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?