postpartum recovery

  • What They Don’t Tell You When You’re Pregnant…

    I don’t know who needs to hear this but…

    You deserve to thrive postpartum.

    Yup, I said it. And I wholeheartedly believe it. And you should too.

    I really mean it though. You should believe this deep down at the core of your being. Let me elaborate.

    You have spent so much time preparing your body and mind for pregnancy and birth.

    Changing your diet and excersizing more

    Reading all of the books and blogs and creating a birth plan

    Curating a registry and preparing baby’s nursery

    Celebrating with friends and family at your gender reveal and baby shower…

    All so that your baby gets the very best from the start.

    But I have to remind you of one thing. I have to let you in on something that many pregnant women overlook.

    I’m sure your birthing books and pregnancy classes have mentioned it.

    And other mothers speak about it in hushed tones with looks of pity or shame in their eyes.

    I have to tell you about this one huge thing that many new moms just like you say they feel unprepared for.

    They wonder “why didnt anyone tell me?”

    They wish they had done things differently earlier on. That they had done more to prepare.

    But I dont want you to think like them.

    I want you to know the whole truth BEFORE you give birth. So that you can truly prepare your mind.

    The truth that exsists no matter how you birth your baby. Whether you have a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth. Whether you have a birth with little or lots of complications. Whether this is your first or fifth birth. Whether you are planning a home, birth center or hospital birth. Whether you chose to hire an OB, midwife or choose to birth unassited.

    No matter how your birth story unfolds. There is one truth that exsists after you cross the threshold from maiden to mother.

    That one basic truth is that you deserve to thrive postpartum.

    Pregnancy and birth are just the beginning of the journey. Postpartum is when the real work of motherhood begins.

    You deserve a thriving postpartum.

    You deserve to rest and recovery after you give birth.

    You deserve judgement free support that allows you the time and space to recover from pregnancy and birth. You also deserve this time and space as you learn to care for and bond with your baby.

    Despite what some might say or think, it is possible to do more than just survive postpartum. Take the time to prepare for this time while you are pregnant and take the fear out of postpartum. Embrace a thriving postpartum mindset and take charge of your journey to motherhood. There will be so many unknowns, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay ready.

    With a thriving postpartum mindset you will:

    Get a strong start towards your infant feeding goals

    Learn and bond with your baby with ease

    Maximize the growth and changes in your brain

    Strengthen your momfidence (mom confidence)

    Discover the new version of yourself and level up with ease

    Discover and embrace your new identity as a mother

    Stay connected with your partner

    Strengthen communication and intimacy

    Find and embrace your village of support

    Process your birth story and let go of birth trauma

    Reduce complications as you recover from pregnancy and birth

    Make time for self care

    Get as much restorative sleep as possible

    Let go of fears of postpartum depression

    With a thriving postpartum mindset your baby will get the very best YOU from the start.

    I know its a lot to take in but I know you can handle it. If you start planning now while you are pregnant, you will feel ready and confident with a toolbelt of resources at your fingertips.

    Don’t be that mom that vows to do things differently next time around. Do what you feel you need to do THIS time so that you have the best postpartum possible.

    And if you’re not sure where to start, contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

    Plan Ahead For A Thriving Postpartum
  • 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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  • I Love My Self, I’m Worth A Lot

    … Don’t say I’m not, you can’t see inside of me!

    Did you ever sing that song at school or camp? I remember singing that song everyday at Vacation Bible School as a kid. I can only remember that one line from the song but after a quick search on google, I learned that the song is called the Self Worth Song.


    The Self-Worth Song

    I’m proud, I’m strong, I’m ready for whatever comes along.

    I’ve got good friends, we’ll stick together till the end.

    I like myself! I’m worth a lot! I like myself! I’m worth a lot!

    And don’t you tell me that I’m not ‘cause you can’t see inside of me.


     

    The song is geared towards kids and apparently popular at summer camps across the United States. It’s great way to get them singing and chanting affirmations to build them up.

    I think as a new parent this song can be so empowering. Becoming a new mom and parenting a newborn baby can lead you to question every shred of self confidence you have within yourself. You will question if having a baby was the right choice, if you will ever sleep for more than 2 hours at a time again, if you are truly capable of being this baby’s parent, are you a bad parent for doing or not doing something. You will feel alone and isolated at times.

    When you start to feel really low like you can’t go on another second, sing or chant these words to yourself or loud and proud*.

    Internalize it. Know that the words are true and meaningful.

    You are strong, you are a good parent. You CAN handle whatever life and your new baby throw your way.

    You have a strong support network. You have people who love you and are ready to support you in whatever way you ask.  And just like they are there for you now, you will do the same for them when they are having a baby.

    You are worthy. You are worthy of love. From other but most importantly from yourself.

    And you don’t hear the words of anyone or anything making you question if you are worthy because they don’t know your story or your journey.

    *Of course there are some silly hand gestures to go along with the words but that’s totally up to you if you want to add that on.

    .Sources

    Shrooti, S., Mangala, S., Nirmala, P., Devkumari, S., & Dharanidhar, B. (2016). Perceived Maternal Role Competence among the Mothers Attending Immunization Clinics of Dharan, Nepal. International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery4(2), 100–106.

  • How to Find a Postpartum Doula Near You

    As a mother and a postpartum doula, I firmly believe that you and any woman giving birth deserves unbiased, practical postpartum support in the comfort of you home. And I’d be willing to bet that you and any birthing woman would agree.

    Unfortunately, it’s not so simple to just believe that every family should have access to a postpartum doula. You need to know what exactly a postpartum doula does and how to find them near you.

    Where does one even start when looking for a postpartum doula?

    Google Search:

    First you are going to do a google search for postpartum doulas in your city. My favorite search term is “postpartum doula in Bowie Maryland.” Just switch out my city and state for yours. Check the first 3 pages for doulas near your city and write down the information for any doulas that interest you.

    Ask Around:

    Now its time to get some personal referrals.

    Ask family or friends if they have worked with a doula or know anyone else who has.  This is a great way to get uncensored, real-talk, experiences about working with a postpartum doula.

    Ask your OB/GYN if they can recommend professional support for you based on your needs. Your OB/GYN may have more knowledge working with birth doulas who provide labor support but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    Ask other providers who lead parenting classes, play groups, and provide breastfeeding support. Leaders of national groups like La Leche League and Moms of Multiples might also be able to help. These professionals usually have a large network or family related resources.

    Doula Directories:

    Now, that you’ve asked around and gotten ideas from friends, family and local professionals its time to take our search back to the internet. Online directories are a great way to find local doulas who are available around your due date or who have specializations like experience working with multiples or being LGBTQ friendly.

    Two of my favorite websites for finding local birth and postpartum professionals are:

    • SistaMidwife Productions, LLC.  – search for black midwives, doulas and other birth professionals by State
    • DoulaMatch.net – search for birth doulas, postpartum doulas and childbirth education by due date and zip code. You can also narrow down the search by specialization and other services offered.
    • There are also several other website that list doulas. Check them out here.

    Birth Networks:

    Another great place to find caring birth professionals are area birth networks like the Maryland Birth Network and the DC- based Birth Options Alliance.

    Social Media:

    Last but not least, we take our search to social media. Social media is a great way to find postpartum doulas that are active and to see how they interact with moms like you. Social media is also a great place to find reviews and feedback on a particular postpartum doula. To search for a postpartum doula near you, can try searching hashtags like #marylanddoula or #marylandpostpartumdoula but with your state  (or city) in place of mine

    • Facebook– Hit the search bar and try searching for phrases like “Maryland postpartum doula.” Narrow your search by selecting Pages or Places. There may be a lot to sift through but you can also read reviews to help weed out the doulas who may not be a good fit.
    • Instagram– Search Places and enter your city. Or try searching a hashtag like #marylandpostpartumdoula  but with your state in place of mine. When you find a postpartum doula you think you might connect with scroll through their feed to get a better feel for their style. Check to see if they are on any other social media platforms to get a broader sense of their service offerings.

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    Finding a postpartum doula can be a confusing process. Keep your search focused by including your city and/ or state in your search terms. If you aren’t having much luck, try searching neighboring cities, your county or you closest metropolitan area.

    And if ALL else fails reach out to a postpartum doula like me and ask if they can help you find someone who works in your area.

  • Postpartum Fears

    Today we are talking about fears surrounding the postpartum period. Fears you may have after giving birth and fears you may have now that you are responsible for this actual tiny person.

    The pressure can be overwhelming.

    Pregnancy and childbirth come with their own sets of fears and anxieties. But you will face a lot of expectations and challenges as you step into your new role as parent.

    Adjusting to your new life

    One of the biggest fears new parents face is if they can handle everything that comes along with parenting a new baby and maintain their previous life.

    Taking on this new role seems impossible at first but as the days go on you learn, heal and grow and you step confidently in your new role.

    A good way to combat this fear is to reach out to your village or network of family, friends and community resources. Talk to parents who have been through it before, listen to their stories.

    Do not be turned off by things they say that may scare you. Instead, anticipate how you might handle a similar situation yourself and gather information that will help you feel prepared to face that obstacle.

    Recovering from Pregnancy and Childbirth

    Many birthing parents have fears surrounding their physical recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. Parents who have a particularly challenging labor or delivery or give birth via cesarean face a slightly different set of fears.

    You may be worried about your postpartum bleeding or how an incision is healing or whether a medication will affect breastfeeding. Many birthing parents wonder “is this normal?” and “When should I call my doctor?”

    A trained birth profession like a postpartum doula knows normal recovery and when you should definitely call your care provider. A postpartum doula will also encourage you to follow your intuition and can also provide tips and tricks to help your recovery go smoother.

    The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

    You may have heard of the baby blues or know someone who has experienced the weepy moments that many new parents have. This is common and usually dissipates after a few days or weeks.

    A huge fear that you might have is fear that you could get postpartum depression. Or that you will be seen as a bad parent if you ask for help. You may have fears about having to see a therapist or take medication or that people might treat you differently if you show symptoms. You may even be afraid that you might hurt your baby.

    Many new parents do experience the baby blues and they usually dissipate shortly. For others the possibility of developing a postpartum mood disorder is very real.

    11-20% of birthing Americans deal with symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. And that’s only those that have reported their symptoms and does not include parents who experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. There are many more struggling in silence.

    The good news is that a postpartum doula is trained in caring specifically for the postpartum parent and is very familiar with normal postpartum healing and recovery.

    This professional care provider is trained to recognize symptoms of postpartum mood disorders and can provide you with resources and support to get the help you need.

    You are not alone

    As a new parent you will experience different fears as you transition into your new role. But you are not alone on this journey.

    Reach out to your partner, doctor, midwife or The Prima Doula for support if you find your attention focused on those fears.

    Getting the real help you need and increased confidence are just some of the benefits of postpartum doula support. Inviting a postpartum doula into your home can be a huge source of comfort and reassurance.

    Knowing you have evidence based, non-judgmental support from your doula will allow you to feel relaxed and confident during your postpartum period.

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