Postpartum Update: Week 12
Cindy’s 12 weeks postpartum!! And the end of the “4th Trimester”. Things are settling into a more predictable routine now. And things aren’t as overwhelming as they were in that first month. We’re getting to know Baby R better and better each day. We can now differentiate between “I’m bored” cries vs. “I’m uncomfortable” cries vs. “I’m tired” cries. It’s funny because in those first days, we watched the infamous Oprah YouTube video of a woman “unlocking the secret language of babies”. Basically this woman describes the differences between each type of baby cry and explains how to identify them on your own. The video was kinda helpful but also not really. It was helpful in the sense that it tricked us into thinking we knew what we were doing. But actually, spending time and getting to know Baby R was more helpful.
As for recovery updates, Cindy’s officially stopped spotting!! (hopefully). And in place of spotting, has started experiencing “breastfeeding hunger”. She didn’t think it was a real thing when she first read about it, but in the last week she’s developed a ravenous, insatiable hunger. She thought the hunger and cravings ended when pregnancy was over. But guess not.
As for baby updates, just when we had a good thing going with sleep, Baby R decides to switch it up. We noticed she’s been trying to roll over, so that means it’s time to stop swaddling or at least transition out of the swaddle. And that’s disrupted sleep because she can’t control her flailing arms. JUST. STOP. FLAILING. We came across this blog in our desperate attempts to search for tips on an easy, smooth transition out of the swaddle. It’s sooo relatable lol. We ended up putting off transitioning out of the swaddle because sleep is just too precious.
For this week’s post, we thought we’d share our reflections and thoughts on the past 12 or so weeks. Not that anyone is asking, but it felt like a good way to bring us closure & conclude our postpartum updates.
Hospital Bag “Essentials”
- The only thing Cindy used from her hospital bag was her long phone charger, hospital socks (only because she somehow lost the ones provided by the hospital), toothbrush, headband (to keep her bangs out of face during delivery), and going home outfit. Other than that, she just used the hospital provided stuff. She was soooo tired after delivery that she didn’t even have the energy to change into the “more comfy” gown she had packed. She just wore the hospital provided gown.
- As for Jake, he used one set of clean clothes, a pair of hospital socks (to be comfy), his toothbrush and deodorant, phone charger, and laptop. The laptop kept us entertained during early labor (when it wasn’t that bad)— we binged Breaking Bad!
- We packed one newborn size outfit and one 0-3 month size outfit (in case Baby R was born too big for NB size).
- Perineal Cold Packs— these were a MUST for Cindy. She got the Amazon brand. They really helped those first few days back home from the hospital. She went though about 40 of these ice pack maxi pads. Because of how much blood the pads were soaking up, our bathroom started to smell really bad. We ended up leaving one big trash bag in the bathroom to collect all the used packs and to contain the smell.
- Disposable Adult Underwear. She bought 2 packs of the Always Discreet brand, but ended up only using about 1 pack. Guess we have some for the next baby! She lived in these until she didn’t need the maxi pads anymore (about two and a half weeks). These were nice because she didn’t have to worry about leaks, especially with all the postpartum bleeding.
- Disposable Nursing Pads— she got the Lansinoh brand. Disposable nursing pads are waaaay easier than the reusable ones. She tried doing reusable, but it was too cumbersome having to remember to do laundry when she was extremely exhausted but had gone through all the cloth nursing pads she had.
- Men’s Underwear— or in Cindy’s case, Jake’s underwear lol. They just helped hold everything in those first few days, when your core and pelvic floor are super weak and it felt like things were sloshing around or just waiting to fall out. These basically do the same job as postpartum belly wraps but at a quarter of the price. She lived in Jake’s underwear for about 3 weeks.
- Dermaplast Pain Relief Spray. These really helped ease the pain. Cindy went through 2 cans. For fear of running out, she had ordered another 2 cans in advance. But by the time they arrived, she didn’t really need them anymore. Now we have spare cans for cuts and scrapes!
- Peri Bottle. Cindy loves the Frida brand one. But the hospital one did the job just fine. She used the peri bottles for about 2.5-3 weeks.
- Hemorrhoid Cream.
Recovery Tips Cindy Found Helpful
- Set out a “postpartum basket” near the bathroom to have all your postpartum stuff organized and handy. This made it easy to grab everything quickly, especially when you have to pee and have incontinence.
- Stock up on a few cheap pillows. It really hurt to sit those first few weeks and these helped. We already had a few pillows from when Jake broke his leg and needed to elevate it after his surgery. These are cheaper and more versatile than donut cushions, especially since she only needed the pillows for about 3 weeks. After that, she used the pillows as nursing pillows. She would stack them until they were just the right height. Surprisingly, these were more comfortable than the Boppy nursing pillow.
- Buy a few nursing friendly clothes in advance. Cindy had pleeeeenty of cute maternity clothes but didn’t think to have any nursing clothes. She was so tired and busy those first few days, it was hard to leave the house to go shopping so she ordered some on Amazon (and hoped fit wouldn’t be issue). In the days she was waiting for her packages to arrive, she basically had to strip down to nurse. One of the days, we went to the hospital for an appointment and it ran into Baby R’s feeding time. Cindy had a mini panic wondering how she would nurse without becoming completely indecent in public. Luckily, a private room was provided. But having a few nursing friendly clothes on hand would have eased the stress of it all. Same goes for nursing bras.
- Get a manual pump— in case you have to leave the baby. And don’t forget to bring it with you whenever you leave the baby. Cindy had to go to Urgent Care about 5 days postpartum. Being a first time mom, she didn’t even think about boobs getting engorged. So when it started to happen, she started to panic. Fortunately, the hospital provided a manual pump for her, but she was super embarrassed and stressed. Similarly, if you aren’t down with whipping the boob out for all to see, get a nursing cover and bring it with you everywhere (with and without baby).
- Stock up the house before baby arrives— TP, paper towels, hand soap, body wash, tooth paste, trash bags, detergent, etc. We read this advice on a blog somewhere and listened. And we’re so glad we did. The last thing you want, in those first days, is to run out or worry about running out of something.
- And finally, maybe TMI, but just jump in the shower after you poo! Or get a bidet… This advice was from Cindy’s friend. And keep doing this until you feel ready to wipe (which can be really scary to even think about at first). It took Cindy about one and a half months before she was ready.
Things Cindy Wished She Knew About Recovery and Postpartum
- How emotional you can be when the baby blues hit and if they hit hard. She was EXTREMELY emotional. We’ve shared this in previous posts, but Cindy cried more in that first week than she had ever cried in her entire life. What helped was reading that other moms experienced the same. And having mom friends check in and ask how she was feeling and giving her encouragement. And being able to ask those same mom friends what was normal and what they did to get through it all. It really is important to have a good support system.
- Lochia. You bleed A LOT after delivering a baby. Then it’ll stop and you’ll think you’re done bleeding. But then you’ll start spotting… and if you don’t know what lochia is then you might think your stitches ripped open or something, especially because it’s soo tender down there. Or at least that’s what Cindy thought. A nurse kindly informed her of all that and gently reminded her that stitches don’t normally rip open. And if her stitches really are infected, then there will usually be other symptoms like fever, smell, puss, etc.
- When stitches dissolve it can smell super dank. And leave a tan discharge. Which can cause you to think you have an infection… when really it’s just your stitches dissolving…
- You’ll walk funny and wonder if you’ll ever walk normally ever again. But it just takes time for things to heal and firm up. Take it easy and let your body heal!
- Express the milk when you feel it coming in. Otherwise you’ll be crying in the shower trying to release that full boob feeling. Also…learn how to use a pump and the different settings before having the baby. Otherwise you might feel overwhelmed with it and give up, go take a nap instead because the baby is sleeping and you’re exhausted, wake up with super engorged breasts, and spend the next hour crying because the baby can’t latch because your boobs are too full.
- Speaking of milk…your milk comes in 2-3 days after having the baby. And you can feel it happening.
- Take your iron pills because you lost A TON of blood during delivery!! Otherwise, you might get heart palpitations, cough because of the heart palpitations, go to Urgent Care and get sent to the ER (and be away from the baby for a whole evening) because both you and the doctors are afraid you have a pulmonary embolism… when really all you had to do was take your iron pills.
- And finally, it is normal to not immediately bond with your baby. And it’s common to feel trapped and mourn your old life. But these feelings will eventually go away. It just takes time.
Newborn “Hacks” & Tips
- Velcro Swaddles can be magic. Baby R slept soo much better and longer once we gave in and used a velcro swaddle on her. Although, now we’re in the predicament of having to transition her out of the swaddle….so maybe it’s also a curse.
- It’s everywhere on the internet, but we just have to reiterate it. Get one or two boxes of newborn diapers and stock up on the bigger sizes (but don’t stock up too much!) They grow out of each size fast! Or at least our baby did. She was out of the newborn sized diapers after two weeks; although, we probably could have sized up after one week. We stocked up on size 1 diapers, but had to exchange a box to size 2 because she quickly outgrew even those!
- Same goes with clothes! Don’t buy too many newborn clothes, as tempting as it might be! We have a few things baby never got to wear. A couple of those Carter’s onsies packs is probably enough. Also, buy season appropriate clothes. She was gifted a few long sleeve footies but never got a chance to wear them because she was born in the summer and it was hot! Too bad…those footies were soooo cute!
- Instead of changing pad sheets we opted for puppy pads. Those sheets soil soo quickly, so to save laundry time we started using disposable puppy pads. We originally got the pads for the car in case Cindy’s water broke. Her water ended up breaking at the hospital, so we were left with a box of puppy pads. We didn’t want them to go to waste, so that’s how we accidentally discovered it was easier to use these instead of sheets.
- And finally, use a bigger sized diaper for night time. Someone suggested this to us and it has been life-changing. Okay, not life-changing…but a good idea. Baby R doesn’t really cry about a wet diaper which meant we would often wake up to find a HEFTY diaper and some wetness leaking up Baby R’s back. Once we sized up at night, she stayed more dry.
Books We Enjoyed & Advice We Appreciated
- Crib Sheet by Emily Oster. (Jake’s favorite)
- Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. (Cindy’s favorite)
- Do shifts if that works for you or stay up together for moral support if that works for you. Just do what works for you and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Breastfeeding is hard!!! During those first few days, Cindy really wanted to quit. A friend shared that she had given herself a one month “tough it out period”. And if after a month she still felt the same way she did about breastfeeding, then she would quit knowing she tried to make it work. This was motivating for Cindy– having a timeline and an “out” if breastfeeding continued to be hard. Fortunately, at the one month mark, breastfeeding had gotten easier for Cindy and Baby R.
- Make time for each other. Even if it’s just 10 minutes. And talk about things that aren’t about the baby.
- For the dad: take the baby so mom can take a bath, paint her toenails, or just get stuff done.
- For the mom: let dad know he’s doing a great job… he’s going through an identity transition too… it’s hard for him too even if he didn’t give birth.
- Taking Cara Babies. Out of desperation, Cindy paid for the Newborn Sleep Course. And it has been a life-saver. We’re not sure if it’s the course or the baby, but we got much better sleep after taking the course!