Hi Balanced Beauties!
This post on postpartum has been a long time coming! Between having a newborn, COVID-19, losing my grandfather in these difficult circumstances and having both friends and family affected deeply by COVID, it’s been a very chaotic time to say the least. I have tried to sit down to write this post over and over, but now I have finally made the effort to collect my thoughts and type out an honest blog post about my postpartum experience.
I received so much of your gracious feedback after asking your opinions on on what topics I should write about on my blog. Many of you requested that I write about both my birth story and postpartum. I wanted to wait a little longer to write about my postpartum journey, as this is more than just a two week experience. Now that I am over three months in, I can give more of a valid, accurate opinion of my experience to this point.
Postpartum is a topic that is very little talked about. Sometimes, social media gives a false impression of true life. Who wants to share their hardships instead of their highlights on social media? For me, social media is where I love to share my really happy moments, memories, photos etc. With that being said, I wanted to share my true reality of becoming a new mom and my personal challenges that i’ve encountered postpartum.
Postpartum is a personal journey and is so unique to each woman. I think it truly depends on your birth experience, your baby and the help/support you have around you post-baby. Oh, and did I forget, your hormones! Postpartum is something that I tried to mentally prepare myself for. Having witnessed both of my older sisters go through this journey, I watched them deal with sleep deprivation and physical healing. I took everything in, buckled my seatbelt and went head first, expecting the worst of postpartum. It’s important to remember that all postpartum journeys are unique and everyone has a different experience. However, for all of us, postpartum starts from the moment you give birth and so here is my personal experience post baby.
After I gave birth to Brooklyn, they moved us to another room within two hours. The nurses had me up and walking, or should I say wobbling (from the epidural) soon after birth. They also encouraged me to pee as soon as possible, which was not as bad as I anticipated. Thank goodness for perineal irrigation bottles. I have to admit, the first few nights in the hospital were great for us. I had this “on cloud nine” feeling because my baby was healthy, she was sleeping, and finally, my sick pregnancy came to an abrupt end. Our daughter was HEALTHY, so what could I possibly complain about? Although I was overjoyed, I soon realized that postpartum is more than your baby’s health. It’s also about YOUR HEALTH, healing and well-being as well. Everything seemed to be rainbows and butterflies until the second day in the hospital. My biggest challenge was breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is something I knew I wanted to commit to full time before our baby was born. Brooklyn is currently full time breastfed, however, the journey getting there took about two weeks postpartum. Two weeks postpartum is when nursing began to feel easier and normalize for me.
From the moment Brooklyn was born, she was a great latcher, which in the end, saved us both! However, every time Brooklyn would latch, I would form literal tears in my eyes. The pain for me was unbearable, actually worse than giving birth itself! Not to mention, Brooklyn started to lose weight the first week since it took 4 full days post-birth for my milk supply to come in. She was surviving off of my colostrum and any drop of milk that was coming through. I am so thankful that Brooklyn was great at latching from day one because she pushed me to continue working through the pain, sore boobs and the very little milk coming in. I was sore and in pain, but I was committed to making this work. This was so stressful for me, and by far my hardest battle post baby.
After Brooklyn’s first appointment at the doctors, two days post-hospital, we found out Brooklyn lost a few ounces. I left the doctors office feeling defeated, on top of being sleep deprived. After that appointment, the first real tears of postpartum began. I cried our whole way home, with very little hope that breastfeeding was going to continue for us. The doctor encouraged me to pump a few times a day to help aid in bringing my milk supply in. She also had us supplement with formula for two nights to ensure Brooklyn would gain weight for her next weigh in. At this point, I was doing anything and everything for my milk supply to come in. I am not against formula, and as long as a baby is fed, I support all ways to feed your baby as long as it works best for mom and baby. I think the fact she was latching perfectly, kept me motivated to stick with it. I lived off recipes that promoted milk supply, so I was eating *OATS* for every single meal. Eating plenty of oats, combined with regularly pumping worked like a charm for me. On the fourth day, I woke up in the morning with ENGORGED BOOBS! Hallelujah (something I have never seen before since I have never had boobs, lol). I was so relieved to know that my milk supply came in and that Brooklyn would feel more satisfied. However, my nipples were still so sore at this point. I was thinking I had possible mastitis, due to the amount of pain I felt. It took about two full weeks for my nipples to feel bearable while breastfeeding. After two weeks, I finally could breastfeed without holding my breath and pushing my legs into the floor! This personally was my biggest challenge post birth journey, but I knew in my heart I did not want to give up.
Nursing full time became something that I look forward to. I can now confidently feed Brooklyn without having tears in my eyes. If you plan on breastfeeding and it doesn’t come easy is to you, I see you and I hear you. I have been there. Here are a few suggestions that helped me:
- Listen to the lactation consultants advice in the hospital
- Eat oatmeal, drink oat milk or recipes with oats in it, pump to help your milk supply come in (ask a doctor or lactation consultant about this first)
- For sore/cracked nipples: Use nipple butter, saltwater soaks for irritated nipples, have your lactation consultant check the latch
- Talk to and seek support from a personal friend or family member who has breastfed their babies and try different breastfeeding positions. All of this helped me tremendously and I am so happy I stuck with this.
Second Challenge: Brooklyn’s Digestive Issues
The next challenge I was not prepared for postpartum was Brooklyn’s digestive issues. The first few weeks that Brooklyn was home, she slept soundly and was the happiest newborn. By the end of week two, she started to scream, cry and was very unsettled for no visual reasons. We took her to the doctor and explained her symptoms. We found she was experiencing silent reflux which was most likely burning her esophagus while she was trying to burp or spit up. This came out of nowhere, and Christian and I felt so helpless. Apparently this is common for babies since their digestive systems are so immature, but this had us very stressed out, feeling so helpless for B’s discomfort. Brooklyn would scream and cry for hours, similar to colic babies. As a result of her silent reflux, I tried changing my diet multiple times and kept her upright during and after feedings for 40 minutes. I put her bassinet and the SNOO on a slight incline to help digestion as instructed by her pediatrician. All of these minor changes helped, but we had two straight weeks of a very uncomfortable baby, no sleep and a lot of “process of elimination” to try and help her belly.
The good news is by the end of week 6, Brooklyn seemed to mature and was back to being a very happy baby. We added a good probiotic that our doctor recommended, and this was very helpful for us as well.
My reasoning behind telling you about my personal experience regarding postpartum is because I was preparing myself for things like intense pain post birth, crazy hormones and sleep deprivation. What I was not prepared for was the difficulties of nursing, feeling helpless knowing your baby is in pain and navigating through the various sleep cycles and growth spurts your baby will encounter. Now, three months old, these issues seem far and distant.
As soon as we experienced our new normal and adapted to these life changes and challenges, COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head. Suddenly, Brooklyn’s two months appointments were pushed back, only one parent was allowed to go to the doctor with her, and all family & friends were not allowed to see her. Shortly after the quarantine began, my grandpa passed away. Someone who lived with me for a very impressionable part of my life, and who I was extremely close to. I was not able to see him or visit him before his passing due to COVID, and this brought on a level of sadness. I felt myself fighting through the battles of PP head on, until this. Grieving the loss of my grandfather, quarantine and unable to see friends/family, all while taking care of a newborn, was an emotional battle for me. I found my silver lining through the quality time spent with my baby girl, who has been the light through all of this chaos. <3
My Postpartum Advice
- Do not be afraid to tell your visitors post baby not come if they are sick or aren’t feeling well.
- Don’t feel bad about requiring them to wash their hands before they hold your baby.
- Have no shame in telling your visitors to WAIT to visit.
The first few weeks of having a baby is not only an adjustment for you, your spouse and your baby, but it’s important to remember that as the mom, you are in the very early stages of your healing. Take all the time you need for yourself, your baby and your family. Have no shame and don’t feel bad. Christian and I told all family that would be seeing the baby early on that they had to get all of the recommended vaccines prior to seeing her. Our doctors encouraged the vaccines since our baby was born in prime time flu season (early February) and this made our minds more at ease when our closest family members came to cuddle her up and help us out the first few weeks!
Being a parent is scary, yet totally blissful, all at the same time. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words. You feel as if you are on a great adventure, with no map or directions, but somehow you seem to know exactly where you are headed. It’s a totally unchartered territory, but you can’t remember a time in your life before parenthood. It opens up a different part of your mind, heart and soul. You experience emotions that you’ve never known before. It’s an out of body experience when you look into your child’s eyes and try to rationalize how YOU created them and that they are a part of you. Enjoy the journey, embrace all the twists and turns, because the days are long but the weeks, months, and years fly by.
Have a well-balanced holiday weekend and I am looking forward to sharing more of our journey soon <3