The 24 hours following my baby being born my husband kept telling me, “You did it! It’s over now.” And I would look back at him and say, “No, it’s not.”
We go through 9 months of pregnancy, labor, and then we have to heal. And healing is painful. Anyone who’s ever done physical therapy before is well aware of that fact.
The postpartum time is no picknick. Before I go into different tips, I’ll tell you my postpartum story. And through it demonstrate the most important lesson of postpartum.
My postpartum story
Baby is finally out! Placenta comes out a little bit later without any problems. Then it was time for the power hour that my hospital did.
The power hour is a time whe mom and baby do skin to skin, and if mom breastfeeds, a chance for breastfeeding to start. It’s also the time for stitching if mom tore.
Well, I tore. I had a 2nd-degree tear on the perineal and tore every well else. I
I had done all kinds of reading about the tearing of the perineal, but I wasn’t aware everything else could tear too.
I told one woman I had a tear right next to my clitoris, and she responds, “Yeah, my clit actually tore.” Um, yikes.
Found out after the fact tearing like that is caused by pushing the baby out too fast. Yup, I pushed her out fast.
Here’s a brief description of the birth for anyone who hasn’t read
My husband was pretty cute during the whole process. He was so overwhelmed with emotions. When Sara was crowning, he looked at me and said, “I can see the head!”
Then she was out with the next push, and he told me with tears in his eyes, “We have a baby girl!” We had waited till birth to find out the sex, so we didn’t know what her sex was.
He told me later he would have fully cried if I wouldn’t have been in such a miserable state. I did feel kind of bad, even
I’ve seen pictures of other moms during their power hour, and they are all happy and absorbed in their baby.
Not me. At that moment, Sara was a thing on top of me. A responsibility that I needed to do while I endured stitches.
After stitching was done and power hour was over, the nurse tried to get me up to go to the bathroom. Only problem was I was anemic and couldn’t stand.
So I had to eat and try again later. She gave me a lean cuisine that wasn’t too bad.
After food, I was able to stand and make my way shakily to the bathroom with help.
The same nurse who had tortured me by making me get in the bed during labor was now taking very good care of me. She helped me clean off all the blood and was just really great.
When clean up was done, we were moved out of our labor room into a recovery room. By that time, it was about 11 at night.
So bed time. Throughout the night I needed my husband’s help to get out of bed and go pee. When Sara woke up to be fed, he woke up, changed her, and handed her to me.
Throughout the next day, I got stronger. By night I was able to get out of bed and go to the bathroom on my own. It was still a slow process. And I still couldn’t hold Sara outside of laying in bed.
So I had to wake my husband up again during the night to get him to pass her to me.
The next day, we were ready to leave. We spent a week at home on our own. The following week we had family staying with us.
They helped out around the house and enjoyed the new baby. At the end of the week, family left, and my husband went out to sea for six weeks.
The only one who stayed was my 16-year-old brother. And thank God for him. He helped to take care of Sara, the pets, and me.
I couldn’t stand in the kitchen for long. The hard floor caused my stitches to hurt. So I taught him some cooking skills while he was with me.
I could comfortably take a shower without having to worry about the baby. The only thing he wouldn’t do was change her.
Ready for the most important lesson?
Did you notice that in every piece of my postpartum story I wasn’t alone? There was always someone there for me.
As new moms, that’s what we need. We need help. Help to take care of the home, the new baby, and most importantly ourselves.
There was always someone there for me.
We cannot provide good care for our new little bundles of love if we are not taken care of.
So if you’re currently trying to do it on your own, pat yourself on the back for your hard work up to this point, and give yourself permission to seek help.
If family and friends are not a good option for one reason or another, look in your community.
Groups that are set up in most places are churches, baby time at the library, parent get-togethers, and more. Reach out, you’d be surprised who’s willing to help you.
One thing I like to remember is that if I don’t ask, the answer is a guaranteed no. If I do ask, the worst they can say is no.
Buy what you’re going to need before labor starts – and have it ready
Everyone is always so excited to buy stuff for the new baby, but Mom is going to need stuff too. For those who undergo a vaginal delivery, padsicles are needed.
You can take some home from the hospital, but chances are you’ll need more.
If you get yourself a sitz bath, have whatever healing concoction you plan to put into it prepared.
You’re going to want plenty of pairs of underwear. They are going to get dirty fast. And on that note, you’re going to want granny panties. They are cotton, so they breathe. They can hold more of the body and hold the padsicles well.
Other forms of underwear will not be comfortable during the beginning of postpartum.
Another good idea is big people diapers. It may not sound pleasant, but they do make things easier. I wore them for going to bed after I got home.
In another post, I have a list of everything you’ll need in a postpartum care package. Just make sure you buy things for yourself while you’re picking things up for the baby.
Making sure you get adequate rest was pretty common advice I came across while I was pregnant.
The advice was usually in the form of, “rest when baby rests.”
I have heard a lot of critique of that advice. People say, “how can I rest when dishes and other chores need to be done? That’s unrealistic.”
The operative word there is need. The dishes and other chores do not need to be done.
The house isn’t going to burn down if the floor is not vacuumed. You’re not going to receive a fine if the sink is full of dishes. Chores do not need to be done, but you do need rest.
If you are not well rested, you are going to get cranky. If you are cranky, Baby will pick up on it and get cranky in turn, which will make you more cranky. It’ll be a never-ending cycle. Give yourself permission to not be perfect.
It’s okay if your house is a mess while you’re healing. If other people have an issue with it, invite them to clean.
And a quick trick to avoid dishes piling up is to buy a bunch of disposable plates and silverware. So you never have to wash anything.
Have a meal plan
After having a baby, you’re not going to be up for cooking. There are a few things you can do to make sure you are still well fed.
The first option is to cook a bunch of food before labor starts. Cook big platters and freeze them. Good ideas are shepherd’s pie, soup, meat pie, pasta dishes, and whatever big meals your family loves.
Another option is to have family and friends cook meals for you while you’re healing. If you ask, there are people more than happy to make you a big dish and bring it to you.
Mostly because they’ve been there and know what it’s like. Just make sure you get a list of people together willing to cook for you before you go to the hospital. If you wait till after, you may be too exhausted to ask.
Fast food also works. Have the menus of your favorite local places and order out. You can have it delivered or go pick it up.
Most cities now have food delivery services that will deliver for restaurants that normally don’t have a delivery option. Such services do cost a little extra.
If none of that sounds good, stack the freezer with your favorite frozen dinners.
Meals aren’t the only thing you are going to need. Don’t forget the snacks. There are plenty of non-perishable snacks you can buy: chips, cereal bars, crackers, cookies, chex mix, and whatever else you love.
Remember you’re health is just as important as Baby’s
Baby needs you to take care of yourself just as much as baby needs to be taken care of. Don’t sell your needs short and reach out to people for help.
For those who have been through this already, what advice did I miss? And feel free to share your postpartum story. It’s good to talk about them.