I’m currently sitting outside on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon while Baby T is snoozing, wondering if 2:30 is too early to have a glass of wine by yourself. Well, for this topic I’m sure it’s never too early. Everyone’s postpartum journey is different. Here’s mine and my advice based off of it:
I went through my pregnancy assuming labour was the biggest scariest part. In my case I would actually say the labour was pretty normal and quick, whereas the part afterwards was harder to deal with.
You’re told to buy woman’s incontinence underwear and pads for afterwards. I’m here to tell you, buy more. I could not believe how many of those suckers I went through. If you’re not good with blood (or you’re like me and passed out at a nail salon from them cutting your cuticle), brace yourself my friend. Also getting in a nice herbal bath is your new best friend. I was recommended something called a Shepherds Purse bath, which my husband so lovingly prepared for me, and not only does it have so many physical healing benefits, sitting in a bath by yourself for even 20 minutes does wonders mentally for a new mom. Take that time for yourself and ‘soak it up’. See what I did there.
Another thing, you’re going to get offered lots of help and meals and time to relax and rest. TAKE IT. The first couple of days after having my baby I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Which when you think about it isn’t that surprising because you use your entire body when you’re in labor for hours on end. You basically just did an entire weeks worth of full body workouts in one day. Thankfully I had so much help from so many people and I managed to spend the majority of time resting in bed feeding and cuddling my girl. Even if I started feeling better and tried to do more I ended up overdoing it (going up the stairs too many times counts as overdoing it) and needing to rest again the next day. Also, do your kegels, if you’re not sure what they are google them and then do them. Now I did also have some extenuating circumstances that made my recovery a bit more difficult and complicated, but I’d say for the general public this is all still true. Unless you’re like Wonder Woman or something.
There’s a saying my midwife told me, “when the milk flows, the tears flow with it”. It was her way of warning me that if you’re breastfeeding, the day your milk comes in is the most emotional day after having your baby you could possibly have. Not because it’s actually emotional but because your body is shifting all the hormones you just had for the past nine months and makes you about as fragile as the human ego, which according to my quick google search is the most fragile thing in the world. That day I was crying more than not crying. We were having people bring us dinner that night and to meet Baby T and I wasn’t even sure how I was going to be able to say hi to them. Sure enough though late afternoon my milk came in, Baby T was happily milk drunk and I finally stopped crying. My only suggestion for that day is skin to skin. Both Baby T and I seemed on a downhill spiral that day and I finally put us skin to skin and we cuddled for hours and I’m pretty convinced that’s what helped my milk come in. That and a Guinness.
My very good friend had given birth to her Baby Boy a week and five days before I had Baby T. Her pregnancy was very different from mine. She was due three weeks prior to me and while I was waddling around like a penguin she was strutting and glowing like a pregnant model. It was kind of funny to watch us walking side by side. She came to meet Baby T when she was 3 weeks postpartum and I was about 1 week and she could walk, and sit normal, and carry her car seat and breastfeed in front of people without spraying herself in the face. I remember looking at her with tears in my eyes leaning against the wall to hold myself up and saying “will that be me in two weeks too?” She looked at me like she truly understood what I was going through (and she did) and she said “I promise in two weeks you will feel so much better”. Just being able to see her like that and know that there was light at the end of the tunnel was such a boost for me. Sure enough in a couple of weeks I managed to venture out of our house and went to her house where they had a bunch of friends over and it was the first little bit of normalcy I had felt in weeks. It still took time to feel more healed but I would promise anyone else postpartum that it does get better.
Now I’m almost 9 months postpartum and I definitely don’t feel like I did before getting pregnant but I don’t think you ever do. You did this amazing thing and sacrificed your body to make this precious new life and it’s hard to accept the changes your body has made. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get my old body back, the one that did pretty awesome things weightlifting at the gym for the past five years, and while I do want to try and do some of those things again I do know that this new body is stronger inside and out. Having a baby changes you physically and emotionally, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s for the better or for the worse. It’s okay if there’s things you don’t like and okay if you want to change them. But there’s no rush. Your baby is going to love you no matter what, they just want that body, no matter what it looks like, to cuddle them and care for them. And it’s also okay if you want to have a glass of wine at 2:30 on a sunny Friday afternoon. So that’s what I’m gonna do.