6 Things People Don’t Tell You About Postpartum Recovery
- Aug 23, 2019
- & Amelia
I’ll admit there were a few things about my postpartum recovery that I was a little unprepared for. Throughout my pregnancy I was determined to educate myself. I read books about achieving a healthy pregnancy and completed a hypnobirthing course to help me experience a wonderful birth. I also read up on how to care for a newborn - but what I really neglected to focus on was what care I would need post birth. During the weeks following the arrival of Sammy, I remember thinking, on a number of occasions, ‘why didn’t anyone tell me?!’ I quickly learned that my recovery would be a physical as well as an emotional and mental one.
Everyone’s journey will be slightly different but there are some tips and must-knows that can help you through this time. Here are the 6 things I wish someone had told me about postpartum recovery.
You bleed a lot!
I certainly did not know that I would bleed for 4-6 weeks. I figured that it would just be like a normal period - 5 days or so - but I was greatly mistaken. The blood clots were also something I wasn’t prepared for. The first time I had a big one it was the size of my palm and I panicked! I immediately went to seek medical help but was quickly reassured everything was fine.
The blood can also change from day to day and week to week. Some days it will be heavier than others and may move from bright red, to a darker colour and then to a mucous brown. Towards the end of your bleeding the discharge will be similar to when you ovulate but may be slightly pink in colour. If you are ever concerned about your bleeding or discharge or if it smells unusual just ask your midwife for advice or go in for a checkup.
You will need to use maternity pads to look after the bleeding. There are quite a few brands out there - many of which make you feel like you’re wearing a surfboard - so try to find a product that is comfortable, flexible and leak proof. This will make your postpartum bleeding a little more manageable.
Save your squeezy sauce bottles
It really hurts to wee - particularly if you’ve had stitches. To alleviate the stinging I filled an empty sauce bottle with water and squeezed it over myself while going to the toilet. This really helped with the pain. Just don’t forget to keep a bottle next to every toilet for easy access!
Recovery takes time
Six weeks to be exact! That’s why in non-western cultures they often have a ‘sitting in’ or ‘confinement practice’ where the mother and baby basically stay in bed during this time.
Regardless of what type of birth you had your body has just achieved an incredible thing! Growing and birthing a baby involves a huge amount of energy so your body will need time to regain its strength. In the early weeks you might be setting up a breastfeeding routine and will likely be suffering from sleep deprivation - all of which can take an extra toll.
In the days following birth I remember sitting on the toilet (yes - as I sprayed water over my bits) thinking, ‘I feel like I have been hit by the biggest truck!’ Every cell in my body was exhausted. Everything ached and it seemed like the discomfort would never end. It does end and I did recover but it does take time. Be sure to listen to your body and be practical with your commitments. If you have quite a few visitors during this time make sure your guests are helping and not hindering your recovery process… and remember if you are struggling it’s okay to ask for help.
Your nipples will hurt
When you start breastfeeding, whether your baby latches well or not, your nipples are going to hurt. You may also experience nipple blisters or bleeding at some stage. I wish someone had told me how hard breastfeeding was! No one actually said, ‘it’s not as simple as chucking your baby on your boob.’ I was definitely not prepared for the initial discomfort.
The good news is as your nipples stretch it does improve. I also used ice packs and nipple cream to help ease the pain. If your nipples become cracked, feeding with nipple guards can be an option too.
Breastfeeding can be tricky
Before Sammy was born I went to a breastfeeding clinic to learn as much as I could. I was able to watch other mums breastfeed and hear about their experiences. This really helped to normalise my struggles when I encountered my own in the early weeks of Sammy’s life. At times I found the sleep deprivation, breast tenderness and the uncertainty about whether I was doing it ‘right’ very overwhelming. I am thankful that I did eventually find my groove.
If you’re struggling to breastfeed it’s a good idea to contact your midwife or a lactation consultant to get some assistance. You can also call the Australian Breastfeeding Helpline to talk to a breastfeeding counsellor on 1800 686 268.
The HUNGER is real
Your body is busy healing and recovering so you feel HUNGRY all the time! Repair requires a lot of energy, as does breastfeeding, so it is really important to eat well. Eat simple nutritious snacks often and try to have a protein rich breakfast to get your milk production off to a good start.
If you are hungry it’s important to eat, drink and stay nourished, even if it’s at the 3am feed! At the last WonderMums Club meeting the mums shared what they eat in the middle of the night. Many suggested one handed snacks such as protein balls and lactation cookies to recharge.
For bigger meals warm and hearty foods like soups, stews and soft cooked vegetables are great. They are comforting, healing and easy for the body to digest. It’s also a great idea to make and freeze them ahead of time so they’re ready to go after your baby is born.
You might really miss your bump
Despite having your baby right next to you or even attached to you, pretty much 24/7 for the first few weeks, you may actually miss your bump. It can be very strange to rub your belly and realise your baby has left the womb. We have such a connection with our baby even before they are born. Many women speak of suddenly feeling really alone, especially if they leave the house by themselves. During this period of adjustment it’s important to be kind to yourself….. and remember the bond you create with your baby earth side will be different but just as a special.
Want to learn more?
Naomi from Cocoon and I will be hosting Prepped for Postpartum
Prime your mind and fill your freezer with this half-day workshop that's loaded with practical advice and plenty of food!
You'll receive practical advice on planning for a nurtured and relaxed start from me, and a cooking session where Naomi will teach you how to stay nourished and meet your nutrient needs as a new mama the simple way. And to top it off? We'll gather for a beautiful lunch to give you a taster of how to fuel your motherhood journey.
You'll go home with an organic family meal for the freezer, two food packages for the pantry, recipes and a plan in place for a peaceful postpartum.
9am-1pm including lunch (4 hours)
Book here to chat or book your spot