Hi Friends! Now that I’m 2 months postpartum, I wanted to answer your questions and share my experience so far during this 4th trimester. I know a lot of you are starting your pregnancy or going through this journey with me, and it can be such an overwhelming experience the first time because you don’t know what to expect. I hope this post sheds some light on a few things and helps to calm your fears, and also helps to prepare you for what may be ahead. Of course, everyones healing and experiences are different during this time, so keep that in mind.
Did they teach you to breastfeed in the hospital? Was it easy to maintain at home? + How is it going?
The nurse in delivery helped Josie latch for the first time since it’s recommended to try breastfeeding within the first hour after birth if possible. While I was in the hospital, I saw a lactation consultant daily! I would highly recommend seeing one if you can. But I will say even though I saw one daily, there is still so much to breastfeeding it’s impossible to learn everything in that short period of time.
Breastfeeding, in general, is much more demanding than I anticipated. I’ve always heard this was the case, but even being told that I felt the most underprepared for this aspect during postpartum. For one, I didn’t realize that feeding every 2-3 hours meant from the start of one feeding to the next. So depending on how long she feeds for you sometimes have less than an hour until she’s hungry again, so it feels like it’s constant 🙂 It was also VERY painful, especially the first week as my body adjusted. The lactation consultants recommended rubbing a little breast milk on the nipple after each feeding to help with the healing, and I occasionally used cooling gels and coconut oil to help soothe the pain, too!
Although it’s difficult, it’s also such a sweet way to bond with Josie and I’m so thankful we get to experience it together. And its gotten significantly better each week, especially since I’ve left the house recently for little independent trips again. Up until then I felt trapped, like I couldn’t chance leaving her side in case she got hungry and didn’t take a bottle.
What sizes should I get for postpartum? (pajamas, underwear, etc)
In pajamas, I’m wearing my normal size in most things, but I did size up in a few things I purchased ahead of time just in case. Having a little extra room is always a good idea! I highly recommend picking up these disposable briefs and taking a few to the hospital. For the first two weeks, I actually slept in these because of postpartum sweats, and it was nice to cut down on the laundry. They also fit the larger pads much better than regular underwear, so trust me it’s the way to go! If you’re shopping for postpartum, these are the items I’ve reached for most during this time. Basically, I’ve lived in nursing friendly button down pajamas, robes, and oversized sweatshirts around the house. Also, this will be your best friend.
Your needs after a c-section will likely be different. I can’t speak to it personally, but I’ve heard having comfy dresses or higher-waisted underwear and loose pants are the best option to avoid any pressure on your incision.
I plan to do a dedicated post on postpartum essentials. I also need to do a big wardrobe overhaul to include more nursing-friendly items, so stay tuned for more on that.
Did you use a belly band you’d recommend?
I didn’t buy one so I don’t have one to recommend! But I heard they are great. I try to be cautious when sitting up in bed by turning to my side to avoid extra stress on my abdominal muscles.
How has your recovery been? I’m worried about healing while having baby
I’m very thankful that recovery wasn’t as physically painful as I expected. I had a few grade 2 tears that required internal stitches after delivery, but I had minimal pain down there. I found the contractions you experience after delivery and breastfeeding to be the most uncomfortable pain wise. I took the prescribed Motrin a stool softener for a week after delivery just in case but stopped because of my blood pressure. Remember, your body was made to do this!
How are you keeping up with all your insta work? You’re doing great!
First of all, thank you! July is my busiest month for work with the NSALE, so I knew I wouldn’t have an official maternity leave. I’ve definitely slowed down my pace from my usual work routine and given myself grace when it comes to work.. whatever I get done is the best I could do! Tim and I both work from home and started back the same day. I think we’ve done a great job working as a team and giving each other the time we need to get things done. But here is how I’ve managed to keep up with work during this time.
This is key! Since I’m breastfeeding Josie every 2-3 hours right now during the day, time is limited between that period when I need to get things done. The most important task of the day is my first and only priority. If I don’t need to get ready to shoot content.. I don’t so I can prioritize that time doing something else. House chores can wait until work is done. Right now it seems a little easier because she sleeps so much as a newborn, so I take advantage of nap times.
I knew leading up to birth I was going to need extra hands in certain areas of my business. I’ve already had a great assistant and I hired on a video editor to unload those hours I usually spend editing videos. My Mom has also been a major help throughout my pregnancy getting our home ready for Josie, and she’s still coming over to help as needed if both Tim and I have a busy work day.
I expected to be more uptight about work because I usually stress when I’m not working, which can lead to very unhealthy work-life balance. Since having Josie, I think my priorities have quickly shifted and I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy where I’m at, versus always trying to do more with my business. Of course, there will come a time again where I’m motivated to expand and grow, but for now, I’m enjoying this slower pace.
Little, manageable ways to still feel put together during maternity leave
You’ll be surprised how good a simple shower will make you feel during this time! I know personally if I go too many days with no makeup and pj’s I start feeling blah, so getting ready with a quick makeup routine and putting on a comfy dress for around the house helps me feel like myself. Here are some other ideas, depending on what you enjoy!
- Have an at home date night outside with takeout from your favorite spot
- Take a relaxing bath (after you’re cleared from the doctor, of course)
- Go on a walk with your partner or alone depending on your needs – the sunshine is so important!
- Make the bed – I don’t know why but this makes me feel much more put together somehow!
- Paint your nails – I did this recently after weeks of not having them painted and I feel so much more put together!
- Do a quick hour trip to Target (or your favorite place to roam a little)
Any resources you’ve found particularly helpful for caring for a newborn?
I started following Taking Cara Babies on Instagram and watching the highlights for a little guidance, but really we’ve just been going off of Josie’s schedule and feeding on demand or every 2-3 hours. I read the Mom’s on Call book that was very helpful in covering the basics, but we’re not in any rush to start sleep training. And I’m really not sure how I feel about being on a strict schedule, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
My pediatrician recommended this book which has been a helpful resource to flip through with particular questions. I’ve definitely had my fair share of googling questions daily, too.. but you have to be careful with that! I’ve also leaned on my sister-in-law and friends who are pregnant, so if you have any friends with babies use them as a resource, too!
I think the most helpful thing has just been giving it time to learn Josie and her cues to understand her needs, especially when it comes to sleep. If we stretch her wake window too long, it’s so much harder to get and keep her down.
Any weird postpartum symptoms after delivery?
The most obvious one for me is the high blood pressure that put me back in the hospital and now has me on medication, which has had its own weird symptoms on its own. I blamed it on anxiety, but it became obvious after getting home that it was something else going on with my body. Thankfully, it’s back to a normal range on the medication but I hope to wean off it eventually. Some weird symptoms I experienced were shaking in my legs, a change in my BO smell (you just stink postpartum getting rid of hormones I think), and the night sweats.
Must haves for hospital and first few weeks home
I’ll save the hospital recommendations for a dedicated post, but I definitely have a few recommendations for postpartum that I was underprepared for. I did very minimal preparing in all aspects of my pregnancy haha. But with postpartum, it’s hard to know how to prepare because you really don’t know how your delivery will look and how your body will respond during the healing process. For me, I wish I had more of these on hand because they were much more comfortable to wear, plus with the night sweats, I just slept in these to cut down on laundry. I also wasn’t prepared for the pad situation. I totally underestimated how many I would go through in a day because I liked to change it very often. It took some trial and error to figure out which brand and sizes I needed, and I was super picky about having something fragrance-free.
As far as clothing, I have been living in robes, pajama shorts, and oversized sweatshirts (I’m always cold) or button down pajamas since they’re nursing-friendly. It’s always better to size up and have extra room than for something to be too small, so if in doubt, size up.. especially in underwear.
I’m terrified of child birth so please calm my fears
I know exactly how you feel! I was the same way.. absolutely terrified! I think for me it helps going into it with an ignorance is bliss type of attitude. And now that I’ve been through it.. it really wasn’t nearly as bad as I worked it up to be in my head. I know not everyone can say that, but just my own experience was fortunately very positive. Even the healing after has been better than expected. Maybe it’s because I’m a type 6 enneagram and I prepare for the absolute worst lol. I was scared to get an epidural as well but when the time comes and you want one.. it’s the best thing ever haha. It happened way quicker than I expected and I was pain free instantly.
What’s something you wish you knew but no one told you?
One thing I wasn’t expecting, and I’ve never heard anyone talk about, is how you almost mourn your previous life. Leading up to Josie’s birth, I had some heavier feelings as far as how our marriage would never be the same again. It would never be just the two of us. I was so used to getting all of Tim’s attention, we could come and go as we please for dates, etc. It was just surreal wondering how drastic I knew life as I know it was going to change in a matter of days.
And even still during postpartum, I don’t see how I will ever be the same “me” again. I think that’s why I still enjoy doing work when I can, because it makes me feel like my old self. I feel a little vulnerable saying this out loud, but I know some of you may be going through the same thing so I wanted you to feel your feelings are valid.
I also felt at times it was unfair how much falls on the woman when it comes to childbearing and postpartum. Tim was able to continue on normally, and my body was going through pregnancy, recovery, pain with breastfeeding, etc. I can easily see how there can be built up resentment towards your partner depending on how present they are.
What products are you & baby loving + not loving?
Even though it’s only been 8 weeks, the products we used in the beginning versus now has already changed quite a bit. For example, the last few weeks I haven’t been wearing Josie during nap times as much as I did in the beginning because I’ve learned more of her sleepy cues and know when to put her down. We also stopped using the stroller bassinet in the living room this week because she suddenly wasn’t sleeping as well in it.
There has been a lot of trial and error with swaddles, because she likes to fight them a little bit and usually finds her way out of them.. until we tried this swaddle. It’s by far our favorite because it’s impossible to break out of! We use the Baby Bjorn bouncer if she’s awake while we’re eating to keep her engaged with us. It’s also a great place to sit her down after eating to keep her upright a little bit to try and avoid spit ups. It’s also really easy to fold up and travel with if you need to.
This changing mat was one of the last things I purchased and I thought it was so overpriced and unnecessary, but both Tim and I are glad to have it because it makes clean-ups a breeze! I also love that I can track her weight gain or check her before and after a feed since we’re exclusively breastfeeding. The VAVA light has also been used daily and in the hospital. It’s nice to just tap it off and on and you can adjust how bright you want it to be. Plus, you don’t have to plug it in so it’s portable! We even use it during tummy time because she loves to look at lights.
I originally loved the boppy pillow for breastfeeding, but after the first two weeks I tried breastfeeding without and preferred to not use it. I felt like it was much more natural without, personally and I just like to hold Josie 🙂 But we do still use it daily for tummy time and it will be helpful to practice sitting in down the road. One product I returned was the Dock-A-Tot. I felt like it was way overpriced for what it is.. especially because she does so well in a bassinet right now. I kept the snuggle me, but so far she really hasn’t enjoyed laying in it for too long. I used it for her 1 month photo with this pretty cover! It’s actually for a changing pad, but it works for the snuggle me, too.
Not a postpartum question but did you plan for Josie? How did you know you were ready?
We did plan for her, but I wouldn’t say either of us officially felt ready. We felt financially stable and time wise, felt like it was time to start our family because I want to be done having children before 35 if possible, we’ll see. But I wouldn’t say either of us were 100% confident we were ready. It’s a big change and is normal to be nervous about!
Did you struggle with stretch marks?
I ended up with 3 stretch marks on one of my hips. I actually got more stretch marks on my breast when my milk came in. They grew overnight! I didn’t stress about stretch marks during pregnancy because I knew there really wasn’t any way to avoid them other than potentially controlling the weight gain at a healthy range. But creams and all that aren’t going to magically stop you from getting them, but their marketing will make you think otherwise. They can help with the itchiness some women feel, though! I used this belly oil throughout my pregnancy. I usually hate the feeling of lotion on the skin, but I loved how this felt and how easy it was to use.
Any pp depression?
Luckily I haven’t experienced any baby blues or postpartum depression. The first week has definitely been the hardest (so far) between having absolutely no rest in the hospital, sore nipples, not knowing what the heck we were doing, etc. The first few nights at home I felt like I had anxiety around dinner going into the night because I didn’t know what to expect and we were still trying to figure out a routine that worked for us as far as who was doing what, when. Josie cluster fed between 1-4AM the first few nights we were home, and I worried that was how it was always going to be. But luckily so far she hasn’t had any day and night confusion since then and when she has a cluster feeding period or witching hour as they call it, it’s been during the early evening when both Tim and I can manage it together.
How are you managing the nighttime feeds?
The first week was rough figuring out a schedule and not knowing what we were doing. It took some trial and error between Tim and I to figure out our roles, and the first few nights at home Josie cluster fed during the night. Luckily it’s gotten much better and now I usually feed Josie once or twice during the night. Some nights I stay up till midnight, so I’ll try to do a dream feed before I go to bed to try and get a longer stretch during the night till about 4-5 then we start the day between 7-8. If I go to bed early, I usually wake up and feed her between 2-3 then again between 6-7.
How did you lose the baby weight so quick?
I sorta hate this question because I know it’s a very touchy subject for women and I don’t think it’s healthy to stress over your postpartum body, especially the first year. My body is just doing it’s own healing right now and I’m focusing on eating enough to maintain a good milk supply to nourish Josie. I’m sure breastfeeding has helped shrink my uterus down initially. But what your body goes through the bring new life into this world is way more beautiful that a number on the scale. If I never get back to my pre-baby body, I think I’ll be ok with that.
How was your induction? Were you disappointed to be induced?
I had some fears going into it because I’ve always heard it can lead to more medical intervention (ie c-section) but I knew with my progressive high blood pressure it was what was best for Josie and I. Tim and I both felt a little disappointed we didn’t have the typical water breaking and rushing to the hospital type of story you imagine, but at the same time it was nice to be able to somewhat plan for it. It was almost less stressful not having to question when things were going to happen, how fast things would progress at home, etc. My midwife warned me it could take some time for things to progress in the beginning, and it took almost 48 hours on the dot to welcome Josie into this world. I’ll write up her birth story eventually!
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I think that wraps up all your questions for now. If you’d like to share your experience, tips, or have any questions leave them in the comments below!