You spend 9 months growing this beautiful human in your body and then the moment you give birth it’s like all the care, tips, and advice you got seem to stop, or at the least shift gears. Now that baby is here you’re asked question like the following.
“Is the baby sleeping ok.”
“Does the baby cry a lot.”
The one thing that gets overseen is us mothers. Just because the baby isn’t inside our bodies anymore doesn’t mean we don’t need advice and care. Our bodies are going through a massive recovery process and bringing with it a million changes. This in it’s self can be overwhelming, but now we are adding “caring for a newborn” on top of that.
Yes, you have 1, possibly 2, visits to your OB or midwife after the baby is born but then your dropped like a bad habit. This needs to change. About a month ago I was talking with a bunch of moms of babies and toddler and the subject of post-partum was mentioned. We then spoke on that one topic for almost an hour. You know the one thing that was unanimous among all of us? Yep, we didn’t feel supported in our post-partum journey.
There were many moms that struggled with different aspects of healing, nursing, and even emotional/mental health in motherhood but didn’t realize or find help till their baby was over a year old or when they were on their 2nd or even 3rdchild.
Hopefully this list will help you be aware of what I, and other moms, went through after our first and second pregnancies. With this list you will be able to have a good idea about what is to come or what you may come up against, that way you can seek help earlier. So, lets dive in.
1.The Unpredictable Return of Aunt Flow
Now this may come as a shock to some of you, because it sure did for me, but your period can and will return at any given time. Most of you are probably thinking, “Well I’m going to be breastfeeding, so I don’t really have to worry about that.” I’m going to let you in on a little secret. That doesn’t always work.
After my first child was born I was exclusively nursing, and my period returned at 4 weeks post-partum. Yep, you read that right. 4 Freaking Weeks! That’s all I got. Not fair, I know. When my second was born I passed the 4-week mark and Aunt Flow hadn’t showed up so I thought maybe, just maybe this time around I’d get a longer break. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The day I hit 5 weeks post-partum her crappy loud-mouthed self showed up banging at my door step.
So, if you think that nursing is a cure all for keeping Aunty Flow from returning you may want to think twice about that.
-ALWAYS have a pad or two tucked away in your diaper bag so your covered for any and every emergency. You really don’t want to get caught in a public place when Aunt Flow decides to make her debut. Especially when it’s your first post-partum period.
I don’t know if it’s because mine have always returned so quickly after birth, but my flow is pretty normal from the first day my period returns. However, some moms have said that when theirs returned it was a much heavier flow than they were used to. This is one of the main reasons why I say keep pads handy.
First off if your still super close to the day you delivered your baby then tampons are going to be the last thing you want to use since the thought and putting anything back in there is just painful. Second, if your period returns with a flow you aren’t expecting, than a tampon will soak up faster than you can say Aunt Flow. The result will be you standing in public leaking out everywhere. Not cool. So just keep a couple pads handy At All Times. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
2.Breastfeeding & Boobs
Every person and every child you breastfeed will be a new and completely different journey. Some kids, like my first, will latch on perfect from day 1 and take to nursing like a parodical child, while others will have struggle after struggle after struggle, like my second.
My first daughter was exclusively breastfed from day 1 and she nursed until 22months old when my milk dried up as a result of my second pregnancy. My second daughter took a little to latch on but since I was just expecting to have a breastfeeding journey like my first I turned down every lactation consultant that came in the room to see how I was doing. DUMB CHOICE!
At 3 weeks old we found a large tumor on her neck that made it a struggle for her to nurse on one side, then at 3 months old we were slightly concerned about her weight gain and found out that she was 5 pounds under weight and had a tongue and lip tie. These were the biggest culprits in her struggle to nurse. At almost 4 months old she got a thrush infection that was then passed to me and lasted over 2 months. This infection hurt my boobs like no other and drastically effected my supply so, at 6 months I stopped nursing, my boobs healed from the infection, and sanity was restored.
I tell you my story, so you can see how drastically different each breastfeeding journey can be. This way you can prepare yourself for whatever is to come.
If you want to read more about my birth and breastfeeding journey check out the post below.
-While you’re in the hospital accept any and every lactation consultant thats offered to you. If you think it’s going well and you have no concerns, still have them come watch you nurse and accept any tips they may offer up. If you have concerns or questions voice it. Don’t keep it in because once you go home the lactation consultants aren’t going with you. If they aren’t sending in a lactation consultant within the first 24 hours, then ask your nurse to have one come stop by your room. You won’t regret it.
-Pump and build a supply from day one. If I would have been able to pump and build a stock pile of frozen milk it would have helped a ton when it came to my daughter struggling to nurse and my supply dropping. This would have also helped keep my supply up while we were figuring out all her medical issues. If your baby is nursing regularly then you will just need to pump 1x a day and store that milk.
-Find a nursing support group. If you think you have questions on day 1 then just wait till you get a week or two into nursing. The best thing I did while walking through my breastfeeding journey with my second, was to join a nursing support group. At this group I met some wonderful moms who were going through similar situations. I was also able to weigh my daughter before and after a feeding to see how many ounces she was taking in and really monitor my supply and her in take.
3.Your hormones take 2 weeks to balance out.
Something my midwife told me with my first daughter was that during pregnancy your placenta is responsible for producing all the hormones for your pregnancy. When you give birth and no longer have your placenta, your body goes from having a ridiculous number of hormones to very little in a matter of seconds.
There’s a part in your brain that tells your body to create these hormones but since the placenta had that job that part of your brain was turned off. After giving birth it can take your body 2 weeks to adjust to the drastic difference in hormones and for that part of your brain to switch back on. This is why “baby blues” or post-partum depression are very really things.
-Knowing that your hormones are out of whack and that it will take time for your body to adjust can really help you through the process. Remind yourself that this wont last forever. If you feel you’re dealing with post-partum depress please seek help from your doctor, midwife, OB or other moms who have experienced it too.
-Placenta Encapsulation! Yes this is way out there and the most hippie thing I have ever done in my life, but I did have a professional dehydrate my placenta, grind it into powder, and put it in capsules. I then took them a couple times a day for the fist two weeks after my first daughter was born. The idea is that it will help give your body a little of the hormones your body isn’t producing and can help you from getting post-partum depression.
In total transparency I didn’t do this with my second and I didn’t see a difference from my 2 weeks post partum with my first and my second. On the other hand I have friends who didn’t do this with their first but did with their second and could tell a complete and total difference. So remember everyone is different and just do some research.
During pregnancy there are a ton of different changes that happen in our body. This can be because of making room for the baby or because the relaxion hormone loosens and shifts ligaments between your bones.
During both my pregnancies I had tailbone pain that got worse after each birth. I was told that it would take a few months or even up to a year for tailbone pain to go away because it’s a hard spot to heal. When my daughter was 18 months old I was still in a lot of pain, so I went to my doctor and he recommended I go see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. I had little hope that this would work. Luckily, I was wrong.
After my first visit I was told that during my last birth my baby’s head pushed against my tailbone and shifted it to one side. It had stayed in this position for a year and a half causing excruciating pain when I sat and even more when I would try to stand up from a sitting position.
The therapist was able to adjust the tailbone and strengthen the muscles around it. Doing this kind of physical therapy before I got pregnant again has made my 3rd pregnancy much easier when it comes to my tailbone.
-See your doctor at the first sign of tail bone pain. If they don’t recommend physical therapy, then suggest it yourself. As awkward as the appointments will be, it beats living in chronic pain so just buck up and do it. Also, the sooner you get treatment the less appointments you will need.
-After you start physical therapy do the exercises they give you ever single day. This will also help you lessen the number of appointments and keep you from having to return in the future.
5.Your stomach will feel like a deflated balloon.
The moment your baby is delivered your stomach is going to feel all sorts of weird. The best way I can explain it is that it feels like a large deflated balloon. Not sure if you will be able to find a better description than that.
During the next handful of months your stomach is going to try to return to its pre-baby state, or as close to it as possible. During this time your stomach will feel flabby, loose, and puffy. In time it will go back to normal, but you have to give it just that, TIME. No it’s not pretty and it feels all sorts of weird, but it won’t last forever, at least in my case it didn’t.
-Give it time. Don’t try to rush the process by working out before your doctor gives you the all clear. This can actually do more damage than good. Be patient and just give your body time. When your OB or Midwife give you the all clear to start exercising again, start slowly and build up to what you were doing before pregnancy or giving birth.
6.I Have Nothing to Wear
Sine your body is going through a major healing and recovery process it will not feel like your own for some time. Some woman are back to themselves in 4 months while others can take up to a year or more. Everyone is different and the way our bodies recover will be different too.
With my first I remember fitting back into my normal jeans by 5 months post-partum, but with my second it took almost 8 or 9. Just like pregnancy is a process, so is recovering from it.
Most likely you will still be in your maternity clothes for some time after giving birth, but on the downfall those maternity shirts won’t look as cute since your nice round baby belly is now just a deflated balloon. This makes many, if not all, women feel insecure in everything they own and can take a hit to our self-esteem.
-Give yourself grace. Remember this is a process and it will take time to get your body back to normal. It still sucks, but we all go through it. Remember you did just create and birth a REAL HUMAN BEING!
-To help boost your self-esteem make a words of affirmation card and post it in a high traffic area of your home like your bathroom mirror or on your coffee pot. Have it say something like,
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“I’m beautiful just the way I am.”
“My body was able to create a birth a human being and that is beautiful.”
-Another simple way to help your self-esteem is to buy some new clothes that make you feel beautiful. This will be especially helpful when you’re not fitting into your maternity clothes anymore but you still don’t quite fit in your pre-baby clothes.
7.Two Year Recovery Time
This is something I didn’t learn until I was half way through my 3rd pregnancy. It can take parts of your body a full 2 years to recover from pregnancy. 2 FULL YEARS! Insert gasp of shock here!
The reason this was so shocking to me was the fact that I have gotten pregnant with my next child before my previous baby turned 2 years old. So, in reality my body has been in pregnancy or recovery mode since October 2013. This explained why each pregnancy was harder on my body than the previous. Every symptom I had with one pregnancy was amplified in the next and so on.
If you want to read more about post-partum recovery check out this article from Huffington Post in the UK.
-Wait to get pregnant until your baby is at least 2 years old. This is my last pregnancy, but if it wasn’t than I would wait till my child was 2 and a half before I got pregnant. That way I could ensure my body had fully recovered from the previous one.
Life after pregnancy is a journey all in itself. These seven tips will help you know what’s to come and hopefully give you a plan of attack all the different parts. Just remember that recovering from pregnancy takes time and the best thing you can do is remind yourself that you won’t be stuck like this forever and don’t be afraid seek out help when needed.