Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum

Lyla is six weeks old and I finally feel like I’m emerging from the postpartum fog. I expected birthing her to be hard but I was not prepared for the unique and unexpected trials of postpartum life. Of course, I’m so happy to have my sweet daughter but I’m not enjoying the challenges postpartum has brought to me personally. Everyone’s recovery and experiences are different but I want to share my experience in the hope that if you are pregnant or postpartum we can support each other in our journeys.

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Postpartum or the first few months after birth when your hormones are finding their way back to normal can be a particularly traumatic time for any new mom.

Breastfeeding: learning to breastfeed, engorgement, leaky breasts…

Breastfeeding is natural, yes but it’s a skill that both you and baby have to learn. I thought I was prepared to breastfeed, I took a class and read a giant book on the subject. Yet I still struggled to get a good latch (I had to stay at the hospital and work on breastfeeding before being discharged) and to keep my baby alert enough to feed (we had to strip her down to her diaper to feed and use a cold cloth and tickle her to keep her focused). I ended up having to hand express colostrum and feed it through a syringe. Couple these challenges with the afterpains of birth, lack of sleep and a small crowded hospital room-not fun!

I also wasn’t prepared for the seemingly endless hours of feeding known as cluster feeding. Usually, this occurs at night when you are exhausted and wondering how you can stay awake enough to keep nursing. One consolation is that when the baby is done you both can finally sleep…for a short few hours.

A few days after finding out what cluster feeding was my milk came in. I was not prepared for how engorged, heavy and lumpy I felt. Not to mention the pain of being so full. However, I was advised to take a hot shower, try some hand expression to relieve some of the engorgement and firmly push down and out on the ducts while nursing to release some pressure.

Finally, don’t forget those breast pads because one look at your baby and the milk can come “pouring” out of your breasts. I was astounded at first by how much milk I was leaking.

Helpful Breastfeeding Supports:

  • My Brest Friend pillow
  • towels, burp cloths, swaddle blankets-anything to wipe up milk dripping on you and the baby
  • co-sleeping + lay down feeding
  • a supportive partner
  • Netflix
  • inexpensive nursing bra’s + bralettes (trust me you’re going to be leaking a lot of milk all over your bra’s)
  • Milkies Milk Saver-this is worn on the breast not used for feeding to catch any milk, it works great and surprisingly catches a lot of milk! It also prevents the mess from leaking.

I’m very thankful for the ability to breastfeed my baby. However, there have been many times where I’ve wanted to give up, partly to get a break from being the sole, on-demand feeder. According to the parenting forums around month, three things will get easier so I’m holding out for that.

Baby Blues

I thought pregnancy messed with my emotions. Well, postpartum really messed things up. Physiologically your progesterone drops (which affects one’s mood) and prolactin increase in order to breastfeed which is good. However, these changes can really affect one’s mental state. For example, I cry when I don’t want to. I’ll be talking to my husband trying to explain something that’s bothering me and I’ll well up with tears. Which make the issue seem way bigger than it really is. In reality, I can’t help the tears from falling out. I’m not trying to get a reaction out of him, my body is just taking over my tear ducts.

Aside from crying are the feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and fear. At times I feel incapable of my role or that I’m doing it wrong. I especially feel this way when I have to get up in the middle of the night and lift her out of her bed to feed or change her. I love my daughter but sometimes I just can’t extend myself any more than I have. This leads to thoughts of “If this is so hard, how could I ever going to care for multiple children?”. I do have a lot of support and encouragement around me but obviously, we are our own worst critic.

Self Care

Finally, self-care is so important during this period. This is something I discussed with my midwife and she noted how if I take care of myself I will be a better mom. Although I knew this it was a reminder I needed to hear. I try to get out for a daily walk at 2 pm each day, I make a point to shower at least every other day, I keep ingredients on hand to make a filling, protein-rich smoothie that I can drink while nursing and somedays I’ll quickly do my makeup while the baby is in her swing and I try to wear something that I feel cute in.

Even though things have gotten better over the last few weeks, my midwife noted that postpartum depression can occur anytime up to two years after giving birth. It’s not always easy to address mental health issues but it is so important to make sure you are taking care of yourself and get support when you need it. Finally, one thing I appreciated was at each of our appointments my midwife would ask how my mood was. Being that I trusted my healthcare provider I could be open to her about my concerns and she was able to provide any resources I might need.

Bleeding + Padsicles

After giving birth you bleed a lot. Especially in the first few days. This is known as lochia and is due to the placenta being removed. The body has to heal the place where the placenta was attached and until that occurs you bleed. This makes sense because the placenta transferred everything baby needed through blood vessels and when the placenta came out at birth the area has to heal.

Lochia is just another fun thing to deal with after giving birth. Thankfully I have a few tips that can make this time more bearable!

First use disposable type underwear (think Depends, you can get a free sample on their website) for the first few days when the flow is the heaviest (so much better coverage than what the hospital provides). For the rest of the days Always Overnight pads (the purple ones) are great. They have two wings and are super long which provides a lot of coverage. Also, buy some throwaway larger pairs of underwear for the postpartum period. Finally padsicles. Basically, take your pads pour some witch hazel (to help with healing) over them, aloe vera and if you want lavender oil, fold them back up in the wrapper and using a large Ziploc bag store them in the freezer until needed. You can wear them straight from the freezer or thaw them out for a few minutes. Either way the coolness feels amazing, especially during those first very sore weeks.

4th Trimester

Understanding the 4th-trimester concept has changed the way I view my baby’s needs during this newborn period and has allowed me to not feel guilty for putting other things on hold.

The idea of a fourth trimester is about seeing the first three months as baby’s adjustment to the world. They spent the last 9 months in utero, all cozy, warm and constantly fed. On the outside babies still have the same needs to be near to mom, lots of cuddles, feeling secure, eating on demand, sleeping…

With this view in mind, I’ve tried to put less pressure on myself in regards to anything that would take me away from the baby. If I’m stuck on the couch cluster feeding for a few hours and just watching Netflix I don’t feel guilty.

Especially in the first few weeks when you’re healing, in pain and can barely walk it’s best to just lay low. Your family, visitors and friends should understand and will most likely be willing to help out with meals, dishes, cleaning or anything else you need.

Remember babies are only babies for such a short time so savour each moment!

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Postpartum or the first few months after birth when your hormones are finding their way back to normal can be a particularly traumatic time for any new mom.

Everything No One Told Me About Pospartum


The Christian Postpartum Course by Angie Tolpin

Nothing in this post is sponsored. However, I did want to share one final resource I stumbled upon thanks to Audrey Rollofs Instagram story about a postpartum course offered by her friend Angie Tolpin of the blog Courageous Mom. Audrey herself struggled a lot postpartum (her sweet daughter Ember is 2 months old), she had troubles breastfeeding and mastitis twice. Since Angie was a personal friend she was able to reach out to her for support. Unfortunately, not everyone has a friend like Angie. That is why she created the Christian Postpartum Course.

Who is Angie Tolpin? 

Angie is a mom of 7 with a heart for helping moms in all areas of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting. She created a course that combines practical advice and tips along with a biblical perspective. She even addresses intimacy after having a baby.

Angie shares that:

Unfortunately, many women are not willing to talk about postpartum and those who do, are shining God’s glory in ministering to their sisters in humanity through sharing what God has taught them, but many times they either cannot offer Biblical insight ALONG WITH PRACTICAL TEACHING THAT HELPS or they are not offering that teaching from a Biblical perspective at all.

To find out more about the course click here.


For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2

To read Part 1 of my birth story click here

We arrived at the hospital at 1 pm and met our primary midwife in the maternal triage area (we also had a second midwife assist during the birth). She lead us across the hall to the delivery room where I changed into a gown and laid down on the bed. I looked out the window and noted our nice view of autumn coloured trees covering the city. The distraction was a good way to start the day.

My midwife then checked my cervix and proceeded to break my water. Although this procedure was somewhat uncomfortable Mike kept me distracted by making me laugh and holding my hand, so the pain was very bearable. Plus I was excited to finally be in the process of getting my baby into the world.

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Walking the halls after being induced

Following my water being broken we walked the hallways until 3:30 pm, getting mine and the baby’s vitals checked every half hour by the midwives. As I was walking I could still feel water gushing out, it was a very icky feeling! Nonetheless, I kept walking determined to start labor. When I hadn’t progressed by 3:30 pm I was put on Pitocin through an IV.

As my contractions progressed from slightly uncomfortable cramps to being more noticeable I moved onto the birth ball at the end of the bed. I really liked this position because I had a lot of back labor.  It was helpful to be able to lean over the bed, roll my hips and still be somewhat mobile during labor and between contractions. The midwives and Mike also applied counter pressure to my back which felt amazing during the contractions.

Support During Labor

By far the most helpful support during labor was my husband. He was honestly so incredible during the whole process and I could not have gone through any of this without him by my side. Each contraction I would squeeze his hand and lean into him. He was so encouraging through each contraction reminding me to breathe and relax my body. During the final stages of labor, when I couldn’t talk he put a cool cloth on my head.

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I found that the beginning of a contraction was hard but once I was able to tell myself to relax and breathe through it, the contraction became bearable. However, in the end, I was on the verge of asking for something to help with the pain. I also told myself that each contraction was a good thing. I really believe the mind controls the body and you can tell your body how to behave. Labour was not easy but it was not impossible. I tried to take it one contraction at a time.

Almost Time to Meet Baby K

Eventually, the contractions became very strong and I was tired of sitting on the birth ball so I moved onto the bed. Unfortunately relocating to the bed caused the contractions to increase in intensity. I laid on my side and bore through each contraction hoping that it was almost over. Not long after to my surprise I had the urge to push. Although I was not speaking at this point I knew I had to express this feeling. My midwife told me to listen to my body and I began pushing a little during contractions. I also turned over onto my back. Then I had the urge to go to the bathroom I wanted to go sit on the toilet and push. After the midwife checked me she said that the baby was very close. I was surprised to feel pressure in that area of my body being from the baby.

At this point, I knew it had to almost be over. In fact, I only pushed for 20 minutes, although it felt a lot longer. Looking back I did tire myself pushing because I was so determined to get her out. I also didn’t push on the contractions as I should have.

The baby began to crown but my body was still too tight to let her out. Her heart rate also began to drop so my midwife informed me she needed to perform a [second-degree] episiotomy (in my birth plan I wanted to avoid this). I wasn’t numbed during the procedure which included cutting through my skin and muscle to give the baby more room to come out. Although it was painful my focus was entirely on the baby and not on some temporary pain I had to endure. I tried to apply this thinking to all of labor. It was hard and very painful but it was bearable because I knew it was all for my baby. One thing I’ve learned from giving birth and especially bringing Lyla home is how selfless a baby causes you to be.

Following the episiotomy, the midwife told me to push with all I had. I gave it everything, I was almost yelling my energy was so intense. For me being a quiet person this behavior surprised even me. However, I didn’t care because I knew I was so close to meeting my baby. Finally, her head came out and then the shoulders. At 7:39 pm Lyla Dawn Kramer was delivered and placed on my chest.

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The whole process was so fast I felt almost numb after. My legs were shaking, I was in pain from the cut and I was suddenly a mom. It was a lot to take in.

After the cord stopped pulsing Mike cut it and the midwife took Lyla for some tests. Mike was right by her side the whole time talking to her. Lyla recognized his voice so well from hearing it when he would talk to her in utero.

Meanwhile, the other midwife brought me some toast and I began to get stitched up. Although receiving stitches was not fun once Lyla was back in my arms I just looked at her and the pain was nothing to worry about. I just focused on my sweet babe and knew these stitches were more than worth it because they allowed me to meet her.

Staying At the Hospital

Initially, I wanted to go home after the birth but since it was late and I was still recovering we decided to stay the night. I thought we would be leaving the next morning, but we ended up staying two nights and going home on Saturday. The reason for staying so much longer than anticipated was Lyla’s weak sucking and difficulty latching when I tried to feed her. As a result, the nurses and midwife had us stay until they felt confident in our ability to breastfeed.

At first, we were supposed to go home the next morning, then in the evening and then finally Saturday afternoon, we were discharged. It was really hard emotionally to keep thinking that we would be going home then having to stay longer.

Staying at the Hospital Was Actually a Good Thing

Looking back I’m glad we stayed because it was great to have 24-hour support from the nursing staff especially the first night. Lyla also had a lot of mucus and was coughing it up. I know that if we went home, we would have been unprepared to deal with this. The nurses showed us how to tilt her on her side and they tilted her bassinet to prevent mucus from going back down her esophagus.

By the time we went home, I felt a lot more confident in my ability to take care of a newborn. Although Mike was a little nervous I knew we could manage just fine on our own. Plus if we had any problems we could call our midwife anytime. It was also reassuring to know we would be getting a visit again from the midwife on days 3 and 5 at home.

Why I Would Have a Midwife Again

One of the best decisions we made was choosing a midwife as our healthcare provider. Our appointments were never rushed, we had support during the entire labour and the first week home the midwife came to our apartment (it was so nice to not have to go anywhere). She checked on me and the baby (she weighed Lyla, checked my stitches, and noted our vitals among other things). I had a low-risk pregnancy so for me a midwife was a great option, however, if I ever required an obstetrician the midwife would have ordered a consult (as she did when I needed Pitocin at the hospital).

Birth Story: Not as Planned

Finally, I want to conclude by noting that my whole birth experience was not according to plan at all. That was okay because life never goes “according to plan”. I wanted to go into labour naturally and deliver at a smaller hospital 15 minutes from home. Instead, I had to get induced at a very large hospital 30 minutes from home and go on Pitocin. I also didn’t want to receive an episiotomy. I planned on labouring in the tub to prevent this but it never took advantage of that option and because of the Pitocin. My labour progressed fairly fast resulting in an episiotomy. However, I am incredibly grateful to have delivered a healthy baby girl.


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For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

3rd Trimester Update

In lieu of being 37 weeks tomorrow (third trimester) and officially early term over preterm, I thought it was time to give one last pregnancy update.

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I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don’t sleep through the night because I’m up to pee around five times a night, I am sort of loving third trimester.

A few reasons why the third trimester has been my favourite are:

I finally look pregnant.

At my last appointment, the midwife noted I have a long torso and therefore I carry pretty small. Yet I’m still within the normal range of measurements at each appointment so there is nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, people have only started recently commenting that I’m finally showing in an obvious way. While I appreciate their comments I’m not bothered that I tend to carry small. As long as my midwife is not worried and I’m continuing to gain weight I’m happy with my bump.

On the plus side, I can still wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and don’t have too much trouble maneuvering around. Although sometimes when I lean forward to grab something my stomach hits the spacebar on my laptop and pauses Netflix :p

We’re almost ready for Baby K to come

In the last few weeks, we’ve set up our crib, stroller and installed the car seat. Plus we’re all registered at the hospital and I completed my breastfeeding class (which I highly recommend, it was so helpful having proper breastfeeding techniques explained and being able to ask questions of the public health nurse). Seeing all these visible reminders that soon there is going to be a baby here with us is a bit surreal!

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I still have to wash all of her clothes, we need blankets and newborn diapers but other than that we have lots of wipes, diaper cream, her bath, baby soap, and lotion among other essentials. I’m feeling mostly ready but I’m waiting till after our shower to see if there are any last minute things we might need.

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Shoutout to my mom for washing Baby K’s clothes for me <3
I can feel big movements from Baby K

In previous trimesters I felt little kicks, jabs, and somersaults from Baby K. Now I can feel her pushing against my stomach. Sometimes I can feel her little foot poking my right side. At other times she makes my whole stomach move almost in waves. It’s so cool knowing she’s growing bigger each day and is almost ready to come out.

Overall this third trimester has gone fairly well, especially considered to the first trimester, I really am feeling pretty good.

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I’m getting really excited to finally meet Baby K but at the same time, I’m anticipating some big changes. At times life feels a little daunting and overwhelming. I know that all these changes are good and definitely things to be thankful for.

Nonetheless having a baby for the first time is daunting because I’ve never done this before. However, I’m thankful to have a lot of support from family and friends.

If you have any tips for being a new mom please leave me a comment below. I am very open to any advice people want to give me, because I am very new at this and want to be prepared as best I can. 

I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don't sleep through the night I am sort of loving third trimester.


For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

First Trimester Update

As of today, I am 12 weeks! I am so happy to be coming out of the first trimester. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the second trimester so my hopes are somewhat high that I’ll be feeling better and more energized. Today I wanted to take a moment and share how my first trimester has been.

First Trimester Update

Choosing to be Thankful

At 6 weeks I found out to my joy and surprise that I was indeed expecting. Initially, I was shocked but also very happy. I have always wanted and dreamed of having a family, yet I never really thought it would happen this soon. Before I go on though I want to express how truly grateful I am for this pregnancy and that I don’t take the ability to conceive or carry a child lightly. I am very aware of the high rate of miscarriage and the myriad of difficulties many women face when trying to conceive. As I write and share my experiences I always try to keep in mind the experiences of others and be sensitive. I thank God every day for this precious life inside of me. Although I don’t enjoy feeling sick or throwing up, each time I do it reminds me of the gift I’m blessed to carry. During the low times, I’ve tried to remember this and not complain about how unglamorous pregnancy can sometimes feel.

Pregnancy Surprises

Yes, pregnancy is not easy but I am so grateful to be able to experience it. One thing that has surprised me is how emotional I’ve been. A lot of times I try to hold back the tears but if I watch anything remotely sad I can feel the tears start. For example, I was watching a prank video on YouTube with Mike of this guy proposing to his girlfriend in a mall, but she rejected him. The whole crowd of people just laughed at him, except for one guy who gave him a hug. I just could not help crying even though I suspected it was fake. I just felt so bad for the poor guy. I also cry when I’ve been sick and throwing up constantly and it seems like I’ll never feel like myself again or be able to eat. Sometimes it’s hard to see an end. I also have no idea what it’s going to be like to have a baby. I’m excited in the sense that I will have my own baby. At the same time, I’m scared because I feel so unprepared and inexperienced. Maybe my emotions are how I’m expressing this fear and just how overwhelmed I sometimes feel. Either way, sometimes it feels good to cry.

Something that has really helped during the low times is reading scripture. This blog has some really great encouraging verses to meditate on during pregnancy. I also find that reading a few chapters from the Bible before bed is very powerful. I am reminded of how alive God’s word is and how much strength I gain from it.  I would really encourage you to make time for God, even if you’re feeling sick or down.

Eating and Craving

As I mentioned above eating and keeping food down has been a struggle. I find I don’t have the biggest appetite and when I try to eat more than I can, I feel sick after. Usually, I just try to eat small manageable snacks throughout the day like apples and cheese, peanut butter on an English muffin, yogurt with fruit, oranges (I love fresh, juicy fruit!), milk, a bagel, applesauce, smoothies, soup or sandwiches. My medication has at least allowed me to keep more food down during the day, which I am so grateful for.

Energy

Physically, I have noticed an increase in energy since around week 10. I was able to clean up a bit and do some laundry this past weekend which was awesome. I feel so much better when things are clean and put away. I find that after being out for a few hours I get tired and need a nap when I get home. I don’t feel guilty about sleeping because I know this is only a temporary luxury! Overall I haven’t felt generally sick as I did before, I would say I feel good about 60% of the time. In the morning and evening’s I get nauseous or after long car rides. I would also say I have a ‘baby’ baby bump beginning to show, which makes me super excited! One lady at church even noticed I was beginning to show a teeny bit (:

Overall I haven’t felt generally sick as I did before, I would say I feel good about 60% of the time. In the morning and evening’s I get nauseous or after long car rides. I would also say I have a ‘baby’ baby bump beginning to show, which makes me super excited! One lady at church even noticed I was beginning to show a teeny bit (:

I am feeling a lot better than I did and I’m looking forward to finishing classes soon. I have two more papers and then studying for four exams during April. Following that, I’ll be taking a few summer courses to finish my degree and graduate in October!

THANK YOU! <3

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me either on here or otherwise. I read every comment and message and it honestly means so much to me! <3 Michael and I are so grateful for everyone’s love, support and excitement during this very special time in our life! <3 I look forward to sharing more updates!


For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding
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