Ok, so they all warned you about the lack of sleep, oh the lack of sleep, but did anyone tell you the truth about postpartum? Probably not and I had no idea, the amount of the tears, the highs the lows, the stings, the cracked nibbles....oh my goodness, the crack nibbles. I remember feeding one night, and streams of tears ran down my face because the pain was so intense, but I knew I had to carry on. Mothers are beautifully selfless, and we endure so much through pregnancy, birth, nurturing and loving our previous children, that we don't always give ourself the credit, love or care we deserve. I am very grateful for a positive birth experience, and had an incredible midwife who helped me so much during the first two nights at hospital but I still would have liked to be a little better prepared for going home and dealing with discomfort.
I spoke with Sinitta Balchandani, mother and Founder of Mama Care, who shared her own experience of becoming a mother for the first time, and feeling completely lost. It made such an impact on her, she started her own business helping mothers navigate postpartum, with invaluable products to help aid postpartum recovery.
"Let me start by explaining what postpartum is! It is that period after the baby arrives when a
mother experiences tremendous change, responsibility, and healing. I was blissfully unaware of
this phase and went into my delivery totally unprepared.
I personally always feared the pain of childbirth and often asked my mother how much it would
hurt. She always said it is not something I need to worry about, every minute I worry about it
someone is giving birth. But as I approached my third trimester the fear set in. It was only after I
delivered my daughter, I finally understood why. When you go through childbirth you
automatically join an exclusive club of humans who have all undergone a unique, life changing
and sometimes traumatic experience that is rarely discussed in detail to prepare the next
generation of mothers.
With the amount of unsolicited advice and information I received throughout my pregnancy, I
was shocked how no one remotely prepared me for the weeks that followed my delivery. This
set me on the mission to educate every mom to be and I started sharing my personal story and
journey with them. While I shared my experience, I would always hear one thing- “No one told
me about this”.
So here I am sharing with you some honest changes your body will go through! Remember your
experience can be totally different, but this is to prepare you and give you a frame of reference
on what you can expect.
I gave birth naturally, and as my epidural started to wear off, you would experience fair amount
of pain, particularly if you tore and needed stiches, like I did. I highly recommend packing your
hospital bag wisely, with some easy-to-use products which can make a huge difference. Once
again no one told me about this.
What really works is a warm bath or sitz bath with Epsom salts. They help you relax and
promote healing by reducing swelling and risk of infection.
Changes your body will go through:
Although you may feel you have lost a fair amount of belly weight immediately, you will probably look a few months pregnant for a while. Next comes the swelling of the breasts, more than you could have ever imagined. If you are nursing be ready for clogged, engorged, and cracked breasts. Depending on your milk flow you may or may not leak milk through your shirt. Keeping a few nursing pads handy will help.
While your body is healing, you may experience excessive sweating at night, usually a result of hormonal adjustments. You may also wake up feeling like you are in labor again, a symptom of your uterus contracting. Also remember, you may feel like crying when you are happy, sad, or just about any time.
Anxiety and worry will also become an instant part of your life! Chances are you will feel emotions you did not know you had. But you must know that the uncomfortable postpartum phase, also called as the fourth trimester, is just temporary and it will pass. Now when I look back and everything my body accomplished, I feel like an actual warrior who birthed a human (who loves me the most today)!
Everyone’s postpartum experience is completely different. So, whether yours is better or
worse, always know, that no matter what you are going through, someone has been there
before, and they would be happy to share their journey and hear yours. If you do not have any
family or friends who recently had a baby, or are not in the same city, comb the internet to find
new parents support groups, mommy morning and more.
In the books, one of the most effective ways of dealing with postpartum is creating a strong
postpartum support network. It can be family, friends, health care professional who you can
reach out to. You will really appreciate the support once the baby is born, be it physical or
virtual. Start talking and thinking about this in your third trimester, this way you can be
prepared with your support network in advance.
Every mom’s needs are different, some may require a village while another will want a close few
to lean on. Either way it is okay. Do not hesitate to ask for help. One of the best things you can
do for the baby is trying to put yourself first (at least sometimes). Allow yourself to take nice
long baths, naps, a walk by yourself while you listen to your favorite music or some Netflix!
It is important to share our birth stories-positive and negatives! We all need to hear them and
prepare ourselves for any outcome. At the end of the day everyone wants happy, healthy
moms and babies. So be ready for what’s to come but once again do not forget, you are not
alone. Ask for help, reach out to professionals, and remember your loved ones around you are
eager to help you. So, let them!"
I would like to echo Sinitta when it comes to support. This is so IMPORTANT (yes it needs to be capitalised) to find people you can talk to and ask for help. You don't have to go through this journey alone, reach out to someone that can help you. This is not weakness, this is allowing others to love and help you.
May this help prepare and guide you through that incredible and special fourth trimester. Even if there is only one thing that is relevant to your journey, I hope this has a positive message for you.
Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful and incredible Mothers and Mothers to be.