I decided a while ago that I would blog about my postpartum and breastfeeding journey after Austin was born. I think that pregnancy is quite candidly discussed these days but that postpartum experiences or what to expect after birth rarely are. Certainly after having my first child Hayden I had no idea about what to expect postpartum and I didn’t really cope with it that well.
I have ummed and Ahhed over whether to share these postpartum pictures, as I do feel quite upset when I look at my body but again I want my blog to be open and honest and show people the reality. I also felt that by documenting my postpartum recovery in pictures I would be able to be to see a gradual improvement as the weeks go on and it would spur me on to lose weight (hopefully!).kn
As you may have read in my other post, Austin was born via an emergency Caesarean section on Sunday 19th March. Straight after the operation, I was a bit sore although spinal anaesthesia hadn’t entirely worn off yet. I had a catheter for 24 hours, although not nice it did mean I didn’t have to worry about getting out of bed right away which was good.
In terms of wound pain, I have been pleasantly surprised. It really hasn’t been too bad, certainly not in comparison with the pain I had after my third-degree tear with Hayden. Don’t get me wrong it’s not been unnoticeable and I am still needing simple pain relief of paracetamol and ibuprofen 1-2 weeks on, but my general mobility is better than I thought.
I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with after you’ve had a baby is how much your body has changed. I remember so clearly with Hayden, the day after we came home, looking at my body in the mirror and not recognising it. I was pale, bruised and bloated, my stretch marks were raised and bobbly, and I suddenly had boobs strongly resembling Dolly Parton. I’m short I looked quite a state and I felt it too. I felt like I had been in a car accident or similar traumatic event. At least this time around, I knew what to expect, although I still found it very difficult, probably in part also to feeling so emotional.
Before I’d had a baby my friend warned me about the hormonal surge and subsequent emotional rollercoaster postpartum generally around day 3 when your milk comes in. At the time, I remember thinking oh I’m sure it’s not that bad. How wrong I was! After Hayden I spent most of day 3 crying uncontrollably, it was awful. This time, however, perhaps because my milk came in more gradually the emotional swings weren’t so severe, thankfully!
The most difficult thing so far is no heavy lifting for 6 weeks, which unfortunately includes lifting Hayden up (he is a chunk and a half and weighs about 12.5-13kg). It’s been challenging because Hayden is not yet walking independently and he doesn’t understand why mummy can’t pick him up anymore. It breaks my heart when he’s sat on the floor crying, looking up at me pleadingly with his little arms up in the air and I have to try and explain that I can’t 🙁.
Breastfeeding wise, Austin seemed to take to it really well, latching on straight away in recovery. The midwives seemed happy with his breastfeeding but never really checked his latch or position. By the time we got home on Tuesday, he was feeding like a demon! In terms of wanting to be fed. This has been difficult due to really sore and cracked nipples and exhaustion on my part. My milk coming in has also been delayed and only really seemed to come in at day 4-5, probably why he is feeding so much. I didn’t realise but quite often milk coming in can be delayed after a C-section. He seems to be in a pattern where he will sleep for a couple of hours and then want to feed on and off (but mostly on) for the next 4 hours! By the end of these cluster feeding sessions, I feel completely exhausted and in agony with my nipples. Such a hungry baby!
I discussed it with the midwife who came to visit and for the first time, she actually observed how he was latching and sucking. She said his latch wasn’t quite right as his bottom lip wasn’t low enough on the breast, he needed to open his mouth more. She gave me pointers on how to do this and different positions for feeding, which have helped a lot.
I don’t understand why when midwives/breastfeeding experts (the breastapo as my friend refers to them) encourage every woman to breastfeed and go on and in about it before and after birth, and yet the help given for breastfeeding support seems lacking. I think is especially true for second babies onwards, it was like I said he seemed to be feeding fine (because he did for all I knew!) and the midwives just took my word for it! The thing is, every baby is different, aren’t they? With Hayden apart from initial Day 1 difficulty latching he never had any problems breastfeeding, so I was very lucky and didn’t really have to do anything. I know there are breastfeeding support groups etc which are an invaluable resource, but I’m sure if more help and support was given (even if not asked for) immediately after birth then more women might continue with breastfeeding. Oops, a bit of a rant there sorry!
Anyway, during this first week, I did seriously consider just switching to bottle feeding, as I was struggling to cope with his demands. In the end what we did was for Mike to give him a bottle of formula and look after him in the evening, so I could simultaneously sleep and give my nipples a well-earned rest, and then I could do the rest of the night shift from midnight onwards. I was a bit worried about him becoming less interested in the breast, and I know they always advise against it but we just did what we had to do to get by this week and it has helped. Now my milk is in, he is still cluster feeding but not as much as before and my nipples have healed and toughened up too which helps!
I will continue to document my progress with breastfeeding and general postpartum recovery in the coming weeks.