When I was newly postpartum, I didn’t know where to look with some of my burning questions. Looking back now, I know those weren’t the questions needing answers, rather they were the part of me yearning for the connection and validation in my journey and feelings.
No journey is the same but we can travel similar paths. I share not as a note of comparison, but as a vessel of connection. Embrace your unique journey, but know you are not alone.
At 4:45 June 9, 2021 I was an hour and 10 minutes into my postpartum journey.
A journey that was beginning to look strikingly different than the one I had prepared for.
Although different, it was no less magical than imagined.
My birth took a lot of mental direction. And I realize now that was the start of what parenthood is. Taking charge of your mental state and no longer think just for you.
After an unplanned c-section and a 24 hour discharge, I think anyone would have anxiety!
I think it’s normal for any new parent to have some level of anxiety. period.
The unknown is scary!
But what I learned was each day gets better.
The first few days were hard. No lie, they were damn hard.
Not being able to go up and down the stairs – not being able to bend over- not being able to jump up when your baby cries for you. There is a lot of healing that comes post birth, especially a c-section birth.
On day 2 my milk came in and my anxiety hit an all time high.
I was dealing with more milk coming in than could go out and I started to notice clogged milk ducts. Working through that was painful (more painful than my cesarean healing).
Showers became my outlet. A place to express my breasts, and simultaneously my emotions.
I’d cry in the shower as I didn’t want Amalia to be around me when I was in that state.
I knew I was incredibly happy and grateful, but the hormones, c-section pain & breast pain hit me like a ton of bricks.
I remember standing in the shower, my mom on the other side of the glass walking me through the pain. She said “You keep saying how grateful you are. So honey, when you are feeling the wave of overwhelm hit you, begin your mantra: “I’m so grateful” focus your energy on the good.”
As silly as it sounds – it worked. It was so incredibly powerful at pulling me out of that place of fear, pain and unknown.
As a Mom, you realize there are moments when you need help – but also need to pull up your socks and focus your energy elsewhere – and this was that moment for me.
I had a brand new baby who I was so damn grateful for.
While navigating through what felt like a damp cloud, heavy and foggy. I was able to get out of that space and really start to see my needs clearly.
The first week was filled with lots of help. But I knew, despite my surgery, I needed my independence to bond & understand my baby’s needs.
We decided to, for a week, not invite any visitors or family over and just soak up and embrace our little girl.
This was the best decision.
As each day passed, I became more familiar with this new chapter and my anxiety became less and less.
So Mama, if you’re feeling the wave of overwhelm, I’m here to assure you it won’t last.
But if you notice your hormones are off, if you are not yourself, do not wait. Go and talk to your healthcare provider. Talk to someone, because one thing I have noticed in this postpartum journey, Mama- we are rarely asked about.
So if you’ve done the things that normally bump you out of a funk and you’re still in a dark, or anxious place please do not wait. Go and take charge of your mental health so you can soak up and enjoy every second of this incredible, fleeting period in time.
What To Expect Post Cesarean
I’m sorry to say, but you’re not sent home with painkillers! (My mind was blown at this). Advil/Tylenol is about as strong as you’re gonna get!
Keep your incision clean and dry!
My midwife warned me of not overdoing it as it is difficult to remove scar tissue in this area, and I took this really seriously.
I avoided the stairs and also resisted the urge to use my legs to move items. (Which is hard to do if you’re used to using your legs like 3rd and 4th arms.)
Scar Tissue Massage
It’s important to start a scar tissue massage once your incision has fully healed. Massaging helps to loosen the skin around the incision to ensure it doesn’t get stuck to the tissue underneath (if you have a scar, you’ll know the “stuck” feeling.)
Using the nēmah restorative scar treatment cream has been helpful at keeping me on top of my scar tissue massages. I wasn’t the best at doing my massages, I’ll admit. I would maybe do them once a month, in the bath or laying in bed when I realized it’s been some time. I then realized how I prioritize my facial skincare routine – as well as my body (moisturizing every night) why was I disregarding a scar that may be my only vessel to future children?
So my daily massages have begun. I really don’t spend too much time at massaging, I will do a couple passes when applying my restorative scar treatment cream. I will say I am really grateful with how my scar is healing and the difference I’ve noticed in the scars appearance.
The cream can also be used on your little ones, on burns or any other scars you’re looking to reduce the appearance of.
If you’re looking to purchase the restorative scar treatment cream you can get 15% off your order by entering my discount code at checkout: ALEXA.
I had my fair share of engorgement. Between my milk coming in, mastitis and biopsy infection, I can tell you a thing or two about sore boobs LOL. But in regards to milk engorgement, I’d say my engorgement lasted a good 3 months.
The Knix leakproof pads were the best at protecting shirts from a heavy let down.
As you can see in the photo – my let down was really quick. I was in a nursing tank with just a regular nipple protector in, clearly didn’t do much!
The Knix pads would fill up to the point I could ring them out & I still would not leak through to my top. So I cannot recommend them enough.
First Signs Of Mastitis
I do not share this as medical advice at all, but rather as a little helpful tip if you happen to notice signs of mastitis.
My very first sign was a warm breast and firm tissue. There was no redness, swelling or discolouration, so I was still in the beginning stage of mastitis.
My Midwife told me the following:
- Vitamin C: 2000mg Vitamin C
- Potato Skins: Peel the raw potato skins off potato and place directly on the heated area on breast. Discard once warm, peel, repeat.
- Cabbage Leaves: Place cabbage in fridge & place cool leaf on the irritated breast to reduce heat.
- Ice Packs: Ice packs or a damp cloth placed in freezer to draw out any remaining heat.
They say it takes two full years for your uterus to fully heal. Wild eh? After seeing what my belly went through – I believe it!
I share my postpartum images as they are a part of my journey. And they are also my own reference for future pregnancies- how my body expanded, retracted and blossomed into motherhood.
I remember day 2 breastfeeding Amalia while the midwife was doing her assessment and I felt a pain similar to my contractions. I asked her what was going on, and she informed me it’s likely the cramping of my uterus shrinking back in size!
Women are freaking SUPER HUMAN!
A postpartum belly doesn’t shrink back immediately and doesn’t look the same once it does shrink.
Although our body knows what to do, I began wearing compression underwear about a week postpartum. The Knix compression underwear were comfortable and effective at making me feel supported but not putting any pain or discomfort on my incision. They sit nice and high and have velvet support bands around the belly that help hug everything in. The underwear also holds up to 4 tsp of protection. (Which is necessary postpartum!)
That little flap above your incision scar may look like a lot -but it will go down over time. I promise you your body will heal, but don’t rush your recovery.
I know I did and I paid for it. Every time I felt overwhelmed and would attempt laundry, vacuuming, or cleaning – boy would I pay for it later on that day. You body is doing so much work. Give it the grace of healing.
Linea Alba is a dark brown line that sometimes appears on pregnant belly’s. It’s due to an increase in melanin production during your pregnancy. Some women get it and some don’t. My Linea Alba appeared around 8 months and slowly disappeared after 3 months postpartum. I’m currently in my seven month postpartum and it’s completely gone.
My feet (and hands) were incredibly swollen during the end of my pregnancy. BUT what no one old me was it would only get worse before it got better!
Day 3 postpartum I kid you not, my legs looked like tree stumps.
I had no knee caps and my thighs went straight down to my ankles.
I didn’t take a photo because I remember looking in the mirror and thought, “well, if this is what life looks like now, I need to digest this first”. The next day the swelling was almost completely gone!
My midwife told me that post c-section, day three is usually when you have the most water retention as everything starts to shift back to normal.
Keeping my legs and feet elevated was a huge help as well as drinking lots of fluids to help flush everything out.
Pelvic Floor Health
Throughout my pregnancy I took The Belle Method Pilates & Push Prep which heavily focused on exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. I also began seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist in my third trimester.
With that said, I need to resume my appointment as I’m 7 months PP and I haven’t been once yet!
I know pregnancy affects your pelvic floor health – regardless of delivery. Truth be told I just haven’t made time for it. *As I write this I am making a note to call first thing Monday morning!*
Sex & Cycle
6 weeks PP is usually when your healthcare provider speaks to you about protection & the high chance of getting pregnant again, as you’re usually very fertile after birth. So be careful!
The whole breastfeeding = birth control is total BS!
I had the green light 6 weeks PP to resume sex & I gotta say, I was nervous! But I noticed right away it only became that much more intimate, and fun postpartum. You and your partner just become that much more connected after bringing this force of light and joy into the world. It’s such a beautiful thing.
With that said – every experience is so different. You may be completely touched out and not at all even thinking of sex. So do not think 6 weeks means it’s necessary. Go at your own pace and do whatever is comfortable for you.
I thought my cycle would come back once I began weaning, yet my period came back at 4 months postpartum!
I thought this was incredibly early, but I’ve heard from many that they also had their monthly friend return earlier than expected.
With this came a noticeable drop in my milk supply. I no longer had the excess milk which allowed me to leave with ample bags of milk stored in the freezer, so I started to supplement with formula. (I’ve tasted my milk (I think every parent has) and this formula tastes identical. Supplementing moms, can’t recommend it enough!) and thankfully Amalia had no issue going from breast to bottle with the formula. I also love that this formula changes nutritional values based on age (Stage 1: 0-6 months Stage 2: 6-12 months).
The postpartum journey is so vastly different for each person, yet one thing remains incredibly similar. We’ve all brought a new life into this earth. I hope by me sharing my journey you’re able to find some connection, comfort and the relief that you’re not alone in your journey.