Having a healthy pregnancy has always been important to me since I knew I wanted to have children of my own. I figured by doing what I thought were the most important things a woman could do for herself and baby – be physically fit, health conscious with eating habits, get as much rest as possible – would be enough to see me through a healthy pregnancy and recovery. In addition to these things, it’s important to educate yourself on what to expect during labour and delivery. Tom and I also discussed post partum depression and how we would work together to work through it if I felt like I was experiencing symptoms.
When we shared our pregnancy news with our family and friends, we took note of all the advice we were getting from well seasoned parents within our circle. You know…”sleep when baby sleeps”…”make sure you eat”…”have someone stay with you in the first few weeks.” I did ask about child birth experiences, but never did I think to ask about the things I experienced postpartum, nor did anyone (not even my OBGYN!) talk about it – the nitty gritty stuff.
During and after pregnancy, your body goes through a significant amount of change physically, emotionally, and mentally – it’s hard to keep up. You go through life’s most intense and beautiful experience of delivering your baby and are then thrust right into being new parents and figuring out how to care for this tiny, little being. You, on top of that, have to pay attention to your own body to make sure you heal properly.
WHAT I EXPERIENCED AFTER PREGNANCY
- After pregnancy I experienced exhaustion from both the actual act of delivering a baby and being sleep deprived. I have never been THAT exhausted, ever.
- After giving birth, your uterus needs to shrink back to its original size pre-pregnancy. In order for this to happen, your uterus contracts and it’s painful. A combination of extra strength Tylenol along with extra strength Advil was prescribed to help with this – it can last a few weeks.
- Hormonal fluctuation from an ultimate high to menopausal low. Feeling really happy to the point where I was crying when I felt this way, then crying when my mind would wander off to so many different things such as having a lot to loose now and worrying over the worst happening and not being there for this precious little life. I would also experience hot flashes and sweat like crazy as well as become super thirsty when breastfeeding.
- Engorged breasts were expected, but when you have no clue how this actually feels, it’s a bit of a shock.
- I had an incredible amount of excess fluid in my body after giving birth. I was painfully swollen for a few weeks (something I didn’t experience during pregnancy). After a week of the pain and discomfort, a family friend who is a retired nurse advised me to keep my legs elevated every chance I got. This worked wonders and within three days my swelling subsided.
- During my pregnancy I didn’t have such a difficult time breathing as I was warned about. I think it’s probably because Evan was sitting so low. Oddly enough, after giving birth was when I had experienced breathing problems. I couldn’t walk more than five minutes before feeling like I was having an asthma attack. I was told this was due to all my organs and such being moved around before and after baby. It took about two weeks before I felt normal again.
Breastfeeding + Getting back my pre-pregnancy body
- No one ever said how hard this would be to establish. Yes, it’s supposed to be very natural, but the process doesn’t go as smoothly as we might expect it to. It took several weeks before Evan was able to breastfeed without any type of feeding tool or aid.
- Much of what I heard about when it came to breastfeeding was that I had to pump to prevent leaking and that it would help me shed away all the pregnancy weight. This instant weight loss seems to be the number one reason for breastfeeding. It was part of my main three reasons for wanting to breastfeed. Well, this magical weight loss is only half true. Not all women experience this and the reason is due to hormones in our body postpartum. These hormone levels vary for everyone. So, instead of loosing all the weight, I lost 14 of the 24lbs I gained during pregnancy and have been stuck there.
- If you’re breastfeeding, your body needs more water than ever. Not only to help with milk production, but to maintain all regular body functions which require water, including painless bowel movements, skin and hair maintenance, etc.
Getting Back My Pre-Pregnancy Body
It took me several months to realize I was not one of those women who was going to zap back to my pre-pregnancy weight with the help of breastfeeding. At the 8 weeks post-partum mark is when I had my follow-up exam with my OB and family doctor to make sure I was healing well and whether it was okay to start certain physical activities again – I really wanted to get myself back in shape, but I wasn’t going to jeopardize my health if my body wasn’t ready. According to the doctor, all was fine. But I didn’t feel that way. My joints still felt rubbery, I didn’t have the energy I needed to work out, and my darn tummy still looked like I was five months pregnant. I couldn’t figure out why. I was breastfeeding and doing my abdominal massages. I knew it was going to take some time, but I felt stagnant and stuck physically.
So, four months postpartum I had to figure out for myself what the heck was up with my body. After searching online and reading endless amounts of new mommy and health discussion boards, I realized I had Diastasis Recti…Diasta-what? Exactly! This is what happens when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. This can happen also happen or make the problem worse if you push incorrectly during labour. After a lot of online searching and thinking I could fix this on my own, based on what other women posted online, I decided I needed to seek help from a health professional.
Pregnancy puts your body through a great amount of “stress” so it’s important to allow yourself to properly heal before returning to high impact physical activities. Ease back into your health habits and be sure to always consult a medical practitioner. Sometimes we may look completely healthy on the outside, but the reality is, you may not be aware of underlying issues. Pay attention to your body and listen to your intuition.
In my next post, I’ll get into more detail of Diastasis recti and how I am working towards healing my body. If you are a new mom, seasoned mom, considering of having more children, or think you may have this condition as well, you won’t want to miss the upcoming posts in the rest of the Life After Baby mini series. They will focus on Pelvic health and it’s importance for women who plan on having children or who have already gone through the experience. I guarantee that your OBGYN won’t share with you any of the knowledge I’m excited to pass onto you.
Do you have an interesting life after baby experience or any helpful advice for other that you wished was passed onto you? I would love to hear about it!