It’s been eight weeks since Noah was born and we’re finally feeling a little more confident and getting into a good groove here at home! The first few weeks of having him home with us were a blissful blur. Our days were spent soaking up the newborn snuggles and our nights were a bit restless, but overall it was pure joy. Some days it’s hard to believe I’m a mom, while other days it feels like it’s been my role forever.
One thing that is not talked about enough is the transition into motherhood. Becoming a parent is a totally life-altering experience. As a new mom you’re taking on a new role and learning how to care for a newborn while also figuring out how to take care of your postpartum body. Most of the time you’re sleep deprived and just trying to figure it out as you go! It can be a lot to manage and it’s something I wish people spoke about more openly.
The first few weeks for me were a definitely learning curve, especially when it came to caring for my postpartum body. Going to the bathroom became a chore and took 3x as long as it used to. My bathroom vanity was suddenly taken over by mesh underwear, heavy duty pads, ice packs, and Dermoplast. Showering quickly became a luxury, but it was often an unenjoyable experience those first weeks due to engorged breasts, sore nipples and constant leaking. Add in breastfeeding and pumping and you’ve got a full-time job! There were days where I felt drained between bathroom visits, showering, and making sure Noah got fed. Everything is so new and unfamiliar, including the body you are in and I can totally understand how that can take it’s toll on women. Given all the changes, I am so thankful that I didn’t have any PPD or PPA.
Overall, the transition into motherhood has been a positive one and I feel that having a relatively quick and easy labor and delivery aided in that. I’ll chat about it more below, but my recovery was a lot better than I anticipated it being! While there were a few weeks where I felt uncomfortable, I wasn’t in pain for very long! Below I’m answering some frequent questions I got over the last few weeks and I’m also sharing my postpartum recovery favorites, too! P.S. Every mother’s experience is different (and it can differ with each child), so this is just *my* experience and what worked best for me this go around!
labor & delivery
WHAT WAS YOUR HOSPITAL EXPERIENCE LIKE, ESPECIALLY WITH COVID?
I had a really positive hospital experience. I have always had increased anxiety when it comes to hospitals, doctors, and the like, so I was surprised how at ease I was the entire time. All of the nurses and doctors I interacted with were extremely polite and personable, which was a huge reason the experience was so positive. In terms of COVID, I did not once feel unsafe. I was required to get a COVID test prior to my induction (that came back negative) and all of the nurses wore hair coverings, two masks and a face shield. I also wore a mask (until I was pushing) and so did my husband out of respect for the hospital staff, even though they didn’t pressure us to keep it on. We were allowed to take our masks off when no one was in the room.
I know a lot of women have been stressed about delivering during COVID, but in my experience it wasn’t even at the forefront of my mind and all of the staff made me feel extremely safe and comfortable in order to have a “normal” labor and delivery experience. I was fine with taking a COVID test and wearing a mask because I wanted to make sure I was doing my part to keep my baby and the hospital staff safe, too. The one big difference of delivering during COVID was the lack of visitors allowed at the hospital. The hospital sort of felt like a ghost town because laboring moms were only allowed one support person (spouse or doula) and no one else. Nick was allowed to leave during our stay, but he didn’t have a reason to since our hospital had the cafeteria and a 24/7 Panera. When restrictions changed in March I was really upset over the thought of not being able to have visitors, but truthfully it was really, really nice to have it be just the three of us in the hospital. We were able to bond as a new family of three, relax a little, and really soak up all of the information the nurses and lactation consultants provided to us without distraction.
HOW DID YOU MENTALLY PREPARE YOURSELF FOR LABOR? WAS IT WORSE THAN YOU WERE EXPECTING?
As someone who was completely terrified (and I mean terrified) of labor, I knew I *had* to change my mentality on it. When I became pregnant I took on the mentality of “it’s no longer about me, it’s about my child,” and that helped me look at everything in a different, positive light. I also found it helpful to take an online course (we did one through our hospital) and really learn about labor and delivery. I also read Expecting Better and Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and those also helped me understand everything my body was going through and provided answers to things that had been worrying me. It made everything not seem so “scary.”
With that said, I went into my labor with very low expectations. At the end of the day I knew I wanted to have a safe and healthy delivery for me and my baby, however that needed to happen. I’m really glad that I didn’t let myself overthink labor & delivery or think in “worst case” scenarios. I didn’t have a “birth plan” so to speak and I think that helped facilitate a positive experience. I absolutely loved my labor and delivery experience. In fact, I really enjoyed everything about this pregnancy. Even though I know it could be completely different next time, I’m looking forward to baby #2… years down the road ha!
DID YOU GET AN EPIDURAL?
I did get an epidural and I’m so glad I did. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I wasn’t willing to go without an epidural! That was my one “want” as far as birth preferences went. Due to COVID, Nick wasn’t allowed to be in the room with me when it was administered (to reduce risk to everyone) so my nurse held my hand and talked me through it while the anesthesiologist administered it. It was far less painful and less of a “thing” than I thought it was going to be! I only felt slight pressure but within 30 minutes I was numb and feeling g-r-e-a-t! I didn’t feel my contractions until I was 9.5cm dilated and it was almost “go time” and even then it just felt like pressure!
HOW LONG WERE YOU IN LABOR?
From the time my IV was administered to the time I delivered was about 7 hours. I was induced (read Noah’s birth story here) at 40w1d because that happened to be the next time my OB was on call. I truly didn’t think I would need to be induced since I had been 4cm dilated for 2.5 weeks, but Noah had other plans, so on Tuesday July 21st I was induced. I had been having really bad back labor for a few days and was so glad to be induced. When they hooked me up to the IVs and monitors I was having small contractions, I just didn’t realize it! Since I was already dilated so much they broke my water and put me on a very slow drip of Pitocin. I didn’t have a bad experience with Pitocin, but I think it’s because I was given so little of it. Within a matter of hours I went from 4-7cm and then 7-10cm. Once I was fully dilated I pushed for 42 minutes.
WHAT WAS YOUR #1 PRODUCT YOU’RE GLAD YOU BROUGHT TO THE HOSPITAL?
The MVP of my hospital bag was 100% this portable fan! I attached it to my hospital bed and had it on me the entire time. I joke that I froze Nick and our nurses out of the room because I had the AC as low as it could go and my fan blasting the entire time. I don’t think I broke a sweat because of that fan! Now we use it for stroller walks with Noah. I’m also glad I brought my own blanket with me to the hospital. It was a nice comfort item to have, especially because I would go through waves of being hot & cold. Nick and I traded off using it and it was nice to cuddle with Noah on a soft blanket (aka not the hospital ones).
ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU HAD PACKED OR DIDN’T NEED TO PACK?
There’s nothing I really wish I had packed in my hospital bag, luckily I had it all covered. But I definitely over packed clothes for me. I only wore my robe, my nursing bra and the hospital gown while I was there. I never once put on the PJs I brought. And honestly, a lot of the time I was naked from the waist up doing skin-to-skin with Noah. That was a definite perk of not being allowed to have visitors – I never felt forced to be dressed or anything and could just “be.” I would say unless you have strong feelings on certain postpartum items, like pads or underwear, just use what the hospital offers you. You’re so delirious and bleeding so much at that point that it really doesn’t matter. I saved the “good” postpartum items I purchased for when I got home. I would suggest bringing a few sizes of baby clothing with you though! We brought two separate outfits and both of them were WAY too big on him even though he was 7 pounds. We basically kept him double swaddled with a hospital swaddle and the Ollie swaddle the whole time! We packed a ton of snacks because we weren’t sure what the food situation would be like but we didn’t end up needing any of them! We both also brought our own water bottles which I highly recommend. Due to COVID they weren’t providing those big water jugs you always hear moms raving about (ha!) so I’m glad we had our own bottles to keep our drinks cold.
HOW LONG DID YOU STAY AT THE HOSPITAL? WAS IT ENOUGH TIME?
We checked in for my induction at 6:15 a.m. on July 21st and we checked out at 6:15 p.m. on July 22nd, so roughly 36 hours. Due to COVID they allowed you the option to leave after 24 hours if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. That first night was rough and not for the reasons you would think! We had nurses, lactation consultants, and doctors coming in every 1-2 hours that first night. We would just get settled, get Noah fed and back down and someone would come in to wake us up to check on me or him. Needless to say, none of us got any *good* sleep because we constantly had people in our room. The next morning Nick and I agreed that if everything checked out with me & Noah that we would go home that evening. My doctor and his pediatrician gave the ok, so we headed home that evening and we were so ready. We knew we would be more comfortable in our own home, whether we got sleep or not! I’m very happy with that decision and I don’t regret not staying another night. If either of us had any complications or the doctors felt we should stay another night we certainly would have.
Postpartum recovery & care
HOW ARE YOU FEELING? I KNOW THERE’S A LOT OF EMOTIONS AFTERWARDS.
Two months into motherhood I am feeling great but it took a while to get to this point! The first few weeks when we were in the thick of it were very emotional. We were trying to figure it all out, soak it all in, and have some sense of normalcy at the same time. I felt such a wide range of emotions those first weeks from being overjoyed to overwhelmed, all within a short span of time. There were countless nights that I would sit in his glider during a feeding and have tears streaming down my face because he was growing so quickly. I have attempted to read I’ll Love You Forever three times to Noah and I still can’t get through the first few pages. Many nights Nick and I lie in bed and are in awe of Noah and that we created him and that he is ours. Everyone says the newborn days are fleeting and I didn’t realize how right everyone was… the days go by so quickly and they change daily. It’s a lot to process emotionally some days. Ugh, I’m tearing up as I type this!
HOW HAS YOUR POSTPARTUM RECOVERY BEEN? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOURSELF YET?
I am thankful that recovery has been relatively easy for my first pregnancy. Since I only had a small cosmetic tear (required 2 stitches), recovery time was pretty quick for me. The first 48-72 hours after delivery were rough, especially with all the bleeding. I was totally not prepared for just how much bleeding there would be…especially when they come into your room and press on your stomach (yikes!). After the first week my bleeding slowed significantly and after the second week bleeding was light enough that I could ditch the thick overnight pads. By week three I was mostly dealing with slight discharge and only needing normal sized pads with my regular underwear. I realize that’s a lot of TMI, but wanted to be open and honest with my postpartum journey ha! I don’t feel 100% like myself yet. I’m still working on feeling comfortable in my postpartum body and feeling fully healed.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF RECOVERY POST BIRTH?
I think the hardest part for me was having to slow down and ask for help. I am a very independent person, so having to ask for help for the smallest things was hard at first. I hated feeling like I couldn’t do things on my own and like I was constantly asking Nick for help, although he didn’t mind one bit! Nick had to keep reminding me to not do any unnecessary walking, especially up and down the stairs, and to not do anything I didn’t *need* to do. I truly had to force myself to slow down and I’m glad that I did because it certainly helped the healing process.
WHAT’S BEEN THE HARDEST PART SINCE COMING HOME?
The first week was hard. Like really, really hard. Noah was born on a Tuesday afternoon and my milk came in that Friday and it was truly a hard day. My boobs were so engorged and were so sore to the touch that I didn’t even want a t-shirt touching them, let alone a nursing bra. He was having trouble latching because I was so engorged and pumping wasn’t providing much relief at that point. I was still bleeding a lot and was still sporting an ice pack, a giant pad and disposable underwear. My feet and lower legs were dealing with some swelling from all the IV and liquids. My whole body was going through changes and I just didn’t feel like myself. And honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do to fix any of it because I was so overwhelmed and tired. Out of everything during the first eight weeks, those few days as I was in the thick of changes were the hardest for me. Every other day compared to that one has been easy! I had to keep reminding myself that it was temporary and by that Sunday I was feeling much more normal! But woof, I was NOT prepared for how sore I would be from basically head to toe.
HOW ARE YOU HANDLING POST BIRTH WITH COVID & FAMILY SEEING THE LITTLE ONE? I’M DUE SOON & TRYING TO FIGURE THIS OUT NOW!
I will start by saying that this is a deeply personal choice and I know each person and family handle this decision differently. We had our family quarantine beforehand to reduce the risk. So far, we have only allowed the grandparents (our parents) to meet him. At the recommendation of our pediatrician they were required to wash their hands upon entering, wear a mask the entire time and wear a receiving blanket so he wasn’t against their clothing, etc. As first time parents we knew it was important that our family still be able to meet him and help us out, while still protecting his health. We are still remaining extra cautious and haven’t had any other visitors meet him and we haven’t taken him out places, either. While it’s certainly not the way we envisioned his newborn days, it’s necessary to protect him as much as we can from all the unknowns. It’s been really hard trying to find a balance with everything going on. It makes running errands so much harder since I don’t feel comfortable taking him out.
HAVE YOU STARTED WORKING OUT YET? ARE YOU FEELING COMFORTABLE IN YOUR PP BODY?
I had my postpartum checkup last week and was cleared to resume working out, so I will probably start this week and ease my way back into it. There are times when I don’t feel 100% healed so for now I’m going to be careful which exercises I do. I’m excited to get back into a workout routine and hope that I can feel a little more “me” in a few weeks.
I gained about 30 pounds during this pregnancy. I lost about 15 the first week or so but the rest has stuck around. My clothes fit me so differently now and I had to order jeans 2 sizes larger than my normal size. I actually cried when they came in and I tried them on because they still felt snug. I had my breakdown moment and then had to let it go because I know that my body grew and carried a child and I’m blessed that I was able to do that. I’m working on being nicer to myself when those thoughts creep in. I know my body is always going to be different than it was pre-baby and it will take time for me to feel comfortable again, and that’s ok. I’m giving myself grace and learning to love this new version of me.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE POSTPARTUM ITEMS?
I stocked up on so many different postpartum items before Noah was born because I truly had no idea what was going to work for me and what I was going to like best. I ended up not needing all of the items, but I’m glad I had them on hand just in case. When you need something (especially when it comes to recovery) the last thing you want to do is have to wait for it to be delivered! Below is a roundup of everything I used and can recommend for postpartum recovery! I had these items set up in stations in a bathroom downstairs, our master bathroom & the bathroom closest to the nursery. I definitely suggest having a setup for each floor of your home for convenience. The first few weeks I basically lived in my Lululemon align leggings, Kindred Bravely nursing & pumping bras, and soft tees! Lately I’ve been wearing the invigorate legging for a bit more compression.
ONE – HAAKA MANUAL BREAST PUMP | The Haaka is a game changer! I use this manual breast pump all the time. This was really helpful those first few days that my milk came in because I was constantly leaking (sorry, TMI!). I put this on after the shower and can easily get a few ounces of breastmilk, just from letdown. I also use it when breastfeeding and suction it to the other breast to gather let down. I am always shocked at the amount it catches! This is a great way to up your freezer stash, if needed!
TWO – FRIDAMOM PERI BOTTLE | This is one recommendation I got over and over from other moms. It’s 100% worth the hype, it’s *much* better than the one the hospital provides. The upside down design and extended neck of the bottle make it easier to use. I filled this with warm water and used this every time I went to the bathroom.
THREE – FRIDAMOM POSTPARTUM RECOVERY KIT | This postpartum recovery kit has everything you need. I love that it comes in a caddy, so all you have to do is put it on top of your toilet. It contains 4 pair of disposable underwear, witch hazel cooling pad liners, healing foam, and four ice packs. I LOVED their cooling liners and the healing foam. I liked that the cooling liners were long (vs. adding a few Tucks into your pad). The ice packs get really, really cold and I preferred these to the hospital ones.
FOUR – LANSINOH 3-IN-1 BREAST THERAPY PACKS | These gel packs were a god send once my milk came in! They provide hot or cold relief, depending on what you need! I keep them in the freezer for when I need relief from engorgement and warm them when I need to encourage let down or relieve a clogged duct. If you’re expecting soon, be sure to grab these and have them in the freezer for when your milk comes in. You’ll thank me later, I promise!
FIVE – DERMOPLAST SPRAY | They provide this to you in the hospital, but I grabbed an extra can for our downstairs bathroom. I used this after every trip to the bathroom and it really helped with pain relief (and itching once I was starting to heal & my stitches started to dissolve).
SIX – KINDRED BRAVELY PUMPING & NURSING BRA | These have been my favorite nursing and pumping bras. I have quite a few of them now and they wear so well after many washes. The material is really nice and they’re designed really well for efficient pumping and nursing.
SEVEN – ALWAYS DISCREET UNDERWEAR | Never thought I would be sharing disposable underwear, but here we are! 😉 These underwear were great and felt a lot less bulky than the hospital underwear. These can be used alone (they have a built in pad) or you can wear them in place of the hospital mesh underwear and still place an ice pack, pad, etc. in them. I used them both ways and they were effective with both uses.
EIGHT – COLACE STOOL SOFTENER | Just trust me on this one! You’re already in enough pain, no need to add any more pain to the mix. I took one a day for a week postpartum.