Sometimes in all the preparations for baby we forget to prepare for our postpartum selves. Your body and emotions have gone through a lot birthing and welcoming this new person into your world. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and put yourself on the back burner, but now is a very important time for you. Getting your postpartum off to a good start can help with breastfeeding and connect with your baby.
- Have a baby moon. Set up a nest for you and baby to just relax skin to skin, breastfeed and get to know once another. Your body has been through a lot birthing your baby. Rest, nap, relax and snuggle. Let you partner or support person take care of you.
- Ask for help. Your only job should be feeding baby and resting. Everything else can fall to your friends and family. Set up a meal train, keep a list of things visitors can help with when they come to see baby and arrange play dates for older children.
- Make a postpartum self-care kit, things that make you feel good. This can include padsicles (recipe here), some essential oils, snacks you love, dry shampoo, a non parenting book and a water bottle.
- Keep a list of local support resources. Find out who the local La Leche League leaders are and get numbers to the public health unit.
- Hire a postpartum doula. A doula can help ensure you’re getting rest, that feeding is going well and help with any newborn basics.
Be kind to yourself. Trust that you know your baby and yourself better than anyone. It can be so easy in early days to doubt yourself, just take a deep breathe and remember in this moment you are doing your best.
K is my holiday baby. My guess date was in the beginning of January and I was very aware that she could come over Christmas or NYE. I knew what I wanted this time and I knew I was going to do everything I could to get it. I ate a lot better, saw my chiropractor and overall felt physically better than I had in my previous 2 pregnancies. Emotionally though I was having a hard time as I was met with a lot of challenges that I hadn’t expected. She was breech, which resulted in me having an ECV (external cephalic version), plus I suffered from severe pelvic pain, and my prosthetic leg no longer fit.
Over Christmas and Boxing day I was miserable. All I wanted to do was hibernate, and it’s pretty much all I did. On the 27th though, I had a boost of energy. I took a shower, did my hair and wanted to go out, even though I had been having cramps and back pain on and off all day. After dinner I decided to just relax and take a bath. While in the bath my waves were anywhere from 6-10 minutes apart, but were sporadic in length and intensity. I made a phone call to help another mother with breastfeeding, but had to end it early as things started to pick up. I went to bed, hoping to sleep a few hours in case this was it. I couldn’t find a good position though and sleep never came. Finally around midnight, after getting in and out of bed a couple of times, I decided to distract myself my blowing up the birth pool for my planned home birth.
At 2am, after one last attempt at sleep, I called my doula, midwife and photographer. Within an hour they were all there. I asked to be checked by my midwife and was at 4cm. I loved being at home and being able to move as I wanted to. I went from the couch, to the cold floor, to sleeping on the stairs in between waves. I was freezing cold and spent a lot of time being wrapped in a blanket a friend had made for me 18 years before. My doula was a god send, making sure I was sipping on water, getting the tens machine hooked up and making sure the bowl was ready when I got sick. Even with that though, all I wanted was to be in my birth pool, which felt like is was taking forever to fill. I spent this time visualizing waves crashing over me and moving out into the ocean, repeating my birth affirmations. Telling myself I could do it, that I was doing it.
Finally I was able to get into the birth pool. I felt so relaxed. My waves spread out and became more manageable. Because things had slowed down a bit my midwife mentioned getting out to pick things up. Instinctively though, I knew that I was where I needed to be. Around 5:30am a wave came over me and all of a sudden felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I looked at my doula and asked why I was doing this. Everyone there said that I let out a moan and they all knew that I was in transition. Waves started taking over and coming back to back. It was at this time I went from sitting to wanting to be on my knees leaning against the pool. Once I was in this position I felt her head drop into the birth canal. It was so intense. All I could do was swear , scream and go with my body as it took over pushing my baby out. I remember thinking that women were crazy to like pushing because this felt horrible. Once K started crowning my midwife asked if she could rupture my membranes but I didn’t hear her. My doula had to get in my face to make sure I knew what my midwife was asking. My response was that “I don’t care, I just want her the fuck out!”. I felt the ring of fire and then got a small break. My body took control and started pushing the rest of K out. I was so overwhelmed. My baby was here. She was so beautiful and covered in vernix. K let out a small squawk and promptly fell asleep on top of me.
She was born 17 minutes after I hit transition and 3 minutes after I started pushing. Her birth has forever changed me.