Monday, August 5, 2013

What I Wished I Had Known: Recovery

Here's Part PART 1 & TWO  if you had missed them! 

Recovery after Labor & Delivery.

Moments after giving birth, I felt great from all the natural high I had from my hormones, and I was in awe of my son. I was empowered. I had given birth to a wonderful baby boy. After all the craziness had subsided, this tremendous fatigue hit me out of nowhere! I had no idea how much of a toll giving birth put on my body until that instance. I napped for what felt like hours afterward. When I woke up, I was exhausted, and weak. I had to use the bathroom. I got up, and walked to the bathroom. I knew it was a bad idea to get up so soon. I ended up passing out in the bathroom. My blood pressure had crashed. I had not eaten all day. The last thing I ate was a small bowl of oatmeal from McDonald's at 5 am. What I needed was food, and drink. Once I had that in my system, I felt better, and was able to function once again. The weeks that followed the delivery, I was up and around with no problem. 

Logan, my first, was fairly large, and I needed an episiotmy (and they had to use a vacuum), which caused awful pain for the first two weeks. Every moment hurt. It was so hard to watch other moms walk around like it was no big deal after giving birth, and I could barely stand having to walk to the bathroom and back! One of the nurses had me take milk of magnesia, and suggested I continue to use it until I felt more healed. It was the best tip ever! So if someone ever ends up with an episitomy, then I'd highly suggest taking the milk of magnesia, which is safe for nursing as well! -Jenni R.

Although the c-section went wonderfully, my recovery to this day (7 months in) has been brutual! Due to my blood platelets  I was unable to clot properly, making healing almost impossible, and I was literally black, and blue from my belly button to a few inches above my knees for weeks. I still had bruising around my incision. I did not fully stand and walk for almost a week, and waited 2 days to be wheeled to the NICU. -Ashley A. 

Whenever I heard a baby crying, it hurt me physically after birth. Every time, the other baby in our room cried, I was literally doubled over in pain. -Nichole

I wish that someone had told me that getting an epidural at 8 cm would screw up my back. I literally could not walk for weeks/months without feeling pain shooting up my spine. Everything ached from a very quick birth with my second. -Lauren S.

Recovery was great despite what had happened. I was up and walking the halls within hours, and wanted all sorts of food. I did need 3 stitches, but no meds. -Ellie T. 

My vagina looked like it was murdered. And whatever you do, don't look at it in the mirror until at least week 6. It isn't pretty to look at, but it does go back to normal. -Samantha S. 

If you get a c-section, don't be overzealous, and do more than you can chew for the first week or so. I pulled a muscle, and was in pain ten times more. -Megan S. 

Make sure you walk a lot, and don't wait until you are in pain to get meds otherwise it will take longer before it kicks in. -Casey T.

How tough recovery can be even when you don't have any complications. I had a vaginal delivery with no tearing, but I still couldn't stand or walk on my own for days. I needed dh to help me shower and use the washroom for at least 4 days. I had always been told that once the baby was out, all the pain was over. -Nichole

I wish I had known how little I would be able to do once I got home! It took so much energy to walk up one flight of stairs to our apartment, and I couldn't even get on my bed so I slept on the sofa for 10 days. -Athenais P. 

I had no tearing with my second. I was up and walking around right afterwards  It didn't feel like I just gave birth! I was able to work with my body and contractions to get the baby out. More women need to feel empowered about their bodies. We can do it! It should not be about the baby was too big, I'm too small, or the baby wont' fit through my pelvis. Do you know that the worst birthing position is on your back?! It makes your pelvis much smaller. I was surprised when I found that out. -Sarah S. 

Though I was lucky, and had help for 2 solid weeks, my first was 30 lbs by then, and it was another month before I was allowed to pick him up, and not to mention he would bite and climb all over me whenever I tried to breastfeed my newborn. I don't think I could have come out of the experience sane without other moms to talk to, who had gone through similar experiences, and telling me it's normal. -Kristina G. 

If you are having a second (or more) baby, after birth contractions hurt like crazy for 3-4 days. It helps to take ibuprofen and tylenol half hour before you nurse, but no matter what you do; it will still hurt. -Petunia 

No one told me the pain I would be in AFTER labor and delivery. 6 months later, I am still dealing with some issues. -Kristina 

My husband was surprised at the amount of time it took for sex not to hurt. I remember 2 weeks postpartum  he thought I would be fine already, and was shocked when I told him I was such a wreck, and that it would be quite some time before we could do it. -Anonymous 

Postpartum uterus massage.

I had no idea what a postpartum massage was until the day after I gave birth, a nurse came in, and matter of factly started pressing hard against my belly. She explained, while rubbing my belly, that it was to help shrink my uterus back to pre-pregnancy size. I was sorely tempted to grab her forearms, and throw her arms away because it hurt badly every time she pressed down. It was something that NOBODY had told me about, and I was definitely NOT prepared for it. I was unhappy about this tidbit being left out from my whole pregnancy experience. 

The belly rubs to help shrink the uterus hurt really bad too. I had never heard of this being done so it was a real shock to me when nurse came in the next day to do it. -Athenais P. 


I had a very little clue about what a hemorrhoid was.  I never had them during my pregnancy. Sure, I was not completely clueless about it because I've heard about it from other pregnant ladies, and mothers who had delivered their babies, but I didn't know what having it was like....until after I had Forrest. I had discovered that if I didn't exercise by walking enough, then it would flare up, and cause pain. Not really fun. 

I had worst hemorrhoids that got so bad that I could not lay down, sit, or walk. I had to go to the doctor, and get a prescription for suppositories, and cream. I wish someone had prepared me for this. -Anonymous 

It's 1000000000 times worst than labor. -Sally D. 

I have them too except some days they hurt bad, and other days they don't. They suck, but at least they're just temporary. -Grace A. 

Postpartum bleeding.

After giving birth, I bled nonstop for 7 weeks. Yes, you read it right. Some ladies are lucky to only bleed for 4 weeks. Not me. I bled. And bled. And bled. It is like having Aunt Flo from hell. It is not a painful bleeding. Just more of annoyance bleeding. I literally lived on those grandma giant pads. Then behold and lo, one day, it stopped.

No one told me how much bleeding there would be. I had no idea I would be dropping huge ass clots. It made me so uncomfortable and I never wanted to leave the house. -Anonymous 

It can stop and start flow for up to 12 weeks. 6 weeks is a normal cut-off, but not always. -Casey T


Thought that constipation only happens during pregnancy? Think again.

Nobody ever told me about postpartum constipation. It was worse among ladies, who went through c-section than those who had vaginal births, but it was immensely terrible. Words don't just explain it. -Anonymous 
It hurt so badly to poo for the longest time. Even to this day, I still get hemorrhoids, and have to use butt balm for it. -Anonymous

No one told me that colace would become my best friend so I could actually go number two. -Anonymous 

Take stool softener everyday for the last few months of your pregnancy because after baby, it is not going to be easy to go. -Kristin P. 

I was so constipated for a week, and when I did, I cried the whole time. -Anonymous 

Newborn Care & Bonding.

When Forrest was born, I was ecstatic  and so happy to be Forrest's mother. I was amazed by how much love I had for this tiny person. On the other hand, the role of stepping into motherhood was a huge adjustment. It took me a long time before I was able to identify myself as a mother, and to see myself as a mom to Forrest. I was prepared for lack of sleep during the newborn days, and got through the hardest few weeks of adjusting to parenthood. However, what I wished I had known was that lack of sleep did continue beyond the newborn days! People put so much emphasis on lack of sleep during newborn days, but they failed to mention that older babies also struggled with sleep due to many different factors such as teething, colic, and adjusting to sleeping in the crib (if they had not slept in it from the very start). Forrest didn't stop nursing frequently through the night until he was nearly 10.5 months old. That was really hard to deal with long-term sleep deprivation. Even now when we have successfully dropped night nursing session(s); he continued to wake up once or twice a night due to teething pain, and losing his pacifier. Forrest was also an early-riser, which was difficult for someone who was not a morning person (me), and I had to get used to this. 

Not all babies sleep all of the time when they are born. Some babies like to be awake more than others, and take longer to get their nights and days figured out. -Megan S.

The bond that is always talked about does not always happen right away, and can take awhile. -Anonymous

Baby girls can have a mini-period due to withdrawal from their mother hormones. -Nichole

Sleeping through the night is not what you think. It is any stretch of 8 hours of sleep. If you put them down at 8 pm, then waking up at 4 am means they slept through the night. -Casey T.

The onesies, with the flapped shoulders, are designed to come off either over the head, or down the body. So helpful with poop blowouts. Why did no one tell me this before? -Petunia

I was told I'd be really happy when she came out, and wouldn't think anything else but her. In reality, I was really happy that she was okay, but all I could think was thank god it's over. No choir of angels singing for me. It wasn't until a few hours later that I felt that sense of total euphoria. -Anonymous

Breastfeeding, Pumping, & Formula

Forrest, and I had our share of struggle when it came to breastfeeding in the beginning. In the hospital, when Forrest was first born; he had no problem latching on, and we had a great breastfeeding experience. Then all this changed once we got released, and went home. I had to really learn how to nurse Forrest. It was not a simple thing like I had thought. I thought babies would just latch on, and that was it. How wrong I was. Forrest only liked to nurse one side at time, and that left other side very engorged. I tried pumping the unfed side, and it didn't work out. I didn't realize that over-pumping can cause more issues than good. I ended up with clogged ducts at least eight times due to this. I had a very forcible leak-down, and that caused Forrest to stop nursing. We spent hours, and hours sitting in our rocking chair, trying to establish a nursing relationship, and I spent a lot of tears over this. It was difficult because I felt like a failure for not having that perfect breastfeeding relationship that so many people talked about. The first two months were pure hell with breastfeeding. We had our ups, and downs until Forrest was six months old. Around that time, to add an insult to injury; I ended up with mastitis, and I was frustrated. I wanted that perfect nursing relationship with Forrest, and I was not getting that at all. Fortunately, we got a hang of nursing around 7th month, and had no problems ever since! 

My advice? If you plan on breastfeeding....then it can take time, and be patient. It will work out. HOWEVER, if it is eating at you physically, mentally, and spiritually, then switch to formula. Formula IS NOT poison.  you plan on supplementing or pumping instead of full-time breastfeeding, then that is perfectly fine as well. You ARE NOT a failure. You are feeding your child. You are taking care of your child. That is the important part to make sure you are taking care of your baby and YOURSELF. 

Breastfeeding was a huge struggle. We made it about a month before it got to be so overwhelming that I switched to formula. -Athenais P. 

No one had told me that even though a child is in NICU, it does not mean you cannot kangroo care or breastfeed. I wish I had known this. -Michelle W.

For the 28 days of NICU, I stayed there 24 hours a day. They couldn't feed so they couldn't nurse, but I was determined to provide breastmilk. So I pumped..and still pumping to this day!  -Ashley A. 

The nurses knew nothing about breastfeeding. I had one pushy, frustrated nurse who manhandled my newborn trying to get him to latch by grabbing his little head and squishing his face into my boob. I should have manhandled her face, but I was too exhausted. If you are having problems, talk to a lactation specialist at the hospital. Looking back, there were so many opportunities for me to get my son's tongue, and lip tie to be diagnosed and fixed easily, but those stupid nurses told me it was because I was holding him wrong. -Kelly

No one really told me how shamed I would be by people for wanting to breastfeed or breastfeed in the public. I didn't expect people to be made uncomfortable by my feeding my child. It's frustrating. -Ashley

Breastfeeding is hard. Like really hard. I literally hated every second of it for three weeks, but it can get better. I heard it would get better so often, but I never imagine how tough it could really be, and I felt people were lying! But it is true. -Anonymous 

Keep a bottle of water by your bed at the night because you'll be very thirsty from nursing. -Casey T.

If you decide not to breastfeed or not do it anymore, your breast will harden, and hurt like crazy!! And it will leak! Put cabbage in freezer, and wear cabbage in your bra for a few days. It saved me with my first son! -Mary M.

Always try to use bathroom before you start nursing. It will take longer than you think, and between the contracting of the uterus, and sitting there for so long, you will have to pee before the baby is done nursing especially if you have a slow nurser like my boy, who in the beginning, would take up to 45 minutes to nurse. -Andrea J

I never really knew about how bad engorgement is! Especially when the baby starts sleeping longer at night, my boobs would get so hard and uncomfortable. I realize everyone is different, but my sex drive plummeted during my pregnancy, and especially so while nursing. -Anonymous 

Self Care.

I had no idea how important self-care was until I became a mom. Stu worked long hours, and did not have a full paternity leave from work. I had literally no time to brush my teeth, or take a shower. I was working so hard trying to establish a nursing relationship with Forrest. Looking back, I was SO grateful to my mom. She stayed with us for two weeks. She made sure that I took naps, shower, recover, and EAT. Because I lost so many calories from nursing, I needed to eat, eat, and eat, and drink plenty of water. My mom made sure I had water, and food at hand. She made us meals. I was usually not the one to ask for help, and did things myself, but looking back; the smartest thing I ever did for myself was allowing people to help.

Though it's hard to truly explain to non-parents, I wish someone had been able to better prepare me for colic. That shit is insane. And as a new, exhausted mom, that can really break you. -Anonymous

No one told me that a screaming newborn 24/7 was not a normal thing until my daughter's one month appointment. -Kristina.

Ask for help. There's no shame in that. -Kellie J. 

Nobody told me how difficult it really is to juggle sleep, housework, entertaining an infant, job, and a marriage is. -Kristina

It is okay to change your mind on how you want to parent. But make sure it is YOU changing your mind. Not other people changing it for you. -Kristin P.

The only thing I would say is that I love my son unconditionally, and I am happy being a mother, but it doesn't consume me. It is not the only thing I am. My life does not revolve around Nate, it revolves around me. Sounds selfish, but if I am not taking care of myself or my marriage, I cannot take care of my child even as a team. I don't feel motherhood to be an overwhelming sense of joy, it is a work, and it is hard. It makes me feel accomplished looking at Nate, and how much he has grown, and developed in the past year. -Lisa E. 

Your relationship with your spouse is going to be different based on each individual, but for us; it was a huge struggle. We had a hard time connecting. We did not live around family with the first child, so we just never got out, just two of us. Then we moved in with family, and it was hard to feel like you had your own space, and we were still not getting out. We never found time to sit down and connect with each other on  a husband/wife level. It was always about kids, bills, or whatever else besides us. We moved out, and we are able to finally sit down and take some time for us. If that's when the boys are sleeping, that's all we needed to do. ALL couples need to remember that. -Sarah S.

Everyone told me when my son started walking, I would be so sad, and my mommy life would be over. I don't get why they said that to me.  I watch his blonde head run around, and I am so filled with joy. I helped him. I taught him. I gave him courage to try. I picked him when he tried, and failed. That's being a mom. -Kellie

You really do forget the pain after having your baby. -Casey T.

Stay Tuned for Part 4: Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, & Baby Blues