After nine long months our newest addition is finally here! Before I sit down to write Arbor’s birth story, I’m answering 15 postpartum questions (asked by you). Enjoy this brief recap of my third labor and delivery and postpartum recovery.
15 Postpartum Questions and Answers
Did you go into labor on your own?
I DID!! After all of my worrying I’d not only never get induced, but also I’d never go into labor on my own – I went into labor. Arbor’s birth story will come soon!
How did you know you were in labor?
I felt weird Monday morning as soon as I woke up. I’ve been having cramps and contractions daily, but nothing ever lasts for more than an hour. I began noticing the dull cramping and mild contractions were not going away by the time my daughters woke up.
Labor can begin instantly and out of nowhere for so many women. For me, I started dilating back in October. It was a long time coming to go into labor on my own and just 5 days prior to doing so, I was contracting inconsistently and 4cm dilated. I also lost my mucous plug and part of my bloody show after three different membrane sweeps – so it was about time!
Does getting an epidural hurt?
Everyone feels something different during an epidural. For me, I felt a ton of pressure and quite a bit of pain. The anesthesiologist was so wonderful and gave me more local anesthesia once I yelled out. They never know if someone is going to feel what’s happening, so there is always that chance.
Knowing that you could feel pressure and a bit of pain should not deter you from receiving an epidural if you really want one! The long lasting after affects are worth any bit of discomfort.
What happens after you birth the baby?
It’s time to birth your placenta! My midwife helped to get my placenta out (I had to push a few times) and then she assessed my second degree tear. While she sewed up my tear, I did not feel anything but pulling. I received an IV of Pitocin to help my uterus contract post delivery for a few hours, but did not feel that either.
Are you able to move around a lot after your labor and delivery?
The first 24 hours after having a baby can be a blur. I was really tired and very out of it, dozing in and out of sleep. The real pain didn’t set in until a full 12 hours after Arbor’s birth when every muscle in my body began to ache. My arms from holding my own legs, my neck from bearing down while pushing, and my abdominal muscles hurt terribly.
As far as moving around, it isn’t easy after labor and delivery. Walking around after having a vaginal birth resembles how a tortoise gets around – very slowly and methodically.
How did your vulvar varicosities change after labor and delivery?
They’re slowly going down, but everything is still very swollen. During the first couple hours of my labor, I was in more pain than normal because I couldn’t wear my supportive V-strap or compression shorts.
More of your postpartum questions and answers…
Why do you have swollen milk ducts in your armpits?
I’m not really sure why I was lucky enough to have the gift of milk ducts in my armpits – but that’s how I was made. Here’s everything you want to know about rare armpit swelling during pregnancy/postpartum. Throughout my pregnancy I had swollen lumps in my armpits, which are ultimately milk ducts. When my milk comes in, they become as engorged as my breasts. It’s very painful and visually unappealing. I can’t recall when they go away, but I sure hope it’s soon.
What was your experience at the hospital with covid restrictions? How was it different than your other deliveries?
We delivered at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut and the Covid restrictions are not as bad as they were a few months ago. I was tested when I arrived on the labor and delivery floor, but not beforehand while in triage. Everyone is required to wear masks throughout the hospital at all times. However, once I started laboring intensely, I was told I didn’t have to wear my mask. My husband and I were also allowed to take our masks off in our postpartum room.
Children under the age of 12 are strictly prohibited. We wanted the girls to meet their new sister at home anyways. Mothers are permitted two supports in labor and delivery. After the baby is born, Moms are allowed one visitor at a time (in addition to your support person) due to Covid restrictions.
My last two deliveries were before the pandemic in Georgia – so there were no rules!
How long does it take to feel relief post delivery? I’m so uncomfortable at the end of my pregnancy.
I hate to be the person to say it, but Moms who are uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy – there is a whole new world of discomfort awaiting you in postpartum. With that being said, a lot of my aches and pains are GONE now that the baby is here. My acid reflux disappeared instantly, as did my breathing troubles! In their place I have cramps, muscle aches, soreness where I was stitched, and carpal tunnel in my right arm.
How do I prepare for postpartum life before labor and delivery?
Make sure you have a little wellness station set up in your bathroom before you get home. Thick oversized maxi pads, a perineal water bottle, witch hazel or other cooling sprays are must haves. I also love my perineal hot/cold packs and heating pad – which I use often when I’m sitting downstairs or laying in bed.
The best thing you can do is to remember this difficult time will be a little blip of a memory someday. You grew a baby for 9 months, labored and delivered for however long, and your body needs REST. Don’t overdo it – be kind to yourself – and sleep as much as you can. Save your energy when you can!
What is your energy level?
My energy comes in waves. Sometimes I have none at all and can fall asleep in a heartbeat, while others I seem to be running on speed. During the moments when I have a lot of energy, I often need to remind myself to slow down. It’s easy to wear yourself out and you will need stamina to take care of the baby.
Are you using a postpartum belt or girdle?
A follower dropped off one at my house today that I’m going to try out! I am hoping it helps with my lower back pain – I find myself standing and sitting strangely because I’m not used to a belly without a baby.
What does it feel like when your milk first comes in?
A lot of heaviness and pain – your breasts feel like they look – HUGE AND HARD. It’s not the most pleasant experience and it takes awhile for your milk supply to regulate. I avoid using a hand pump or electric breast pump because I produce a lot of milk. Using a pump can trick your body into thinking you need more milk for your baby and can create an oversupply. Oversupply = clogged ducts or even mastitis.
How is your postpartum recovery different the third time versus the first and second?
I am so much more tired than the last two times because I have two other children to take care of. I remember being able to sleep so much with Annabelle during the first few weeks at home after delivery. When Ailey was born, we had to take care of Annabelle too, so I rested quite a bit less. This time around has been the craziest! I’m fortunate Brandon works from home and that my older daughters are self sufficient, but there is so much to be done.
Another unfortunate feature of my recovery is uncontrollable postpartum emotions. They are all over the place – one minute I’m happy, the next I’m anxious, then I’m sad or mad or confused. I am not sleeping well at night, which really doesn’t help ‘how I am feeling.’ I am monitoring how I feel though – speaking to my therapist openly so that I can receive help in the case that I feel myself slipping into postpartum depression or anxiety.
I’m already experiencing night sweats as my milk comes in – waking up soaked in my pajamas and needing to change immediately. My body feels different too – not like my own and what I see in the mirror seems to be someone else.
When will you start a sleep schedule with your newborn?
Not for a few weeks!! I am going to work with a sleep consultant for Arbor since I really would like her to sleep in her crib by 6-8 weeks old. I co-slept with both of my daughters and while it can be convenient and cozy – it isn’t great for working parents. I will be returning to my part time job for the town around 8-12 weeks postpartum and can’t have a baby attached to my side all night long!