Post Pregnancy period is not a bed of roses.
It's nothing like what you see in movies, not even close to it. Maybe a month or two after you have given birth, the pain of delivery seems like a really tiny speck as to what you have been currently dealing with. Most women out there don't dare to share the truth of postpartum with the world, in the fear of being judged as a bad mother. Whereas, sharing the true experience is what is really required to make our lives better. It is required, to give strength to a new mother, to pacify her, to tell her that she is not alone.
Birth of my baby
It was a sunny day in the winter of January 2020, my little angel was born. "My baby" were my first words as I held him close to my chest. He was beautiful, with shiny black eyes and a head full of black hair, he was all I could have ever asked for. I was completely in love with him.
I had eagerly waited for this moment and he was here with me. He was born, healthy and lovely. All the preparations I had done for the past eight months or so, the nutritional diet I had planned, the pregnancy, labour, parenting books I had read, the decorations I had done, the tiny little attire I had gathered - all of that had led to this moment. This day.
Then came the night (and hundreds of nights were due to be followed). The Sleepless night. My husband and I took turns in staying awake.
In my turn, I sat in the bed with the baby on my lap. I was sore, my body hurt, my stitches hurt, there were swollen parts in my body I did not really knew about, I was still in the trauma of the 20 hour long labour I had been through. My back hurt. I was hungry. I was tired. I was scared. I was in a state of shock and happiness - all at the same time. Tears kept rolling from my eyes and I kept looking at my baby, admiring his tiny little face.
Are you prepared to have a baby?
The answer is 'no'. You can never be prepared to have a baby.
I had thought that I was prepared for having a baby, after all, I had read all I could about it, I had taken care of everything. From preparing the hospital bag to even packing the baby nail scissors. What happened then? Could anything I had done before prepared me for this?
Actually, everyone tells you about the issues they struggled with during the pregnancy: the morning sickness, indigestion, heartburn, stretch marks, frequent peeing, leaking nipples, vaginal discharge and so on.
Then, they also tell you what to expect during labour: water breaking, blood tinged mucus coming out from vagina, weird mood swings, extremely painful contractions, the deadly ring of fire, pooping on the birth table. All of this is said and discussed.
But, no one ever really tells you what happens once the baby comes out, no one even tries to prepare you mentally for breastfeeding the baby once in every two hours for a duration of half an hour each time.
Suddenly, you have a human being who is completely dependant on you, and no amount of preparation would have really prepared you to deal with this reality.
"Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing." - Ricki Lake
After Giving Birth
You will bleed. And, No, it is not like a period. You may have blood clots falling out from you. It's like Game of Thrones in your bathroom. Stay calm. Try not to exert yourself. Your body is asking you to slow down and rest. So take rest.
You will leak other fluids. Yes, it's not only the blood. Remember, all that swelling you had during pregnancy, that was water retained in your body. So, the peeing continues even after the baby is out. But, this time you may not even have a complete control over it because Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles needed for bladder control. Try some kegel exercises, these may actually help. And, talk to your doctor about it if it does not subside in a few weeks.
You will still look like 7 months pregnant. Your uterus will take a while to get back to its original size. Don't try to rush yourself back into pre-pregnancy clothes. Take it slow.
You may have sore, leaking nipples and painful breasts. Try to ease the pain by applying some safe ointment to your nipples and try some hot compress. All this was part of the game plan of feeding your baby. A word of caution - not necessarily all babies know how to feed, it may take a while till your little one gets the hang of latching and sucking. Breastfeeding is a completely new chapter in your postpartum journey. You may have breasts filled with and leaking milk, or you may still be struggling with lactation. Just remember all this is normal. Get a nice soft bra and wear what you feel comfortable in. Don't try to fit yourself into something that bothers you.
Your whole body may hurt - Your body has grown a human being and gone to some extremes to expel that human life into this world. Your uterus has done an amazing job and so has all the other parts of your body. You are sore. And if you had a C-Section delivery, then that's a different story altogether. Consult your doctor and take some pain relief medicine to help yourself out of the pain. Don't suffer in silence.
You may lose a lot of hair - Post pregnancy, estrogen dips back to its normal level, this may cause a lot of hairfall. I know, me asking you not to worry, will not really help a lot. But, trust me, your hair will be fine, you will have hair on your head, they will not go away. They will be back to looking as they used to in a couple of months. For now, just tie them up in a bun and forget about them for sometime. Try to focus on so many other things you have at hand.
Your body will look different - This is no surprise. It will take a long time for your body to get back to its original state. You may have lots of fat where you don't want it to be. Your tummy is looking like it has another baby inside it. Your breasts maybe drooping and swollen, bursting with milk. Your upper body has grown by a few inches. Your thighs may have deposits of adipose trying to peep out from your skin. Not to mention, your vagina may be blue or purple or black and swollen beyond recognition. I know, it's just too much to take in. You may hate your body and it's perfectly ok to feel that way.
Now, stand back for a moment and think, look at your little one, look at his innocent face. You made this lovely little creature. He is your's. Your body grew this tiny wonderful human. It's beautiful. It's sort of magical. Your body has done a stupendous job and it really needs some appreciation. So what if it is out of shape now? It was focused on making life. And, soon, it will get back to the way you want it to be. Have patience.
You may be exhausted and angry and you may cry - A fact "Babies need Mommies". It's just as natural as it can be. Your baby needs you, wants you by her side all day long and all night long. She may not sleep much. She may just want to cling onto you. Because, she has lived within you for a long time, she knows only you, she still wants to hear your heartbeat, she still wants to keep smelling you, she still wants to be a part of her mamma, she may not be able to say it but she just loves you and wants you. You will also love it, but not necessarily right away.
Right now, you may be completely exhausted and tired and may just need some time for yourself. That is OK. I know, it's not easy. Sometimes it can be really really hard. You may be drained both physically and emotionally. You may resent your baby, your partner or may even resent yourself. You may want to run away to some beach in Goa and have some chilled beer. You may want to scream, cry, or go to bed and pretend none of this ever happened. You may feel disgusted for having such thoughts. Don't be. Don't feel guilty. You are not a bad mother. You are the best this baby could ever have. It's perfectly OK to feel like this. It is normal.
Trust me, there are many many many mothers who did not have a proper support system during their postpartum period and have felt the same as you do. You are not alone.
Just remember, it's all going to be fine and worth it, one fine day. The day your little human will call you 'mama', curl up on your lap, make you feel like you are the only one he wants, you are his life. These moments may again make some tears drip down from your eyes but these will be tears of happiness and joy. This feeling is not comparable to anything this world can ever offer you.
The Fourth Trimester
Postpartum is also called as the fourth trimester. And it is equally important as the other three trimesters were. Sadly, it is neglected.
It can be blissful. It can be horrible. It can be both. Any of these, is normal.
There are so many mothers in this world who have experienced what you are experiencing now. You are not alone. The need is to create a community. We need a support system in place. Our ancestors always had support in the form of their own family members. In today's world we live in nuclear families, we may not really have the kind of support that our ancestors had but we can create this support system with each other.
Giving Birth in a Pandemic
Especially now, during the time of this pandemic, things are much more worse, there are lockdowns, people are stuck, to add to all the fears of the new mother, now, there is the fear of coronavirus. All this has taken a toll on our physical and mental health. Stay Strong. This too shall pass. Take necessary precautions during your stay in the hospital.
Wash your hands more often. Wear a mask. Eat healthy meals. Try to sleep well. Stay connected with your family and friends. Try to stay away from news and social media. Talk to someone if you are feeling sad or anxious. Just talk, even if you think that there cannot be a solution, talking may actually be the solution.
Also, There is no evidence that women who have recently had a baby and are otherwise well are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus or of becoming seriously unwell. A recently pregnant woman’s immune system is regarded as normal unless she has other forms of infection or underlying illness. So stay calm. Try not to worry.
Once you are home with the baby, plan to have someone with you who can help with the household chores while you can care for the baby and take rest, if your family members are not able to reach you due to a lockdown, ask a friend for help, if it is too much to ask from a single person then let a couple of your friends take turns in helping you with the household tasks like cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. Ask your partner to share the baby's responsibilities with you. There is nothing called as a super-mom, but there is something called as a stressed-mom. Don't be one. Ask for help. This is not the time to be a do-it-all-by-yourself.
It cannot be mentioned enough that taking care of yourself during the initial few weeks after delivery is very very important.
Would you like to share your postpartum experience? Feel free to do so in the comment section below.
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Disclaimer: Please note that this is not any form of medical advise.