Surviving the postpartum phase is no joke! It’s been 7 weeks since I had our beautiful little boy and what a 7 weeks it has been! Everyone told us how hard being a parent was, but the warnings could never have prepared us for how mentally and physically exhausting it is or how truly amazing.
Reality did not sink in until we arrived home from the hospital, but it hit us like a Mack truck when we started our first night without an army of nurses and doctors helping us. Thank God my sister was able to stay with us for a month and a half to lend a much needed pair of hands. However, even with her help there were moments I thought I was not going to be able to keep going. I found out the human body is capable of functioning on 3-4 hours of broken sleep a night and it’s a good thing too, because our little man is utterly and completely dependent on us.
This post is not about parenting though. I’m focusing on how we as mothers recover postpartum as I had no idea how wrecked my body would be. I ended up needing an emergency episiotomy as our baby’s cord was wrapped around his ankle and every time I pushed, his heart rate went dangerously low. I had not read up on episiotomies because I just assumed I wouldn’t need one. It’s funny how things never go quite like you plan with babies huh? Recovering from this has ended up being much more painful than expected and made taking care of our child even harder.
Accordingly, I wanted to share some things that have really helped my postpartum recovery and give hope to you new moms who are in the thick of it and wondering if your body will ever go back to normal. It will by the way, slowly but surely!
Here are ten things I’ve found helpful to my postpartum recovery and I hope they’ll help you as well:
- Free stuff from the hospital: If this is your first child, you may not be aware that you can take almost unlimited quantities of stuff home from the hospital, especially if you have a particularly accommodating nurse like we did. Seriously take it all! I recommend taking a bunch of the thick maternity pads for bleeding, disposable underwear, witch hazel pads, cold packs, hot packs, the plastic disposable padding for catching blood on the bed, steroid foaming spray…literally whatever you can get your hands on!
- Motrin 600mg: If you had to have an episiotomy make sure your doctor provides you with some form of a prescription pain killer. I found Motrin 600mg to be a godsend as I was in so much pain I could barely sit. The other plus about this medication is that it is not a narcotic, so there is no fear of becoming addicted to it.
- Always Infinity pads with wings:
Once you run out of the hospital pads, you’re going to need a replacement particularly if you’ve had an episiotomy. It took me the full 6 weeks postpartum to stop bleeding and these pads were awesome because they’re super thin, but also incredibly absorbent. It was nice to not feel like I was wearing a diaper, but also not be worried I would bleed out on my clothes.
- Lansinoh Ultimate Protection nursing pads:
I’m all about saving our environment through reducing waste and use my reusable nursing pads during the day when I’m leaking less milk, but for overnight, nothing beats these nursing pads. They are super absorbent without showing through your clothes and stay in place.
- Boppy nursing pillow:
So you’d think I would be recommending this pillow for nursing, but actually I highly recommend it for sitting on postpartum. It acts like a doughnut pillow and likely you may have already received one from your baby shower so you already have it lying around the house. I am actually still sitting on mine 7 weeks out!
- My Brest Friend nursing pillow:
This is the pillow I actually recommend for breast feeding. I was struggling with nursing my little guy and could not get a good latch or positioning until my husband drove to Babies-R-Us and bought me one of these. It was a game changer. We had way less issues with latching and were both more comfortable. With all the stuff we deal with postpartum, having breast feeding go well can really make a huge difference!
- Silver Nitrate: As I mentioned I have really struggled with recovery from my emergency episiotomy and was legitimately concerned that I would never be able to sit or walk comfortably let alone ever have sex again! I saw my doctor and she used silver nitrate on the scar tissue in that area. Essentially the silver nitrate kills the scar tissue, which is apparently what causes the excruciating pain in your nether regions post surgery. I’ve had two applications now and I feel 10 times better. I cannot recommend this enough if you are struggling with recovery post episiotomy. You do not have to live with the pain! Keep bugging your doctor until they do something about it.
- Help from friends and family: We were lucky enough to have my sister helping us out for the first month and a half of baby bootcamp, but we also had several beautiful friends and other family bringing meals (gluten free and dairy free, so awesome!). It really really helped to have an extra set of hands. Don’t refuse when people offer to bring a meal or come hold the baby while you shower. You will need help. Don’t feel bad for accepting it. Especially make sure to connect with friends who are also moms. I have two friends with little ones who really struggled with the newborn period and I cannot tell you how helpful it was to talk to people who understood exactly what I was (and am) going through. If you’re a single mom, I put this at the top of the list for you! Take any and all help you can get and you will get through it!
- Knowing when to refuse visitors: I follow number 8 with this for a reason. Some friends or family are just not going to be helpful. They’re the people who show up at your house unannounced at 7pm right after you just got the baby to sleep and insist on holding him. When the baby inevitably starts screaming, they shove the child back into your arms and remark that “he seems very cranky,” then proceed to plop down on your couch and demand refreshments. Learn how to usher these people politely, but firmly to the door and say no when they ask to visit. You know who they are and your life will be infinitely easier if you postpone seeing them until your baby is older.
- Netflix, Hulu, etc.: If you can afford the monthly fee, choose whatever online TV service floats your boat and use to get you though the long days and nights of feedings, holding and changing diapers. Caring for newborns is both extremely demanding and incredibly boring all at the same time and you will be grateful for the unlimited supply of shows to keep you entertained.
As I write this post I’m rocking my baby and marveling at his new ability to smile, realizing it’s all been worth it. You too will get through this and make sure to take whatever few minutes of the day you can for yourself to stay sane. Postpartum recovery was far worse than I expected it to be, but as I head toward 8 weeks, I’m absolutely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and you will too! Please share your postpartum recovery experiences and tips in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!