postpartum healing

  • Try Focusing on Postpartum|Black Maternal Health Week 2019

    If you are a black woman like me, you might be scared as hell to have a baby in the United States. If you haven’t read the statistics, yet, let these paint a picture for you:

    Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women (Creanga, Syverson, Seek, Callaghan,2017).

    Black women are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women.

    Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.

    Yeah. Not looking so great for black women, regardless of how wealthy or educated we might be.

    These stats are definitely scary, but I also want to assure you that while the statistics surrounding black maternal deaths are very real, they are not the norm.

    But something has to change. And fast. We cannot risk losing one more mother. We can not risk one more black mother dying during or after childbirth. #notonmywatch

    The Black Mamas Matter Alliance created Black Maternal Health Week to bring together those working to raise awareness and change to the current situation of birthing for black women in the United States.

    This year they are calling for us to decolonize the research and data and push for policies that are meaningful to Black maternal health. They are making space for deeper conversations on how to make actual change on a higher level. And pushing for more support of black voices in research surrounding maternal health.

    But what can you do as a black mother in the thick of your pregnancy or postpartum. Here are three ways you an hold space for yourself (and any others mothers you know and love) today and everyday.

    RESPECT THE ENTIRE JOURNEY

    We’ve seen an increased focus on prenatal care and improving birth outcomes. But maternal health does not start or end with birth. Maternal related health issues can start during pregnancy and last well into the first year postpartum (and even beyond!)

    You had a gender reveal, pregnancy photography and a lovely baby shower. Keep that same energy after baby is born. Rally your family and friends for support after giving birth. Be intentional and prioritize your physical recovery, emotional adjustments and caring for yourself and baby. And also celebrate this transformative journey you are on!

    HOLD YOUR CARE PROVIDER ACCOUNTABLE

    As I said before there is a lot of focus on improving prenatal care and birth experiences. But what about after your baby is born? Is one check-up, 6 or 8 weeks later going to be enough for you?

    The current state of medical postpartum care is pretty minimal. But changes are coming. The ACOG recently put out new guidelines redefining postpartum care, however many are slow to embrace and implement the changes. Know what kind of postpartum care that you deserve and demand it.

    Listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you feel unsatisfied with the first. You are not at the mercy of your care provider, they are here to serve you.

    KNOW THAT YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE STRONG

    Black women are revered for their strength, perseverance and ability to somehow get it all done, even when we’re doing it on our own. I want you take that “strong black woman” cape off for a moment and really understand these three things:

    It is ok to be scared or feel vulnerable with all of the new things you are experiencing

    it is ok to take the time you need to rest and recover after birth. You deserve it.

    it is ok to ask for and accept help from family, friends, professionals and your community…

    …especially during pregnancy and postpartum when you are literally pushed to your limits.

    You have the strength of your ancestors who endured so much behind you. They lived through hell in hopes of changing the future for future generations. They suffered so that you wouldn’t have to.

    Honor their journey and your own journey but doing things they couldn’t do while pregnant or postpartum.

    Rest.

    Be vulnerable.

    Be selective with your care provider.

    Call on community.

    Because the truth is, even though we did not create this system or situation, we cannot afford to wait for someone to come save us. We must save our selves.

    Reference

    Creanga, A.A., Syverson, C., Seek, K., & Callaghan, W.M. (2017). Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(2), 366-373. Retrieved 4 April 2018

  • 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!

    forevermyladyblog (1)