The Postpartum Catch-22
Healing During Postpartum? It’s Not Always That Easy
The moment you’ve been waiting for has come and gone. Baby is here! You did it! Whether you went natural, had medical interventions or surgical birth (c-section), you delivered your sweet little one. Now it’s time to go home. Your care provider gives you “The Postpartum Speech” before you leave the hospital. Do this, not that. Don’t push yourself to do too much. If you do, your bleeding will come back or get worse. Take it easy. But here’s the catch – you have a new, tiny human being that depends on you or you and your partner 24/7.
Diapers need to be changed. Dishes washed. Laundry cleaned. When I brought my daughter home, I felt like the medical advice I was given was impossible to follow. Something constantly needed to be done. Take it easy? How? Please someone tell me.
I came home with a third degree tear (Yup. You read that right). Moving was so painful. Sitting was unbearable. Getting up, walking and standing were the worst. Whether you tore like me, didn’t tear at all, or had a c-section, birth is exhausting and recovery can be rough. All I wanted to do was lie perfectly still in bed with an ice diaper and a heating pad on my back and sleep for seven days straight. Alas, this wasn’t an option.
My Privilege & My Mistake
The most eye-opening part of this experience was that I had help. So many other moms don’t have others to rely on after bringing baby home. I had my husband and my mom even stayed with us for the first two weeks. With all this support, I didn’t think I would need a postpartum doula. I thought, “Of course I’ll be able to get rest. There will be three of us to take care of the baby. Why would I need anymore help?” The three of us took turns sleeping, bottle feeding, rocking baby and washing dishes. And yet I was on my feet way more than I should have been.
My body had been through something extreme. Researchers liken birth to completing a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. We were all taking care of the baby. There wasn’t much time to take care of me, too, though my family tried their best.
Learning to Balance
While getting rest to the extent I needed to heal more quickly was not going to happen, I realized not getting a postpartum doula was a mistake and that this process was going to take a lot more time. My bleeding would come back, I’d stay in bed for day. Bleed, rest, repeat. Bleed, rest, repeat. I had to learn my new limits for those first six weeks.
I needed to heal and take care of myself; I needed to take care of my baby. Those two things were in constant conflict of each other. I suppose this is one of the earliest lessons in motherhood – the need for balance. I’m still learning.
Sending love to all you mamas!