My first smear test

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

Way back in March I got a letter inviting me for my first smear test because I was about to turn 25. I was pregnant at the time so had to find out if you can have a smear test during pregnancy. Turns out you can, but it’s best not to.

After going overdue and then waiting the recommended 6 weeks post partum it was late October before I booked my test and I was nervous. Not for the usual reasons, I’ve recently given birth with various medical professionals all up in my business. They have seen it all and I have had speculum exams and cervical sweeps galore. No, I was nervous because of my scarring.

TMI WARNING: When I gave birth the first time I had an episiotomy, it was stitched too far and left me with excess skin. When I gave birth the second time I ripped it. With a second degree tear. I was stitched up well, no extra stitches this time, no extra bit of skin. But now I have a mass of scar tissue that is tight and painful.

So I arrived at my appointment and explained this all to the nurse and she was lovely about it. She told me a similar thing happened to her and that she would naturally be gentle and swift and use plenty of lube.

The most awkward part really is the getting undressed bit. Both my kids are summer babies so all my late pregnancy speculum exams have been easy, I was wearing a dress! This time I had to try not to get tangled in my own skinny jeans. The rest is all pretty straightforward.

The nurse was quick and efficient, I let her know that it was painful around my scar tissue and she told me should could see it and understood why it was painful, she took the swab which wasn’t comfortable but it wasn’t painful either… and it was over in no time at all. The only real pain was because of an issue with my own body and not what the nurse was doing.

Incidentally, the nurse told me that it was likely that I would require reconstructive surgery if my scarring hadn’t softened after 6 months, so if you like a good TMI post then watch this space, I’ll tell you all about it!

The results for my test came back normal for anyone wondering. I am so thankful that I was able to have such an important test and relieved to have good results.

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Can you have a smear test during pregnancy?

A few weeks ago, after talking to a friend about her smear test I started to wonder, should I still be having this done even though I’m now very pregnant?

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In short, yes. But read on to find out why and when…

I am approaching my 25th birthday, so naturally I got my first smear test letter a few months back. I was filled with the usual apprehension that I hear so much about but a stronger determination to get it done and shout it from the roof tops. A couple of days after my letter arrived I got a positive pregnancy test and that put pay to that. I just figured I’d have to be 6 months postpartum with everything back to “normal” to have one so I’d try again next year and keep nagging all of my almost 25 year old friends to get theirs booked.

A few weeks ago, after talking to a friend about her smear test I started to wonder, should I still be having this done even though I’m now very pregnant? I read that it is unsafe in the first and third trimesters but apparently safe in the second trimester, which I am right in the middle of. So should just go ahead and book it?

I spoke to my consultant about it last week and the good news is that pregnant women who need a smear can have one, but it will likely show some kind of abnormality and they will need another soon after birth. I was told that unless I had a specific concern or a history of abnormalities in smear tests I should avoid having one until 6 weeks after the birth of my baby. At that point I will have been 25 for 5 months, so not as bad as I thought.

So the takeaway from this? If you are worried about something, talk to your doctor and if you have had abnormalities in previous smear tests then get yourself booked in during your second trimester. If everything is fine, go get yourself booked in when you have your 6 week postpartum check up.

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Why I’m glad I had my child at 20

I fell pregnant with my daughter at the ripe old age of 20, and gave birth to my daughter exactly 1 month before my 21st birthday.

Now, there are lots of pros and cons to having your children at certain ages, and the topic is apparently the business of the (predominantly) old men running our country, resulting in drives to lower the amount of teen pregnancies – not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but the trends do show that women are starting to have babies after they’ve become settled in their careers.

The average age of first-time mothers in the UK in 2016 was 28.8 years old, with only 3.2% of mothers having their first child under the age of 20.

However, although these figures have dropped significantly, the stigma around being a young mum is by no means a new thing.

When I was 14, I took my 3 year old brother to the park, only to be spoken about by 2 older ladies in the most demeaning way. I took a lot of delight in correcting them, and thanking them for their snap (and completely, utterly wrong) judgements.

Pros:

  1. I can still keep up with my daughter. Yes, she runs me ragged 24/7, but it would be a lot harder if I was that bit older.
  2. I haven’t had to interrupt a career. The timing wasn’t ideal, me still being at uni, but I had Olivia before I had an established career as a barrister. If I’d had to take time off during my self-employment as a barrister, I’d be coming back to work at a disadvantage having not worked for 6 or 9 months, and not having any maternity pay! I also believe that if I hadn’t had Olivia when I did, I wouldn’t have children at all!
  3. I get to share all of my successes with her as we both grow older.
  4. You’re less likely to have fertility problems when you’re young. We weren’t really trying to get pregnant, but it was the first month of not being careful with contraception that we fell pregnant with Olivia! We women are ticking time bombs when it comes to our fertility…
  5. Pregnancy is lower risk under 35. At the age of 35 you are considered a geriatric mother, and, no matter how healthy the pregnancy, you’re considered higher risk and you’re then less likely to have the birth plan you wanted!

Cons:

  1. You don’t qualify to have a screening test for cervical cancer, despite there being a link between childbirth and an increased risk of cervical cancer. So, unless I paid privately for a screening, I would go 5 years post-birth without being tested.
  2. I don’t know if this is a normal experience for everyone, but when I first went to the GP I was asked if I was keeping it… I’m just speculating here, but I bet that doesn’t happen for women in their late 20s onwards!
  3. I am judged on a daily basis by those older than me, patronised and told what to do with my child. She’s my child, not yours. Butt out.
  4. Until I moved to Aldershot, I was the only one of my friends that had a child, and as lovely as those friends are, they just don’t get it sometimes.
Do you have any more you’d add to the lists? How old were you when you had your first child?

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