If someone were to ask me what the hardest part about giving birth to my baby was, I would probably tell them that post partum was the least fun. Here’s why:
The books that you read and the classes you take and the people you talk to always say stuff about the “pains” of labor, but no one ever says anything about what you may go through after the birth. Maybe it was silly of me, but I was expecting to perhaps be uncomfortable and tired a few days after birth, but for me, that wasn’t necessarily the case.
During Kessie’s birth, the one thing that was hard is that Kessie was born with her hand up by her jaw. This, unfortunately did make her birth a little more difficult on me physically, not to mention she was also a pretty big baby. I ended up tearing quite a bit (sadly, I actually remember feeling one of those tears happen) and so I needed to get a lot of stitches afterwards. It took at least an hour because they kept finding stuff to fix up. That was not fun at all, but I did bear it well. After all, I had my sweet little girl to look at and my darling husband to talk to during it all, so I was very happy anyhow. Finally when the stitches were done and I was cleaned up, we were allowed to go home (birth centers don’t let you stay over night like how hospitals do). Going home was nice, but at the same time, I do think that being able to stay and have nurses to take care of you every hour would have been nice. That, for me, is the only real perk for doing a hospital birth.
So when we got home, I rested as best I could. My family ended up coming that day since I would be going home so soon, which was really nice. I quickly discovered though how little I really could do. I needed help getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, sitting up, pretty much everything. If I was walking, I need someone to help me and make sure I didn’t fall over while I waddled slowly to my destination. On top of the stitches, I was very swollen as well. Plus there was the bleeding, which I had expected, but it was annoying all the same.
Anyhow, so you put all that on top of being totally tired, needing to feed the baby every 2 hours, having to try your best to keep her awake while you feed her (she is an extremely sleepy baby and so hard to keep awake while she eats!), plus all the hormones and how your body has suddenly changed so much, and you have exactly not what I had envisioned. I also had another episode of the involuntary shaking while I was at home, which was a little scary really. My mom said that she had the same thing happen to her with both me and Michael, who were her bigger 9 lbs babies too. She said it was due to fatigue and blood loss.
Eventually, I believe it was the next night, I started crying for a myriad of reasons: I felt like I would never get better and that I would forever be sore, swollen, bleeding, etc. I felt so tired and I missed feeling somewhat normal. But most of all, I really, really missed my baby. I had expected that I would be able to take care of her after I got home- change her diapers, feed her easily, get her dressed, hold her often, all that good stuff. But the only thing on that list that I did get to do was feed her, which was painful because we had started out with a poor latch. So the thing that was really getting to me most was how little I was able to do for my little girl and how much I missed always having her with me like how it was when I was pregnant with her. I felt like I was able to do everything for her while she was inside of me. I even got to sleep right next to her and cuddle with her 24/7! I just really missed my baby and missed getting to do all the things I had been looking forward to doing.
Eventually, I did end up feeling better, but it took a full week until I actually started feeling like myself again and able to sit and walk comfortably. I think part of why it took a long time for me to recover also was because I was unable to take Ibuprofen to help with taking the swelling down because of the antibiotic I was on. It wasn’t recommended that you take Ibuprofen while on that certain medication, so I had to rely solely on Tylenol and ice packs to help with my discomfort. But let me tell you, I am sooooooo grateful for how much better I feel! I can now do everything I need to take care of Kessie the way I’ve been wanting to and it feels so nice to be much more independent. J
So, after my own experiences, I’d just like to share some of my own thoughts and advice to anyone out there who would like it. ;)
- If you are wanting to do a birth where you are in complete control of what you do and how you give birth, but don’t want to do a home birth, I would definitely look into a birth center. My experience there was great and I really liked the freedom I had to move around and birth in whatever position I wanted. The place was also very calm and peaceful and felt very homey. I also liked how the midwives were so compassionate, helpful, and great and coaching me on. There was never a moment where they made me feel like I couldn’t give birth to my daughter and I felt that the whole experience was very positive. (Of course, all of this said, I would never make a decision like this without praying about it first. I was sure that I wanted to do the birth center, but if I would have felt that it wasn’t right for us, I would have gone to the hospital. So make sure that it is definitely the right thing for you).
- Midwives are great! Don’t get me wrong, there are some really great OB doctors as well, but there was something really nice about having a woman help me out with all of this. Probably has something to do with the fact that they’ve been there before and can relate and understand. ;)
- If you are planning on doing a natural birth, take a hypno birthing class!! There are a couple different programs out there, and the one I did was called Hypnobabies. I would strongly suggest doing something like this because not only does it provide you with very helpful techniques in relaxation (which is key for a quick and easier birth), but they also help train your mind to look at birth in a different, more positive perspective. Birth is natural, normal, easy, and safe! J
- If you do decide to go natural and do hypnosis, practice your techniques as often as they say to! I think that I practiced well enough to do a great job at giving birth to Kessie, but I honestly think that if I had practiced more, I would have been amazing and I would have been able to concentrate better and have an even better birthing experience than I already had. Next time I’ll practice more. J
- Know what your options are for everything and remember that you can say no if you feel the need to. For instance, the midwives let me know that the Glucose screening test was optional, and I didn’t have to do it if I didn’t want to. Not only that, but if I wanted to do it, but not take the nasty orange drink, there was another option in which I would just need to eat certain foods before performing the test. Since there is no history of diabetes in my family, my weight was great before pregnancy and was still on track, and I was eating healthy already, I pretty much had a 1% chance of having gestational diabetes, and since 4 out of 5 people come back with false positive results, and since the treatment would be diet and exercise (which I was already doing well on), I decided to opt out of it. I never had to do the test, I never had to deal with a false positive result and do the bigger test, and I never got gestational diabetes anyhow.
- If you ever feel uncomfortable with your doctor or midwife or whoever you are seeing, don’t hesitate to find someone else! The first OB that we had was obviously a good doctor and really knew what he was doing. But there was just something that didn’t feel right about us seeing him. When I told him that I was wanting to do a natural birth and asked if he was supportive of such, he only said, “Yes.” And that was it. Um, don’t you want to maybe ask me what I have in mind? Don’t you want to know exactly what I’m wanting to do? Don’t you want to expound on how you really look at it? Then we also asked him how he felt about inducing, and he pretty much said if I went over 40 weeks, he would want to induce me. In the back of my mind, I said, “Yeah, we’ll see about that…” I mean, the due date is really a guess anyhow. It’s not like babies have timers inside them and know EXACTLY when 40 weeks has com and gone. Furthermore, I always felt like he was never happy or excited for us. I understand that he’s probably seen a million pregnant women and babies, but for us, this was our baby, and our first as well. We were ecstatic! At our 20 week ultrasound, I was so excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. When he told us we were having a girl, we were thrilled, but he didn’t even say so much as “congratulations.” Neither did the nurses or staff. It was kind of odd because inside, we were celebrating big time, but no one around us seemed to care. The other thing too was that all of our ultrasound pictures were kind of weird. I keep seeing ultrasound pictures all of my pregnant friends are getting and they look amazing! Ours were weird, like, a foot, a hand, a skeletal face, the spine. What was up with that? It just seemed clear to me that our doctor didn’t really care on a personal level, and that didn’t make me feel right about seeing him at all. So we wanted to switch doctors (at this point though we had decided we wanted to go to the birth center), but even still, we did feel kind of bad about wanting to switch. Was that rude of us? NO! It’s not! Remember that this is your birth, your baby, and you are paying this guy to take care of you and your baby. You shouldn’t have to pay someone to do whatever they want. After switching over to the midwives, we got a new OB to help us out in case we ever needed to switch to the hospital (because of my infections). The new doctor was so much better and really supportive of my decision to do a natural birth at the birthing center. He actually was really determined to help us get to full term before Kessie came so that I could do the birth there, and was very happy for us when that happened. So, bottom line, if you ever feel like your doctor or midwife is not right for you, find someone else!
- This may be TMI, but I’m going to say it anyway. Invest in: 1. A sitz bath. This will help sooo much with recovering quickly and it also feels really nice. 2. Depends for Women. You really will want these. If you do a birth center, they will give you one when you leave, but you’re on your own after that. If you do the hospital, they do give you some maxi pads and some weird underwear stuff too, but I personally think the depends were better. But do invest in some regular pads too. You can use these for when your bleeding lets up a little, plus you can use them to stick in the freezer, thus creating an ice pack for your sore perineum. 3. Witch Hazel. You can put this on your pads and then freeze them. The Witch Hazel helps you to heal better, plus it feels nice. Eventually it won’t though, so don’t use it forever. ;) 4. Some things I got from the midwives as a sort of “home care gift” were baby balm, for Kessie, to keep her from getting diaper rash, this other balm stuff called comfort cream for sore and/or cracked nipples, and these herbal “tea bags” to use in the bathtub or sitz bath. All of these have come in really handy, and I like that they are all natural things as well. I’m not sure what was in the herbal bag exactly, but I for sure believe that the stuff helped me heal better and quicker. So, if you have a way, you may try to find something like that.
- Do everything you can to prepare yourself for birth and minimizing the recovery time and discomfort. Here’s what I would do differently:
-Exercise, at least every other day or so. I did do pretty good at this, but not as good as I should have. I would get into a good flow, and then out of it, then do good again, then back out. I did get a lot of walking in because of going to school, but then when school ended was when I had a harder time getting myself to exercise.
-Do kegals! I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t really like doing them, but part of the reason was because I honestly couldn’t figure them out that well. I also didn’t feel like I even did them well when I tried, so why even bother? Boy I wish I would have at least tried! I’m sure it would have helped minimize my tearing and such. I’ll be doing these next time, and maybe even in between!
-Do perineal massage. This is also to help with stretching things out and preventing tears. Again, I’ll be doing this next time as well.
-Primrose oil. I kept forgetting to use this, and I wish I would have for the same reason as the above.
-Again, practice practice practice your hypnosis techniques!
-Take naps! I’m not really one to nap very well. I like to be always doing something, so napping isn’t always the first priority, but after you have that baby and all you want to do is sleep, you will feel pretty silly for not taking advantage of it before. Plus, as mentioned before, it’s really nice to get as much rest as possible before the big moment! J
Well, I think that’s all the advice and such that I have. I really hope it wasn’t TMI or scared anyone. I just wanted to be helpful and informative since I feel I wasn’t as well informed and prepared for the aftermath.
But there you have it. Kessie’s wonderful, beautiful, lovely birth story (and plus some). I’m soooo enjoying my little girl and so glad that she is finally here! She’s the best and I love her so very much! She’s such a blessing and absolutely perfect! <3