Tuesday, February 28, 2017

10 tips on recovering from child birth:

Nobody tells you that you will probably go home in diapers too.

I often hear moms discussing their labor experiences, and even telling moms to be about how wonderful (yes, somehow I have heard a few - okay,  only one-  person say this), or over rated or even horrific their labor experience has been. However, I rarely, if ever, hear anyone discuss their post partum experience. We like to focus on the positives - the baby, and on what we are doing for the baby, but we dismiss the most important component: ourselves and our amazing bodies that have literally created and brought those babies into the world (and yes, that's valid no matter which way your child came out).

I recently read that it takes 2 years for our bodies to completely recover from pregnancy and child birth, and some of us have multiple pregnancies within a 2 year span, so it is a long road to recovery and one that should not be so easily dismissed or forgotten. The immediate aftermath is particularly stressful as on top of a nursing baby, and a sleepless and possibly long and painful delivery, you're losing blood and just want to sleep but are up instead nursing and learning to care for your child. While it is understandable that we do not want to focus on it, it is helpful to be prepared for it just as we prepare for the birth and for the baby.

95% of those who have a vaginal  deliveries have some form of tearing. and do need something to help with the pain - whether you want to take pain pills or not, there are things you can do to help yourself. The lucky 5% will still be sore from this experience (I'm not going to call it "normal" delivery, I don't think there is anything normal about it, nor am I going to say "natural" - whether you took drugs or not that's your decision - I did, and I'm very grateful for them). If you have or have had a c-section, these may not be of much help to you and I would prefer not to advice you based on book knowledge, I prefer to speak from a point of experience. However, you may have a vaginal delivery the next time (and honestly, you don't know how things will go on the day), so read on and maybe you will gain some strength if not some tips from the pointers below.

(For tips on nursing click here, and for labor and delivery click here. Feel free to browse for information by trimester and a ton of helpful tips and tricks for making your life easier with a new baby.)

Hats off to the woman brave enough to share this picture..

10 tips on recovery post delivery:

1. Local anesthetic: I wish I had been prescribed this the first time around when I delivered in New York, so if you are not in a place that automatically offers it, make sure you ask for a local anesthetic cream to apply on your stitches when you go to the bathroom. Mixed with a betadine cream it will prevent infections and make it easier for you to sit upright and nurse.

2. Perineal wash bottle: In the US, they give this to you in most hospital, but worldwide they do not, and they really should. I was terrified about the recovery more than the delivery, both times. Particularly about going to the bathroom and pee burning etc.. So it turns out if you squirt while you are urinating, the ammonia is diluted and the water takes the sting away. This is also great for cleaning yourself as hand showers, bidets and even wipes are not as easy as they were before (initially). (It's available on amazon).

3. Witch hazel pads: Another helpful item given to me in the hospital the first time around was these blessed witch hazel pads, amazing for pain relief on the stitches area and any other soreness in the bottom area (including bleeding & constipation related issues through pregnancy). Tucks is the brand that makes them and they are incredible.
That's the brand I used, but I'm sure there are others out there.

4. Witch hazel frozen pads:  Pour liquid witch hazel on sanitary napkins and put them in the freezer before you deliver. Keep around a dozen, and let it freeze. These are great to use post delivery to relieve discomfort and soreness.

5. Mesh undies: Some hospitals give you these post delivery, but if you are not sure you will get them, order them online. They are a blessing - easy to rinse when stained, quick to dry, can be used repeatedly and most importantly - incredibly comfortable over those massive pads you will be sporting for a month (possibly longer).

6. Sitz bath: It's an odd little pot thing you sit on, that looks overrated but it really isn't. Pour hot water in as directed and sit for 10 minutes a day or even a couple times, it really helps healing and clearing any blood clots or infections that could occur.
Sitz bath..

7. Stool softener: The first time you go to the loo can be almost as scary as delivery (as can sneezing when you have stitches by the way), specially since no one is holding your hand this time or rubbing your back. So don't be a martyr, take the stool softener, and if you haven't been offered one make sure you ask for it.

8. Stomach cramps: While you nurse, or even if you don't it is normal to get contraction-like stomach cramps post delivery. They can be really bad and can be accompanied by a great deal of bleeding. Don't suffer in silence just because they are helping your uterus shrink back to size and you want to wear your old jeans again. Take the muscle relaxant that your doctor can give you if you feel you need it, you will be more comfortable and get some rest. I stayed in hospital an extra 36 hours the second time around due to this crazy cramping, and was fine when I went home because I felt it was okay to ask for help. So speak up if you are in any way uncomfortable and talk to your doctor.

9. Don't be in a rush to get discharged: Some hospitals and some countries push you out as soon as you have delivered. Well, almost as soon as, I was discharged within 36 hours of delivery the first time, and I felt I was fine, and I was. However, my recovery was uncomfortable to painful, as I had stitches, was nursing, had had a long long delivery, and I was exhausted. I also didn't realize that my son would cry through the second night as my milk had not come in completely and he was hungry (in the moment, I didn't know why he was crying). Second time around, I was better prepared and even though I was dying to get home to my son, I stayed in hospital almost a week, when I got home I was less uncomfortable, I knew my daughter had started gaining weight and I could focus on both my kids and getting them to bond.  Some times you do not have a choice, but if you do, put yourself first and make the decision that is right for you, everything else will wait.

10. Cuddle away: You have been dying to hold your baby for so long, so do it. You cannot spoil a newborn, and definitely not with too much love and affection. Don't feel pressured to pass your baby on to everyone else in the room if you want to hold on to them, or to put them down as soon as they sleep when all you want to do is cuddle. Hold on, the touch is good for your baby, but it's just as good for you. They are the reason you are feeling everything you are, and they are worth it all the way, so hold on tight and let your little one heal you because they can do it best and fastest.

9 hours post delivery: I could have held on forever.

Hope you have a smooth labor and speedy recovery, if you are about to deliver!
More to come

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