What's it like after birth?
As a doula, I’ve seen a LOT of women give birth. Long or slow, easy or hard, there’s one thing that seems to tie them all together…postpartum recovery.
Moms often find themselves shocked at how postpartum recovery feels
I was no exception.
When I was pregnant, I had it all planned out. We would have the baby, come home, and my husband and I would nest around our house for 2 weeks, snuggling our baby, until he returned to work. Then, it would be just me and my baby, hunkered down in heaven, bonding, breastfeeding, and snuggling 24/7. Minimal guests. Minimal family. I wanted it to be just us.
My visions quickly shattered upon returning home.
Leaving the hospital, I felt exhausted, frightened, and uncertain. My body was sore all over and certainly down there. Even with minimal tearing, my lady parts felt sore sore sore. I had after all, just pushed a human being through my nether regions!
Moving from the bed to the bathroom felt like a gold-medalist achievement every time.
Breastfeeding felt confusing, a bit painful, and never-ending.
Sleep and rest felt completely out of reach because I was up every 2-3 hours feeding. Even with the most amazing husband in the word, who was happy to bottle feed to allow me longer rest periods, I would still wake up 3-4 hours into a nap needing to pump to avoid engorgement.
In between feeds I was either trying to tend to my lady bits, eat something nourishing (which equated to frozen pizza half the time), stay hydrated, change diapers, worry over my new role as a mom, or I was simply too anxious to rest.
Tips for postpartum recovery
When pregnancy #2 came around, I felt much more prepared. The recovery was still hard, but the shock of it all was much less. I learned a few tricks along the way as well. Allow me to pass on a few of my favorites:
For the love of all things holy, please get yourself a can of Dermablast. In fact, get two. Dermablast is an over-the-counter antiseptic numbing spray that is safe for private parts. Some hospitals give it out, but others don’t. Ask your nurse for permission before using, but I’ve never heard them say no.
Pack one for the hospital, and have another on hand at home. It’s affordable enough that even in the case of a cesarean, where you wouldn’t need to spray down there, you’re not gonna break the bank.
A more natural alternative is a product called Claraderm from Young Living Essential Oils. We love this product and would be happy to help you acquire it, just ask.
A sitz bath is a plastic basin that fits on your toilet seat. You can fill it with warm water and soak your private parts into the water very easily. Even if you have minimal tearing, I recommend asking your hospital for one of these, or you can purchase one at a local drug store.
Simply soaking in warm water feels great and can help with the healing process. Some moms like adding things to the water to aid in recovery such as sea salt, baking soda, or an herb such as comfrey, which has a very soothing feel to it.
A Peri bottle is basically a squirt bottle. Ask for one to take home from the hospital. Use this either while you urinate, or after going to the bathroom to relieve the sting of urine on your healing lady parts. It can also be used somewhat as a replacement for toilet paper in the case where rubbing paper on your healing wounds would be painful.
In the hospital, you will likely have an ice pack placed in your underwear to sit against your perineum just after delivery. These are a special kind of ice pack shaped perfectly for placing in your underwear like you would a menstrual pad. This help reduce swelling and relieve pain. See if you can snag a few extra ice packs when leaving the hospital, or pick some up at your local drug store if they carry them.
One alternative is to make yourself some “padsicles” which have the added benefit of healing and soothing herbs.
The first days home with your baby don’t have to be overshadowed by anxiety, worry, or exhaustion. In countries such as Norway and Sweden, a postpartum helper such as a nurse, is provided to all new moms during their first 2-5 weeks home as part of their basic healthcare plan.
A postpartum doula can fill in the gaps where our healthcare system is lacking. A postpartum doula can help you with breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, postpartum recovery, meal prep, and rest. They act as a guide for parents who want help implementing sustainable systems and routines with their new baby, or want education and support understanding and getting to know their newborn.
Want to sit on the couch all day snuggling your baby? A postpartum doula can help.
Want to take a nap or a shower while your baby is in lovingly cared for by experienced and trusted hands? A postpartum doula can help.
Want your partner to have the freedom to bond and get to know their baby without the pressure of knowing it all, or taking care of you and the house? A postpartum doula can help.
Want help implementing strategies and routines for going back to work, or getting your baby on a predictable schedule? A postpartum doula can help.
Want reassurance, encouragement, and unbiased support as you find your path as a mother? A postpartum doula can help.
You can do it!
Big accomplishments are often paired with challenge and struggle. That’s why we call them achievements.
Whatever your journey looks like, know that we at High Country Doulas are cheering you on! Whether you are one of our clients, students, or simply a member of our community, just know that we’ve got your back and are here to tell you that “you can do this”
Samantha Lee Wright