It’s really no secret: child birth does a number on your body. In my limited experience (one child delivered via forceps-assisted vaginal delivery) my body was a mess for weeks afterward. Now, I can only speak to my personal experience but here a few things that made my body’s recovery period a little easier.
During my hospital stay:
I pushed for 4 hours as you’ll see in my birth story. After my delivery walking was very iffy. I spent a good amount of time in that hospital bed, really only getting up to use the rest room and shower. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten up and around a bit more but oh well, maybe next time. Here are my tips for what made my hospital stay a little more comfortable:
- Bring your own pillow, products and towels- Something about the comforts of home makes everything a little easier. I love our soft pillowcases. The towels they provide are pretty small and scratchy. I happen to have a dark navy towel which was perfect because there was a lot of blood. TMI- I did use their towels to dry off certain areas that were bleeding profusely (as per the nurses directions, they said I could throw them out afterwards).
- Mesh panties- These were so ugly and so damn comfortable. I definitely took enough with me to use for the first couple weeks home while the bleeding was still very heavy. Since I was in bed for the couple days I was in the hospital, I pretty much wore these with a nursing tank and zip up hoodie and stayed under the covers when guests came. Because pants are over rated.
- Maxi pads- I used the hospital ones for as long as I could- I felt good about the fact that they were thicker, and of course, free.
- Peri bottle- This was huge in cleaning the lady garden after using the bathroom, especially with stitches. I also used this in the shower. Tip: try to use lukewarm water- much better than cold!
- Dermaplast- Do yourself a favor and hoard as many cans of this stuff as you can. It’s a numbing spray for your lady parts that is your saving grace during the postpartum healing period. I used this for weeks afterwards to ease the sting.
- Padsicles– Every hospital does this differently, but I believe they all have some sort of ice pack situation for your situation down there. The hospital where I delivered stuffed ice into diapers and they were the best. Take advantage of these! The above link is a tutorial on how to make these at home as well, so check that out 🙂
- Colace and motrin- Definitely start taking the stool softeners before you go into labor if you can, but make sure you stay on top of your nurses and you get the meds as often as they allow because it really does take the edge off (and when it eventually comes time to have your first postpartum stool you will NOT regret taking all that Colace).
- Water- My body always feels better when properly hydrated and J and our nurses was SO good about keeping the water coming.
- Pad for sitting on- I don’t actually know the correct term for this, but my nurses provided a pad that seemed to have air in it (though not inflatable, if that makes sense). I think it’s a newer version of an inflatable donut. I sat on this for a few weeks once I was home as well.
- Tucks or Witch Hazel- This is more second hand information, because I didn’t deal with hemorrhoids right away, but I’ve heard these can really help if you are dealing with them.
- An empty bag for all the stuff you’ll take from your hospital room- J pillaged that room. Lord knows, they’re charging you enough, you may as well take as much as you can. As per the directions of the nurse running our birth class, when the nurses change shifts, ask the new nurse for even more stuff.
- Bonus: Items to make your spouse or significant other’s stay a bit more comfortable- snacks, change for vending machines, their own pillows and blankets (bonus points for an air mattress because that pesky fold out chair was rough on J’as back), pens to fill out paperwork, comfy shoes and clothes.
Once I was home:
Keep in mind this is all in addition to the above.
- Lots of healthy food and snacks that are easy to grab and eat- This is specific to all of you breastfeeding mommy’s out there (no judgement either way- as far as I’m concerned no matter how you feed your kid, the point is they’re being fed and that’s the important thing, so props to you either way!). Breastfeeding can be so draining and it’s important to eat more healthy calories and stay hydrated which brings me to my next point…
- A steady supply of liquids, especially water- Staying hydrated is so important when breastfeeding. Enough said.
- Really soft toilet paper- Trust me on this one.
- A separate trash bag for lady garden trash in your bathroom- Because blood. Lots of blood.
- Dark towels- J actually took hospital towels with us which was awesome because I didn’t feel bad ruining them and throwing them out.
- Sleep nursing bras and breast pads- I didn’t leak a ton but it happened here and there. It’s also nice to have support at night.
- Something light to sleep in and lots of extra pillow cases- I grouped these together because those first few weeks of hormone crashes caused me to sweat like crazy through the night during the little sleep I was getting. It was so gross and I changed my pillow cases daily to avoid breakouts.
- Don’t overdo- Please if not anything else, take it easy. It’s such and overwhelming time and if you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to want to jump back in to going at your normal pace and getting things done. I went for a walk around the block my first week home and enjoyed it at the time but shortly after I returned home I was pretty sore and bled a bit more than I had been. Ease back into things.
- When in doubt, call your Dr- just like when you’re pregnant, don’t hesitate to call. Worst case something is really wrong and you catch it in time to treat it. If not anything else, they can provide reassurance that everything is healing up nicely.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help- both with physical things and emotionally. This new mom thing is a lot of your body, as well as emotionally. People care and they want to help you. Don’t hesitate to take them up on their help and graciously let them know how grateful you are.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for space if you need it- J and I made a point to make sure we had time that was just for us as a family at night after dinner hour. It was important to us to have time alone with A and to decompress. While it’s awesome to have help, it can also be a lot having other people around constantly. Everyone is different in terms of their needs, do what is best for your particular situation. And be kind and honest in terms of communicating those needs to the people in your life.
- On advice- opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. You know what’s best for your family. Do what you feel best and don’t let anyone make you feel bad because they don’t agree with how you choose to do things.
- Cut yourself (and your significant other, if applicable) some slack- This is hard, especially on the bad days and night. I promise, it will get easier. Do the best you can and give that sweet baby a lot of love! You’ve got this.
I can’t really speak to the postpartum period for a C-section, but I am working on getting one of the brave mommy’s who has gone the C-section route to meet her baby to share her experience in the next few weeks.
I would love to hear what other people experienced in their unique child birth situations…