My postpartum experience, and what I’ve been doing to heal my body and feel my best both mentally and physically! What postpartum recovery really looks like, my tips for postpartum care, and what to expect in the weeks after giving birth.
Today we are talking about all things postpartum! I wanted to share about my experience, in the hopes that this could help someone else. I know everyone’s body is unique, and therefore your experience will be unique as well! But I also think that there’s no such thing as too much information – knowledge is power, right? You guys know I’m an open book, and I think the more that we are able to be open and honest about our experiences, the more it will normalize sharing about things like this. If you are currently pregnant or hoping to be soon, I hope that this post and video helps you to learn more about what to expect postpartum, during the Fourth Trimester.
I asked you to submit some postpartum FAQs over on my Instagram for me to answer, so I will be covering all those today as well. I’m sharing all the juicy details with you – we’re talking everything from weight gain, postpartum fitness, anxiety and depression, and what things are looking like “down under”! I am also going to share all my postpartum essentials, and the products that have helped me most. Let’s get into it!
Although I didn’t tear at all on my perineum (thank you perineal stretching – see my Birth Story blog post for more info on our labour prep), I did have some micro tearing near my urethra. I didn’t “need” stitches, but they still did few stitches to ensure that I didn’t tear further. Whether you have micro tearing or more intense tearing – it still stings either way, when you go to the bathroom.
A peri bottle is the perfect little bathroom companion to make your life easier, and less painful, when going to the bathroom. These squeeze-bottles can be used to pour warm water over your perineal area (or your urethra in my case) to help cleanse and wash the area while you are urinating and dilute the sting.
The peri bottles that they give you at the hospital ended up being the most useful for me, since my tearing was closer to the front. However, I can see how these peri bottles from Frieda Baby could be useful if you had perineal tearing and I’ll be saving mine for possibly baby numba 2.
After that, I would dab dry with toilet paper, and spray with a cooling and soothing mist. I used this Young Living Claraderm Mist that has healing essential oils, as well as this Earth Mama Organics New Mama Perineal Spray, which was very cooling and soothing. I did this on each trip to the bathroom, then applied a padsicle or a dry pad.
I also did sitz baths (I didn’t buy a kit, instead I just used my bathtub and ran a shallow warm bath with epsom salts! This helps to clean and soothe the area, while bringing down inflammation. I also used a herbal tea mixture from my Doula that you steep, and add the tea into your bath, which helped as well.
Throughout my pregnancy and now postpartum, I’ve been using this DIY Belly Oil that i made with healing essential oils to help prevent stretch marks and soothe dry skin. I know that they say stretch marks are genetic, but I did feel that this helped me – not to mention it feels amazing to give yourself a little belly massage every morning and evening! I didn’t get any stretch marks, which I was very happy about – but your skin is different after birth. I believe it’s all just a part of the beautiful process of growing a baby inside of you – and you need to be patient and gentle with yourself and your new bod!
My postpartum belly is a little softer, a little pudgier, and my hips are also a little wider. Yes, I have loose skin, but I haven’t been too focused on losing the weight or getting back to my pre-pregnancy body. I don’t know if my body will ever go back to how it was pre-pregnancy, but I’m totally ok with that!
I wore adult diapers for the first 3 days after birth. They are super absorbent, and honestly essential. I questioned whether I would need these and I did try to find a natural (unbleached) alternative – but couldn’t. I am so glad I had these on hand – if you are questioning whether you need these, 100% get them, they are a must. Not even just for bleeding, but also for any sneezes or laughing – you may pee a little since your pelvic floor has been through a lot!
After that, I wore disposable underwear. They are super stretchy and very comfy, you feel like you’re not wearing a diaper! I also invested in some high-waisted dark black underwear for those first couple of weeks. These underwear work well with pads, and are very comfortable (which is saying a lot considering I normally hate wearing undies!).
I used these Unbleached Maternity Pads from Natura Care for the first two weeks, when the bleeding was heavier. I used padsicles (made with aloe vera, witch hazel and essential oils – see how we made them in this YouTube video) for the first week and half after giving birth, and they were so helpful. The padsicles were made with the same maternity pads. I recommend making 8 -10 padsicles if you are wondering how many to prepare.
After that, I was able to use these Natracare Ultra Pads once I was done with the maternity pads. And at 10 weeks postpartum, I am able to now just use some thin panty liners.
After a few weeks the bleeding will slow down, but there is another yellowish-white “discharge” called Lochia that is mostly made up of white blood cells.
While we’re on the topic of all this, another thing I noticed that I was not expecting was the very strong and metallic odour coming from down there. I hadn’t heard about this and I was kind of concerned, so I checked with my midwife and she said so many new moms come to her asking about the same thing! It’s totally normal, and especially when you think about the fact that you have open wounds, just delivered a baby, and there’s so much discharge that needs to exit your body!
At around 8 weeks, I got a new more “regular” period, which lasted 4 or 5 days. After that, the smell went away and I was so relieved! I know I’m not alone, and I wanted to talk about this because I was not prepared for this part of my postpartum journey!
As for fitness and getting back into exercise, I’ve been really enjoying walking for both the mental and physical aspect! After you have a baby, your body just feels really different both inside and out. Getting back into movement and getting to know my new body again has been a slow but steady journey.
Matt and I enjoy going on walks together, and it has been a very gentle way to get back into some slow movement. Now that I’m 10 weeks postpartum, I’ve also been doing some pilates as well. I think it’s great because it incorporates core work with a gentle workout and lots of stretching. I’ve been loving this 30 Minute Full Body Pilates Flow by Move with Nicole!
In terms of how often I exercise, I just try to make time for movement everyday – whether it’s a walk outside or a pilates class at home. I aim to move my body in some way for 30 minutes each day.
The wildest thing I noticed postpartum was how big and uncomfortable my boobs got once my milk came in. I was not prepared for that! My breastfeeding journey with Sage has been great, and apart from the initial adjustment period it’s also been pretty pain-free.
Having a good latch is everything! It helps to prevent sore nipples and discomfort. I’ve had a good time with breastfeeding Sage because she has a great latch – something that helped was this video for learning how to breastfeed.
In the first week it was pretty painful, and I did use a medicated balm (sparingly) to help with the pain. This balm was safe for the baby, but I did wipe it off before breastfeeding just as an additional precaution. I also found that this Earth Mama Nipple Butter was super moisturizing and helpful.
I used cabbage leaves to calm down any swelling, and they were also very cooling. Another thing that helped was having a hot shower and massaging any hard spots to help relieve some pressure.
Home visits from midwife and doula for the first week also helped a lot, they checked Sage’s latch, and weighed her to make sure she was gaining weight. This helped with peace of mind – as of course we are new parents and just figuring it all out and adjusting to our new norm!
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, I recommend seeing a lactation consultant for help.
It was a scary thing for me to think about postpartum as someone who already struggles with anxiety. I dealt with it a lot in my first trimester, and it was really challenging time for me. Probably one of my lowest moments, and most difficult seasons in terms of my anxiety. It was a really hard thing to go through, especially with the lockdown and pandemic just starting back in March 2020.
I was worried that if pregnancy hormones made me feel so low at the start of my pregnancy, what would it be like for me postpartum? Of course, I’ve heard many things about anxiety, depression and the “baby blues”, so I was preparing myself for the worst. But on the other hand, I also figured that if I was able to get through the first trimester ups and downs of pregnancy, then there is nothing I couldn’t conquer postpartum. If anxiety was to come up again, I figured that getting through both my first trimester anxiety and the pandemic at the same time – meant that I could get through anything! I think this was a good mindset to have going into my Fourth Trimester.
What actually happened is the best case scenario! To be honest I have felt so happy and calm, ever since delivering. Yes, I felt more emotional, and I 100% cry whenever I look at Sage, but I haven’t had any major anxiety or baby blues.
Yes, those first weeks were stressful in the sense that I wasn’t getting sleep, I was healing from postpartum, breastfeeding, learning how to be a Mom and just adjusting to our new life. But I would say I really allowed myself to soak up being a new mom, lived in the moment, and accepted the fact that everything now just happens at a slower pace.
In the postpartum phase, there’s a lot to deal with emotionally – and I think that’s a given for anyone! But overall my recovery has been pretty great and I am very proud of how well I’ve taken on my new role as a Mama.
I did not expect to feel like my old self, and I was scared for the fourth trimester. But honestly, I do feel like this, and I can’t believe how happy and calm I’ve felt through the whole transition. Matt even commented that I was back to my “old self” very quickly after birth.
I don’t normally talk about weight here on my blog or on my YouTube Channel. Eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle for me is not about how much you weigh or what you look like on the outside – it’s all about how you feel on the inside! That being said, when I got pregnant I was curious as to what I should expect in terms of weight gain. I wanted to share because, again, this often isn’t talked about openly.
I was 130 lbs pre-pregnancy, and during my pregnancy I gained 29 lbs. After giving birth I was down 20 lbs, putting me at 9 or 10 lbs over my regular pre-baby weight. I haven’t weighed myself since then, and I don’t really track my weight closely. I don’t have any sort of “timeline” or goals for losing this weight, as I feel it will all happen naturally and the most important thing right now is being able to have the energy and proper nutrition to breastfeed our baby girl!
Let’s talk about those lady bits! I heard lots of scary things from other women’s experiences that were not true for me, and I wanted to share about what things actually felt like down there post-birth because (yet again!) I think this is something that is kind of taboo – yet useful to know!
I was swollen for 2 weeks, and honestly it wasn’t crazy, I just felt a little bit puffy. It was nothing like the horror stories I heard from other women. It’s been very shocking and surprising how much things are back to normal down there – and I don’t know if that is in part due to the fact that I had an unmedicated birth, or if it has to do with the amount of time (45 mins) that I pushed for. Obviously everyone’s healing journey is going to look different based on their labour and delivery, and this was just my experience.
I have been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist, both before and after birth. This has helped a lot and I’ve been giving some exercises to do, like deep breathing, and kegel contractions. This has been essential for healing my pelvic floor, and I highly recommend seeing a specialist such as a pelvic floor physio to help you on your journey – and to make sure you’re doing your exercises correctly!
As for sex after giving birth… as Matt put it: it’s the same! I’ve heard the saying before “it’s the same room but the furniture has been re-arranged” – and I feel like it’s accurate!
Last but not least, I would like to leave you with one last tip, and that is to be gentle with yourself. Get your sleep when you can, take your supplements and vitamins, eat nourishing foods, and don’t focus on losing weight right away or “bouncing back”. Honestly it’s all just a part of the journey. Slow down and enjoy the little things, be grateful for the new slower paced life that you now have, and be gentle with your mind and body. As time passes, you will become accustomed to your new life as a parent. Things may never be the same again – there is no “getting back to normal” because the life you have now is totally changed in every way, and that is part of the beauty of it!
I hope that you have a positive postpartum experience, and that reading about my postpartum experience helps you! As I have said before, I am an open book… so if you have any other questions please leave any them down below in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!
Be sure to follow me @healthnutnutrition on Instagram, as I share my journey with motherhood, cute photos of Baby Sage, and of course lots of healthy eats and wellness tips every day on my stories!