My Postpartum Recovery

Well it's already February. I've been thinking about writing this for over 6 months, but honestly I haven't wanted to. But...the feeling just will not go away, so I wanted to share a part of my journey. Please don't feel like you have to read this, or that I am an all knowing source for anything. I'm just sharing my own experience, and I'm hoping this continued nudging to write this may help one person!

Last January I was just getting started on my postpartum recovery. Little did I know what I was about to learn, and what I was going to have to deal with. Looking back, I am grateful in some ways that I didn't know.

When I was pregnant, I was a preparer. I read so many different studies, medical journals, talking with other women, my doctor, my midwife, etc. I took an amazing birthing class. I was prepared for birth! I ate 3 dates a day for the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy (find the study here). I worked out as best as I could. Of course until that pubic pain happened, and those lovely rectal spasms (a form of lightening crotch, and I had other forms too)...I hope that never happens again. I ate healthy. I had a birth plan written out, and I had printed 5 copies to bring to the hospital. I knew the pros and cons of different interventions at the hospital if for some reason I needed to have any. I wanted an unmedicated birth for many reasons, and I am glad I was 99% of my labor.

I liked being prepared, because I like knowing what to expect. I read a lot about recovery too, but not enough. But that's also what made my recovery so hard. I didn't realize partway in, that my recovery was harder than normal. This was my first recovery, first labor, and the first time I had gone through any of this. And also, I didn't realize the hardness a forceps deliver can be on your body. It certainly felt crazy when he was doing it. People were so, so kind to me. My doctor told me the day after labor that I had been through a lot, and to make sure to stay on my pain medications, and for sure to keep taking that stool softener for a while. My whole birthing team was amazing, my family was amazing, but I didn't know all the pain I would feel for such a long time. And also while just trying to juggle visitors, a new baby, and taking care of my body. ...also food. Making sure I was eating! ha. It's hard after.

When I was at the hospital, I didn't really move. I stayed in bed the whole time, and it was wonderful. Heaven. It was amazing just to be in that room, and it just be about our son Peter. Just our family. I think that's one of the best parts of the hospital time. I loved having the nurses there to help me to the bathroom, and I should have had someone help me in the shower too. That was a struggle! Breastfeeding is a whole thing to learn how to navigate, but in the hospital it seems a lot easier than when you get home. Am I right? haha. I also was super sore from head to toe from my labor, and just make sure you sleep as much as you can. It's pretty exhausting. I also didn't know that IV fluids made you so puffy after. My eyes were so puffy, my head hurt, my neck was in so much pain. I'm sure many have experienced that. haha trying to walk too, was funny. I am glad I was wheeled out to the car when I left the hospital.

Heather Nan Photography
Even when I was home, the first few days were actually probably the easiest. I stayed in bed, and Taylor took care of all the meals and diaper changes. Helped me get dressed (if you haven't had a baby, you become so vulnerable for help in some cases, and that's when I am so grateful for such an awesome husband!) I couldn't bend down for about 8 weeks. I changed less than a dozen diapers in two months. I was definitely in pain, couldn't walk or sit very well. I had a lot of stitches aside from also just birthing a baby anyway! I think anyone who has a baby needs to recover whether it be from a c section, vaginal birth, or anything else. It's all quite a recovery no matter what, and I'm amazed at what our bodies can do.  I wish I started taking sitz baths with epsom salts right away. It speeds recovery, and I also wish I would have asked or known about natural stuff to put on to heal better.

It was truly wonderful becoming a parent for the first time. I hope though, that me outlining what my body experienced postpartum will help someone else in their struggle.

After a few days of being home, I was still just not feeling super great. I knew I would be in pain, but goodness! It was very painful, and weird, and I didn't feel like this was my body. I couldn't feel my bladder for a few weeks. I had to just make sure I went to the bathroom often, and the nurses have you spray water there to get you to pee at the hospital, I just continued to do that for a good few months! I also was so surprised when I moved in the tiniest wrong way, I had a shooting like nerve pain near my stitches (or deep inside that area somewhere) It was a lot of fun. Anyone else experience that?

Then 5 days postpartum, I was getting a little worried as I had some symptoms continue that wasn't just my recovery. I started feeling strong tingling sensations (like my body was reviving from being asleep and being on that side of my body too long) all over my left arm, left side of neck, occasionally on legs, feet, and on my face. My feet were super sweaty and either really cold or really hot (I think that's normal for your body getting rid of excess fluids though! So just be ready. & Night sweats. Seriously a real thing). My left arm had different spots that were hot or cold, it felt like swelling, but I couldn't hold Peters head with my hand because it felt like I was cutting off the circulation. My sister is a nurse and we went to the ER to get checked out. They were worried because I pushed for 3 1/2 hours, and had a forceps delivery that I could possibly have a blood clot in my brain, or something else going on.  So I had the MRI. Luckily nothing life threatening was happening, and I was so grateful. The doctor told me it was probably just after effects of trauma and possibly also the epidural. I still felt weird going home with all these symptoms, and not knowing what they were.

That night, I couldn't sleep. I was soooo exhausted. I had probably only slept 12 hours combined in the last 4 days. I was having a hard time with all my symptoms because they were constant, as well as just trying to sleep. That night another symptom started. I actually pumped and dumped that 24 hours after the MRI (and thank you to anyone who gave Peter breastmilk. So appreciative! He loved all of it) and I started having strong sensations in my throat like my throat was closing in and I wasn't going to be able to breathe. It kept happening that night, and I had a full blown panic attack (I have so much respect for anyone who has an ongoing battle with anxiety. Seriously you are a strong person!) My neck kept tightening throughout the night. I finally realized with the help of my sister and husband, that I was okay, and that these sensations were at their strongest for me when I was having a letdown. Looking back, I wonder if it was combination of me trying to recover from the birth, as well as having the actual strong letdown sensation in my throat? I'm not sure, but that seems most logical. That went away officially after about two weeks. YAY! My mom came over after the ER visit, and after I was experiencing the sensations in my throat. She was an angel that I needed! She does energy work, and she was helping my body's circulation get back into sync. I felt such immediate relief, and the feelings immediately moved down out of my head.

Heather Nan Photography

Once I hit three weeks postpartum, I was starting to get in worse pain. My stitches still hurt pretty bad, I was easing up on ibuprofen (which if you need it, don't do that. That's sometimes when your body is the most swollen and really needs it for inflammation), and I was still having some bladder issues. I cried a lot, but I still felt like I wasn't depressed just in so much pain. Peter was my happiness as well as Taylor. I always would say to Taylor how grateful I was to not be a pioneer. hahaahaha. He thought that was funny I kept saying that. Also, my goodness it hurts where they put in the epidural. I was also having tailbone pain. It was throbbing when I was laying down, and my bones really felt so tender, almost like a nerve feeling. The throbbing and pain was getting progressively worse in my tailbone area. I would wake up at night in so much pain, and just have to lay in the bathtub to feel some relief. The cyst is the worst pain I have ever experienced. I also was experiencing 4th degree hemorrhoids, but I didn't know that yet. I then had to sleep on my stomach, and I couldn't really lay down on my back anymore. I still wasn't able to sit at the dinner table, and I had to sit in certain positions on the couch. This led to a lot of stiff/tight muscles in my whole body. My legs were extremely stiff, and my mom had to come over and do energy work as well as doing super light massage, just to release all the pain and tenderness. After a few days of this, I decided to go to the doctor.

They confirmed my suspicion that I had a cyst. They said if it didn't drain on it's own, they would have to cut me open and get it out. Scary! So I went home, and my mom put some castor oil, melaleuca oil, on a gauze pad, and put heat over my tailbone to try to release it. After about 15 minutes, it started releasing, and that night I had so much relief. I did that for a few weeks, and it went away completely after getting checked by my doctor.

After that pain went mostly away, I then started to really feel my hemorrhoids. Look up what they are just in case. They are pretty common in pregnancy and postpartum, but there are varying degrees. Mine would throb for 10 hours straight, and sitting was really hard. Hence the never sitting at the dinner table (but also stitches from the birth with an almost 3rd degree tear). Some people can have them for up to a year, but after 6 months, mine were a world of difference and were so much more manageable even if I had pain.

I have tried SO many things for hemorrhoid relief. If you are in extreme pain, and can't get relief or can't get rid of them being so agitated, this list may be helpful!

-Get on a high fiber diet. You need 30grams a day.
-It is extremely important you are well hydrated. Aim for your weight cut in half in ounces. And if breastfeeding, try to add a little more! Just drink, drink!
-Avoid sugar, white bread, and lots of dairy.
-Sit in a sitz bath, use epsom salts.
-Soak in Transdermal Magnesium (I think everyone should use this, especially after a birth. Your body deserves to be taken care of. This helped me heal so much. And I still use it! You can read more where I buy it here.)
-Take Dessicated Liver Tablets (it will help you heal, and I was low Iron and needed a good source)
-I took the My Miracle Tea and it is a soft laxative that builds up your body. After a while stool softeners stop working, and they aren't great for your digestive tract.
-Drinking a green drink every morning, oatmeal, beans, sweet potatoes, and fruit were my favorite ways to get in my fiber.
-I used citrus oils, helichriseum (Also so amazing for stretch marks. I only put it on my tummy and not hips, and my hips are way more noticeable. I use 1 drop with either goat milk lotion, or coconut oil), and cypress oil for my hemorrhoids. It was a miracle worker. Immediately after I started using them my Hemorrhoid shrunk by 50%. and I had never seen it that small after 6 months. So I use these lots still. They are great for preventative measures too.
-A squatty potty will save your life.

Feel free to message me if you need help getting access to good, quality oils. I noticed a huge difference.

I would experience weird pains and sensations all throughout the first 6 months of my recovery. Even bouncing on an exercise ball to take care of Peter, I would get a kicking/pain sensation on my stomach. I just contributed it to needing to heal and strengthen, and with time it has been happening much less.

Now, kegels are super important during pregnancy and also postpartum. I was in way too much pain with my hemorrhoids to even do them for a while (I tried, but it agitated me so much and made life a lot more painful) Eventually I was ready to get them going! Doing just one kind of kegel is not going to cut it, so I bought a dvd that helps strengthen in multiple ways, and your core area. I highly suggest it if anyone is experiencing peeing while exercising, any kind of prolapse, or wants to make sure they are strong. You can find it here.

I also started the Mutu workout program. And it is incredible. It's an online 12 week course that helps fix problems from pregnancy, but also making a strong core again. I am feeling such a big difference! You can find it here, and it's a lifetime membership once purchased! If you have diastasis recti, or other postpartum problems it is especially beneficial to workout with this program so it doesn't get worse.

Heather Nan Photography

Please, please, do not feel pressured into resuming regular intercourse right after your 6 week postpartum checkup.  I was cleared at my 6 week checkup, but she also said because I was in so much pain during the exam, that I should wait a bit and use tons of lubricant, but that everything was healing. I was in an incredible amount of pain, and I can't imagine trying to resume intercourse then. I like to keep intercourse as positive of an experience, and I probably would have created a lot of negative emotions, and physical tightness by trying to start too soon. I also don't believe in going through pain just so we can do that. I don't think that's right.  I came to find out that I also have a few prolapse issues going on, so it took a lot of patience and what I explained above to become ready for that. It could take you 6 months to be able to resume intercourse, and for some people it could even take up to a year. Your spouse will understand, and if he doesn't you need to sit down and figure that out. There are other ways to be intimate together besides just that. You need to do what is right for you and your body, you just had a baby! It's so important to give your body the time that it needs.

I also realized a lot of my pain I was experiencing had to deal with scar tissue that had formed from all of my stitches. I have also learned that massage in any area that has become stiff or injured can help heal. Listen to what your body can handle. I used helichriseum and coconut oil at the site of my scar tissue for a month, and I can't feel the hard scar tissue anymore after doing that! & SO much less pain.

I had a lot of pain standing for up to a year postpartum. It was a sagging, aching pain, that was continuous. It was hard to stay standing after it came on. If you are experiencing that, just know it will lessen, and lessen. It is also partly from being so weak, and so injured from birth. It can also have to deal with the added weight and pressure of a prolapse. I'd look into that for sure!

Prolapse issues are sometimes hard to diagnose, and you can have a uterine prolapse or a bladder prolapse. There are others too, but those are the ones I know about most. Look at the symptoms of each to see if you are experiencing any of it to know it is a possibility. I would often move a different way, and I would feel a small drop in that area. Which is scary because you don't know what is happening. But as I have implemented the above things to help, and with time, those sudden drops have been significantly reduced.

I'm sure I didn't cover many of the things other moms go through too. Like mastitis? I'm sure that's really hard. A C section is quite the recovery too. And I didn't get into breastfeeding, because that's a whole other arena. But it will probably be overwhelming for a bit. Any recovery can be hard, and at the hardest points in recovery (which could still be a few month after birth) it can almost feel like the only thing you can think about. It can be hard to think it can get better, and that you will be able to move around and feel like a normal person. It's okay to cry. It does eventually get better! Be honest with those around you with what you are going through, find the right people that will listen and be willing to help. Talk to your spouse, write in your journal, and do something that will get your mind off the pain. Some people will dismiss what you are going through, but others will be absolute angels. Because just listening to what is going on in someones daily struggle can be a tremendous blessing. I feel so much for anyone who has to go through daily anxiety, or any auto immune disease. I can't even imagine going through the same thing each day. I also think a lot of these people may even want to talk about their struggles, but can't because people are sick of listening or they just don't understand the true struggle of going through daily pain like that. If anyone is reading this and needs someone to empathize, please talk to me! & happy recovery!  Oh and if you have a white gold ring, you could become allergic after birth....

1 comment:

  1. Seriously, you have been through the wringer my friend! I am so sorry that your recovery has been so hard and painful! A permanent, and difficult side effect I had with my pregnancies is hearing loss! I wear hearing aides now. It is so crazy just how much our bodies are effected by pregnancy! But it's even more crazy that we would do it all again for our sweet babies! You are amazing! Good luck as you continue to recover! You are truly one of my heros! Sending prayers your way!