Taboo pregnancy & motherhood topics that shouldn't be...
I want to talk about ALL THE THINGS nobody has told you or will tell you about pregnancy and motherhood. No need to be stressing or freaking out and crying alone in the shower (that was me, I did that) over things that are actually common and normal, but rarely discussed in an open and frank manner.
Leaky Boobs- Who knew that this is something that could happen long before you ever had your baby? Not me, NOPE. Not me at all. When I was barely into my second trimester, I sure as heck was not prepared to have a friend sheepishly tell me to look down and check out my shirt Neither myself, nor my male childless friend prepared to have that conversation on that afternoon, but there we were. Not everybody has this early experience, but I always recommend keeping a box of breast pads around and a few in your purse- just go ahead and swap those pads and tampons for milk absorbers for the next little bit. I also really liked these organic, reusable nursing pads and highly recommend getting yourself some nipple relief pads, as well as some hot/cold gel relief pads!
Birth plans- I knew that I was going to be having a C-section, so I created a C-section birth plan. Having previously worked in labor and delivery for many years, I always recommend that if you are a planner and intend to have a birth plan, that you make an alternative/secondary C-section birth plan. Why? Because things happen in the birth process that sometimes necessitate a C-section. The priority is always the safety of the mother and the baby, but most “emergency” C-sections do allow for some care in consideration to be given to the mother desires and if you don’t make those desired known, nobody can honor them.
A few examples from my C-section birth plan are: immediate skin to skin in the OR, immediate latching in the OR with assistance, if the baby needs to go to the NICU my husband was to go with them and not stay with me, and a regular diet immediate after surgery (I don’t recommend this unless you are a repeat C-section or have had surgery before and know how your stomach react after anesthesia). While we’re discussing C-sections, when they discharge you, they’re going to give you stool softeners- 𝐓𝐀𝐊𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌 𝐑𝐄𝐋𝐈𝐆𝐈𝐎𝐔𝐒𝐋𝐘 because LAWD have mercy if you don’t. Those first few post baby poops are the WORST, so brace yourself and get ahead of the game. Also, if you’ve had a c-section, have a firm pillow handy. Go ahead and roll your eyes right now, but still GET THE DARN PILLOW because coughing or laughing post C-section is one of the more painful things I’ve endured in my life. Thankfully it doesn’t last forever but trust me you’re going to need to support your stomach! Momma Diapers- It took me getting to my 6th kid before I discovered these things and man are they a game changer. The mesh panties the hospital will give you are nice; they really are and most moms wear them for as long as they can before they fall apart (no joke). But these momma diapers were amazing, and I wish I’d known about them sooner. There are a lot of options out there, but this my favorite brand. They're really called postpartum incontinence pads, but I prefer momma diapers.
Abdominal binders- To wear or not to wear? I think this a personal preference, but I’d strongly recommend wearing one, and most hospitals will provide one to you. If nothing else, after having a baby your organs are just hanging out all over the place. So, any amount of support you can provide in bringing your abdominal muscles back together and shrinking the space in which your organs are able float around freely in your abdomen, is going to help you feel better and it’s going to help with your recovery.
Postpartum Bleeding- The bleeding after delivery is something everyone experiences, and it can last up to 8 weeks. A lot of women don’t realize that whether you have a C-section or a vaginal delivery, you bleed! That being said, let’s very briefly discuss what a normal amount is and when you need to call your doctor or head back into labor and delivery. Bright red blood and passing clots after delivery is normal, but the clots should not be bigger than a quarter and you should not be soaking a pad more than once every hour. If the clots are large than a quarter or you are soaking more than one pad an hour, you need to call your doctor. Also, if you experience any chills, fever, dizziness, headache, you also need to either call your doctor or head back into labor and delivery.(https://www.webmd.com/women/vaginal-bleeding-after-birth-when-to-call-doctor)
Many women will notice a decrease in bleeding around the four-week mark, which is quite the welcome change. For some bleeding will increase again several weeks later and this is often a sign of doing too much. Slow down momma and ask for help.
Birth Control & Fertility window- Once upon a time breast-feeding was recommended as a form of birth control…that is no longer a recommendation, and I can personally testify it was surprisingly ineffective for me (and so many others I know)! You are extremely fertile in the first few weeks after delivery so take extra precautions! It is true that some studies indicate breast-feeding creates high prolactin levels, which reduces ovulation. But that fact isn’t exactly helpful when we don’t have a reliable way of for detecting the resumption of ovulation. Most women realize their ovulation has resumed when, like me, they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. This leads me into the next point of discussion, which is BIRTH CONTROL! Prior to delivery, have a discussion or two with your provider about the birth-control options that are going to be available after delivery, especially if you plan to breast-feed. That way (in all your free time- HAHA) you can do a little bit of research and know what kind of birth control you want to ask for at your six week postpartum follow up.(https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/387162/)
No you didn’t pee the bed- If you recently had a baby, (and by recently, I’m going to be very liberal with “recently” and say within the last 12 to 18 months) and you wake up completely drenched, your bed is completely drenched and you fear that maybe you wet the bed as a grown woman… chances are you haven’t and there’s no need to get up and sniff the sheets (don’t judge, I can’t be responsible for my investigative actions at 2am). 𝐖𝐇𝐘 nobody talks about this is beyond me, but I’m here to shout it from the rooftops that 𝐈𝐓 𝐈𝐒 𝐍𝐎𝐑𝐌𝐀𝐋. It has everything to do with hormones, which also means it doesn’t matter how hot or how cold we keep the room, we are going to sweat. It may not be every night, it will likely be inconsistent, especially as time goes on. But it is normal, you have not peed the bed, and you can go ahead and stop losing previous sleep over it.
Postpartum Hair loss- During pregnancy, you might have noticed (or maybe your significant other happily pointed out to you) that there’s not as much hair clogging the drain (mine was thrilled). Well, let me tell you something- your body will more than make up for that when you’re postpartum. I thought I was going bald when I would wash my hair and I would have hair come out in handfuls, I had fistfuls of my hair in my hands. This is one of those times I sat down and cried in the shower… frumpy post baby body, leaky boobs and now BALD. If only I had known that it is normal and just another one of those lovely hormone issues, I could have saved myself some tears and worry.
Mastitis-I know all about this one all too well. Mastitis does not discriminate. It does not affect 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 actively breast-feeding women. If you have very recently delivered and decided breast-feeding is not for you, you can still end up with mastitis (it also affect non breastfeeding women and men but not as commonly). So, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms, and when you need to go to the doctor for treatment. What is it? Mastitis is inflamed tissue in the breast that often leads to infection. The inflammation and often corresponding infection can result in pain, swelling, warmth, redness, fever chills and my personal favorite (heavy sarcasm) “feeling like you just got ran over by a Mac truck.” The causes are multi factorial, but most commonly involve either a clogged milk duct, and or bacteria entering the milk ducts through your baby’s mouth both of which can lead to infection.
For at home remedies, I have always been successful with the following, in addition to contacting your medical provider:
-Motrin: to treat the inflammation and body aches
-Warm moist compress: heat half a cup of water in a microwave for 30 to 60 seconds and pour it into a small disposable diaper. Test the heat in the diaper by placing it on the inner part of your wrist. If it is not too hot, go ahead and place it on the affected area of the infected breast. Stuff in your bra, or a tank top or whatever you’ve got on and let it sit there for a good five minutes or so.
-Vibrator: once you’ve done the diaper, you’re going to want to take a vibrator or a vibrating toothbrush, and gently massage the affected breast area. This is one of the most painful things I have ever had to do to myself, but it HAS to be done.
-Dangle feeding: This is another helpful method, and it is just like what it sounds like. You get on all fours (on your hands and knees) and dangle your breasts over your baby to nurse. The gravity and the baby‘s suckling will pull the milk down and help drain those clogged ducts.
-Enlist help: Since we are talking about things that nobody ever talks about, but that we should talk about, if you have to enlist your significant other to help drain that breast, do not be ashamed. An adult mouth is going to be much stronger and more powerful than a baby or a breast pump and sometimes you just ‘gotta do what you gotta do’ -and handle it.
-Continue to feed or pump: No matter how painful the mastitis is, the most torturous part is that you have to continue to feed or pump to drain that breast. Some women find hand expression more effectives, so there are a number of different methods you can try. This is not a one shoe fits all, but these are the most effective things that I have found over the years after having this taboo discussion with other women.
-Contact your provider because you may need to be seen or given antibiotics.
Signs of Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)- We as a society have done a slightly better job in recent years discussing PPD/PPA, but I think we can do better. Motherhood is overwhelming! Taking care of a new baby, with some serious lack of sleep, while also trying to recover from a delivery or surgery is brutal. Combine that with hormones that are raging and it’s very difficult to cope and process. PPD/PPA does not look the same for everyone and can include feelings of sadness, loss of interest, anger, feeling overwhelmed, lack of a bonding feeling with your baby, you feel nothing at all, feelings of hopelessness, decrease in appetite, issues with concentration and focus and several symptoms more not listed here. A new mom can be suffering from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or a combination of both. Please talk to someone if you are having any of these feelings, there is help and treatment available!
Here is a list of Postpartum Depression Treatment Programs & Specialists https://postpartumprogress.com/womens-mental-health-treatment-programs-specialists-us-canada-australia
If you seek professional help, postpartum mood disorders are TEMPORARY and TREATABLE. Please don't think you're alone in feeling this way, and do not hesitate to ask for help or talk to someone about how you're feeling! (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617)
-Julie P. (Mother of 6)
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