We spent a lot of time last week talking about the 4th trimester and the baby blues and the changes you will go through, so I thought it would be fitting to also talk about postpartum recovery tips and what to expect before going into labor. All of which The Mommy Experts and I just shared with Julia personally.
For some of the Mommy Experts, postpartum recovery was a “COMPLETE SHOCK!” as Mommy Expert Sena said. She went on to share that she “knew absolutely nothing and didn’t hear anything about it” before she experienced it.
Mommy Expert Lauren also echoed the same feelings: “It was very painful, I could barely walk for several days after. I was definitely not prepared for the amount of fluid and other tissues that leave your body for WEEKS afterward. I was so unprepared I didn’t even realize I would need real (full butt!!) underwear and pads, and poor Anthony had to run to Target for me. The absolute worst part was that I was TERRIFIED to poop because I knew it would be soooo painful. I sat in the bathroom and cried several times and didn’t actually do it for almost a week…”
For me and any expecting mom, you can’t help but squirm and think, “Yikes?!”
But this is where I come in to help.
At Tyckled Tales, I believe we need to make it easier for expecting moms getting ready for parenthood. To do so, I’m curating the best tips and insights that are out there to make the process easier so new moms (and dads!) can apply our learnings.
As a result, I’m featuring some tips and essentials you should know before going into labor and deal with postpartum recovery. Today will be a Q&A on this from our very own, Mommy Expert Lisa, who has gone through this with her first born, Maddie, and twins, Ashlyn and Everett.
What are your biggest questions getting ready for this? Or if you’ve gone through this before, what was your experience like?
Before Going into Labor and Dealing with Postpartum Recovery
Your walk-through at the hospital. You’ll have done this well before going into labor, and in doing that, you will know what the process will be, where you need to be, and that you will likely stay at the hospital for about two days – or even as long as six days if you have a c-section. What this means is you don’t need to panic about all the details because you’ll have them by the time you do the walk through.
I know for me the first time around, there was a sense of urgency to know it all well in advance, but trust that you will have them soon enough once you make that visit. So relax!
Ask questions at the hospital. When you are at the hospital, ask the questions you want – as many as possible.
KEY TIPS ON QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- Make a list of questions in advance. Keep a log of these on your phone or in a notepad because you’ll likely forget in the moment.
- Ask the hospital what they will be giving you in your going home package, so you know what you need to buy for postpartum recovery on your own – more on this below!
Take it as it goes and trust your instincts. You don’t have to memorize everything you read in a book to prepare. Just go with it. Reference them when you need it. Things might not go exactly as you planned, but know that you will make it work and there are people and resources there to help you as needed.
For example, Mommy Expert Sena said as something she wishes she knew then: “Even though I had these books, I wouldn’t necessarily rely on them for the answer. I was trying too hard to do things by the book, but what I would do now, is rely on myself and my gut. These books should be used for reference and not as a manual.”
Continue to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine even in the last stretch. This is something moms will be conscientious of throughout their pregnancy, but just remember that you need to maintain this because you want your body to be ready – it’s like you’re training for a marathon. I personally felt it was important for me to exercise regularly while pregnant to build stamina. I was running until the day I gave birth to Maddie and continued to do so with my twins. It made my birth go a lot faster.
Cramping post-labor. Your uterus is shrinking after labor, so you will continue to get cramps, which happens a lot while you are breastfeeding. These cramps will often feel similar to contractions. They won’t be comfortable, and if they become unbearable, trust your instincts and seek medical help if needed.
You will want to be consistent in taking care of everything “down there” to help with healing and provide comfort.
Vagina: There will be lots of bleeding. You need to monitor how much you’re bleeding – if you are changing your pad more than once an hour, that is a flag. Also, don’t look down there. You will be swollen. It’s not a pretty sight, so just take it as it goes.
KEY TIPS ON HEALING DOWN THERE:
- Use the pads your hospital will give you and ask for extras if they are willing!
- Get granny panties or disposable panties. The hospital will often provide you with disposable panties, and you should also ask for as extras!
- Buy the longest pads possible on your own and/or double them up if needed.
- Put towels on your bed for extra protection because you will leak a lot!
- Raw honey has antimicrobial properties, and some moms have suggested putting that on your pads while you are still bleeding. Sounds a bit out there for most, but whatever you prefer. It’s supposed to be amazing relief after pushing out a baby.
Sitz Baths: This is a bath where you sit in warm water that covers your butt and hips. It’s believed that sitting in warm water allows more blood to reach the impacted area, promoting healing and helping with any discomfort. It is recommended by moms to take one every time you pee or poop, especially in the first week and throughout the day in the week after. You want to keep clean as much as possible 24/7.
KEY TIP: Some moms also recommend using some lavender oils and bath salts in your bath.
Spraying your bottom: Use the perennial bottle the hospital will give you to clean every time.
KEY TIPS ON SPRAYING YOUR BOTTOM:
- Using warm water and a few drops of lavender essential oil are said to help the area.
- Witch Hazel can be super helpful in dealing with pain, itchiness or even hemorrhoids that you’ll experience. Use the pads to wipe away bacteria, blood, etc. and provide a cooling relief. This will also aid in healing.
- Take witch hazel pads and stick them between your butt cheeks or line your pad and try the Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray.
Bowel movements will seem scary. Many moms will fear going #2 or just be constipated.
KEY TIPS ON BOWEL MOVEMENTS AFTER LABOR:
- Relax as much as you can.
- Make sure you stay hydrated (try warm water!) and think about what you are eating. Be smart leading up to labor. For example, don’t eat a burrito before going into labor. Make sure you are eating foods high in fiber to make it easy for you. Smoothies can be your best friend.
- Take natural magnesium supplements, which have a calming effect and help relax the muscles, making it easier to go. Probiotics are also an option or stool softeners, but please remember to always consult your physician first to be sure. Your hospital may also offer stool softeners as well.
You will be super emotional the first few weeks. You just want to cry about everything, and you can become very sensitive to what people say about your baby. For example, I didn’t realize this initially, but one person said to me, “Oh, your baby doesn’t look like you.” It sounds innocent and harmless now, but at the time, I felt like, “How could you say that to me?!” and I couldn’t help but feel it was the most insensitive thing to say.
KEY TIP: Keep in mind early on that you will be sensitive so that you can prepare yourself and try to be less reactive.
A lot of help is needed, so accept it when it is offered. It’s okay! For me, it was nice to have family come over and help with cooking, for example. The last thing you want to do is think about that because you’ll want to sleep more and focus on recovery, which will also help not only with your general well-being but milk production. Having people around was also helpful in avoiding postpartum depression.
I think having help also allowed me to enjoy the time I had with my baby more.
KEY TIP: Sleep when the baby sleeps!
Allow yourself the proper time to recover and don’t over exert yourself. I learned this the hard way. When I had Maddie, I had an easy recovery. So when I had the twins, I expected the recovery would be the same. I stopped bleeding after a few days, and then it was Halloween. I wanted to take her trick or treating, so I carried her, at 25 lbs, for over 2 miles.
I assumed I was fine since I lasted the whole way without a problem. I wasn’t bleeding either, but then later that afternoon I started to bleed really badly and endured really painful cramps. I thought I had to go to the ER because it felt worse than labor itself.
I eventually was fine but realized I could have severely hurt myself. I quickly learned that it’s important to listen to what your doctors say in terms of healing. You are not super woman. And just because you can’t see what it’s like inside your body, you can just assume everything is all good.
Once your baby arrives, know that it won’t be a lot of active, fun interaction with your baby right away. Your baby’s main activities will be eating, crying and sleeping. You’ll probably think, “That’s it??” I know for me personally, it was all about breastfeeding in the beginning. I breastfed for six hours a day, including burping.
Talk to other moms. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be and hopefully this period will be less shocking for you.
Mommy Expert Sena said she felt, “Shock, confusion, and awe. Shock because of all the emotional, mental, and physical change you’re going through that no one told you about. The crying for no reason, the effects that sleep deprivation will have on you and the gross after effects your body is going through. Confusion because, why does no one warn you about this??? Awe because words cannot express the feeling you have of becoming a mom. No matter how hard someone tries to explain what it’s like becoming a mom, you will never understand until you go through it yourself.”
KEY TIP: Talk to other moms. Ask for information that they didn’t get that they wish they did receive.
Get your husband prepared. You’ll want a strong support system, and your husband doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, so have him talk to other dads who have gone through it.
KEY TIP: Talk to friends who are moms and ask them what it was like and what their husbands did that helped, didn’t help, and what they wished they did. Talk to dads to get a sense of what it’s going to be like and how to stay sane during this period.
Prepare your new mom essentials to help with postpartum recovery early on.
1) big bottom / granny panties 2) extra long pads: Always 3) towels for lining the bed 4) sitz bath: Carex 5) bottom spray: Earth Momma Angel Baby 6) raw honey: YS Royal Jelly 7) perennial bottle: Medline 8) belly band: Belly Bandit 9) lavender essential oil: NOW Foods 10) witch hazel pads: Tucks 11) magnesium: Natual Vitality