My Postpartum Journey
The P word. It’s a word I disregarded my entire pregnancy. I was so focused on all the weird symptoms, making it to the next week of pregnancy and…well….. giving birth. I read so many blogs, talked to so many moms and felt as prepared as I could be for my unpredictable plunge into motherhood. I can honestly say I was shocked at how this part of the journey was never talked about. Now I will say that everyone’s postpartum journey is very different. Not everyone goes through the same emotions or has the same side effects. But, I am confident that every woman would agree that the recovery process is extremely difficult.
I’ll be honest, I tore pretty bad. After Jack was delivered, the doctor immediately began to sew me up…..for an hour. I figured that meant the recovery wouldn’t be great. Something that really helped me with my recovery were Frida products. The hospital will send you home with standard items but I found most of them to not be helpful and uncomfortable. You will want to make sure you have these things waiting for you when you get home from the hospital.
- Perineal bottle (makes cleaning down there a BREEZE and feels very soothing)
- Pain and itch spray. I usually sprayed right after I would rinse and pat dry. This helped a lot with the itching of the stitches.
- Ice packs. Frida has really long ice pads that definitely do the trick. But if you want to save money you can purchase standard long and extra padded liners, cover each one with lavender oil and witch hazel, then freeze in an extra large ziplock. My dear friend made me some and it saved my life. This will help with the soreness and healing
- Disposable pull ups. These worked great because I could line them with the Ice Pads and continue to change them throughout the day
- Sitz bath soak. Talk to your OB first, but for me something that really helped was taking long warm baths with sitz salt. I would light a couple candles, pour a glass of wine (or tea), put on a face mask and relax for as long as my baby would let me! I did this almost every night and it truly was the only lasting relief I found during recovery. ESPECIALLY when the soreness really kicked in.
- Massages. Your joints can get pretty tweaked after birth. Especially if you were in labor for a long time. Getting a massage will definitely help bring relief for some of the other body aches you will feel after delivery.
Now, if you aren’t breastfeeding this may not apply. I know for me I have gotten mastitis several times and I never knew what it was until it was too late. When your breasts are engorged or adjusted to your baby’s eating schedule, you can develop mastitis. It’s essentially a clogged milk duct that becomes infected. You will start to develop flu like symptoms (aches, fever, chills, nausea) and usually see the infected breast begin to show enlarged veins. If this happens to you……I’m sorry. Mastitis is extremely painful and can last for several days. Here are some things I did to help with mastitis and avoid getting it in the future:
- You can be prescribed antibiotics (depending on how severe it is) talk to your OB. I personally never got them and recovered naturally.
- Buy Lecithin pills. Sunflower oil helps to unclog your duct and enables milk to flow steadily. You can get these on Amazon!
- Massage your breasts in a hot shower with a hot washcloth.
- Breastfeed on the infected breast. This doesn’t hurt your baby (it only hurts you) but it’s super important to get that gunk out……so when it doubt, suck it out. If you don’t breastfeed, then pumping will do the trick as well.
- Wear loose fitting clothing and bras. Change bras frequently to help prevent more infections.
I’m going Through Changes
What no one ever told me was how hard postpartum recovery really is. Not only is your body recovering physically, but internally something is happening that is mostly out of your control….I’m of course referring to the H word…hormones. Ughhhh if it wasn’t bad enough that I had to figure out breastfeeding and change my diaper every hour, now I have to worry about raging mood swings.
I truly never expected to feel so sad and not know why. To feel shame about feeling sad when I was holding the most perfect baby boy in my arms. The day we came home from the hospital was October 31st, 2019. I was surrounded by my parents and Jordan, my mom had made the most perfect dinner and cleaned the house. At that moment I felt so happy and content but moments change so quickly with postpartum. Within minutes I could feel my lungs tightening, my heart racing and anxiety gripped me so hard I couldn’t help but panic. I ran into our room and started to cry so hard and repeat “I can’t do this, I can’t do this”. I was petrified. Fear of failure had never felt so real.
Well thanks to those raging hormones, everything in your body will start to change. My skin most days feels like oily sandpaper. I think something that helped was exfoliating once a week, using a gentle face cleanser, a tightening serum, moisturizing lotion and some acne spot treatment to keep red bumps at bay.
I don’t know how attached you are to your hair, but it won’t be so attached to you in about 3-4 months postpartum. Hair Loss is super common and falls out harder than Taylor and Kanye. It’s never too early to start taking your vitamins. I started to take postnatal vitamins, biotin and fish oil right after the baby was born and I definitely think it helped a lot. I’m still losing a lot of hair but I’ve seen mine compared to others who haven’t been taking vitamins and It’s definitely a lot less.
Learning How to Be a Mother
Here’s the thing about fear. It’s a liar. Fear tries to make you feel small and less than enough, but I’ll tell you the greatest enemy of fear…….TRUTH. A very special lady once told me, “You are the perfect mom for your baby because he has ZERO expectations of you”. The truth is your baby and you are both learning together and that’s the beautiful part. You get to discover each other and form your own special connection that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.
So next time time you start sobbing uncontrollably because your baby won’t latch to your breast, or because you can’t seem to find balance with being a mom and wife and you, or you wonder if you are doing anything right in raising your sweet human…..remember the truth is that you were chosen to be your babies mama, so you’re already doing amazing!
Will My Body Ever Snap Back?
I promised myself I wouldn’t be so concerned with this part and would do my best to love my body for the life it carried. But after 4 months, you start to wonder if you will ever feel yourself again physically. Well I’ve been trying a couple things that has helped me stay motivated and encouraged along this journey:
- Something very small but practical I will try to do is reflect back on pictures. You’d be surprised to see how much your body can change post partum after just a couple months. Although it may be hard to tell at first, there is a difference!
- Work out to feel good! Don’t be consumed with getting a six pack right when your baby pops out. It truly is not going to happen. I gave myself time to heal physically and when my OB cleared me to work out. I started in small strides. I made it my goal to work out so I could feel good instead of look better (this also helped with controlling my crazy emotions) This mindset will help keep you from getting discouraged when you don’t see instant results.
- Love your body! Remember all that it has done and how incredibly unique and powerful that is.
Postpartum is no joke. It’s a lot to handle and I’ll be honest and say I wish someone would have prepared me for how hard it was going to be. The last thing I will say is enjoy this time. As weird as that sounds, it’s easy to stay in a place of frustration (and understandably so) after all, you are being hit with wave after wave of changes and it’s hard to keep up. Just know that a time will come when you wake up and your baby won’t be so little anymore. If you stay in a place of frustration you will find yourself missing the life lessons, beautiful moments, and important firsts with your baby. I hope some of these tips will encourage, and maybe even help prepare you for the wild ride ahead. Sending my love to all of you during this time. Know that you are exactly what your baby needs and this world needs more heroines like you!
- Perineal Bottle – Frida
- Pain and Itch Spray – Dermoplast
- Ice pack – Frida
- Disposable Underwear – Always
- Sitz Bath Soak – Recovery Ritual
- Lecithin – NOW Supplements
- PostNatal Vitamins – Nature Made