Now that I find myself in the beginning stages of the “fourth trimester,” I’m so glad that I decided to continue my pregnancy updates into the postpartum period. It’s nothing like I thought it would be and nothing could have prepared me for all that I am feeling and experiencing.
First, I’d like to thank you guys for giving me glimpses into your postpartum experiences. It’s been so reassuring to remember that many of you commented you felt or experienced similar things when I’m dealing with tears, night sweats, bleeding and pads, breastfeeding struggles, etc. I definitely don’t feel alone, although I am working to adjust to a new normal.
So here goes the first seven days postpartum…remember, I am going to keep these more focused on motherhood from my experience versus a documentation on Finn and his development and milestones.
THE FOURTH TRIMESTER: WEEK ONE
Arriving home from the hospital: my doctor cleared me to go home after two nights in the hospital. Most c-section stays are three nights but he said as long as I had help, that I would probably feel better and recover better at home. Leaving the hospital and arriving home was an incredibly emotional experience for me. I couldn’t believe how much my life had changed since I arrived at the hospital on Thursday night. Driving home and seeing everything “the same” when I felt so different was so crazy and so surreal. I cried the whole way home.
Body changes: since I had an epidural and a c-section, I was pumped full of fluids while I was in labor and delivery. Upon arriving home I was SO puffy and swollen. I actually had lost less weight than the baby weighed when I left the hospital because I had so much retained fluid. I had pitting edema that lasted until 6 days postpartum.
My stomach has been going down as my uterus contracts back down but my breasts have grown into a size that I’ve never known in my life! My lactation consultant said to enjoy them while they last. 😉 Everything around my stomach feels overall looser but not terrible.
Breastfeeding: breastfeeding is going well but has not been without its challenges. I was able to breastfeed for the first time while I was in the recovery room from my c-section. The hospital where I delivered has AMAZING lactation support and I had a lactation consultant come in and help get the baby latched while I was in recovery. That was a blessing.
Breastfeeding was incredibly painful for the first few days as my nipples got adjusted and we worked on our latch. I carried this nipple balm around with me everywhere and was constantly putting it on my nipples. My left one cracked a little and my right one was just sore. That healed and things have gotten so much more comfortable since my milk came in.
Speaking of my milk coming in, that was an experience. It fully came in 5 days postpartum and threw Finn and I both for a loop. He started getting fussy with his latch and I was so uncomfortable. I think the letdown was overwhelming for him and I felt overfull and engorged. At one point I was up at 4 a.m. in the shower trying to hand express because I was so uncomfortable.
I called the lactation support at the hospital first thing the next morning and they were able to fit me in for an appointment. It was an absolute game changer. I could have cried with relief. The lactation consultant was SO helpful and gave me so many great tips on latching, how to watch for the letdown and readjust my positioning, how to make sure all ducts are fully cleared, when baby is done, etc. Thank you all of you who stressed to use lactation consultants. They are angels.
Since then we’ve been doing pretty well! I’m feeding on demand but sometimes, especially in the middle of the night, it’s mommy’s demand and not Finn’s!
Sleep: speaking of middle of the night feeds…sleep. It hasn’t been terrible. We’re up every 2-3 hours but since I’m on maternity leave I can sleep in pretty late. We typically get in bed around 10:15-10:30 and I feed until around 11. He’s usually up around 1 and 3 and then will give me a stretch until 5 or 6 and then we sleep until 9 or so. We spend a lot of time in bed to get those hours of sleep in!
Showering: this won’t stay a weekly topic but oh my gosh, showers have been saving my life. They make me feel like a new person. I always take one in the morning and often I take a second in the evening. It feels so good to stand under the hot water, get clean, put on lotion and face creams, etc. Also, as soon as I could bend over to shave I started shaving my legs again. Really helps me feel somewhat normal.
Symptoms/recovery: I don’t know that symptoms is the best word for it but here are some things I have experienced in the first 7 days.
- Night sweats. Y’all weren’t kidding about the night sweats. They are INTENSE. I’ve always had night sweats but these are next level. I wake up drenched from head to toe. I now go to bed with towels and a change of pjs by the bedside.
- Bleeding. My bleeding was pretty heavy for the first 7 days but has finally started to subside. I definitely wore some adult diaper type things for the first few days that a friend had given me leftover from her postpartum time. They were so comfortable.
- Pain relief. I took 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen for the first 5-6 days. Luckily, I was able to avoid taking the pain medicine that my doctor gave me once I got home from the hospital. I really don’t like taking that stuff. The Ibuprofen was very effective though.
- Incision support/belly band. my nurse at the hospital gave me an abdominal binder to provide support to my stomach and the incision site and it’s been a lifesaver. I wore it every day during the day for the first 6 days postpartum and it really helped me with things like standing up and sitting down and moving around. It provided great counter pressure for my abs and incision so that I felt more supported and held.
- Appetite: for the first week pospartum, my appetite was really off. I was having a hard time eating meals. I think it was just my body getting back to normal after all the stress of surgery and birth and the surge of hormones coursing through my body. It’s better now.
Emotional well-being: this one deserves its own topic. I have never cried so much in my life and this comes from someone who’s pretty emotional in general. Sometimes I just look at him and start to cry because I’m still working out how my heart can be so full of love for someone I just met. I’ve burst into tears sitting at the table with girlfriends after breastfeeding for no reason that I can explain. I’ve cried because I’ve felt overwhelmed and tired. I’ve cried because my mom left and I miss her. I think I cry every time I talk to her on the phone. I’ve cried when friends come by to bring food and meet Finn.
The postpartum period is truly interesting. Your life changes dramatically in a way that it never has. For someone who is pretty on the go like I am, it’s quite an adjustment to go from go, go, go to sitting and being with an infant, often alone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in NO RUSH to get back to being busy but it’s an adjustment. I’m trying to soak up this time with him because I know it will be so short-lived and pass in an instant. I’ve got my whole life to be busy and to work.
The girls: I’ve received so many questions about how the girls are adjusting to their new baby brother. In short, they’ve been wonderful.
Zoey is definitely missing her daily long walks and full of energy but she’s doing great. She follows us around from room to room and always comes running if the baby is crying. She brings her ball everywhere and throws it into your lap wanting to play.
Sullie is just being her normal sweet self. She also is wanting a little extra attention but overall she’s adjusting great. She comes over to check out Finn and give him some sniffs from time to time but that’s about it.
Workouts/activity: needless to say, NONE! I have done a couple very short and very slow shuffles around the block (I can’t even call it a walk yet) because the fresh air made me feel a little more human/sane. You can read my postpartum fitness plan in this post. It will be adjusted given the fact that I ended up with a c-section and my return will likely be even slower and gentler than first anticipated.
Kindness of others: one thing that has blown me away in my first week postpartum is the kindness of others. I have received so many encouraging messages on social media, especially from other moms, and here in Charlotte I have had so many friends reach out to check in, bring food, offer to run errands, etc. It is such a blessing to feel not only seen but also cared for in this postpartum time when your life has just so drastically changed.
I could probably keep going for 1500 more words but I have a sweet baby to feed! Let me know if I missed anything that you’d like for me to cover in upcoming updates.
What did you do while you were breastfeeding?
Any tips for little things that helped you feel a little more like yourself when you were in the fourth trimester?
Tips for staying hydrated/well-fed when breastfeeding?