Now what? My pregnancy is over so…no more pregnant life blog right? Wrong. It’s a little known fact that pregnancy is more than the nine months of carrying around a life in the womb. A woman does not simply stop being pregnant whether she gave birth, miscarried, or lost the baby by other means (I can’t bear to write). The body slowly unwinds from pregnancy, particularly when it comes to re-balancing hormones. After birth it’s called postpartum. Postpartum lasts at least 6 weeks, but some say it lasts up to a year. There is another term given to the three months post baby: the Fourth Trimester. So, the Pregnant Life Blog continues!
My first week of postpartum primarily took place in the NICU of the hospital near my birth center. Baby (meet him in my blog post: Introducing Baby Henry) came out with fluid still in his lungs, which normally clears out in the process of birth, however sometimes it fails. After two hours of skin to skin and our birth team trying to help Baby clear his lungs they decided he needed more help. Husband and Baby Henry were shipped off to the NICU while I recovered for a few more hours and then joined them. After about 12 hours Baby’s lungs were cleared, but other complications ensued. He was on a sugar water IV and needed to be weaned off through receiving milk. Once we got him weaned off the IV his skin was yellowing, so under special lights for Jaundice he went! All this took most of a week. Husband and I were quite tired of the hospital by the time they let us go. However, it wasn’t all bad. Here are some thoughts about what I liked and disliked about being at the hospital.
Negatives to staying at the hospital post birth:
- Higher Stress Atmosphere: Noisy. Strangers (nurses and doctors and lab workers) coming and going constantly. The last three nights I slept on a couch in Henry’s room and I didn’t hardly sleep. I was thankful to get back in my own bed after all that.
- Hospital Standards: We weren’t exactly allowed to do what we wanted, we had to cooperate with the Hospital staff to meet their standards in order to get Baby released. For example, I was required to breastfeed baby at their intervals, not less, not more.
- Baby slept in a hospital bed with all sorts of wires attached to him. It was sad to see. I tried not to think about it and to do my best to be present for him. We talked to him, sang to him, read to him, and held him as much as we were able.
Positives to staying at the hospital post birth:
- Baby got the care he needed. Obviously. There just wasn’t any way around him needing to be at the hospital, even though the complications were minor.
- Breastfeeding support. I received a lot of breastfeeding support. A lactation consultant came and taught me, it was really helpful! Then the nurses continued to help teach me as we continued to try breastfeeding, so Baby and I caught on pretty fast. Additionally, they provided a breast pump and taught me how to use it.
- Nurses took care of Baby’s basics. They took his vitals and changed his diapers for us every three hours!
- Nurses taught us about caring for a baby. I was sure to ask them as many questions as I could. Thanks to all the nurses taught us we left the hospital quite ready to be parents.
- Wheelchair rides. I got toted around the hospital by Husband in a wheelchair. It was the next best thing to bedrest, which wasn’t possible for me in the hospital setting.
- Lactation Vouchers. I felt like a queen at the hospital for being a nursing momma! They gave me vouchers for free food. I used my voucher to buy hummus and pretzels as well as a bottle of the good stuff: Naked Juice. Also, there was a nook in NICU with juices that said “for lactating mom’s only.”
- Fatigue: I slept 3-4 hours total per day, in cat naps. It’s honestly quite miserable.
- Body Aches: From giving birth and from getting dehydrated during labor.
- Crying: Hormones going crazy, but also a lack of sleep doesn’t help.
- Feeling Trapped: I wish I could sleep for even just a six hour stretch, but baby needs to eat.
- Feeling so much love and pride: He’s beautiful and amazing.
- Worried: Hormones are crazy right now.
- Discomfort During Elimination: Things got a little stretched out down there from giving birth.
- Sore Breasts: Using an abundance of creams on the end to soothe. Also, I got a Milk Blister, which hurt until I learned the remedy to “pop” it after applying a warm compress and all was well again.
- Night Sweats: I wake up once a night in a sweat, very annoying.
- Uncontrollable Shivers: Usually in the night. It’s as though my body isn’t quite able to regulate it’s temperature right now.
- Back Pain: I think this happened from sitting in a bad position while learning to breastfeed my first few times.
- Sore “bottom”: From stretching, tearing, and stitches. I move slowly, lying down is best. I take Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling, use frozen “padsicles,” and plan to take a daily sitz baths once out of the hospital.
- Bleeding: Of course.
- Shrinking Belly: I am surprised by how much it shrank in a week.
Having a newborn is hard work! Breastfeeding is hard work. Cloth diapering is hard work. It didn’t help that the diapers that the diaper service sent us were too small, so Baby constantly wetted through them until they could give us the next size up several days later. I ended up washing the set of diapers we had to make it until the next delivery. Here’s to hoping cloth diapering gets easier!
How long would you say postpartum lasts?