There is power in sharing stories. When the story involves the birth of a mother, it becomes even more wholesome. Every week, I’ll be sharing an interview of a mama and her real postpartum stories. Sometimes these stories will be vibrant and uplifting. And sometimes, they’ll be heartbreaking and tearful. Most of the time, they’ll be both. That’s the beauty of postpartum.
Brittany, tell us a little bit about your postpartum experience.
My first postpartum experience was a challenge. I had an emergency c-section and thus had to stay in the hospital for three days. After getting home things were okay but then my baby started having issues with breastfeeding. I spent a lot of time pumping, at the doctor’s office, and getting sick from one of the milk supply medications she suggested.
By my fifth postpartum experience, things were great. A lot of that was shaped by the fast labor and that I just knew what to do and how things worked. My husband and I still tell people that when we brought home our fifth baby… nothing changed; life went on just with a new member of the family.
Do you think the birth experience of your baby influenced your postpartum in any way?
I think there might have been some things about my birth experience (emergency c-section) that may have influenced my postpartum, just the physical toll and not being able to move around and lift things made the beginning not as enjoyable. I’m sure the medications didn’t help my breastfeeding experience nor did the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed for the first few hours (I was still under general anesthesia). But I think most of my postpartum experience was shaped by my lack of knowledge and the breastfeeding issues we had.
With another baby, my birth went the way I wanted it to which meant I felt *relatively* great and was able to get out of bed instantly. Our childcare lined up well with this baby so I didn’t have to feel rushed to get home. I also think I was more used to how things went for us so even when a few issues arose, like my husband not being able to drive me home from the hospital and instead we had to have a friend drive me, I didn’t have any meltdowns.
What was the absolute best and absolute worst in those first few weeks postpartum?
The best part of my first few weeks was probably just simply being able to hold my baby. I knew I loved babies before having kids but I didn’t realize how much more I’d love my own. The worst part of those weeks was the feeling of doing everything wrong; I didn’t get the birth I wanted, I had to give up breastfeeding one month in because my baby was failure to thrive. I remember crying as I made my first bottle of formula.
For my fifth, the best part of the first few weeks was snuggling my new baby and settling into our own rhythm. The worst thing was maybe just that I still had to multi-task as a mom. By my fifth kid, I knew to prepare in advance and made sure I had lunches frozen for the kids (or easy things like mac & cheese), I also knew that in the first few weeks postpartum, my kids will watch a ton of TV. Would I rather them not watch as much? Sure! But I also knew that life will run smoother while the baby and I adjust if I don’t have kids fighting with each other or asking me what they can do. It’s a give and take.
If you could give only one piece of postpartum advice to a new mama, what would it be?
My one piece of postpartum advice would be to research and read up before the baby comes (especially if you lean more towards natural parenting). I knew I wanted a natural birth, I knew I wanted to breastfeed…. but I didn’t really look into what options there are for when things don’t go according to plan. I couldn’t have changed my emergency c-section (although I could have waited the full 42 weeks instead of being included at 41w3d… I always wonder if I had waited a bit longer if things would’ve ended differently). But I could have looked more into making breastfeeding work instead of just going with the one suggestion of my mainstream doctor and it not working. I’ve had five kids now and was able to exclusively breastfeed the last three after figuring out that my body needs a bit of help to make enough milk.
Bonus: another piece of advice that I give new moms is to have dad (or a friend if dad’s schedule makes it impossible) give you a 30 minute break once a day. When my husband would come home from work, he would take the baby (and the other kids after we had more) and I would go take a bath. Yes, I could still hear the craziness coming from the living room but I knew I could get a mini break at the very least. 30 minutes alone will do wonders.