While everyone loves to support you with what you’ll need (and potentially don’t need) when you’re pregnant, quite often us poor old mums get left by the wayside once we’ve popped out our cute little nugget. We’re left to fend for ourselves amongst leaking boobs, saggy skin and stinging bumholes and quite frankly, the postnatal fuss that we deserve is lacking! Here is our guide of Top 10 Postpartum Essentials that you need to make that time after birth just a little bit easier.
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Pregnancy and childbirth take a huge toll on your body and it will take some time to heal. It’s perfectly normal for new mothers to experience postpartum pain and discomfort. If you are concerned about excessive pain, you should check in with your doctor to make sure that everything is ok. However, there are some simple things you can do at home to help manage your discomfort.
You might have been told not to do any special exercises during your pregnancy, but now that you’re a new mom it’s actually a great time to start a gentle stretching and strengthening routine. Your muscles can be put under a lot of stress during birth and many people experience soreness in the legs from being in stirrups, as well as pain in the back. Some light stretching can help to loosen the muscles and reduce pain.
Sitz baths are a great way to relieve pain and discomfort in the pelvic region. You can purchase a special seat that sits right in your bathtub or use a towel and some warm water. Taking a postpartum sitz bath for 10 minutes is generally enough time, but you can do it more often if you like. Just be sure not to get the water too hot, as you can burn yourself and increase the discomfort. As well as managing pain, a regular sitz bath keeps the area clean and reduces the chances of infections. This is especially important if you had sutures after birth.
Hot Water Bottles
Afterpain is a pain that you may feel as your uterus returns to its original size after giving birth. These contractions can be incredibly uncomfortable and they tend to be worse in the first few days after giving birth. You may also experience them during breastfeeding and they can last up to six weeks. Holding a hot water bottle against your abdomen can give you fast relief when you are struggling with afterpains.
Cooling packs are great for bringing down swelling in your perineal area. This can be done by placing one of these packs inside your underwear while you sleep. You’ll want to remove the pack when it gets too warm, but this should be enough time for the coldness to help reduce pain and discomfort. Cooling packs are brilliant for reducing inflammation and helping the healing process along while also providing relief.
Changes to your hormone levels often bring about headaches in the days and weeks after giving birth. The easiest way to deal with this is to take some over-the-counter painkillers, like Ibuprofen. They have the added benefit of reducing inflammation and can be effective for managing afterpains too. As your body heals, you should avoid taking any strong painkillers, so Ibuprofen is perfect.
Time is the thing that you need most and eventually, your body will be at full strength again. But until then,
The Unedited Guide to Your Postpartum Sex Life…After Baby Number Two
THE FIRST THREE MONTHS
Hi folks, lovely to meet you, how’s the weather? It’s the first time that I’ve written anything for That Mama Club’s website, so now that the pleasantries are out of the way, welcome to my nether region. You’re about to learn about all its activities in the past twelve weeks since I gave birth to my second baby, a little girl named Bea.
Now I am sure some of you are reading this thinking, TWELVE WEEKS? She’s got a twelve week old baby and she’s writing about sex? Whilst here I am up every hour of the night and no time to shave my armpits never mind hop in the sack?!?!
I’ve been there. In fact I wrote a very similar article after a long and hard recovery after my first child, in which it took me twelve weeks to gird up my loins and brave post-partum sex, and a full nine months before I felt anything remotely resembling a libido again.
I approached the post-partum stage with something akin to military strategy this time around. Instead of sandbags, I had many many bags of mattress like maternity pads. The freezer was full of pre-made meals. And I had routinely wiggled my tank-like pregnant butt back against my partner, and demanded that we get it on…. ‘Because you know it might be a long time before we can again!’ And it’s partly this preparation for the newborn phase that meant my recovery was a lot better, which has really aided how I feel about myself and sex.
Well, before I spoil all the juicy details for you… here’s my post-partum sex diary, second time around.
24-48 hours after giving birth
I’m euphoric. I love my new baby. I love my first born. I love my partner SO SO much. Wow. The dreamy emotions, and outpouring of love don’t quite dull my aching vagina, womb, in fact every bone of me is aching. I’m going to pop some paracetamol and take a (cat) nap.
3 days after giving birth
I ignore my own advice and peer over my slowly deflating stomach with a handmirror to examine my stitches. I had a second-degree tear and tore up towards my urethra as well, so whilst things are stingy to say the least… its recognisably my vulva. I audibly sigh with relief as I spot that my two big vaginal varicose veins have gone down. I sobbed snottily through my mask at my midwife when I discovered them despite her reassurances that they would disappear soon after birth. Whilst the tangle of pubic hair proves my pre-birth trim wasn’t as thorough as I’d imagined, I can still make out that the varicose veins are indeed vanishing.
It’s a great day for my labia.
2 weeks after giving birth
I’m in a Facebook group for people who were due in the same month of me, and already the queries have started popping up in the group. ‘I’ve had sex and I only had my baby ten days ago, will I b ok?’ I read these open mouthed. Now I’m no doctor so I’m not going to say yay or nay as to when you can hop back in the saddle, but bravo to these ladies’ vaginas.
I’m still joining the baby in wearing a nappy, my boobs are out of control, and my stomach muscles are so shredded I currently struggle even lying down comfortably. Sex is most firmly off the table.
4 weeks after giving birth
Ok, so this is unexpected. I’ve stopped bleeding. After two long recoveries, following my first birth and a miscarriage, the packs of maternity pads I stockpiled are still sitting in the cupboard unopened. I’ve also been doing my kegels and well, it all feels pretty normal. I’ve been hiking, and I think toting the tiny one round in a sling for a month has had the unexpected benefit of engaging my core as that seems to be feeling a lot better too. I’ve mentioned all this to my partner, and he’s most definitely very *ahem* encouraged, but I say I want to rest and recover a few weeks longer.
6 weeks after giving birth
I remember being unimpressed with the GP ‘check-up’ after my first birth, going into it thinking I’d be getting an internal MOT and instead being asked a sum total of two questions.
‘How are you feeling’
‘Have you thought about contraception’.
Well this time around, those questions were asked over the phone but in all fairness I actually am feeling very much ok by this point. Ok enough to think that YES, lets do this, I’ll wiggle my way into a almost-fitting bra and pants set and go for that voluptuous spilling-over look, that’s sexy right? Lets do this. Lets GET IT ON.
7 weeks after giving birth
We still haven’t had sex. And to be quite honest I haven’t had a single ‘spark’ since I’ve had the baby. Not one fanny flutter. Not one tingling. Not a single case of the fizzy knickers. Folks, I’ve not been aroused in the slightest. But instead of going into brain meltdown I remember that I felt like this for a lot longer with my first birth, and its all down to those pesky breastfeeding hormones.
Still, one night, when everyone else in the house is asleep I summon up some thoughts of bare chested men and Robin Hood (yes the fox, don’t ask) and slide a hand into my knickers.
I’m awakened four hours later by the baby crying. Hand still firmly in my pants.
I fell asleep doing myself. Ok, that’s a new one.
8 weeks after giving birth
WE STILL HAVEN’T HAD SEX. Last week I even shaved everything from my neck down, bar a landing strip (I say landing strip, I swear each pregnancy makes me hairier, it’s now more like the M1), moisturised, plucked my eyebrows and shimmied out of the bathroom feeling pretty damn good about myself. But after everyone else’s bath-time, a rousing two-hour bed time and then a baby deciding that this was the best evening to spend the whole evening on the boob, well we were both too tired. A second attempt was foiled by the ever-familiar call of ‘Mummmmyyyyyyyy’. And then I myself foiled another, by deciding that we would continue a session of heavy petting upstairs, but of course when I gingerly lifted the sleeping baby to put her to bed first… she woke up.
9 weeks after giving birth
It happened. It wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t amazing, it was over pretty quickly, but it happened. And it felt gloriously, wonderfully, familiar. And that’s exciting. I was expecting it to feel different somehow, after all my body has changed, I pushed a baby out of my vagina mere weeks ago and yet it felt the same as always. That’s not to say our sex life is never glamorous or amazing – but somehow having run-of-the-mill spontaneous weeknight sex was the perfect way to get back on that particular horse. No pressure, no worries about what I was wearing, if I had done enough kegels or if I was ‘exciting’ enough. It was great, it reminded me that actually I really enjoy sex, and it made me feel a little bit like the old me.
12 weeks after giving birth
And that brings us to today. Twelve weeks after giving birth and sex is currently firmly back on the table. Yes, it sometimes feels like a military operation, but I think that’s part of having two children one of whom is a newborn… everything feels like a military operation! But I’ve learnt to be a bit more spontaneous, if the moment arises just to go with it and enjoy it rather than worry about the laundry pile or the unsent emails.
Finally, yes, I’ve got my libido back. And very strangely it happened exactly the same way as last time around. I had a night of very sexy dreams and woke up in the morning with a little more sashay than the night before.
I know things will be up and down, and at the moment as we are still sleeping with the baby in the room it does feel a little bit strange to be getting down to it.
But we are doing, and I’ll take that as a win for now.
Becqui Jean x
BY HAYLEY MILLINGTON (GUEST WRITER)
Millie’s Birth ended up being a very positive one for me. I wanted a home birth in a pool but ended up doing 12 hours labour at home with no pain relief and then an ambulance trip to the hospital, because I was pushing but she wasn’t moving. We were told in hospital she was back to back and the doctor manually turned her before an episiotomy to get her out. I felt So proud of myself and felt cared for in the hospital, which we decided to stay in overnight for some breastfeeding help and reassurance as new parents. In the time after leaving the hospital it really caught up on me what my body had been through. This was inevitably the fourth trimester.
THE FOURTH TRIMESTER
The pain of the episiotomy was uncomfortable and if that wasn’t enough, the post labour bleeding made my pelvic floor feel heavier and swollen too.
Getting about was hard , a few days after birth we wanted to go for a walk in the fresh air and it took what would usually take 10 minutes to the garden centre and back, a good 40 minutes!
I was loving the new born bubble I was in, dark nights were drawing in and it was getting colder out, so having a baby in October meant we could hibernate and really get to know our new daughter.
But everyday was hard for me, emotions were high with lack of sleep, my milk coming in added extra pain and I was already struggling with breastfeeding.
More than anything I was having to deal with the after effects of the episiotomy, It meant I couldn’t just get up to pick up my baby from her Moses basket, I couldn’t sleep next to her in bed and so she’d be passed over to me and then I would pass her back for a nappy change.
Almost every day we had visitors, I would get myself downstairs ( which also was a slow journey) and then I’d put a pillow under one of my legs so that I could sit as reasonably comfortable as possible.
A week post birth and the pain wasn’t subsiding, so I told my midwife and she agreed that the stitches were taking along time to heal and so it may be worth getting seeing an out of hours doctor to get some antibiotics.
Not only this but Millie’s belly button had also become infected so she would also need to go to the doctor as soon as possible.
The week after, things were starting to get a little easier – I was still in pain down below but was sure to be following the midwives tips, which were, not to use soap when showering, not to soak in a bath, lay on a towel to dry after a shower and to give the stitches some air, don’t go for long walks which increases the blood flow to your pelvic floor, freeze maternity pads and change them more regularly.
My emotional outbursts were starting to subside, I had in the first week, moments where I felt useless and that although my partner Pete was helping in every way possible, I resented him for being able to lift Millie and hold her so easily and often , I felt I was missing out on bonding and all I was being used for was feeding.
I think it hit hard when one day, a different midwife hurried into the house for a quick visit, she was all out of sorts telling us she was in a rush and as soon as she had looked at Millie, she simply said “ Did anyone tell you she had tongue tie?’ Which proceeded with a weigh in and telling us she’d also lost too much weight!
I felt sick – Pete and I looked at each other in shock, I knew we were thinking the same thing “ who the hell is this woman!” She then said She was going to call the hospital and we needed to go right away , next thing she was on her way out of the living room but not without asking if I was eating well and telling me I looked a bit pale !
I literately held back all my tears until she walked out the door and then just broke down whilst I held Millie in my arms.
I’d failed her, I wasn’t producing enough milk and I hadn’t even realised how much weight she’d lost.
After an overnight hospital visit and the doctors confirming she did not have tongue tie ( phew!), we decided to breast and formula feed to help get her weight up and decided I would try and pump in order to see how much I could produce .
Now let me tell you this, Pumping was not something I took to lightly.
The following night as I sat in front of the tele trying to pump for half hour and barely anything coming out, I literately sobbed at the thought of being this thing who’s only job was to produce milk in order to make my tiny human happy , yet it made me feel quite the opposite – I turned to Pete and cried “ I can’t do this , I feel like a cow!”
The next day I had made the decision to stop breastfeeding and go onto formula and I felt so much happier and knew that I also had a happy baby who was being fed too.
The realisation after all of this was that I’d been told about most aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and raising a baby but not one person had told me of just how hard that ‘fourth trimester’ really can be.
I now try my best to check on new mum friends and see how they are feeling after giving birth as it really can feel lonely, tough, emotional and painful even though it’s equally the most amazing experience I have ever endured – and of course, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
You can read all about the fourth trimester on the NCT website (link), did you experience the fourth trimester?
YOU CAN FIND HAYLEY ON;
INSTAGRAM: MUMMY & MILLIE
BY RACHAEL BLAKEY
When it came to my pregnancy with Teddy, I made it no secret that I really struggled with losing my identity and it took me a good year or so to feel more like myself. I think that was definitely the biggest shock when it came to motherhood was how much of yourself, your time & your sanity you give to being a parent. You feel like if you don’t dedicate your full attention, all of the time to your child, that you aren’t a good mum and i’m here to tell you that it’s absolute bullshit. I thought I would share the things that make me feel more myself post-baby.
BY RACHAEL BLAKEY
Bringing up a baby is tiring & being a sleep deprived mum is no joke.
There’s no two ways about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired. It seems like Oliver is constantly going through some sort of regression, leap or teething and don’t we know it. From about 5pm, he is really unsettled and just whinges for no apparent reason, until his bath time. He’ll then fall asleep fine, before waking up not even two hours later for his first feed and then he’s awake every hour after that.
It’s so hard not to feel frustrated and wondering what the fuck is wrong with your child. He’s had his bum changed, he’s been fed.. I swear, you can never go wrong when offering your child the boob, so when even that fails. You honestly don’t know what to do next. Boob always works, WHY ISN’T THE BOOB WORKING?! As you look at your baby like they have six heads.
Aaron was working the late last night and I did the bedtime routine alone, which I’ve done many a time before and usually we are fine. However last night, Oliver was completely on one! He wouldn’t feed at all, screaming whenever I tried to latch him on but trying to latch himself on at the same time!
At one point, I honestly thought about packing a bag and walking out. Leaving a note for Aaron, stuck to Oliver’s baby-grow saying “cya in a bit bitches, Mama is off to get some sleep!!”
There is this internal rage you feel as a mother, it’s like nothing else you’ve felt. You’ve done everything you can to soothe them, so when they are still crying right down your ear-hole. You find yourself whispering about what an absolute twat they are, in a sweet voice that is saved just for your baby. All the whilst rubbing their back gently with tears in your eyes.
Of course we all love our children and we’d do anything for them. But there is this huge pressure with being a mother to make out like everything is perfect. Your child is perfect, you have your shit together 100% of the time and your house looks like something out of Ideal Home magazine. Who is to blame for that? Society? Social media? Yourself?
I think they all play a part! Books tell you how your child should be sleeping by a certain age, there is that perfect mother on Instagram whose child sleeps all night and never cries…
I need to stop comparing myself to all the other people out there and what THEIR babies are doing. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing everything you see on social media. People post pictures of their seemingly perfect lives with their babies that sleep through for 10 hours at night and never cry. However they never let you in on the ‘behind-the-scenes’. They never tell you about that one ‘off’ night their baby had where they cried for hours and wouldn’t settle.
The lesson there is remembering; don’t believe everything you see online! Side note: Also don’t go browsing through Instagram in the middle of the night when you are feeling at your lowest, because you will contemplate throwing yourself out the window, reading about perfect routines and sleep patterns.
I am learning to enjoy this time. Soon he won’t be snuggling into my chest in the night, seeing his little milk drunk smiles and hearing his giggle at 3am. Before I know it he will be a boy who loves his independence and won’t need his mummy to help him sleep…
To all the mamas whose babies aren’t sleeping and are powering through? I salute you. We have to remember that this will not last forever. I mean, it can’t possibly. Right?
To all the mamas whose babies could sleep through a hurricane? screw you.