My baby sister is having a baby this Halloween and I am so excited for her! She lives on the mainland so when she came to visit last month, I had to throw 9-months’ worth of advice, stories, and recommendations into one-week. I thought I’d summarize some of what I shared with her for the blog.
Specifically, I want to talk about postpartum care. I was somewhat ill prepared both times. From what I’d heard, it seemed like no one’s birth plans ever went to plan, so both times my birth plan was very basic:
- First pregnancy birth plan: vaginal birth and breastfeeding
- Second pregnancy birth plan: scheduled C-Section
As expected, neither went to plan. After 2 hours of unsuccessful pushing, I had a C-Section with my first and didn’t produce enough breast milk to nurse. With my second, after going into labor early and quickly I had an accidental VBAC. Just proving my theory that birth plans never go to plan. Sigh.
So, both times my postpartum prep was wrong. I had padsicles made up for the first one. Those were thrown away about 6-months later when my mother-in-law inquired about them when she found them in the freezer. The second time around I had some depends and pads (not nearly enough), and definitely not enough Tylenol or Motrin. I also had house cleaners scheduled for the second time and that also didn’t work out – birth plans gone awry.
No matter which way your birth experience goes, there’s some significant recovery on the other end. Either your vag is blown apart like a wall after the Kool-Aid man, or you have major abdominal surgery while awake. It’s a lot to recover from, all while caring for a newborn.
Here are some things I was unprepared for:
- Not being able to walk up stairs
- No driving for 2 weeks (I did not know that one and definitely drove)
- Generally not being able to sit up, stand up or move very well since your core is compromised
- The agonizing first postpartum poop
- Majorly swollen undercarriage
- Itchy stitches
- Major incontinence
For the C-Section, while the recovery took a lot longer, the postpartum care was lesser. You get a prescription for painkillers and there’s bleeding, but there’s no open wound to care for (at least in my experience as my incision was glued). You definitely have to take it easy for a while though – it’s hard to do much while that incision is healing. The return to pre-pregnancy levels of activity will take a lot of time. I think it was almost 2 years before I felt “normal” again.
For the vaginal birth there’s was trauma to deal with, but at least I had my core. So while walking, standing, and moving in general was much easier, sitting was very uncomfortable for a while. I also feel like I needed more painkillers for the vaginal birth than the C-Section. Maybe not the same strength of painkillers, but I definitely think I needed them for a lot longer. And there was definitely more vaginal care needed.
So here are the things that I learned from my postpartum experiences:
- If you have a vaginal delivery, get the Frida Mom postpartum care kit. Miss F-Bomb rallied the troops for me when I had my early, accidental VBAC, and they got me this kit and it was amazing. I don’t know how I would have survived without it. It has all the essentials for postpartum vaginal care.
- For either type of delivery I recommend the Frida Mom Peri Bottle. It was much easier to use than the one I got from the hospital – though I did keep that one as a backup so I didn’t have to carry my peri bottle up and downstairs with me each day.
- Also, for either type of delivery I highly recommend getting some period panties. The mesh panties and pads from the hospital were great at first, followed by depends for a week or so, but after a couple weeks, wearing pads or Depends got very, very uncomfortable. The period panties felt so good in comparison that I washed the one pair I had every day so I could keep using them. Don’t be like me – have several of them on hand.
- Postpartum Physical Therapy! I did PT after my VBAC and it was so helpful. It helped with both the diastasis recti and the incontinence. I didn’t know about it the first time around, so I can’t say how it would go after a C-Section, but I can imagine it would be super helpful with regaining core strength. Definitely request a PT referral at your postpartum checkup.
You’ll also want stool softeners and painkillers, and possibly hemorrhoid wipes/cream depending on how things went.
I never seemed to have the right clothes for the first month or so postpartum. Maternity clothes were too big, and pre-pregnancy clothes were too tight – even my trusty leggings at first. But it also seems silly just to buy clothes that you’ll only use for a month or so. So, no great recommendations there other than what my other sister did which was to wear men’s basketball shorts and oversized t-shirts for the first couple months.
I also never really had much luck with postpartum belly bands. I found them to be too uncomfortable. But that’s just me.
Every mom is different and every pregnancy is different so there’s not always going to be one perfect way to do things. It’s all about finding what works for you and hopefully some of my suggestions will help.
What did you find indispensable? Leave us a comment!
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