Willow Allen says it's 'such a relief' not to be pregnant anymore after 'difficult' delivery and epidural

"Despite a really difficult delivery and recovery, I’m feeling so much better than I have these past nine months," Allen said.

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Model Willow Allen and newborn son August Rivers. (Image via Instagram/@willow.allen)
Canadian model Willow Allen and baby August. (Image via Instagram/@willow.allen)

A week after welcoming her first child, Willow Allen is opening up about her early days of motherhood and her "difficult" delivery.

On Monday, the Inuit model and content creator took to social media to answer questions from followers. Most of the questions directed to Allen were about her son, August Rivers, who was born on Jan. 20, and her postpartum recovery.

"Despite a really difficult delivery and recovery, I’m feeling so much better than I have these past nine months," Allen, who was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy, told followers via Instagram stories. "It’s been such a relief to not be pregnant and sick anymore and I’m so excited for all that I’m finally able to do again and feel back to ‘normal.’"

While a majority of pregnant women will become nauseous or experience morning sickness during pregnancy, approximately less than 3 per cent will experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and become severely ill, vomiting upwards of three times a day with debilitating nausea.

Although HG typically occurs during the first trimester, it can persist throughout an entire pregnancy. Aside from persistent nausea and vomiting, symptoms include weight loss, dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, headaches and in some cases, low blood pressure, confusion, jaundice and rapid heart rate.

"I’ve always wanted three or four kids, but I don’t think I could go through pregnancy that many more times if it’s just as bad as this one was," Allen wrote to followers. "We’ll likely try again and if I still have HG, I don’t think I could do it a third time. But I think I would regret not trying again not knowing if I would experience it again. "

Allen's fears are not without merit. Although HG is rare, it's recurrence rate is high; a 2019 study reported women who have experienced a hypermetic pregnancy have anywhere from a 15-81 per cent chance of experiencing HG again.

Earlier this year, Allen spoke to Yahoo Canada about her experience with HG and how difficult it made her pregnancy.

"Nothing really helped at all… even with the medication I was taking, I was still throwing up all throughout the day… I couldn't even keep water down," she said. "And then when I'm not throwing up, I'm just laying in bed with intense stomach pains."

The 25-year-old said August was born with a tongue tie that made feeding difficult. In addition, she was "unable to get out of bed" for the first few days. Although she didn't elaborate on her delivery, in a separate story she shared that there complications with her epidural.

"I got an epidural so I ended up sleeping right up until I had to push and there was no pain, which was nice," Allen wrote. "But they damaged my spinal cord when they were trying to put it in, so spinal fluid was leaking in my brain. So I had to get a spinal blood patch two days later."

According to Northwestern Medicine, Cerebral spinal fluid leaks (CSF) can occur after an epidural or lumbar puncture. When this happens, the fluid that protects the brain from injury, leaks into a hole created in the subcutaneous tissue and cause intracranial hypotension (when CSF volume and pressure drop).

Symptoms of a CSF leak include a severe headache which can be somewhat alleviated by laying down, nausea, vomiting and double vision. In some cases, people can experience compromised hearing. A blood patch can help remedy a CSF leak by taking the patient's own blood and injecting it into the area around the spinal cord. The blood clots over the hole, preventing the leak.

In addition to sharing details of her labour and delivery, Allen took to TikTok to share her physical postpartum transformation. On Sunday, Allen uploaded a video chronicling her six day postpartum journey which ended with footage of newborn baby August.

"Thank you for showing this because a postpartum body after giving birth is not often talked about," one follower told Allen. "It takes a while to get back to pre pregnancy-ish shape."

"I appreciate the love with which you handled your postpartum body," another said. "Your body has done an amazing thing. He’s beautiful."

Allen who splits her time between Saskatchewan and her hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T, has modelled for Prada, New Balance, Canada Goose and has been featured in Vogue. In addition to success in the modelling agency, she's gained a large online following by sharing her Inuit culture with fans.

During her pregnancy, Allen told Yahoo Canada that she was looking forward to raising her son within the Indigenous culture.

"I want to have them experience things like going hunting with our family, go berry picking, going out to our cabin and to just incorporate the culture as much as I can into their identity," Allen said. "One of the things that I really don't want is for my whole lineage to just die off with me."

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