Now looking back, these past 4 weeks have just flown by! I’m now in what mums might call the “fourth trimester” – the period straight after birth where new mums can expect ‘niggles’ like postpartum after-pains and contractions, sore nipples, sleep deprivation and exhaustion… alongside what feels like a daily emotional roller-coaster ride.
The first two weeks were really the hardest – I’m not going to sugar-coat. To be honest, I don’t know how I got through it without catching a bit of the baby blues like I did first time round with LO. I am very lucky to have such a smooth (ish) labour and birth, I didn’t have to worry too much about my own physical recovery. Now feeling a little more energetic I want to share my experience so far as a new-mum with you all.
Remember that every woman and every pregnancy is completely different so take everything on here with a pinch of salt. Your experience may be like mine, it may not – it’s good to learn about other people’s experiences but not rely on them as an indication of how your experiences will be like.
My postpartum body
I gave birth to Baby Girl at 11:19pm and was discharged the next day around 5pm. You can read more about my birth story here. I think the hospitals tend to get you in and out as quickly as possible now if you don’t have any complications during/after birth.
My after-pains didn’t last for long – the pain down below disappeared by day 5-6 which was sooner than I expected. The post-pregnancy contractions were intense at certain times but passed by the end of the first week. My bleeding (lochia) subsided around day 4-5 and I was able to ditch those horrible maternity pads for normal sanitary pads and opted for the night ones when I thought the bleeding was a bit heavier.
I cannot thank my shape wear enough in terms of helping my belly return back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size. After I had LO, it took my belly around 3 weeks before I stopped looking pregnant after birth. This time round, it took me 5 days and Baby Girl was a slightly bigger baby than LO.
Don’t be fooled though – my ‘mum tum’ may look flat but as the muscles are still stretched and slack, I still get the rolls when I sit down or eat too much. Nothing will get rid of this apart from exercise which I plan to start very soon. I will take up proper exercise once I’ve got the all-clear at my 6 week postnatal check-up.
Feeding and supply
Baby Girl was exclusively breastfed since birth so she received her intake of colostrum and my milk supply came through around day 3-4 (sometimes it can take up to 5-7 days). During this time, my nipples were sore (Lansinoh nipple cream is a life-saviour!) and my boobs felt like rocks due to the engorgement. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t realise that they weren’t supposed to feel hard like that. The engorgement went away when I started to fully empty the breast before offering the other one. I remember some nights I wanted to cry because of the pain; Baby Girl was cluster-feeding (feeding every 1-2 hours throughout the day and night) and doesn’t have a great latch because my nipple’s too big and her mouth is too small.
By week 2 I wanted to stop breastfeeding entirely – I was ready to give up. Daddy P encouraged me to continue and suggested me to express to offer me some relief physically and emotionally which I did and boy did it make a difference. Week 3 my boobs felt much softer and my milk supply was starting to match up with her feeding demands. Now, I think I milk supply is established and I have started to express more so Daddy P can take over some of the feeds which has helped me stay sane. I also occasionally co-sleep with bubba at night which makes feeding a little easier and I can get some shut-eye.
I never liked giving LO the dummy when he was a baby and only started when he was around 3 months but have to confess that I’ve already started Baby Girl on the dummy. As she’s a really colicky baby (since day 3) her crying really started to drain me and I made the decision to give her a dummy about a week ago. I make sure that she only has the dummy after a feed and nappy change. She’s been good with it and the dummy hasn’t interfered with the breastfeeding at all. She’s also able to switch from bottle to breast fine but I think that’s because only Daddy P gives her the bottle so she associates the bottle with her dad.
Sleep (or lack of it)
On average, I think I get about 3 hours sleep a day -if I’m lucky and manage to get some rest or have a nap when she’s sleeping that bumps up to about 6 hours a day at the most. Sleep is what I struggle with most at the moment because it’s so hard to do all these new-mum things and have sleep when I have a super active 2.5 year old toddler to keep happy and included. LO is so loving and affectionate toward his sister it’s not hard to get him involved with doing things with her such as nappy changing, entertaining her and comforting her when she cries. It’s trying to find time, or make time shall I say, to give LO his own space and time with mummy. He was the centre of my affection before and now it’s shifted slightly as I now have his baby sister to care for too.
I think the sleep deprivation properly kicks in around 3-4 months so I have all that to look forward to. *a sarcastic yay* A mummy friend advised me to ‘train’ my body to nap which sounds ridiculous but it’s really hard because as a new mum it’s very difficult to shut-off on cue especially when you know that in an hour or two, you’ll need to feed baby again.
Being a second-time mum doesn’t exclude me from feeling all those emotions I did first time round. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I did suffer from mild baby blues with LO. With Baby Girl, I did start to feel overwhelmed – I don’t like using the word ‘depressed’ as I don’t think I got to that stage yet but everything did feel like it was getting on top of me. This pregnancy was unplanned and all the “what if…” questions started to cloud my mind. Luckily, by mid-second trimester I started to feel much better about myself and the pregnancy.
It’s been difficult to manage a newborn baby and a toddler especially when Baby Girl has colic so she cries constantly and LO’s testing my patience with his mischievous antics. Despite these small hiccups I am very glad to have friends and family around to offer me their help and support.
Having a baby is a wonderful thing and further along the line I know these post-pregnancy niggles will become a thing of the past and only the good memories will remain. Come on, if having children was that painful, stressful, etc I am sure we women wouldn’t be doing it to ourselves again and again. 🙂