Compared to some of the birth stories I've heard, I think I had a rather smooth delivery and recovery. That, coupled with the fact that I was completely focused by the condition of my wild bubba, I was up and running about in no time.
The few weeks or months after giving birth was a period of great adjustment. I was overjoyed yet overwhelmed. My day would pass in a flash, yet I would accomplish what felt like nothing. Caring for a baby is the most demanding full time job I had ever taken on. So demanding, I would forget to brush my hair for days, or take a shower, or use the toilet, much less care for my body even though I just had a baby.
Having a new little person in my life, completely reliant on me, made it really easy to lose myself. I became so consumed in my role as a mother I quickly forgot who I was before. I needed to be reminded by my husband to slow down, or by my family who'd dropped by to look after the baby so my husband and I could have dinner in peace.
Looking back, there are a few things that I'm glad I took care off, and a few that I didn't but learned the hard way.
I wasn't keen on the traditional asian confinement month at all. Not washing my hair for a month, ew. Only drinking red date tea for a month, whut. Wearing long pants and socks at home, in this heat? I wanted nothing to do with it and was ready to debunk all these confinement rules and myths with my expert googling skills. The idea of having a confinement nanny live in with us was impossible to entertain, and we decided to look after mwb without help.
So, in an effort to compromise (somewhat), I spent most of my month at home and ordered from a confinement caterer. WhileI might not always believe in the power of herbs and the excessive intake of ginger, I believe that overall the confinement diet did both my husband and I well. We felt energetic enough (for new parents) and for a couple with slightly sensitive stomachs, we felt well the entire month. My husband even lost his pregnancy weight!
Postnatal Massages (a.k.a Jamu Massage)
I have my reservations on the exact benefits of these massages but went ahead with it any way. I was convinced after a mommy friend said this to me "I'm not sure if it works, but whether it does or not, you can take this time for yourself and just enjoy a massage." It was exactly what I needed at that time. 90 minutes to myself to release the new aches I was feeling all over. Although, the 6hr tummy wraps that followed, I didn't enjoy as much. Freshly greased from head to toe in massage oil and being bound tightly in our humidity, while having to care and breastfeed a newborn, made it easy to forget the preceding massage. Upon untying the wrap, I would feel instantly relieved and would also look into the mirror and see a rather compressed belly. Truth be told, I really couldn't say if the massages and wraps made a difference to my physical state. Still, who says no to massages?
I've heard of the really painful recovery stories and am so relieved that my wound at its peak was only best described as, uncomfortable. That being said, I definitely didn't take that for granted. I've watched youtubers share their infection stories and gurllll, did that encourage me to take extra care of my nether region. For 6 weeks (up to the point my gynae cleared my wound), I carried around a peri bottle, witch hazel wipes and giant pads with me to use each time I used the toilet.
Breastfeeding is REALLY difficult. It made the pregnancy and delivery feel like child's play. I want to talk about this in full detail in another post specific to breastfeeding but in the summarised version of this, I believe the 2 items I couldn't have done without were nipple balm and bralettes. Nipple balm to relief the soreness you're going to feel everyday for the next few weeks and bralettes for comfort with some support. While not wearing a bra is surely more comfortable, if you're breastfeeding, your milk is going to get on to everything. Also, the new weight and size of your breasts might create new gravity you might want to defy.
Have you heard of "mommy wrist"? I wasn't actually aware of this and didn't actually know I had to be careful. After my "confinement" I started meeting up with other mommy friends who just had babies too. They were wearing wrist guards. Not fully understand what the deal is, I remember thinking to myself "wow, wrist sprains seem like a common injury." Fast forward 5 months, what started as a little ache on my wrist led to full stiffness followed by a constant dull pain I couldn't ignore. I was so desperate for relief, I went for my first acupuncture treatment in 30 years. Two sessions later and with mwb now in infant care, I was back to myself.
Constantly having to carry out little ones is a hazard, especially if you're not particularly careful about the way your hand is positioned as you're lifting them.
Mental health was not on my list of priorities but I knew it should've been. The baby blues hit me harder than I expected. I cried when the baby cried, I cried when my husband would wake me up to feed, I cried when baby had a blow out. There were days I would lie in bed or lock myself in the bathroom to while mwb cried and I cried with her. Liquid was coming out of my eyes, snot from my nose and milk from my breasts. I was one giant wet mess. The cries of mwb felt endless and it was driving me mad. I wanted to disappear. Every time my husband noticed, he would take over baby duties entirely and force me to take some time to myself. Eventually, I found solace in social media. During "me time" I would be sharing and talking to other mommies. Over time, it felt like things fell into place and the negative feelings became a thing of the past.
Probably not the most comprehensive list for postpartum care, but I'm going to close with this one. I don't know about your relationship, but things changed for us. Not for better or worse, just different. We now had to navigate between being a couple and being parents. What was discussed before was now being put into practice and was panning out quite differently. For example, we agreed to never let mwb sleep in our bed. However, after a week of not much sleep and realising out little girl refused to sleep in her crib, I was wanted to cave. My husband, on the other hand, would not yield. In our sleep-deprived-zombie-like states, we argued about this so much. I lost every time. And that, was for the best. Mwb has been sleeping in her own crib, in her own room through the night since she was 3 months old.
Getting back to my point, taking care of us was part of taking care of me. We went through the first few months arguing so much but took a step back every now and then to talk it out and I was a better mom for it. It was important to remember not to neglect our relationship for the new baby as we evolved from couple to a family.
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