I won’t lie to you when I say that postpartum recovery was a shock to me. I mean sure, I didn’t think I’d walk out after giving birth skipping and dancing, but what I wasn’t quite expecting was to feel like my whole body had been hit by a bus and that it took a while to feel relatively human again.
And my lower body? I genuinely felt like it had been in a boxing ring and had 10 rounds with a heavyweight boxer who had won loads of belts (is that the right terminology?) and my foof was a newbie to boxing who’d only ever done it before in PE. Anyways, you get what I’m saying – I could barely sit (thanks to a tricky labour) I sat on a travel pillow (you know those neck ones) in the car on the way home and my god whenever Henry drove over a speed bump 😂
I’m not writing this to scare anyone, I don’t want anyone who’s pregnant to read this and feel suddenly very anxious about their vagina the apprentice boxer (I wonder what music they’d choose to walk out to the ring to…) but if I learnt one thing from my postpartum recovery so far, it’s that I wasn’t prepared so if I can help anyone else to feel a bit more prepared and help them feel a bit more comfortable – then this post has done it’s job!
When I got all my things together to help aid my recovery, I found everything a lot easier, I think recovery is also mental too- I think once I got over the fact that it was okay that I didn’t fancy going for a walk, or that I realised I needed to rest and I wasn’t being lazy – that really helped.
Also don’t compare your recovery to someone else on instagram or just in general, because it does you no bloody good.
Right – so I thought I’d compile a list of things that really have saved my bacon (new pet name idea for the foof maybe?) over the past six weeks, I hope it might help any of you too who are about to give birth or just given birth!
So let’s begin.
Incontinence Pants aka adult nappies : yes, yes really. I hope you’re ready to feel like Tommy Pickles after giving birth. No but seriously, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to bleeding after birth, I kind of thought you’d have a bit of blood like a heavy period for a few days, but what I hadn’t realised is it can last weeks! I think it was about four weeks for me before I stopped wearing pads (everyone is different remember) but the likelihood is, that it will be quite heavy for the first few days at least.
It’s almost like your body goes ‘you’ve not had a period for months so I’m going to give you 9 months worth all at once mwahahahaa’
I thought I’d be fine with those maxi/maternity pads, but a couple of people messaged me and recommend these pants instead, and I was SO glad they had, because they really did help those first few days. I felt a lot more comfortable and ‘safe’ from any leaks. They were great for nighttime, and were comfortable. I then moved onto sexy big black pants (another must – size up though and get high waisted ones) with a maxi pad when things got a bit lighter and quite frankly I was sick of feeling like a Rugrat.
I got the size small which fitted fine post birth and as my tummy went down. These maxi pads from Boots which are 80p a pack were great also!
Peri Bottle – I wasn’t sure if this was an essential before I gave birth, but another new Mum messaged me and said ‘this is the best money I’ve ever spent- you need this in your hospital bag’ so I thought ‘crikey strong words- better order this!’ and THANK GOD i did.
Because no one tells you how scary it is going to the loo post birth, I mean sure you’ve just been through labour but that first birth wee and then poo – jesus Christ- terrifying.
I had quite a lot of stitches so I was petrified about things stinging, and this bottle really helped to keep things comfortable (FYI going to the loo wasn’t actually scary at all, I’d made it so much worse in my head!) but this also helped to keep my stitches clean and helped to make you feel refreshed.
The one I have (affiliate link) holds a lot of water so it was really handy, I couldn’t have been without it – and if you buy one thing from my recommendations, make it this.
Painkillers – A bit of a basic one, but paracetamol and ibuprofen were key in helping my recovery. I was a bit bad at being regular taking them for the first couple of days and I found I left it till things were really sore which wasn’t good, I then put a timer on my phone for every four hours during the day and stuck to taking them and boy did it help things. I wish I’d been more prepared rather than having to send Henry’s Mum to go get me some as I ran out pretty quickly within the first 24 hours. I mean I am so lucky to have a wonderful support network who were able to help and go get stuff for us, but I don’t think it hurts to be prepared and have them ready to go.
Also please only take things you’ve been recommended, this was what the midwives told me to take when I was discharged.
Spritz For Your Bits – This spray has been super hyped up and well for good reason too, with ingredients such as aloe vera and witch hazel, this spray helps to soothe your bits post birth, I would spray this libreally and also onto pads and in the nappies too ( I know they’re not nappies but you get my drift)
The smell does however remind me of hospital which I now can’t stand but I couldn’t have been without this those first few days when I felt like a double decker had smashed into my vagina several times.
I also had the soak for your bits, as my midwife recommended having baths to help my stitches heal/feel more comfortable, and I’d add these to my bath which also helped to soothe things.
A cheaper option as this stuff isn’t the cheapest, is to get witch hazel and put this on pads and freeze them as this is very soothing too!
Nipple Balm – I decided I wanted to breastfeed but my god I didn’t realise how hard it would be. The second night feeding after birth was particularly tough as I was in hospital and poor P cluster fed all night, my milk hadn’t come in yet so she was hungry and wouldn’t stop crying. I spent most of the night crying too as I was SO tired and sore, she also had a tongue tie (which we didn’t discover till a few days later) so my poor nipples were in a sorry state come a few days after birth.
I relied on nipple balm ( I like this one from My Expert Midwife) and compresses from MAM which helped to soothe my poor nips (contractions were bad but cracked nipples + breastfeeding is a close second on the pain scale!) But these things really helped to soothe things, I wish I’d had the compresses to hand though when I needed them instead of googling at 4am “what soothes cracked nipples?’ and then sending out poor Henry first thing to Boots to get them for me.
Sleep – Okay so you’re thinking ‘Corrie I’ve just had a baby?’ And I get it. But I was very guilty of trying to do too much those first couple of weeks, whenever P would nap, I’d be trying to get the laundry done, or something else and then I got exhausted and realised I needed to sleep more. I was incredibly lucky that Henry helped with night feeds ( I started expressing very early to help my sore nips) so being able to have a bit of sleep really, really helped with my recovery.
There’s that old saying of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and it’s so true, especially in those first few weeks, you need rest for your body to recover, even if it’s a quick 20 mins here or there. And I know things are hard right now with lockdown, but one thing I learnt V quickly was that asking for help is not failing! But trying to rest and taking things easy where I could and not feeling guilty for doing so, really helped with my recovery both physically and mentally.
I feel like all of these things really helped to make those first couple of weeks so much more comfortable, at six weeks, I’m still recovering now, most days now I do feel almost back to normal but I do also realise I’m still only 6 weeks postpartum so still have a way to go, but I’m getting there.
It’s not a one size fits all when it comes to postpartum recovery and what could happen for you, could be different for someone else, but what I will say, is don’t do what I do and put too much pressure on yourself – take it easy and be kind to yourself, you’ve just been through something pretty tough and you were amazing, and if you’re reading this about to give birth- you’ve got this and you will be okay!! My instagram DM’s are always open if you ever want to chat – but go easy on yourself 💕 and I promise you will feel normal again, even though in those first few days you feel you never will- but I promise you, you will.