Sunday, August 21, 2016

Postpartum Experiences

I have blogged a lot about my labor and deliveries but I haven’t talked much about my postpartums. My postpartums were very easy, I’m sure having a natural labor and delivery helped alot. The fourth trimester (postpartum) can be a really hard. Many moms have stitches in their perineum to recover from, or stitches from c-sections, some women develop postpartum depression, some women even suffer injuries that affect them for a lifetime. I luckily had it very easy, but my postpartums did not go by without challenges.

Rose was four days old in this photo. We were having
 latching issues life was not easy. I was emotional. 
Physically my recoveries were very easy. I didn’t tear, I did have some soreness down south but it was not painful at all. Heather did put a small hole in my left inner labia, I mentioned it in her birth story (sorry if it is TMI but I thought it was important to mention). It wasn’t painful, just sore. It healed pretty quickly. My husband and I were having sex within 2 weeks after both my L&Ds.

My postpartum with Rose was quite a bit easier than Heather’s was. Their labors were very different. With Rose it was pretty slow and steady, with Heather it was really fast and intense, which made me feel like I had been hit by a bus a few days postpartum. My I ached everywhere like I had done a full body workout I wasn’t ready for. I’m pretty sure no one can prepare for a L&D that fast and intense but I do wish I had been in slightly better shape. It didn’t make a difference during my labor but I think I would have been less sore afterwards.

Heather was a big hungry baby. I did everything like this.
Rose's second birthday was three weeks after Heather
was born. 
The worst part physically of postpartum is breastfeeding, even though it has come to me pretty easily, it’s not always fun. I have always had slight over supply issues, so when my milk comes in I get some pretty intense engorgement. With Rose it wasn’t too bad but with Heather I got mastitis. Mastitis is a infected clogged milk duct. The infected area will be sore, red, warm, and you might get a fever too. I felt like I had the flu. My right breast was very tender and sore on one side, and I was running a decent fever. I took some Ibuprofen and that helped keep my fever down. There is nothing wrong with the breastmilk, and La Leche suggests to continue breastfeeding, and get as much rest as possible (source) . A warm shower while hand expressing milk helps too. The thing that cured my mastitis very quickly was actually RJ. He spent a few minutes sucking on the clogged breast and after a little while of getting hardly any milk at all, he got a big gush of milk, dislodging the clog. A baby doesn’t have the patience or finesse to do this. I can coach RJ and tell him that hurts or more pressure would be ok. I have heard from friends their husband refuse to help or think it’s disgusting. RJ enjoys helping, even if he didn’t enjoy it he still would help. He looks at it the same way he would if I was sick and puking. RJ would help nurse me back to health any way he could. Even though RJ is a sympathetic puker and might puke himself if he held my hair back, he will still do it. It’s not something doctors will necessarily recommend, but when I have mentioned it to my midwives they smile and nod, because they know it works even if it’s a little unconventional these days.

RJ has dislodged a few clogs before they got infected, it’s great. I’m so glad he is happy to help when I need him.

Emotionally, postpartum can be very difficult. Having an infant is extremely stressful, it literally turns your life upside down. All of the sudden there is this tiny human that you are responsible for. It is one hundred percent dependent on you. They cry all the time. They cry when they are hungry, poppy, wet, tired, scared, have gas bubbles, are hot or cold. They cry when they need to poop. They cry when they are overtired. They cry for no reason at all. Being a new parent is a huge adjustment. A lot of parents don’t know exactly what they are in for. When it’s three am and the baby hasn’t slept since five am the previous morning, you will probably break down if you haven’t already. Parenting is especially emotionally taxing at the beginning.  

Postpartum depression is very real, and something all mothers, and fathers need to watch out for. I had a few baby blues moments with both my girls. RJ was the one who noticed and did whatever he could to help me feel better. I remember my worst day with Rose. I had not gotten out of bed for at least 24 hours, and hardly eaten anything. I was just exhausted and emotional. I was worried if I was doing things right. I was trying to find myself. I was a new person. All of the sudden I had been turned into a mother. RJ reminded me I needed to take care of myself just as much as I needed to take care of our baby. He took Rose and made me take a shower, and eat something. I don’t know what I would have done without him during those early days.

Heather's second and third month was filled with this.
Heather’s postpartum emotionally was very different than Rose’s. I knew what I was doing this time, but Heather was nothing like Rose. Rose occasionally cried, and slept incredibly well very young. Heather on the other hand was very collicy and had a very hard time sleeping. The fatigue was much worse. I didn’t question myself like I did with Rose, but the no stop crying for hours and hours a day and sometimes all night was exhausting. Collicy babies are very draining. I remember breaking down many more times late in the night or early in the morning during Heather’s fourth trimester than Rose’s .
All mothers understand what it is like at four in the morning with a crying infant, and having the brief thought of wanting to kill your baby. I have had those thoughts, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. They are normal thoughts. What is not normal is acting on them. It’s important to know that it is ok to get help. Being a new mom is very hard. If you feel overwhelmed, extremely sad, or depressed, get help.

Heather loved the ring sling, and loved to
sleep next to me. I pretty much lived in my robe.
In England in 1922 they created The Infanticide Act. In 1938 it was repealed and edited (source). At the time, mother would be charged with the death sentence. The Infanticide Act changed that. In 1922 if anyone killed anyone they received the death sentence. After 1922 if a mother kills her own baby who is under one year old, she is charged with infanticide. She is sent to a mental hospital, to get the help she needs. In the UK they acknowledge postpartum depression. Having a baby will turn someone's life upside down. Some people cannot handle it, and kill their baby in a moment of desperation. The UK acknowledges that the mother's mental state was compromised and she is not a murderer, or someone who is dangerous to society. Most mothers are given the proper help they need to live full happy lives. I wish here in the United States we would have a similar law put in place.

The fourth trimester can be amazing and awful all at the same time. I absolutely love the newborn phase but it goes by so quickly. I wish it didn’t have to be such a difficult period of time. The best advice I can give to a new mom, would be to take it easy, enjoy your baby, if you feel off, get help. It is better to get checked and be ok, then ignore the signs and do damage to yourself and your baby. Remember to take time for yourself. Try to do something for yourself every day whether it’s a only a shower, a massage, a haircut, or just a trip to target alone, make sure you don’t forget about yourself.

I hope if there are any mommies out there struggling during their fourth trimester, they know that every mommy has struggled through their own. Even if you feel like no one understands you, we might, at least a little bit.

Thanks for reading!

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