*WARNING* EXPLICIT CONTENT. DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS. *WARNING*
No one really goes into detail about what to expect from your body after you’ve given birth, so there are some things that really come as a surprise. I mean, the midwives tell you a bit about what to expect and how to help yourself recover faster/better, but it’s not enough detail and at that point when they’re explaining so much information with recovery, health visits, baby tests etc it almost goes in one ear and out the other.
I decided to write this diary piece on my experience of what my first two weeks after birth felt like (week 2 coming soon), hoping that it gives other new mamas some piece of mind that what they’re dealing with is the same as other mothers too. We are definitely not alone and it’s ok to talk about what trauma our bodies have been through and how we are feeling emotionally. In fact I encourage you to talk about it, especially to your partner so he can understand how to help you while you recover both physically and mentally. Don’t be afraid to go into detail either!
Day 1: After it’s sunk in that I’ve just pushed a baby out my “hoo-ha” I began to notice how sore it really is down there. Although the midwife gave me some pain killers to help ease the pain, as I walk around in the room to/from the loo, I can feel the throbbing with every step. My legs feel like jelly and my tummy feels like it’s just a bag of jelly that has deflated and been stuck to my front. That very first wee after birth is like the flood gates opened and you can’t stop it, you just have to let it flow…. literally. Don’t get me started on the needing a poo. When you’ve pushed your baby out, it sounds strange but, you then develop a fear of pushing poo out! My midwife gave me some psychological advice in overcoming that fear. She said, “Hold a piece of tissue over your hoo-ha and you’ll be fine doing a poo.” I initially laughed, but as time ticked on and I still hadn’t pooped, I just had to try it. It totally worked! Who cares how or why….
I’m so tired but I still have so much adrenaline running through me, I’m finding it difficult to actually just get some sleep.
Day 2: Today, hunger striked! I’m very lucky that my mother in-law has been at the ready and equipped with groceries to cook me up a big meal. She’s been so sweet and cooking loads of food in the hopes that I can eat and gain back my energy faster to care for both my children and recover inside faster. After controlling the contraction pains at home for 7 hours and pushing out a baby, you don’t realise how much energy you used up and how important it is to have food at the ready when you get home. (I’m grateful for it but hospital food just doesn’t cut it!)
This is also now day 2 of breastfeeding and although my milk hadn’t come in until the evening, we practiced all day getting a good latch. From my past experience with E, practicing to have a good latch from the start is key in NOT having sore nipples. Oh the soreness…. seriously made me cry every time it was milk time. Excruciating! On the scale of 1-10 (10 being the most painful) I’d rate my sore nipples from breastfeeding an 8! Although I have experience in breastfeeding, I still have the sore nips as M is new to it and I’m refreshing my skills to get him latched correctly at EVERY feed. It’s not as bad (yet… I hope this is its worse) but we shall see how it goes.
Understanding breastfeeding and the stages of its process is so important. It’ll help you not to panic and is comforting on the days/times you think you’re failing, which you will go through “OMG I can’t feed my child! I failed!” phase. It’s ok to not get it the first time, second time or even the tenth time and it’s ok to feed your baby how best suits you, be it breast or bottle. Your super power isn’t just to grow humans, it’s also to care for them however YOU see fit. (Unfortunately the drop in hormones after birth really play up, especially where breastfeeding is concerned.) Learn more here about breastfeeding.
Day 3: Today was not a good day. I now haven’t slept properly in 3 nights (including my 1st night after giving birth) and I’m beginning to experience some after birth pains!! 😤 It feels like serious cramping in my tummy as if it’s like having a really bad case of the runs but with no release of a bowel movement to get rid of the pain. (The type when you feel like you’re going to pass out on the loo!) I didn’t experience this much with E. Only felt it a little here and there but this time, I CAN DEFINITELY FEEL THEM! (With each additional child, the pain apparently is more intense.) It’s my uterus contracting back to its normal size and during a breastfeeding, it’s more noticeable as the hormone oxytocin that’s released during breastfeeding, triggers the contractions. As if the contractions during child birth wasn’t enough, we also have to suffer with the pain from the after birth contractions! 😤 (Read here for further information on “involution” aka afterbirth pain.)
There was a point I didn’t think I could cope with the pain as I laid in bed curled up and crying for 2 hours. I had a check up phone call from my midwife who advised me that even though I had taken 2 ibuprofen tablets to help (which didn’t) I was able to safely have a further 2 paracetamol tablets to help ease the pain. I sent hubby off to the shops to buy some paracetamol and that 10 minute trip felt like a lifetime. 🤬
After topping up my dose of pain killers, I was able to get up and get myself in a hot shower to calm down and freshen up. Eventually the pain disappeared as if nothing happened.
Day 4: After a better nights sleep (M sleeping 2 hours at a time before wanting more milk) I feel refreshed and energised. I was a bit nervous about getting the after birth pains again and was really dreading it to be honest. I took 2 ibuprofens just after breakfast to help with the continuous throbbing down below and to ward off the after birth pains. It seemed to work as I haven’t had to take extra paracetamol.
I decided that as it was a beautiful day outside with the sun shinning and not a cloud in sight, I had to make the most of the day. M has been outside for 2 minutes and today we decided to take him and E out for a little trip to Costco. I was a bit nervous to be sat in the car on my private bits for the half hour drive, but all was a-ok! 👌🏽
My boobs are filling up with milk and now the engorgement phase has begun. I can feel the glands in my armpits pumped up and it started to get painful while we were out. By the evening, after all the many feeds M had during the day, the swollen glands had been emptied by half and the pain was bearable. It’ll be a few more days before my breasts will adjust to how much milk M needs, so I just have to be patient a little longer.
The darkness of my tummy is really showing now that it’s shrunk in size. Throughout the pregnancy, I had darkened armpits, neck and tummy, but now I can really see how pigmented my tummy got. Eventually it’ll get back to normal and match the rest of my body, but for now, it looks as though I tanned my tummy and left out the rest of my body. 😂 (Click here for more info about how your skin may change during pregnancy.)
Day 5: My nipples are slowly healing from the soreness. M has grasped the concept of latching. He has his moments when he slips off and tries to comfort suck but as I know what a good latch is suppose to feel like (thanks to breastfeeding E), I unlatch him quickly and start again. I stopped using nipple cream after day 2 as ironically, I feel it’s making his lips a bit dry.
Walking around is getting a lot easier and the throbbing seems to have passed too…. hoorah! I still have a little pain in my tummy when I breastfeed which also sets off a gush of fluids released down below, which I’m guessing is still my uterus contracting back to its normal size.
We’d been out for most of the day so towards the evening I began to feel a bit tired and emotional. I got to a point that I didn’t want to talk to anyone and just wanted to lay down and sleep. Anything the hubby asked me really irritated me and I just kept trying to remind myself to keep it cool. I must admit, I did get a bit snappy with him but I talked to him about it and told him how I was feeling. He was understanding and handled the situation well, he stayed calm, made sure I ate and took the kids off my hands for an hour so I could relax in a bath and get myself ready for bed without intervals of baby interruptions. ❤
Day 6: I woke up today feeling happy and excited to start the day. E & M had a good night which means, we all had a good night. E slept through with no nightmares or milk feeds. M woke every 2 hours for milk with one stretch of a 3 hour snooze which meant we all got that 3 hour stretch of sleep. 😃
My sore nipples are healing and on a scale of 1-10 from an 8 on day 2, we’re down to a 2 on day 6! YASSSS! With E, it took almost 2 weeks before my nipples STARTED healing and a further week before they were actually normal so this is amazing for me. Super proud of myself, especially that I gave up on the nipple cream. The engorgement is getting better as well, a few more days and I’m hoping it’ll be settled.
My private bits don’t throb anymore but sometimes when I walk, I can still feel a slight ache/pain. Going to the loo isn’t quite as daunting but not back to normal yet either. I still can’t control my urine stream, once I start, I can’t stop. Got to keep at it with the pelvic floor exercises. Not that I need to stop my urine midstream for any reason, but those moments when you’re out and about, you want to know that you have that control to hold it until you at least get to a toilet. Sneezing or coughing causes a little throb down below and I’m not going to lie, I pee a little when I sneeze or cough. 😬 I have done ever since E was born and that never really went away. I just hope it doesn’t get worse once I “heal” this time. I get worried that if I sneeze too hard it might set me off to actually pee my pants with a full stream of urine. Eeeekkk that would not be a pretty sight. 😳
Day 7: Baby M is now officially a week old. (As of 11:11pm). Last night he started stretching out his milk feeds to every 3 hours!!! This gives me plenty of time to catch up on house work and sleep when I need to. I was getting a little tired but now that M has stretched his milk time out, I’m able to relax and bring my energy levels back. We spent some of the day at the seaside down in Camber Sands. Enjoying the gentle sea breeze with the gleaming sunshine. E was off swimming in the sea with daddy while M and I chilled in our little shade tent watching them.
The journey was ok, I felt normal and M was quite good in the car. (We stopped every hour for 20 minutes so he could stretch out. (Please read about car seat safety for your baby here when deciding to travel some distance by car.)
My tummy has now shrunk quite significantly and I’m getting a bit of the “bump blues”. I miss having the bump, but I don’t miss the aches, pains and not being able to bend down part. With every breastfeed, I can still feel that gush of fluid being released down below which makes me very conscious about having an accident where ever I’ve sat down to breastfeed. I thought I could surely use the thinner maternity pads by now, but nope, not yet.
My nipple soreness is now non existent YAAASSS!!!! M is latching on no problem and I’m producing lots of milk for his very big appetite.
One thing I haven’t really mentioned is the haemorrhoids/piles. 😬 They are so common during pregnancy but quite embarrassing to talk about. Not quite sure why talking about sore nipples or fluids leaking down below isn’t as embarrassing as talking about piles. 🤷🏽♀️ I had them during my last pregnancy and unfortunately this time, they’re worse. They still haven’t really shrunk and not wanting to poo since giving birth isn’t really helping either. I’ve been drinking loads of water and even started to use a medicated cream to help them disappear, but they’re just not budging! One can only hope they will bugger off as soon as I get my confidence back when doing a number 2.
Anyone else have any body confessions they’d like to mention? I’d love to hear your stories/experiences in the comments below. Sharing is caring and the more we talk about it, the less alone we feel.
To be continued… Week 2… Loading.