Postpartum Physical Recovery

  • How To Take Maternity Leave When You Are An Entrepreneur| A Postpartum Doula’s Perspective

    If you are an executive, entrepreneur, business owner or any other version of a boss babe, AND you are a mom to be…this is for you. You have been planning for months to welcome your first baby and now sh*t is about to get real. You’ve got all of the things, but emotionally, you’re a wreck.  You can’t avoid it any longer. It’s time to start really mentally preparing yourself to be a mom. You’ve done everything the books and blogs say you need to do and you feel ready, but you don’t feel prepared.

    And if you’re the type that’s used to planning your days and sticking to a tight schedule, the thought of taking maternity leave might be a completely foreign concept.  Especially, if you are a soloprenuer or manage a small team. The idea of taking a chunk of time away and/or leaving others in charge might worry you or seem impossible. You might be afraid that your business will suffer if you take maternity leave.

    But I’m here to let you know that taking maternity leave as an entrepreneur is totally doable and you and your business can thrive as a result.

    Here are some tips to help set you and business up for success as your embark on the journey to becoming a parent.

    ADD SOME STRUCTURE

    First things first ADD SOME STRUCTURE to your maternity leave.

    Define your maternity leave with a clear start date and end date. Some new parents feel just fine working right up until they give birth. Others may want to have some time off before baby arrives. For example, you can decide to take 4 full weeks off from work starting after you give birth. Or you could choose to take time off starting before your due date. Either way, schedule time off and take it seriously.

    Can you take 4, 6, or 8 weeks off from your business to give yourself the time to recover and care for your newborn?

    How will you return to your work? Many new moms find that they like to ease themselves back into working. If possible, making your first couple of days back, half days, can help you get back into the swing of things without being overwhelming.

    Be ready when its actually time for your maternity leave to start. The structure of your business will play a huge role here.

    If you are a solopreneur, think about the systems that you have in place to keep your business running smoothly.

    If you have a team, think about who your point person will be, what are the crucial tasks that must get done on a day to day basis, and the situations that you should be notified about. Make sure each member of your team is clear about their roles and your expectations while you are on your leave.

    Either way, you should also think about how you will communicate important details about your leave with your clients or customers. They will appreciate you being up front about what is going on with you and your business. 

    READY YOUR HOME

    Next it’s time to READY YOUR HOME, not just your body.

    In addition to getting your body ready for pregnancy and birth, it’s also very important that you get your home ready. Prepare you home for baby but also for lounging, resting and nursing/feeding your baby.  You may have also begun to prepare a nursery or sleep space for your baby. Don’t forget to create a cozy space for nursing your baby and for you to lounge and rest. This should be outside of your bedroom, if possible.

    When preparing your registry, add items with readying your whole home in mind. You might be surprised at which typically registry items actually go unused. Talk to real moms to find out what are the absolute necessities after giving birth.

    HONOR YOUR BODY

    HONOR YOUR BODY and your experiences in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

    Many entrepreneurs learn the value of self care and investing in your physical and mental wellness as a part of their entrepreneurship journey.  Pay special attention to your body after birth and prioritize your physical recovery. Your physical recovery and how satisfied you are can impact your overall postpartum and how your bond with your baby.

    Take the time to document and track important details of your birth and physical recovery.  Allow your self the space and time to process your birth so that you can let go of any pain or trauma from your experience. There are lots of different ways to work through the hard feelings that can come with birth and postpartum. You deserve to find the method that works for you.

    FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM

    Get real and FOCUS ON POSTPARTUM. This is not a time to take lightly.

    Many business owners and first time parents look at the time as a vacation. They plan on outings and trips with their new baby. And I get it. You probably haven’t had a non-work vacation in who knows how long. But this is not that. Your maternity leave aka the early part of you postpartum, is not a get out and explore vacation.

    It’s more of a stay off of your feet and let others take care of you kind of vacation. And I see that when I put it like that, it sounds pretty effing awesome.  But don’t forget that during this time you will recovering from pregnancy and birth in addition to caring for a brand new human being that cannot meet any of their own needs.

    Postpartum and maternity leave is really a time to focusing on resting, recovering, and learning your baby. Things like housework and workwork kind of fall to the way side temporarily. This is when you lean heavy on your circle of support to maintain those things, so that you can focus on getting motherhood of to a great start.

    Give yourself time and grace to rest and recover. And when you feel ready, start connecting with your local mom community. Being an entrepreneur can have its lonely moments, especially if you are a solo boss. The time after birth can also be similarly isolating. With the intersection of those two lifestyles, the sooner your find your mom gang or mom bestie, the better.

    So there you have it. A postpartum doula’s take on how to rock maternity leave as an entrepreneur. Some thing that taking maternity leave will hurt their business but its actually the opposite. When you chose to focus on your self and your new family after birth, you allow yourself the space and clarity to step away from your business and return eagerly and confidently.

    how to take maternity leve when your an entreprenuer< a small business owner, CEO or the boss
  • 4 Life Changing Skills Every Postpartum Woman Should Have

    Oftentimes in the birth world, much of the focus is on the life changing experience that is pregnancy and childbirth and the new baby. And when we talk about the postpartum period, we tend to talk about postpartum depression or breastfeeding.

    But what about your transition from pregnant to parenting, from maiden to mother? What about your recovery from the 9 months of pregnancy and on average 19 hour labor and delivery?

    Medically, your postpartum recovery begins in the hour after your baby’s birth and last 6- 8 weeks as your uterus contracts back down into the pelvis and most of your body systems return to their non pregnant state.

    However, there are many other important events occurring the months after childbirth. You will be navigating your role as a new parent and what that means in your larger family and social networks. You will also be adjusting to physical and mental changes as your body recovers from pregnancy.

    Professionals and parents will agree that these changes can take much longer than 6-8 weeks to be resolved and that the healing time is closer to 12 months.

    The transitions and recovery that characterize your postpartum period will leave you in a vulnerable state which without the right preparation and support system can lead to serious physical and mental issues, including postpartum depression.

    And while there is certainly strength and beauty in vulnerability and asking for the support of those around you, it is normal to fear the unknowns of postpartum.

    You may have heard well-meaning horror stories from family and strangers alike. You might feel discouraged about your parenting, breastfeeding or recovery goals.  You might be hoping to just survive the postpartum period.

    This is totally normal. And the good news is that there are things you can do now to set your self up for a thriving postpartum.

    Becoming a mother will present new challenges in your life, making it is easy for you to your care and needs behind all of the other things you have to focus on.

    With the right tools, you can reach your goals and take hold off your new normal.

    You can do more than just survive postpartum, you can thrive.

    It sounds easy but you may be wondering how exactly you can do this. There are 4 skills that are constantly popping up in maternal health research as necessary to taking charge of your postpartum health, and your baby and family’s health.

    This also has long term effects on your life. More positive energy and confidence as a new mom means a deeper strong bond early on with your baby. And a strong bond with your baby early on has a positive effect on your life and help your child learn to form healthy relationships.

    By focusing on becoming stronger in these 4 areas you will be able to combat the stressors and challenges you may face in the months and years after you give birth.

    1|The ability to mobilize social support

    This is how you give and receive support from others. Support from close friends and professionals have been show to have positive effects on physical, social and mental health of new moms. A combination of emotional support, instrumental support and informational support will help soften how you view the challenging times.

    Get comfortable with asking for help and saying yes to help from others. But also be ready to be really specific about what your needs are and the type of help that you need. You are not a bad parent for needing and asking for help. You are not a burden. You will not hurt someones feelings by saying exactly what you need from others. And you are not alone.

    2|Self-efficacy

    Self efficacy is your belief in your ability to perform a behavior or task successfully. Essentially, it is your self confidence in yourself as a mother. Higher self- efficacy, or confidence in your abilities as mother, means the better you are going to be able to care for your baby, yourself and your family. Higher maternal self -efficacy is also linked to child development.

    Start building up that mom confidence –  momfidence? Is that a word? as early as possible. Practice the skills necessary to care for an infant, spend time with family and friends with infants and ask questions.  Use positive affirmations to keep the positive thoughts flowing. Celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges without becoming discouraged. You will find your self-efficacy or momfidence growing each day.

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    3|Positive coping strategies

    Coping is how you react and deal with a challenging situation or demand. Coping can happen as a reaction to or in anticipation to these demands or problems. Each mother copes differently depending on the situation and her unique personality but there is a connection between positive coping strategies and addressing any issue that arise head on.

    There are three types of coping strategies you can add to your skill set. You can change how you view or think about a problem, redefining or accepting the problem as is.  You can take action to lessen of get rid of the problem completely.  And you can change how your react to the problem, using meditation, relaxation or prayer.

    4|Realistic expectations

    We develop expectations as way to quickly and easily navigate our world. However, when our expectations are out of touch with the reality of a challenge, it can disrupt our lives and those around us. If your expectations are not met, this can have an affect on how you adjust to motherhood. Unmet expectations can also affect your ability to use the above skills when needed.

    Don’t be blindsided by postpartum. Get hands on experiences soothing a fussy baby. Talk to other moms about their experiences. Really listen but don’t let their experiences scare or discourage you. Know that each woman, each pregnancy, each labor, each delivery, each postpartum is unique and special. Use the experiences they share to form realistic ideas about how you see yourself as a mother.

    Start now

    Don’t wait until the postpartum period to start working on these skills. As soon as you learn that you are expecting you can start identifying the family, friends and professionals that make up your support network. By asking for help and learning from their experiences you will begin forming your expectations for your own mothering experience. You can start practicing using affirmations and positive self talk as your progress throughout your pregnancy. You can also plan ahead and identify not only potential challenge but also how you will cope.

    By working on these skills early on, you can set yourself up for postpartum success. I love helping new parents refine these skills in my postpartum planning sessions, where together we pinpoint your goals and create a custom action plan.

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    Reference:

    Fahey, J. O. and Shenassa, E. (2013), Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Women in the Postpartum Period: The Perinatal Maternal Health Promotion Model. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 58: 613–621. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12139

  • Forever My Lady Parts: Will My Vagina Ever Be The Same Again?

    It’s no secret that there will be many changes in your life as you prepare to welcome your new baby. Between baby registries and new responsibilities, you’ve got plenty to keep track of.

    There is one area, the vulva or vagina more specifically, that many new moms fear may be forever changed by childbirth.

    I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Your vulva, your vagina, your lady parts, whatever you prefer to call it, it will change. How exactly it will change depends on a number of factors, like your pregnancy and delivery.

    The increasing pressure of your growing pregnancy and the hormones that come along with it, prepare your body for labor. These factors can affect your bladder and your ability to “hold it”, even after childbirth.

    What if I tear or have to be cut?

    This is a very real fear the many women face going into the childbirth. In fact, first time moms have a 95% chance of experiencing some form of vaginal tearing

    There are 4 degree to which one can tear:

    • A first degree tear affects the lining of the vagina. Sutures may be need though usually left to heal on its own a first degree tear will heal beautifully.
    • A second degree tear affects the lining and deeper tissue of the vagina. This is the most common tear and definitely require stitches.
    • A third degree tear affects the lining and deeper tissues of the vaginal as well as the anal sphincter. Your doctor will need to suture each layer paying special attention to the muscle of the anal sphincter.
    • A fourth degree tear  includes all of the above and also extends through the rectal lining. The repair is delicate and intensive but luckily this is the least common tear, most common in vacuum or forceps assisted births or if the baby’s shoulder gets stuck.

    An episiotomy is an incision made to into the perineum to widen the birth canal. Fortunately, they are no long a routine part of managed childbirth as they can slow down the body’s healing process.

    What if I had a c-section?

    Cesarean recovery comes with its own set of issues to be aware of. It is major abdominal surgery after all.

    Even though your main focus is  your incision healing, you may still experience bruising or soreness in the perineum area from the added weight and pressure of pregnancy.

    Hormonal changes can also affect you libido and lead to vaginal dryness. And while you may not have to worry as much about pain during intercourse, many moms who birthed via cesarean report being afraid to cause damage to the area of their incision.

    Will intercourse still feel the same after I give birth?

    Let me tell you something about your vagina. It is a magical stretching and contracting organ. It provides pleasure and is a pathway for new life.

    Regardless of how you birth, things may feel a little different down there during intercourse. Due to the hormones flowing through your body to aid in breastfeeding and postpartum healing, you might experience dryness or even a new smell.

    You may find that your sex drive is out of whack and you have absolutely no interest in any form of intimate activities or maybe you have a heightened desire for intimacy.

    If you are eager to reconnect with your body, after giving birth, give yourself time and take things slow. A bubble bath or massage from your partner are good first step. However, if you are ready for solo time, masturbation focused on clitoral stimulation is okay as soon as you feel ready and can even have some benefits to your postpartum recovery.

    What can I do?

    Regardless of how you birth, you may have, at minimum, some soreness, or bruising in your perineal area after giving birth. This is normal and will dissipate as your recovery and healing progresses.

    Keep your sitz bath and peri bottle nearby.

    You can fill them with warm water or with a gentle, healing, herbal blend.

    Arnica tablets are a great homeopathic remedy to have on hand that won’t interfere with any medications you might be prescribed postpartum. Arnica is used to help with bruising and swelling and can be used topically as a cream or taking internally as a small pill.

    Treat your bottom like a queen with an inflatable donut pillow. This will allow your vulva to heal without pressure, discomfort and pain every time you sit down. (#momtip get two and keep one in the car for when you and baby go out for appointments.)

    Get as much rest as possible. Sleep when baby sleeps. Let people do things for you without feeling guilty. Your lochia, or postpartum bleeding, will signal to you if you are doing too much and need to focus more on resting. If you notice a change in the brightness or amount of  bleeding take that as a signal to put your feet up.

    So yes, your vaginal and the other lady parts of your vulva, will go through quite a bit. Some of it may be not so bad, while other parts may be just downright traumatizing.

    The good news is that you are not the first and you are not alone.

    You have a support network and a community of mothers who have been through this same journey that you are on now and they are ready to support you and uplift you so you can thrive!

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