postpartum {after delivery}

While preparing myself mentally to go deliver Liam, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted a vaginal birth, but I had to prepare for a caesarean, just in case. My birth plan also included that I wanted to try to go as long as possible without getting an epidural. Unfortunately, yet fortunately, that didn’t go as planned. But, you can read more about the birth story here.

Anyway. I don’t think I ever read anything as to what expect to feel or need after having a vaginal birth. Now, I know that every one’s delivery is different, but I thought I’d share how my experience was post-pardum.

warning: the queasy shouldn’t read on.

this will be gross. my apologies.

Once Logan and Liam headed to the nursery for cleaning and measuring, the nurse assisting me helped clean me up. Since I had an epidural, I had the catheter removed right before delivery. It had since been an hour post delivery and it was time to see if I could make it to the bathroom to relieve myself. Unfortunately, I was unable to feel my legs (it was a really good epidural) so the nurse had to stick another catheter in and drain me. Gross as it may be, I certainly stayed hydrated while in labor with tons of popsicles and ice chips because the nurse drained the record in one sitting that she had ever seen. Also, luckily for having the epidural, I was still in zero pain.

The nurse wheeled me from the labor and delivery room (HUGE) to the postpartum room (basically like a New York sized closet). This is where Logan, Liam (during the day), and I would stay the remainder of our stay (2 nights).

I stayed in my bed for a few more hours while we had visitors come and go, until I was finally able to stand on my own, and also feel pain. Ouch!

Throughout the rest of my stay, the nurses also had me rate my pain from 0-10, 10 being the worst. Sometimes I was up to a 9 and got as low as a 5. I was also warned that if I found a blood clot any larger than a golf ball, to notify the nurse. I was lucky and never had a clot that big. The nurses were always there to give me my pain medication, stool softener, prenatal vitamin, and iron supplement when it was time. Unfortunately, I had a reaction to the ‘good’ pain killers, so I had to suck it up and deal with some more pain, and less meds. Thus is life when you’re allergic to morphine! 😉

Every time I peed it stung like hell and the toilet water was red.

That afternoon I got my first shower. I was constantly leaking out blood, dripping down my legs and everything, so showering and transferring to clothing again was interesting. I brought my own old underwear and even cute pj bottoms, but with the amount of blood I was loosing, I didn’t want to risk getting anything ruined. So, I opted to always wear the disposable underwear and giant pads that the hospital provided.

They also taught me a routine that I would follow every time I went to the bathroom. This resulted in it taking what seemed like 15 minutes to go pee.

    • Fill the water squirt bottle with warm water.
    • Go to the bathroom.
    • Sit on the toilet.
    • Pull down undies, dispose of pad (and underwear, if it was soiled).
    • Replace pad (and underwear, if needed). If swelling, put diaper with ice chips on top of pad. 
    • Pee. Ouch.
    • Spray vagina with the warm water.
    • Pat dry with toilet paper.
    • Spray with dermoplast.
    • Line pad with a few witch hazel pads.
    • Pull underwear up.
    • Hobble slowly back to bed.

And then there’s the whole issue of bowel movements. My mother and mother-in-law kept asking if I had done it because they kept warning me that they wouldn’t let me leave the hospital until I had gone. I guess that’s not a rule anymore, because I definitely didn’t poo before I left the hospital and there was no way I was going to be able to. If at all, I think I pooped my whole guts out while in labor. You know, it’s like when you have your period (mine were always almost intolerable with pain, to were I cried, and rocked myself to sleep to get rid of the pain), and you think that the pain will go away if you poop. So, I sat on the toilet numerous times during the first part of my labor, thinking that that would relieve some of my pain. It didn’t, but I guess it was a good thing because there was no #2’s during delivery! 😉 I don’t know why I was always nervous about that. I guess it’s just embarrassing, especially with your husband and the crowds of nurses watching. Anyway, it wasn’t until 4-5 days after delivery that I had my first bowel movement. Unfortunately too, I had a hemorrhoid that I developed during my pregnancy that flared up big time during the first bowel movement. I could hardly walk. Oye. Moving on.

It really helped me to speed the healing process to get up out of the bed and walk around the hospital. It hurt and I went slowly, holding onto my husband, but it helped get the blood flowing and relieved the soreness from sitting for so long on the bed.

Overall, lets just say it hurt. A lot. I seriously don’t think I could pee without the witch hazel pads. It was a good thing that I took a bunch of the ‘goodies’ home with me from the hospital. I used everything up and actually had to go to Target to get more pads and witch hazel! Once I got home, I stopped using the dermoplast. It was just too cold when I sprayed it on and I felt like it wasn’t helping. I also didn’t use cold compresses any more. But, for the next few weeks, I was using the witch hazel, giant pads, and the squirt bottle. I slowly weaned myself off of the witch hazel pads first. Then, once my stitches had fallen out (at 6 weeks postpartum), I stopped using the squirt bottle.

One thing I really wished that I was able to do was to take a bath. My doctors were quite insistent that I not take a bath until 6 weeks postpartum. When my mom had me, she said that the nurse allowed her to take a bath right after she had me, then of course after she got home. There was never a time she wasn’t allowed. I understand the reasoning of not wanting to get water ‘in there’, but it sure would have helped me feel better to take a bath. Instead, I just took extra long hot showers. 😀

Oh, and if you’re breastfeeding like I was/am, no one ever told me how painful it would be! Your nipples get so sore, but with a little time and stamina, it’s almost like you get callused and it doesn’t hurt any more. It took about 2-3 weeks for me to not be in any pain when he ate. The nipple cream helped wonders.

I didn’t know what to expect. It was challenging, but I got through it. Your body goes through a lot, but with the support of your family and your womanly strength, you can recover with flying colors. Every day it got better and now I’m almost as good as new. Well, as new as you’re going to get after squeezing an 8 lb. 10 oz. baby out of there!

How did your postpartum experience relate? 

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29 Responses to postpartum {after delivery}

  1. Lindsay says:

    I had a similar experience with the steps of going to the bathroom. I luckily did have a bowel movement about 12 hours after giving birth and was thankful for the stool softeners that were provided to me (and wish I had, had some for home). I had a 2nd degree tear and some skid marks- at first they had me using ice pads for the first 24 hours and then I started doing warm sitz baths which I continued at home. It took about 4.5 weeks before I finally was able to walk/be on my feet for more than 30-45 minutes without being ridiculously sore. I am 7 weeks postpartum and although I have mostly recovered I am still recovering a bit. It sure takes time.

    • caroline says:

      Ouchy. It is helpful to keep thinking that it’s just temporary pain. I had three tears, 1 being internal. Painful, but luckily our bodies do a good job healing. 🙂

  2. Rachel Booth says:

    Awww sweetie!!

    I can’t quite compare because my birth situation was WAAAAYYYY different but I can totally relate about the shower thing!!! I was so desperate for a shower after Reagan was born (because I had spent four days prior to her birth in the hospital and ICU for mommies to be that I hadn’t had a shower)…. and right after she was born, I had to stay in the ICU AGAIN… so it was soooo needed. The nurses wouldn’t let me take a bath either but they had a small chair/stool that I could sit on in the shower. It was heaven! I did the same thing when I got home… sat to take a shower! 🙂 Kinda cheating, I know but it was the best compromise we could find!! 🙂

  3. I never would have made it thru without the witch hazel pads and epi foam!! Both are AMAZING!!! Lovely story my dear! I agree with you…had no clue post partum would be that sore and for as long as I was. Thank goodness that is all a distant memory at this point! 🙂

    • caroline says:

      No kidding! I hardly remember the days of nausea in my first trimester any more. Thank goodness for our dulled memories! 😀

  4. Heather Sprunger says:

    Man! You are a trooper! This is exactly why I’ve contemplated never even having kids. The pain is just too much and to add to that I am the BIGGEST baby to ever live on the face of the earth. Did you have a fear of needles, blood, guts, pain, doctors, etc before this experience?

    • caroline says:

      I definitely had a horrible fear of needles and passed out at the sight of blood. However, I kind of had to get over that when we went to try and get pregnant. Logan had to give me shots in my stomach on a daily basis so that I could ovulate and conceive Liam. So, after that whole needle mess, no pain was too great to have a baby. It’s not so bad and it’s only temporary! And hey, there’s always adoption! 😀

  5. Emily says:

    As I’m sure you remember from when Liam was born, pushing out a baby is much the same as pushing out a bowel movement in that you rely on your abdominal muscles to help, right? Imagine having your first bowel movement after a c-section, when your incision is still new and not even remotely healed. OMG. My first son was a normal vaginal delivery–nothing to write home about (and I LOVED the warm water squirt bottle and Tuck’s pads, lol), second was emergency c-section and third was sort-of-emergency c-section. With the first c-section, they didn’t have time to do an epidural and wait for it to kick in–I got a spinal block and was on the table being opened up within 15 minutes. Unlike the lovely walking epidural I had with c-section #2 (kept me numb from my belly button to my crotch–it was awesome!!) when it wore off, it WORE OFF. My doctor had me on Dilaudid in my IV, and it did very little for the pain. He sent me home with Darvocet (that did nothing). Honestly, I knew when I had to poop–I think we all do. LOL My gut was so incredibly sore and so painful, and just the thought of sitting down on the toilet (not the actual pooping part, but just using my ab muscles to SIT DOWN) made me cry, seriously. That was so incredibly hellish. When I found out that I needed another c-section with my third son, I was in tears and shaking and crying. My doctor assured me we had time for a walking epidural, and all would be well. He was right. 🙂 And my boys were 8 lb. 4 oz. (my only vaginal birth); 8 lb. 10 oz. (miserable c-section #1) and 8 lb. 14 oz. (cool, pain free c-section #2).

    • caroline says:

      OMG, I can’t even imagine having a bowel movement right after a c-section. OUCH! You poor thing. I bet you were terrified of the same thing happening with your second c-section too. You are very brave…and a very brave girl for having 3 boys! Phew. I bet you need a girl vacation! 😀

  6. Angela says:

    Oh my gosh! I couldn’t help but notice how big and comfy your bed looks compared to the one I’ll be in… a little twin sized thing with padding about an inch thick. Haha… guessing the comfort of the bed doesn’t make much difference 🙂

    • caroline says:

      Haha…it’s an illusion. It was the same type deal. One inch of pure uncomfort. I brought my memory foam pillow and put some of the hospital pillows under my butt and that helped a lot. But, you wouldn’t believe how happy my butt was to sit in a comfortable chair once we got home. Actually, at one point before Liam’s circumcision I had to nurse him in the nursery and it was just one of those standard gliders, but boy was it music to my butt. So comfortable compared to any of those hospital furniture pieces!

  7. Kim says:

    Thanks for the advice! I don’t think anyone has gotten this detailed about postpartum before with me, and with my first baby being due in 6 weeks, I am SO thankful to know this. And now I know what I should have on hand at home for when we come home 🙂

  8. Kat says:

    Thank you so much for telling your story. I am due in 4 weeks and I can’t tell you how much I needed this! I have many girlfriends that have told me some details about postpartum, but truthful it is always good to hear/read about it again! Thanks for being so honest.

  9. Kindal says:

    Thanks for your candidness, you’re right this is stuff that no one talks about. We haven’t started trying yet for our first, but it’s not too long away and I am beginning to research what all to expect. Thanks!

  10. I couldnt feel my legs after the epidural either, but instead of reinsterting my cath, they had a big, hot male nurse come carry me to the bathroom….. then he stood there and watched me pee to make sure I didnt have any of those big clots. Mortification factor 12! I have a very large bone frame, which seems to be a blessing with delivery because the wider pelvis opening means less pain afterward. I was up and walking without help 6 hours later, no pian, just tired muscles. It sounds like you had REALLY great care! Wow they made sure you were going to really be ok afterward. Your little bean so so adorable, absolutely dazzling. I’m partial to baby boys having had 2 of my own, but yours is definitely one of those Top Ten Cutest!

  11. I am glad that you were so honest in this post — it’s nice to hear! But now I am terrified to give birth. I think my hubby and I will be waiting a few more years :).

  12. My children are now adults but some things you never forget and the day of their birth is one of them. I had 2 C-Sections and have no regret. I was 9 months and 3 weeks along without ANY signs of delivery so the doctor decided to induce labor. 10 hours later? Nothing. No signs whatsoever that I would be giving birth anytime soon. Besides that? I knew I was having a big baby so I was almost relieved when they decided to do a C-section. She was 10 lb 11 oz and I remain eternally grateful. 🙂

    Seems my body just wanted to hang onto those babies forever but with my 2nd child they only let me go 2 extra weeks and though she was tiny compared to her sister at ‘only’ 9 lbs 4 oz I was again grateful for a C-section. Granted I am 6′ tall but still…I have never once regretted the doctor’s decision. My girls were healthy and my recuperation was actually pretty easy but I was determined to get home as soon as possible and found that a routine of walking the corridors really did help to speed my recovery.

    I’ve never quite understood this plan; a big old zipper would have been nice. 🙂

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  14. I thought I was prepared with what to expect after delivery, and the way that your body would react and heal itself. I sought out all the nitty gritty info I could, for me the more I knew the better! Alas, like many thing when you have a baby, even if you know all the details you are never truly prepared for when it happens to you! I had a similar experience to yours, I had a second degree tear (internal and external) and had a big problem with hemorrhoids. (TMI?? No such thing as TMI after you give birth ;)) It took me a good month to be able to walk longer than 15 minutes at a stretch. Daily showers, and Tucks, were my savior! Thanks for being so candid 🙂

  15. Maggie says:

    I can’t believe you had visitors after delivery!! I was so exhausted. I could hardly take my family being in the room! Perhaps because I was up all night in labor. I had gone in the night before and got a pain killer, and luckily at 10 pm that night when the medicine had worn off I got my epidural. That was a nice night! I remember hitting my leg and not knowing it was my leg- just some warm, foreign object chilling in my bed. I do miss my nurses though, having someone cater to my every need and keeping my Tucks supply well stocked. Tucks + Water bottle= my savior…still! (2 weeks postpartum)

    I’m so sorry you had a reaction to the pain killers…they made the world seem a bit better every time I had to move! Especially when going to the bathroom-which I still had to go quite frequently even though there was no baby in there!!! You picked a nice hospital though! My bathroom was not that pretty…

  16. Brianna says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’m 14 weeks now and literally scared out of my mind for labor/delivery/recovery. I have a seriously low pain threshold and will probably need to be prohibited from seeing people because the pain will make me so cranky. Thank you for giving me a little bit more of a look into what I will be dealing with!

    • caroline says:

      Aww, congratulations Brianna! You’ll be great! Just remember that whatever your experience may be, it’ll be all yours and it’ll be one you’ll never forget! 🙂 If I had to give you one tip, it’d be to get outside and walk, if you’re not already doing so. I was walking 4 miles every day during my pregnancy. I think being in shape helped tremendously with a smooth delivery and quick recovery. Oh, and doing prenatal yoga helped a lot too with flexibility, sleeping better and learning to breathe through contractions. 😀 I wish you the best of luck! How exciting!

  17. Roberta says:

    SO nice of you to share your experience, im also due 7th June – 4 weeks to go, and im so nervous, i dont know what to expect, will definitely be buying a squirt bottle for the post partum/bathroom issues, it sounds really handy!
    I wanted to ask, you have a pic with the which hazel/pads and squirt bottle in the bathroom, what are those long sticks? are they like tampons? Would you suggest anything for someone whos expecting? Thanks so much

    • caroline says:

      How exciting! You may not need to buy a squirt bottle. Our hospital gave me one. 🙂 Oh, and what looks like long sticks are actually the sides of the giant panty liners…a must…and I’m sure your hospital will provide you with them. The hospital also provided disposable mesh underwear, which was awesome because in the first couple of days whatever you’re wearing down there will be soiled. I also wore ice packs put in a diaper, which melted and gross, but were lifesavers.

      Make sure you bring comfortable clothes (preferably long nightgowns or robe, because you won’t want to wear pants), nursing camis and bras, nursing pads, and old underwear that you don’t mind getting ruined. I really enjoyed having my pillow from home too, because that made it all more comfortable.

      If I can answer any other questions, feel free to ask! 😀 You’ll be great!

  18. Lizeth Garcia says:

    Omg I feel your pain!! My delivery was horrible as well. With this second pregnancy my concern is the pain of hemorrhoids after.. Just thinking about it makes me squirm. I wonder if they do flare up with all the strain from pushing?? Ahhh wish me luck 🙁

    • caroline says:

      They must! I hope this delivery goes smoother for you! 😀 Oh dear, don’t miss those hemorrhoids, though. Ugh.

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