Broadcast presenter and soon to be mum-of-two, Sarah-Jane Crawford, has opened up about some of the more unpleasant realities of pregnancy in the hopes it will encourage other women to speak out
When it comes to pregnancy, a lot is said about morning sickness, bizarre food cravings, growing baby bumps and the actual giving birth part.
But as many women will know, there’s a whole lot more to it than that.
Sadly a lot of the more unpleasant realities of being pregnant aren’t often discussed publicly as they can be a bit embarrassing.
Radio presenter and mum, Sarah-Jane Crawford is hoping to change this and has started a discussion on her own unpleasant and embarrassing experiences while currently pregnant with her second child.
The 38-year-old spoke frankly during a recent episode of the Let’s Be Honest IGTV series hosted by My Expert Midwife.
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During the episode, Sarah-Jane spoke out about everything from ‘vagina daggers’ to constipation and piles.
She said: “I call constipation a vicious cycle symptom… I’ve had it in this pregnancy, and I had it in the last pregnancy. It’s so annoying because I’ve always been somebody who is quite ‘regular’. I’d never really thought about diarrhoea or constipation. It’s so frustrating and makes me feel so challenged.
“The vicious cycle for me is, if I have low iron then I need to take supplements, but the supplements give me constipation. In pregnancy, your digestive system isn’t that efficient, so you get constipated anyway. In my last pregnancy, I ended up with haemorrhoids, and it was one of the most horrendous things for me.”
She added that she was also experiencing ‘vagina daggers’.
“I’ll say to Brian ‘Ouch, my f***y!’ and he goes ‘Can you not say the word f***y’ and I’m like ‘Sorry but is really hurting!’”
According to My Expert Midwife, haemorrhoids (or piles) are varicose veins in the bottom which affect many pregnant women but are something that we often don’t discuss in public. Symptoms of piles include bright red blood after you poo, an itchy anus, and slimy mucus coming from your bottom.
Another symptom Sarah-Jane has experienced through her pregnancy is ‘vagina daggers’ – or lightning crotch.
This refers to sharp, shooting pain in the vagina, rectum, or pelvis. This pain comes on suddenly and can stop someone in their tracks. Some people describe the pain as feeling like an electrical bolt or zap from the inside, which is where the condition gets its name.
The presenter also discusses how, after giving birth to her little girl Summer last year, she is so much more confident now when it comes to speaking freely about the more taboo side effects of pregnancy.
As such, she hopes to encourage other women not to be embarrassed by these extremely common symptoms, but instead to speak up about what they really go through in pregnancy.
Opening up about her experiences in support of #KnowYourBits a campaign that aims to educate women about how pregnancy and childbirth can impact on our ‘bits’, the mum of one has also shared intimate insight for the first time into the physical symptoms and side effects she encountered during pregnancy and childbirth.
Sarah-Jane said: “ Pregnancy is such an incredible physical and mental feat, and whilst it puts you on an amazing journey, there are often very unpleasant symptoms to go with it, many of which, for some reason, we don’t talk about enough. This could range from things like constipation and haemorrhoids during pregnancy to what can affect our intimate areas like the vagina or vulva after birth. Whilst I had a C-section there were still things that impacted me that you might not expect.
“Perhaps the reason we don’t talk about these things as much as we should is for fear of judgement or embarrassment, but since giving birth to Summer, I understand how important it is that we do more to raise awareness about the physical side effects of pregnancy and childbirth. Especially as the more we talk the more women can be informed about tips and tricks that may help them down the line, such as antenatal perineal massage to reduce the chances of tearing.
“The brilliant #KnowYourBits campaign aims to educate women about how to look after and protect their bits during pregnancy and birth. It’s not just about smashing taboos; the more we have open, judgement-free conversations around our experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, the more empowered women will be to understand, care for and appreciate their amazing bodies.”
Sarah-Jane’s comments come after a new survey by My Expert Midwife, revealed that two-thirds of UK women (66 per cent) believe there is a social stigma around discussing your genitals during pregnancy and after childbirth.
In the survey of over 1,000 mums, 61 per cent revealed that they did not speak to anyone about how their vagina or vulva changed during pregnancy and childbirth. Embarrassment and shame were among the key reasons holding them back, while over half admitted they simply did not know what to say.
From swelling to varicose veins, perineal tears and perineal pain, physical changes to the vagina and vulva during pregnancy and birth are normal and in fact, extremely common.
It is critical that women are aware of these symptoms to ensure a healthy pregnancy and aid postpartum recovery, but also so that they don’t feel alone, or as though they are the odd one out.
This is why the team at My Expert Midwife has launched the #KnowYourBits campaign to raise awareness and empower women to talk about and care for their vaginas.
Lesley Gilchrist, Registered Midwife and Founder of My Expert Midwife, commented: “It is clear that many women feel a sense of awkwardness or embarrassment when it comes to discussing the physical changes that affect the vagina and vulva during pregnancy and childbirth. However, this stigma risks leading to a gap in our knowledge and understanding of this important subject, which in turn, can have a hugely negative impact on women’s physical and mental health, particularly during the postpartum period.
“At My Expert Midwife, we believe that open discussion is required. Our #KnowYourBits campaign seeks to tackle these taboos by promoting conversation and encouraging women to get to know their bits.”
For more information, visit www.myexpertmidwife.com/pages/know-your-bits