I’d like to share my postpartum experience to help enlighten others. Often the details and images are left out and there is a lot of mystery that surrounds postpartum recovery.
I wrote a birth plan full of wishes and desires that I carefully researched over the duration of my pregnancy. Out of that full page there were only a couple of things I got to check off was my list. Avoiding an episadomy was one of them. I wasn’t cut and I didn’t tear. My doctor worked with me during my labor to help prevent it. Through massage, lubrication and also slowly delivering (an hour). I had an epidural while I was on a heavy dose of pitocin (my water broke at home. So i was on the clock) but it had worn off almost completely by delivery and I could feel when I needed to push. The nurse tried to coach me by telling me to tuck my chin and bare down like I was having a bowl movement. I had learned through my own research that is was not effective and waited until I could feel my contraction starting to breathe my baby down. Practicing kegels helped me get a sense of how to use my pelvic muscles and that truely helped with my sons delivery. Not having an episiotomy cut my healing time down to nothing. I’m so thankful for that.
No one told me about how swollen the fluids would make me after delivery. I mean, holy crap! I seriously had elephant feet! My son was in the NICU for observation because he couldn’t keep his blood sugar up. So, I had to get dressed and leave my room almost immediately to walk down to his room and the ankles of yoga pants felt like the were going to bust a seam. It was the worst post-partum symptom. Other than that nothing really bothered me. I had obviously just given birth so my belly was soft, my breasts were engorged and I was still bleeding but I didn’t experience a lot of pain. Nursing caused my uterus to contract which cause a little discomfort but nothing compared to giving birth. Those 11 hours on pitocin without an epidural were by far the most excruciating moments of my life so far (and I’ve had open heart surgery).
I was so exhausted and stressed out over the health of my son while we were at the hospital that I had little time to reflect on the wonderful event. Once we were home and I could finally relax and my emotions caught up with me. I started sobbing tears of happiness and they continued off and on for a few days to follow. I mean, I would just look at my baby and break down into tears. The love and happiness was overwhelming and I’m sure my hormones didn’t help.
I had struggled with body imagine issues and eating disorders through my adolescence and into adulthood. It took a lot of work to build a positive imagine of myself and treat my body with respect. Pregnancy was the ultimate test of that work. I had mixed feelings about watching my body grow and collect weight. After the birth of my son I felt nothing but proud of my body. I had grown a little life inside of me! I’m back to my pre pregnancy weight thanks to a combination of eating healthy, trying to stay active(by taking walks around the neighborhood) and breastfeeding.
Here are my postpartum progress photos from pregnancy to today:
Bottom row: 3months pp, 5 months pp, today (7months pp)
I still have toning up to do and I’d like to get back into running once my son is weened from the breast but until then I’m happy with my slow and steady progression towards my pre baby body. I hope this post will give moms to be a realistic glimpse into what postpartum really looks like. Mamas’ are amazing!