Our exclusive postpartum doula’s guide to thriving in the first three weeks postpartum gives you tips for preparing before baby arrives and tools for settling in at home with your baby.
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One of the most common questions we’re asked as doulas is how to physically prepare for pregnancy, birth and recover postpartum. Join us on the blog today with Stacey Hendricks, a Cincinnati Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.
It’s 3:47 pm. Almost time to start dinner. Looking around, listening to their sibling laughter in the other room, staring at the school papers, toothpaste, conditioner, water filter for the fridge, and receipts on the kitchen counter. The last little to-do’s of the day. Life stacks up.
Then the fog lifted and I was finally free. I could breathe. I could get through my days without anxious, intrusive thoughts. I didn’t emotionally react as swiftly and aggressively because as one RN friend put it, “You’ve been given a sort of pause button.” She was so right.
My daughter recently turned 2-years-old, and I’m a functioning person with a decent amount of balance in my life. I have a job, I have friends, I go on dates with my husband, I exercise, and, most importantly, I love my daughter to pieces. We did bond, even without breastfeeding and without me being my best in the beginning.
At first it was all about the excitement, and I had lots of people checking on me and calling me. I had visitors, calls, messages, and mail from people showing their love. It was all about gazing at her little face and being in total awe that she was here, out in the real world, and I wasn’t feeling her wiggle around inside anymore. I was just recovering physically and trying to get the hang of life with a newborn.
She said we would continue talk therapy. It would help. I would slowly back off of my pumps and in June, when I weaned, I would start medication. I kept telling her I would get better if we just bought a house. If I could get organized. If Maggie would come back to the breast. If. If. If. I didn’t need medication. I would be fine. If only I could fast-forward this part of my life.
She had milestones. I didn’t record any. Each month passed by and I didn’t snap a styled photo like I had for her older sister. I didn’t write in her baby book, except to apologize for ruining us. I hoped she would forgive me. I didn’t take any videos or pictures. I never wanted to remember this time. Never. But, daily, I was reminded. Reminded that we weren’t normal. Reminded we were broken.
I had a new plan for the weekend. I would stay with my parents. I would power pump. I would cluster pump. I would get my supply up. We would attempt to latch then. I tried to busy myself with sewing while my mother fed my baby. I made her watch a paced bottle feeding video. I watched across the room in agony as she held the bottle in her mouth. I knew it was over then. I knew I would never get to be her mother.
I know, firsthand, how hard it is for parents to admit they're suffering. I made it through and I can barely talk about it almost a year later. So I'm forcing my own hand (or fingers, rather). This month is National Mental Health Awareness Month and I am determined to get my story out in the hopes of helping another parent recognize their symptoms and seek help earlier.
Below is Part One. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 (or who knows how many since I haven't written them yet). I have never felt so vulnerable as I do standing on the precipice of this blog series. Thank you for reading.
Bedtime stories are a nice way to wind down together and enjoy some quiet bonding and fun with your kid(s). Here are the top ten bedtime books from our house from birth through age 5.
Whether you’ve just peed on the stick or your due date is quickly approaching, almost every pregnant person has fears leading up to their labor and birth. Let us remind you that you are not alone. At Doulas of Cincinnati we’ve helped prospective parents process a great deal of fears and questions.
Placenta Encapsulation has quickly topped the charts in pregnancy, birth and postpartum services in Cincinnati. As Cincinnati’s only team of professional and certified Postpartum Placenta Specialists (PPS), Doulas of Cincinnati is thrilled to bring families the educational, emotional, and physical support that they seek. Today we’re answering the most frequently asked questions for people seeking placenta services in our area.
Sleep. More specifically, sleeping-in. That's what I was afraid of while I was pregnant. HOW ON EARTH WILL I SLEEP-IN? My perfect Saturday: Sleeping in and brunch. I don't ask for much in life. I swear it. Girls just wanna have fun, ya know? But then you're pregnant, and thinking of everything you might miss out on...
“You’ve had 5?”
“Yes, I’ve had 5.”
I know how to burn bacon in the oven, how to organize a family of 7 in a house built for 3, how to run a half marathon… I know about so many things, but not many as intimately as recovering from a cesarean.
It is a completely foreign idea to most, to think that someone could even have five cesareans, but for me, it is reality. I’m going to help you out a little and try to save you a bit of the learning curve on the other side...
Here are the top 5 things I know about recovering from a cesarean for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th times:
- You will be more prepared.
Especially if it is a planned repeat cesarean. You’ll know what to expect and have a little prep time before the birth and baby coming home to think out where you’ll sleep so you don’t climb too many stairs, who will be there to support you those first few days home (since now you’ve had major surgery and a newborn plus older kids), and you’ll have picked a date and time that works with your schedule so holidays and birthdays and, for the most part, life as usual won’t be interrupted.
- People will ask questions and decide what you should have done.
Why did you have another cesarean? Why didn’t you even try? Don’t they tie your tubes after that many? You know you could have had a VBAC? The questions from even complete strangers will roll in and so will those opinions… and it is those that can tear your postpartum apart. They sneak into your mind and soul and even when you know in your heart you’ve made the very best decision for your family, the “what ifs” still creep in. Phone a friend. Talk to your partner. Talk to your doula. Don’t let those nay-sayers get you down. Step away from the mommy boards and try to remember why you made the choices you did. You are a strong and capable adult and those questions and opinions from others stink because you freaking ROCK!
- You will push too hard and test your limits.
Those restrictions mean about half as much as they did the first time you were told; at least to you because you’ve already been there done that. You know what works best for you and, now, with older children at home to care for as well, you will push your limits. You will forget to eat, forget that you just had major surgery, and forget to even sit down! Don’t. It will catch up to you and it will catch up to you quicker than you think. Rest. Get help from your partner, a friend, a postpartum doula, whomever it may be, you need to take time to recover! And even though you may feel fantastic and know what to expect… your body needs to heal, just the same (if not more).
- People will expect more.
They’ve seen you go through this before. They know you know what to expect and have planned for a lot of it this time around; they will expect you to be fine. Not on purpose, not because they are jerky-jerk faces, but because they know you’ve done this before. People think it is easier the second time around, but typically that’s not the case. They forget to tell you to slow down, to rest, and that you need the support… you know, all those sweet things they did the first time? Take a breather. Talk to the people around you and ask them for help to remind you to slow down. I know how hard it can be to ask for help, especially when you feel like people will be looking for you to be super woman, but deep down they want to help and they aren’t not supporting you on purpose. When in doubt, go back to #3.
- Every cesarean recovery is different.
Every recovery will come with its own set of new challenges. There’s no way to predict how quickly or slowly you’re going to feel yourself again. What may have taken you 3 days post cesarean last time, may take you weeks this time around. You may have developed an infection last time, but this time around it is like smooth sailing. You just never know. Take your time. Be gentle with yourself. Push yourself, but get more rest than you think you need. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you have a support system in place. Recovering from a cesarean after having one previously (CBAC) is no joke; it is no walk in the park and it is by no means an easy way out. You need to take time and let yourself heal. Surround yourself with people who you can talk to and will support you. Whether that is your family, your friends, a postpartum doula, or all of them… You deserve support, probably more than ever before!
Jessica Dill is the owner of Special Dilliveries, LLC (www.specialdilliveries.com) and resides in the tiny town of Burlington, Indiana with her husband (Rob), 5 children (too many to name), dog (Timber), cats(Tali and Al), and slew of chickens.