Tag Archives: birth recovery

5 Things I Know About Postpartum Recovery

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Our friend Katie Fleming, The Lake Country Doula, partnered with us this week as guest blogger! Out of her postpartum experiences and her lovely quick wit, she has 5 fabulous tips to offer you.

 

Congratulations! You’ve just had your baby and your sore back and swollen feet are gone for good!

Let’s get real. The immediate postpartum period can leave you feeling both like a goddess and a train wreck in the same 5 minutes.  I’ve been blessed with two little ones myself, and here are 5 things I know about postpartum recovery…

5. There’s always something they didn’t tell you.

Our sisters, our friends, our mothers… Maybe they didn’t tell you that your feet can swell even more in the days after childbirth. Maybe they didn’t tell you that yes, you will need to wear a pad thicker than your newborn’s diaper. Or maybe they didn’t tell you your boobs can not only leak, but straight up SPRAY when they are full.

The truth about postpartum recovery is that everyone learns something new about themselves, their body, or how things are different than they expected. We all find out very quickly how important it is to keep an extra shirt handy, for example.

4. Sleep is CRUCIAL!

Life with a newborn is exhausting. They eat all. the. time. About 6 days in when exhaustion really hits, you regret every tantrum that 5-year-old-you threw when you were told to take a nap. Sleep is just that important. Everyone always says “sleep when the baby sleeps” but for those first few days and weeks, that seems impossible. You have a new baby and they need you to stare at their tiny precious eyelids, right? Well, one mother to another, for the sake of your sanity, take a nap! Your body will thank you.

3. You only get the help you ask for.

For the first 2-3 days of your baby’s life, chances are you will be visited a lot. Folks will will come with balloons, flowers, and gifts for the little one. They will want to hold the baby, ask personal questions about your birth, politely ask if you need anything, and then head back to their non-newborn-having lives.

It’s hard to ask for help. Everyone wants to feel like they are on top of things during this challenging time, but I’m here to tell you, that YES, YOU CAN AND SHOULD ask for help. Ask for those dishes to disappear! Ask for a meal! Most people want to help you – sometimes they just need some direction.

2. “Opinions are like….”

You know the saying. There is never a time in a person’s life when they receive more unsolicited advice and opinions than when a baby is born. All of a sudden you will be told things like “breast is best!” or “don’t hold the baby too much or you’ll spoil him!”

Being constantly bombarded by everyone’s opinions can leave you questioning your abilities and your sanity. Remember – just because someone has an opinion doesn’t mean you need to make it yours! Including how you choose to recover from your birth.

1. YOU are important.

I remember being newly postpartum with my first baby. Everything he did was the most important thing in the world to me. He peed? He opened his eyes? He squeaked in his sleep? All important. He might want to nurse in 20 minutes? Important. I better not go enjoy a walk by myself in case he wakes up.

I remember feeling like an alien. It took a long time to feel like a person again. By the time my second came it really clicked. I realized: yes, this baby is very important. But so am I. When my needs for rest, self-care, exercise, food, and social time were met, I could better take care of my family.

Wherever you are on your postpartum journey, YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You are incredible. You are worth it.

If there is ever a moment when you begin to question whether or not you are important, reach out to the No Barriers Birth team. Their postpartum doulas will be there with you every step of the way to:

5. Tell you all the things you want to know

4. Help you get some sleep

3. Give you the help you need

2. Keep their private opinions to themselves

1. Treat you like the VIP that you are!

Katie Fleming is the owner of The Lake Country Doula in Hartland, Wisconsin. She is the mother of Liam (5) and Lyra (4). She enjoys cleaning up the same messes she cleaned up yesterday, making tasty food, and singing songs from Daniel Tiger.

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I’m going to tear my what?!?

perineum-tearing-fear

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about tearing when pushing during birth. Are you clenching your bottom together just thinking about it? Yeah, I’m not surprised. This is one of those possibilities in childbirth that everyone wants to avoid!

Let’s combat fear with facts.

The part of the body we are talking about is the perineum. This is the skin at the southern-most part of the vagina, facing the rectum. Its ability to stretch accommodates your baby descending and crowning.

Not all women tear in birth (YAY!) The truth is that while more than half of all vaginal births do result in some degree of tearing, most tears are minor enough that they heal within 7 to 10 days. The most common type of tear is a first degree tear which is usually repaired with just one or two stitches, and sometimes no stitches are needed at all.

Within a few minutes of birth, the doctor or midwife will check these tissues and repair any tears. Different types of tears will need different approaches for healing and soothing. The advice from your medical team could include OTC pain meds, using ice packs, witch hazel, epsom salts baths, or exposing the wound to air for better healing. The most severe injuries (3rd and 4th degree tears) occur in less than 2% of births, and when this occurs greater attention may be needed for complete healing.

Related to vaginal tearing is a procedure called an episiotomy. This is a small snip in the perineum to allow a little more space for the baby to descend. There was a time when episiotomies were routine, but that day has largely passed. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists no longer recommends episiotomies as a routine procedure, but it is good for you to know that instances can occur in birth when episiotomies can be a very useful tool in urgent situations.

Women are voicing to their care providers that they want their vaginas to remain as intact is possible. Now in East Texas hospitals, episiotomies are performed at fewer than 10% of all births.

Many are worried: “If I tear, does it mean sex will always be painful?”

Look: if we’re completely honest, sex is different for most couples after birth! A little discomfort in the early weeks of intimacy is to be expected but women should not have lasting pain, and most women don’t. If you do have lasting pain that isn’t improving, a talk with your doctor is in order. A referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist will help you develop a plan and work towards full recovery of the vagina and restoration of healthy sexual function.

If preventing a tear or episiotomy is important to you, a conversation with your doctor or midwife will help your team develop a plan to reduce the risk of injury to you perineum in birth.

Let’s dispel the fear even further and prepare for great success! More tips for preventing tears including practicing pushing positions and techniques, as well as effectively communicating your needs with your care provider are included in our Childbirth Education Class and our doulas are invaluable resources for this as you prepare for birth, too. Drop us a line!

 

 

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