We took Holland to the zoo for the first time this weekend! It was SUCH a blast. We showed him the butterfly house, monkeys, bears, elephants… I love the zoo and it gave me immense joy to be able to finally go as a little fam!
Holland will be 9 weeks this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about my postpartum recovery. I blogged about my pregnancy in detail and took you guys along on our whole journey from start to finish. Many of you have had so many questions on what the postpartum recovery looks like, what kind of tools I used to get me through, tips, etc… I do feel I’ve pretty much fully recovered, but everyone’s timeline is different! It may be shorter for you or longer depending on your body and circumstances. No matter what and above all, I’ve learned to embrace my journey and validate whatever my body chooses to do!
To start off, I ended up having a c-section. I haven’t shared my birth story just yet but, in short, I was in labor for 26 hours and pushed for an additional 3 hours! Yikesss. Holland was coming in at an angle and basically, my OB looked at me and said, “Do you want to keep pushing or should we just go in and do a c-section, get this all over with?” I opted to push for longer… and made it a whole 30 minutes before we all pretty much realized it wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully, Holland was never in any sort of distress and this wasn’t an emergency c-section, but nonetheless – there was no other way he was getting out, haha! Once he was out, my OB looked at me and said, “You made a good choice mama… he really wasn’t getting out that way.” But more on all those specifics later!
I stayed at the hospital for the allotted 4 days post c-section. I was in bed for a full day and a half after Holland was born, but as soon as I could get up, I did! That’s my first tip for all postpartum moms, regardless of how you gave birth… GET UP and GET MOVING as soon as possible! It truly works like magic and it speeds up your recovery sooo much.
I got off painkillers the day I left the hospital and opted to never take the narcotic they prescribed me. That was an extremely personal choice and something you should decide wholly for yourselves but I’m really careful as to what I put inside my body and I also am very intentional with letting my body do the work. If I have a headache, I don’t take Tylenol. I drink water and maybe take it a little easy. Post-operation, I didn’t want to hurt but I also didn’t want to numb my body and maybe over do it. I just listened to my body when things ached and I took it slower if I needed to. I wasn’t able to lift anything heavier than my baby or drive right away, but I went up and down stairs as I pleased (just veeerrryyy slowly the first couple of days). Looking back, I would do it all over again the same way! I think I recovered a lot quicker because I kept moving. We went on a walk and ran some errands every day. I washed a few dishes and tidied up the house to keep me moving. I bent down slowly, but I did it! I just listened to my body and pretty much told it to get working because I wasn’t stopping, haha.
I was able to start driving at 1 week PP and just did a quick flower run over to Whole Foods (something simple to get me out of the house and out of that haze). I’d say I was fully up and running at about 3 weeks! I still had aches here and there and I would take it easy on those days, let Adam pick up all the slack, and just snuggle my babe. Like I said before, your postpartum recovery is a lot about what your body is designed to do and need. Listen to it, tune in, and obey! When I say “stay active” I don’t mean “push yourself”, it’s really just more of… don’t be afraid to see what you can and can’t do! Don’t be AFRAID to move, haha. It may seem scary to try, but your body will tell you what its ready for.
Tip #2: Eat healthy and take your vitamins! I ate a lot of greens and foods rich in antioxidants (to help clear out allllll the gunk from those IV fluids and medicines). I had foods high in protein, too! The average woman is absolutely depleted of iron after childbirth, so stock up on those red meats or beans, whatever you prefer. I drank a lot of water! Like aaaaa lot more than I thought was possible, but I needed it. And a few weeks ago, I started taking Viactiv calcium supplements for good measure!
Viactiv supplements are flavored, soft chews. They come in chocolate and caramel (combine them and they taste almost like a tootsie roll, haha), and two chews contain 100% of your daily value for calcium! They also contain vitamin D and K, so basically it’s THE healthiest treat you will ever find. There is no shortage of vitamins and nutrition that your body needs postpartum and getting the right amount of calcium is essential. But calcium alone won’t get the job done: you also need Vitamin D to boost your body’s calcium absorption, and Vitamin K to work with vitamin D for optimal calcium absorption and bone density. I am ALL about health and giving my body whatever it needs. I’m so glad I found Viactiv! It’s made being healthy and strong easy and tasty!
I take Viactiv in the morning with some sort of smoothie (easy and healthy calories for an on-the-go baby) and, aside from my daily exercise and well-balanced meals, it feels good to know that I’m taking good care of myself and (not just) taking good care of my baby! You can read more about Viactiv here and you can find out where to purchase here! And don’t forget to check out their facebook page + instagram.
Last week, I took up your specific postpartum questions for me over on instagram! I took the most commonly asked and answered them below! All about my exercise routine, postpartum weight and body changes, breastfeeding journey, and more! Check it out below and let me know if you have any more questions over on my Instagram.
This post was sponsored by Viactiv. You can find more info about Viactiv at www.viactiv.com! As always, all opinions and thoughts expressed are only ever my very own 🙂
Postpartum Q + A
Q. What did you feel least prepared for postpartum?
A. Establishing my identity as a mother. I will preface this all by saying: I’ve always felt like babies and children are really familiar, but when I had Holland I sort of felt like a fish that didn’t know how to swim. I could float, I knew how to wade… but will I be able to swim and swim well? I think the first thing every new mom feels the need to do instinctively is establish her identity as a mother. What is my role now as a mom (but also the same woman I’ve always been)? What makes me feel like a mom? What kind of mom do I want to be? I didn’t realize I would feel this HUGE catacosmic need to label myself, but I did. It threw me by surprise because I just always assumed I’d always feel like ME but with a baby… and that’s not the case. I also think our new identity as mothers takes a little while and is maybe ever changing depending on whatever new stage of parenthood you’re in. The kind of mother you are slowly unravels and is discoverable. You notice it more than you decide it. And then I guess you tweak it here and there. I’m quickly learning that I’m an on-the-go mom but I’m not as anxious as I thought I’d be… I sort of just trust the process of growing up without freaking out over every little and new change… that’s who I am this week anyhow!
Q. More details about your breastfeeding journey.
A. Looking back, I wish I would’ve known how emotional breastfeeding is. Breastfeeding was going perfectly day 1 and 2. PERFECTLY. I was soaring, cloud 9. Latch was great, supply was ample, baby seemed happy. Day 3 and 4, he started to lose weight and seemed really hungry and sleepy so we started supplementing with formula (thinking my milk hadn’t come in), and went to lactation consultants and different experts to try and tell us what was going on in the meantime. I never struggled with low supply but Holland was acting like he wasn’t getting any milk, so I always assumed I didn’t have enough milk! This is partly because we didn’t know he had a tongue tie and that it hurt him to nurse… so when he’d peel away from my breast crying, I thought it was because there wasn’t any milk for him. We took him to an occupational therapist that specializes in newborn feeding and she noticed his tongue tie. The muscles under his tongue were very tight and, when we heard this, everything started to make sense. He would nurse for 5 minutes and then become exhausted, crying because he was still hungry… so we’d hand him the formula thinking he ran out of milk, but in reality the bottle was always effortless for him so he just preferred a bottle’s nipple from the get go. When we learned this, I started pumping. It was so difficult on me and my body. We’d nurse for as long as we could, then I’d pump for 30 minutes, and we’d do it all again in an hour and a half. I was tethered to a machine and I felt like all I was doing was nursing or pumping. I despised every second of it, but I wanted to do what was right for Holland… and I thought breastfeeding or pumping was it. I would cry and cry wanting to switch over to formula, just so our days didn’t feel so heavy… but I couldn’t make the switch. I just didn’t feel like it was right. So I nursed, pumped, and cried before and after. It was hard. One day, Adam finally looked at me and gently said, “Maybe you can’t stop nursing because you’ve somehow learned that nursing equals a good mother and a good mother nurses. It’s become part of what you always thought would be your identity.” Once I heard that, I quickly realized that I didn’t NEED to nurse to be a good mom. The cons were FAR outweighing the pro’s for us. One day I reached for my pump and cringed and just decided I wasn’t going to. Enough was enough. Holland was happier on the bottle and I was emotionally spent, so I ripped the bandaid and stopped.
It was freeing. Holland was thriving and I was a version of happy and relieved (also guilty and ashamed and broken and confused). It took me a few more weeks to really put to bed the chaos of breastfeeding and the unnecessary guilt. Baby is healthy and happy and, when I really saw that, I finally allowed myself to be happy and at peace with it all.
Q. Tell us about your baby blues?
A. They hit at day 5. I’ll never forget it. I just started weeping out of no where at about 5 or 6pm that evening. I couldn’t stop crying but I didn’t feel like there was anything to cry about? I also felt really anxious about the night. Something about being stuck in the house all night alone with my baby, breastfeeding (and struggling) every 2 hours, feeling tired… all of that scared me but then I’d feel totally normal and like myself in the morning. The next day (and for the next 8ish days) I would be totally fine all day, happy, out and about, energetic, excited,… and then 5PM or 6PM would hit and I would start LITERALLY weeping uncontrollably. Sometimes I’d go around the house just weeping and cleaning, haha, just to give myself something to do other than sit and cry and stress. Sometimes I needed to talk through my feelings, so Adam and I would talk about everything I was feeling and he’d just hug me and try to distract me with a new movie, haha! Every day, I knew what time it was if I started crying. It sort of became a joke in the house. By about day 11 PP, I remember thinking, “oh wow, I haven’t cried yet! It’s like 9PM and I’m not crying..” Day 12 same. Day 13 and I just knew it was over.
I wish I had any advice for those struggling with baby blues or postpartum depression/anxiety, but I don’t. It’s a killer. There’s nothing worse than being a new mom, enjoying your new baby, and feeling like your emotions are betraying you. Like your body isn’t letting you be what you want to be. I have no words! I just hope and pray you get through this. And you totally will! This too shall pass.
Q. Were you ever able to use the padsicles?
A. No, it was definitely swollen down there for me (from all that pushing), but I didn’t even REMEMBER about those dang padsicles when I got home, haha. Oops. I don’t remember ever being sore, but I’d say FOR ME, I was back to my normal self after about a week. And no, I don’t pee when I laugh or sneeze. Everything is literally 100% the same. HOLLAAAAA.
Q. What kind of exercises are you doing?
A. Just running. Treadmill. 1-2 miles every day or every other day depending on how I feel. It’s very hard! You’d think that developing the strength to carry a giant baby for 9 months would give you more endurance, but no, I’m really out of shape and I’m super jiggly. I used to be a long distance runner so being tired after 1 mile is weird for me when I used to run 3 miles every day! I’m ashamed to say it (narrator: she was not, in fact, ashamed to say this) but I’m naturally a very toned person. But after baby, yeah… I’m jiggly! Thank God it’s sweater weather, right? I’ve got some time to get my beach bod and endurance back.
Q. Seriously, how much does everything hurt?
A. Contractions hurt but your body does you a lot of favors. Endorphins are released by your brain helping numb some of that pain… I had contractions every 2 min for 10ish hours! I don’t think anyone can last that long that often without some help, so trust me, your body does a lot of the work. It’s all a haze. 10 hours felt like 2? As far as postpartum pain goes: you’re sore and slow moving, but you feel soooo much better than when you were 9 months pregnant! So cheers to that!
Q. Did your body change any?
A. Ish… my hips didn’t get any wider, but I still have the linea negra. It’s fading but it’s taking it’s sweet time and I wonder if it’ll ever fully go away. Other than that, I haven’t noticed anything else!
Q. How’s your sex life?
A. So normally I wouldn’t answer a question like this but I think I know where it’s coming from. All I’ll say is: It’s pretty much the same! And in some ways better (cause you’re a million times closer to each other). This is again an area of life where you make it what you want it to be. Don’t let postpartum healing scare you away, it’s not that significant after a good break. And you’re not THAT tired with a newborn to let it affect your sex life. There IS time for sex… you don’t have to “pencil” it in. If you feel like it, you do. If you don’t, ya don’t. Same old, same old, haha.
Q. Have you lost all the baby weight?
A. I gained 40lbs with Holland, haha! I started at 107 and I was weighed while in labor at 147. An even 40. I lost 25lbs the first week and a half after Holland (a lot of water and IV fluid weight probably), and it took me a month to lose the next 9lbs. I’m at 113 right now and pretty content! I lose weight every week, but I’m not stressing about it (anymore). I just indulge some days, and I’m more careful other days. I’m working out and I figure that eventually I’ll get back down; it’s only been 2 months! I also realize my body’s new normal might be different than 107? Who knows! Weight is just a number. I want to feel good about my body… and that doesn’t revolve around a number. It’s more how I fit into my favorite clothes, how healthy I look, and how strong I feel. That’s what I’m focusing on.