I'm not going to lie. My recovery after delivering Elli was rough. I still had high blood pressure which didn't seem to be going down. I was super uncomfortable "down there" since I had to have stitches because Elli came out with her arm covering her head. Elli and I were still learning how to breastfeed. On top of all of that, I was insanely sleep deprived. I was seriously a wreck. While it was a very hard month, by the grace of God, we made it. I learned so much that first month postpartum and I wish someone would have warned me of the things to come. This is my raw account of how I handled the first month of postpartum. I hope to encourage you new mommas out there. You're not alone!
ONE || Don't forget to eat and drink!
Make sure to take care of you. As hard as it is, don't forget to eat! I cannot tell you how many times I was either just too tired to eat or time had gotten away that lunch ended up turning into dinner. Set an alarm for your meals if you need to. Food is so important to keep your energy up. Also, drink water! Invest in a great tumbler and keep it close by. If you're like me, breastfeeding makes me so incredibly thirsty. If you get a tumbler with a straw, you can situate you and your baby so that you can drink water hands-free.
TWO || Relieving that awkward discomfort.
All right, awkward topic, but it needs to be addressed. I had no idea how uncomfortable I would be "down there." Seriously! I knew it was going to be bad, but not that bad! Get some Tucks and Dermoplast while you're in recovery at the hospital. Also, ask for extra mesh undies from the hospital. I'm not going to lie, those mesh undies were comfortable. They were such a relief during recovery. But what I found to be an even greater relief were homemade padsicles. I heard about this from several blogger and vlogger moms and I am so glad I listened to them! Basically, pour witch hazel on your pads and freeze them. As far as what kind of pads is up to you. I used the Always Heavy Overnight for the padsicles and I'm glad I did because it also relieved my rear end.
THREE || Having to use the bathroom. (Warning- may be a little TMI!)
For whatever reason, I never thought about "how do I use the bathroom after delivery." Haha! Boy, I was in for a real shock. This is probably one of the things I was not prepared for and not something I had read about anywhere. (Not sure if I just missed it or what). So, to be honest, when I realized that I would have to go sometime, I was so scared to use the bathroom. Especially after they took catheter out. The first time I had to go to the bathroom, I just went very slowly and after that, it was okay. What freaked me out even more was having a bowel movement. Yup. You read that right. So, what to do? My nurse told me to take a stool softener daily. Also, according to the doctor, it's completely normal not to have a bowel movement for a few days after childbirth just as long as you are passing gas. Speaking of gas...just a warning, gas comes when it wants, so just be warned if you have visitors! Anyways, the first bowel movement isn't pretty. Just take your time with it. Okay, moving on...
FOUR || Breastfeeding
If you choose to breastfeed, make sure to invest in some kind of breast feeding pillow like Boppy or My Brest Friend. Your arm will thank you! I didn't bring my Boppy to the hospital, so breastfeeding was very tiring for my poor arms. I used pillows, but they would either shift and unfold, and I needed like three pillows just to prop my arm up. Also, do not get discouraged with breastfeeding! I didn't realize that breast milk supply comes a couple days after birth, so when I was breastfeeding Elli those first couple of days, I was like what the heck? Why does it feel so uncomfortable?! Once my supply came in, breastfeeding became a lot easier. One website I constantly read is kellymom.com. That website has a lot of good breastfeeding tips and answers a lot of questions. With that being said, let's talk about the "breastfeeding wars." It seems that there's this attitude of making moms feel terrible for not breastfeeding. There's this pressure of making moms feel like they have to breastfeed and when moms are unable to breastfeed well, they put pressure on themselves to make it work. I want to encourage you to keep in mind that everyone's breastfeeding experiences are different. Some babies just don't latch well. Sometimes the milk supply is low. Don't ever feel like you are less of a mom because you can't breastfeed! If you choose to do or if you have to use formula, then go for it! As long as your baby is happy, healthy, and growing, that's really all that matters.
FIVE || Let people help you.
I'll be the first one to admit... I can be a bit of a proud person. You know the kind of person who's like, "Yeah, I got this. I don't need help." That all changed after Elli was born. Since my parents live close by, I thought, "I don't need my mom to stay with me." WRONG. My mom ended up staying the night with us the first night we were home and thank God she did! I was exhausted and could barely function! My mom was so helpful in just calming Elli, or waking me up to feed her. A couple of friends dropped by and brought meals. My parents brought us dinner every night for almost two weeks. It was such a huge help and I can't thank them enough!
SIX || Remember that Daddy is tired too.
This is something that I had to learn. I'll be honest. I was pretty selfish in thinking of just me. Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I was at times frustrated. Yes, I was in pain and in recovery mode. But, who was running errands to Wal Mart to get baby items that we didn't realize we needed? Who cooked and cleaned for the first few weeks while I was still unable to function? Who held Elli for a couple hours so that I could get at least a decent hour of sleep? Who changed her diaper when I was too tired to do so? My husband. Indeed it was. Dan was a champ. I'll admit there were times that I would flip out at him over dumb stuff and break down into tears. But he was there for me through everything. I think we often forget about our husbands. While they will never experience the pains of childbirth (and yes, I've used that one on Dan too), they too are affected in other ways. Dan often reminded me that we are a team. It took a little bit of trial and error in the beginning, but we've found a way to work together so that neither of us are sleep deprived and biting each other's heads off. When Elli was still waking and eating every two hours, we did shift work. Since I'm a night owl, I stayed up as long as I could and when I couldn't handle it anymore, I'd wake Dan up and he would take care of Elli (diaper changes, rocking her, etc.) until she would get hungry. Then he'd wake me up to feed her and afterward would take her back. That's just how we've been doing it. Every family is different, so find a way that works for you. And like I said, it may take trial and error, but once you get a good system down, things will smooth out.
SEVEN || Give yourself grace.
There is a pressure on us moms to make sure that we have the perfect life, the perfect baby, the perfect nursery, etc. It seems that people these days are faster to give advice but are super judgmental when you don't take it. Don't let them get to you. Only you know your baby and what's best for them. They don't call it mother's intuition for nothing! Don't be pressured by others. Give yourself grace. My favorite quote these days is from Emily Ley, creator of the Simplified Planner: I will hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection. Life isn't perfect. This isn't the movies where life is edited. There will be days when things don't go according to plan. There will be days when the baby doesn't feel well or is gassy so stays up all night crying. But you know what, new momma? It's okay. Take a moment and breathe. Cuddle and kiss your baby. You've got this! XOXO
Mommas out there, what advice do you have to those who are new moms or are expecting? Let's encourage one another and share the love! :-)