You know that saying, “Man plans and G-d laughs,” well I came up with a new one: “Mom-to-be plans and friends who already have babies laugh.” I was talking to someone around her due date and we were discussing logistics of where she was going to be staying after the baby was born and she told me she was planning to stop by her place on the way home from the hospital, grab some things and then go to where she was staying. I smiled to myself and thought, “She has NO clue what is coming.” I explained to her that I don’t think she will be up for ‘grabbing some things around the house’ let alone doing anything besides waddling from the car to the couch. And staying there.

In preparation for this post I surveyed some fellow moms and learned all about the their postpartum experiences and the many things they were not prepared for. Thank you to everyone who contributed your experiences as well as your awesome tips that I will feature below. For the purpose of this post, I will use “I” for everything even the things I did not experience.

**Just a reminder, no two recovery’s are the same so read this understanding that none of it may happen to you, some of it may happen to you, and if you’re unlucky – all of it will happen to you.

I have a very very low pain tolerance so I was so scared for labor. What I didn’t know was that labor would be the easier part (I had an epidural) and the worst part was the recovery.

Let’s start with Down There:

OUCH. From stitches to hemorrhoids it’s really not a pretty situation. On the one hand I want to say don’t look with a mirror, but on the other hand you probably will end up looking because it will burn and kill and you’ll think you have an infection – we’ve all been there.

There’s not much to say besides it’s really not fun having stitches down there or having insanely painful hemorrhoids that leave you unable to sit, but just keep in mind that one day you will feel normal again.

Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t waste your underwear. Buy Depends Underwear — line it with pads. Not a joke – it’s the best thing ever.
  2. Speaking of Pads – The best is a brand that doesn’t have the mesh, because the mesh can irritate the stitches – Kotex is great.
  3. In the hospital you lie on these blue disposal underpads — take some of those home for the first few days for your bed. In some countries the hospital provides you with a ton of stuff – diapers etc. In others, you get nothing – not even a diaper. Make sure to find out so you can pack your hospital bag appropriately.
  4. Line your pad with Tucks. Yes that is Tucks, on your pad, in your Depends. It’s a party down there!
  5. Take home the Squeeze bottle that they give you in the hospital. Every time you pee, squirt warmish water as you pee. You’ll forget once and it will burn, and then you will take that squeezy bottle with you wherever you go.
  6. Take home the Sitz bath they give you in the hospital and use it.
  7. Buy a donut cushion to sit on. It won’t be comfortable to sit, so sitting on a Donut or a Boppy for some is the only way they can sit. You will also take that wherever you go, or you will have to stand.
  8. Wash with a Goat Milk soap bar – it is gentle.
  9. Dip a Pad in Witch Hazel and then freeze it. Once frozen, put it in your depends and lie on a towel – you will feel some relief.
  10. They sell ice pack pads in hospital pharmacies that are so soothing and absorbent in one. Use those for 48 hours instead of regular pads.

Going to the Bathroom:

I was going to lump it in that category, because technically it fits – but I decided it needs a category of it’s own. Inevitably, as much as you wish it would never happen, you need to go to the bathroom in the days after you deliver your baby. So yes, the nurses won’t let you leave without peeing, but they’re very fine to send you home without making a poo/shit/doody whatever you call it – that!

Whoever is stuck with you at home on the day your body decides it is time, make sure to get them a gift for dealing with you. Many women have very painful constipation post delivery and can end up needing an enema, so hopefully these tips can help…

Tips:

  1. Colace – Stool Softener. Take that asap after the baby is born, and don’t stop taking it until you go to the bathroom.
  2. Aloe vera Juice for Constipation
  3. Or, Milk of Magnesia for Constipation (2-3 Tbsp)

Next up on the hit list, Boobs/Nipples:

*If you don’t plan to nurse – skip this section.

Your baby is born and your boobs are no longer sexy – they are now milk machines. If you choose to nurse, here are some things that you may not know. Nursing is not easy for everyone, in fact, for many people it is very difficult. Don’t be embarrassed if your baby doesn’t automatically latch — ask for help!! There are lactation consultants in the hospital, and there are ones that will come to your home. Work with a lactation consultant every day until you and the baby really get it. My friend that nurses her children the longest out of all my friends used a lactation consultant with both her children. so the investment is worth it! The sooner you work with a lactation consultant, the closer you are to pain-free nursing. A baby with a correct latch shouldn’t be painful to nurse. With that said, most people have extremely raw and sore sometimes even bleeding nipples at the beginning – for most people once the nipples heal the pain goes away and the nursing is pain-free.

Not everyone knows that for the first few days, you don’t produce milk – just colostrum. A few days after the baby is born, your milk will come in. How will you know it is in? Your boobs will be huge and hard, as one mom said, “I felt like a porn star!” You will also know because as you are feeding on one side, milk will start leaking out of your other side and your Pjs will be all wet (nursing pads!). The beginning is CRUCIAL for milk production. It is pretty cruel because when you are feeling your worst you need to ignore it and nurse on demand or pump often and if you don’t it can affect your milk supply down the line. It is easy to think, I don’t feel great now but when I feel better I’ll nurse/pump more but you need to be careful of your milk supply. If you are supplementing with formula and not pumping to make up for it, your body will not know that it should be producing at that time. I’m not saying this so that you should feel guilty for supplementing and not pumping, or for giving only formula, I think that is totally fine. I’m saying this because IF you do want to nurse and have enough milk for your baby, then you need to be cognizant from day 1, unfortunately when you’re not feeling great.

{Side note: If you have a baby nurse, or if your husband is willing to take turns with you at night and you want to be able to sleep during the nights that you’re ‘off’ and give the baby a bottle — which is what I did, you are telling your body not to produce at night. I did that purposely, as I did not want to have to wake up to pump when I had a baby-nurse or when it was my husband’s turn. To do that successfully, and to have enough milk, you NEED to pump extra during the day to make up for the missed feeds. I would nurse the baby on-demand, (sometimes every 1.5 hours), but I made sure to pump as many times as I could during the day — always after the morning feed and always before I went to sleep, and as many more times during the day as I could. I was tricking my body to produce more during the day instead of at night. This way I had enough for during the day, and I had milk in the fridge for at night. Warning: Your milk production is highest at night – cruel, I know. If you make the decision to sleep through the nights that you can and not produce at night, you need to be prepared to work extra during the day and you need to be aware that it’s possible this method that worked for me won’t work for you. Proceed only if you would be okay with that and enjoy your sleep on your nights off}

Tips:

  1. Dr. Newmans Nipple Cream – This was a savior to me and the only reason I continued nursing. I only had to use it at the beginning with both my kids and then once my body adjusted I didn’t need it anymore (oh ya, baby #2 is starting from scratch with your nipples all over again) I also would put it on before I pumped if I had pain.
    Find a Compounding Pharmacy – get a prescription for it, here are the ingredients:
    Micon 2%, IBUP 2%, BETAMETH 0.1%, Mupirocin 2%
  2. Cabbage Leaves help pain
  3. If you have big boobs, lying down while nursing can help
  4. Nursing pads – so you don’t leak everywhere
  5. You can be out and have a letdown and could be uncomfortable/painful. The milk filling up in your boob sensation is one you’ll have to get used to.
  6. Nursing/Pumping is extremely time consuming – mentally prepare for that.
  7. Celebrities seem to say that their trick to fast weight loss is nursing. Everyone I’ve spoken to has the opposite – they are more hungry nursing than they were pregnant. Our bodies hold on to the weight while nursing, and then once finished nursing then can start losing the weight. No tip there – just an adjustment to expectations.

Remember I said that your boobs get huge when nursing? Well, when you finish nursing they shrink. Sometimes even smaller than your size pre-pregnancy. And because sometimes 1 boob produces way more than the other boob, they can end up different sizes after – Oh the joys of nursing.


Overall Body:

So you finally fall asleep for a few hours in the week post-delivery and you wake up in a pool of sweat. Night-sweats are very common post delivery. You wake up freezing and soaking wet.

You also might be asking yourself, “who smells like a 15 year old boy after gym class?” Don’t be shocked – it could be you! Hormones are raging, and you smell like a teenage boy — change your deodorant.

Hair loss — this is a shock to most people. During pregnancy you grow extra hair, and then a few months post-partum there is major hair loss. I had a few people tell me that even though they were warned about hair loss, they couldn’t imagine that the amount of hair they were losing was normal and thought something was very wrong. So consider yourself extra warned – it could be a scary amount – could have bald patches. It will grow back. And when it does you will have lots of baby hairs that take a long time to look normal. 

Feet and legs can be very swollen post-partum. Eating watermelon can help with the swelling.

Before you had your baby, you may have been able to jump up and down without peeing in your pants — that might not be possible anymore – do your Kegels!

There is so much nudity surrounding the whole birth experience, and then throw nursing in the mix – you could have been a very shy and private person but once you give birth you enter a different category.

Did you know your stomach doesn’t just go back to normal post delivery – don’t bring old pants to the hospital, you will still be in maternity pants for some time. You still look pregnant.


Some advice from friends who had a C Section:

  1. Rest rest rest but walking around is important for a faster recovery.
  2. Don’t rely on heavy meds.
  3. Pain meds constipate so try and limit because constipation is a common issue.
  4. No lifting anything heavier than baby for a few weeks.
  5. Don’t be shocked if you get very swollen legs – drink a lot of water.

As you can see, having a baby is NOT EASY! And, this whole post is only about you, it doesn’t even begin to touch upon the fact that as some of this is happening to you, there is a baby who is 100% reliant on you 24/7. There are many things that we picture before our first baby and we plan how we will act, the decisions we will make, our beliefs and views on everything from sleep training to eating, but once the baby comes everything can change. Thinking hypothetically about a baby is one thing, but making decisions for your actual baby is a different story. One mom mentioned that she thought she would be totally fine leaving her baby with a babysitter, but when it came to it she wasn’t comfortable at first and had to learn to be comfortable. On that note, there is so much to learn as a parent, but first you need to get through the first 2 weeks postpartum when you really feel miserable. Once you feel like yourself again (anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks depending on your delivery) then you can start tackling raising your child.

I hope to follow up with a post about what people didn’t expect about the baby — ex: poo through the diaper up the back, projectile poo, and so. much. poo.

Tips to leave you with:

  1. Use your support system. Allow family and friends to help, be it with groceries, meals or just to hold the baby so you can brush your teeth and shower.
  2. Accept the help, don’t be a martyr.

By the way, as awful as it sounds, it’s all worth it. With the first cuddle, the first smile, the first “I love you,” you’ll be constantly reminded that it was worth it. So worth it.

Advertisements