments and surgery, plus I had to make the heartbreaking decision to close my business down due to my health. The more time I spent at home in my “safe place”, the harder it was to leave the house. I look back now thinking: how on earth did I get through it?

However, I did! I am now living a normal life, gallivanting here, there and everywhere with my family and friends. Those years stuck at home are now a distant memory. 

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Tips To Help

It wasn’t without lots of hard work to get myself back out and it has taken 4 years but taking baby steps with each day at a time made it feel more achievable to start getting out again. If you have been struggling to leave the house since having your little one, here are my 5 tips to help you slowly build up your confidence to get out and about again and it’s exactly what I did.

1. Be Honest

Confide in family and friends, be honest about how hard leaving the house is and ask them for support. I found it hard admitting that I was struggling but having a select few close family and friends understand how I was feeling really helped me start to navigate leaving the house with their help.

getting out again after a traumatic birth: A group of women hug

2. Do Something For You

Make yourself a priority, and take time in your day or week to do something that you enjoy and is just for you. It could be learning a new skill or taking time for one of your hobbies, just make sure it allows you to not have to think about being “mummy” and the never-ending list of jobs we have to do.

I invested every spare bit of energy I had in myself, hours of therapy plus I found something to focus on and light me up again. On top of that, I started another business that didn’t matter that my body wasn’t as strong as it used to be and I poured my heart and soul into it. I love being creative and designing fun activities for Tot’s Playtime Box has been a big help in me finding myself again.

3. Go For A Walk

Thinking baby steps, make one of your first goals to getting out and about again be “‘go for a walk”. The fresh air does wonders for your mental health and for your little one too. Pop your little one in the pushchair and go for a little stroll down the road. It doesn’t have to be far at first but aim to get out every day. If you have a toddler then turn your walk into a game and see how many items you can spot whilst out or the different noises you can make when tapping a stick on different objects as you walk.

A mum goes for a walk through the woods, pushing a buggy

4. Meet A Friend

Once you get used to going out for a walk, the next step is to meet a friend. Preferably one you have confided in and can support you. You could start off going to their house then move on to meeting them at the park and then maybe join them at a baby & toddler group or class. Having someone with you to share the load when out makes it a lot less overwhelming.

5. Be Kind To Yourself 

It’s so easy to be hard on yourself when you are struggling to leave the house. Sometimes it makes you feel pathetic or that you are overreacting but birthing a baby is tough on your body and mind. It takes 9 months to grow a baby and is going to take a few months to adjust after giving birth. Honestly, your hormones make everything harder. Make sure you rest when you can and if it’s too much to get out one day don’t beat yourself up, just try again the next day.

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Moving Forward

Life isn’t always easy, you can’t always bounce back but keep going. Take baby steps to keep pushing through and it will get better!

4 years on, I am finally feeling like me (although a slightly adjusted version). My passion for my new business matches my first. I am back in the gym and my body gets stronger every day. I rarely suffer with my PTSD and I have my zest for life back! 

Support & Advice

If you feel you need more support or would benefit from talking therapies, please reach out to your local health visitor or your NHS Wellbeing Service (If you have a baby under 12 months you get fast tracked).

You may also find these links useful:

Written by Karen Sidell, mummy of 2 girls from Norfolk and a small business owner.

Karen Sidell – Tots Playtime Box

Karen is a mum of 2 energetic girls, the founder of Tot’s Playtime Box and an Early Years Play Expert from Norfolk. She knows exactly how to keep the kids happy with fun and easy activities as she has been entertaining them for nearly 20 years and now creates fun and exciting activity cards and books for ‘on the go’ kids. 

Pop over to Tot’s Playtime Box website to see Karen’s best-selling I Spy Cards and all the fun activities she has to keep the kids entertained. You can also find her on Instagram – @totsplaytimebox

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