A month on: My motherhood experience so far…

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life
I can’t believe it’s been a month already!

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.

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life
Before & After

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 attention 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. For those who want to sleep-train their bubbas early on, this sleep guide by BeddingPal has some good techniques for sleep training 1-3 month olds, which you could try.

My well-being

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. 🙂

The Greenwich Mummy | Post pregnancy life

My birth story with baby girl

I am sorry it’s been a little while but just didn’t have any time at all away from Baby Girl to write this until now. So here it is, my birth story… Baby Girl arrived when I was 38 weeks pregnant at a healthy weight of 6lb 8oz – a little chunky bubba (LO weighed 6lb 2oz and was only 5 days early). I had a natural birth and due to the fast labour on the day, there was no time to have my water birth and gas & air like I originally planned.

The Labour

I strongly believe that I was first in slow labour with Baby Girl as I felt really intense and painful contractions at the start of the week (on the Monday). However, because they weren’t regular and at similar intervals apart, I ignored the signs and dismissed it as really painful Braxton Hicks which is common towards the end of the pregnancy and so I didn’t self-refer myself to Triage or call the labour ward. The rest of that week passed by ‘okay-ish’ and I managed with the contractions that were coming regularly at irregular times throughout the day. I just kept saying to myself “if I can sleep through these contractions then it can’t be real labour”.

On Saturday morning I woke up and hardly felt little movement – I told myself it’s because I am focusing too much on it so once again, I dismissed the signs that it could be real labour. It was also because this day I had organised a day out for LO to the local funfair with a friend so I didn’t want him to miss out. Plus the location of the funfair was opposite the hospital so if anything happens, I can quickly get to the hospital with ease.

We got to the funfair around 1pm and LO went on a few of the rides before wanting to go home. I felt the contractions throughout the day and was sure that was the reasons why I couldn’t feel any movements so didn’t head to the hospital. Instead I headed down to the local Tesco’s to pick up a pack of newborn nappies and some more newborn clothes and maternity pads. I had this feeling at the back of my mind telling me I needed to get these things today otherwise it’ll be too late as my maternity bags were only 80% packed.

It was then 9pm and I had just sat down and realised that the day was almost over and still I hadn’t felt any movement. At that point, I called Triage and asked if it was okay to come in to see someone regarding the movements and the midwife said yes, just to be on the safe side – it was definitely a good thing I went! When I arrived to Triage at 10pm with LO and Daddy P in tow I was hooked up to the machine and left for 30mins as they monitored me. Baby’s heartbeat was found straight away which relieved my initial fears but then those super-painful contractions returned… this time they were coming at regular intervals and I knew at that point I was in labour – it was now real.

The Birth

Super intense and super fast (I also felt I needed to do a no. 2 so went to the toilet). I passed the bloody, mucus show before finally passing the bowel movement. I waddled back to where I was hooked up and the midwife said she will do an internal examination to see if I am dilated – she was very surprised to find out I was 9cm dilated and ready to push! One of the other midwives commented on how quiet I kept everything. I’m not really a screamer and I think my body just deals with labour pains really well.

Baby Girl arrived at 11:19pm. It was the fastest labour and birth I’ve had so far (30mins it said on my maternity transfer notes) and under what most mums will consider a “perfect birth” with no tears and natural delivery. As it was such a quick birth, my plan of having a water birth went out of the window. I also didn’t have gas & air as the midwives couldn’t get it to me in time. She said if she goes to get it, I could deliver the baby before she gets back so we made the decision to skip it.

Note to self and other mums: a birth plan can be pointless.

The Greenwich Mummy: My birth story with Baby Girl
#milkdrunk / Instagram: @mannyngo

Post-pregnancy Recovery

Also known as the fourth trimester, this is the period I find really challenging. The breast feeding, post-birth contraction pains, sore nipples, and sleep deprivation. The overnight hospital stay post-birth is also a killer as I always seem to be that new mum with the noisy baby keeping up the ward. Luckily my post-delivery room only consisted of me and one other new mum. I felt sorry for her as Baby Girl was so noisy and her baby was quiet (I don’t she got any rest). *guilty face*

I was discharged from hospital late afternoon the next day which was great. Part of Vietnamese culture a new mum must stay indoors for at least 1 month and banned from leaving the house however in these modern days leaving for essential appointments is possible. Certain foods should also be avoided which I didn’t really stick to this time round as my mum was constantly at work so I didn’t have someone looking over my shoulder to tell me off. 🙂 I tried my hardest not to leave the house so instead of just going out I waited for the days I had to visit the midwives to go out and get some fresh air. I am sure the fresh air also did some good for Baby Girl as she was less irritable when we were out… I guess she doesn’t like being cooped up at home too.

I’ve been super sleep-deprived and exhausted this time round. Baby Girl has problems latching on and is a really colicy baby. She is feeding well which is great as she’s gaining weight well but the colic and fussiness really gets me down – when she cries and screams and there’s nothing I can do to help her stop pains me. She had mild jaundice in the first week which has almost gone now disappeared by herself. Apparently regular feeding and ensuring that she sleeps no longer than 3hrs without a feed helps to get rid of the jaundice. I guess those 4hr periods of no feeds through the night in the first few days came at a price. 😦

Now almost a month old, the colic hasn’t improved so it means a trip to the hospital. The jaundice has gone now but I am shattered from the cluster feeding and constant crying. Hopefully a few months more and she’ll be all better and I’ll be able to get my nights’ sleep back. In the meantime, I rely on her sleeping patterns to get a little catch-up on sleep and rest.