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Tag Archives: postpartum

The Year after Childbirth

I’m reading The Year After Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger.  I love this book. 

Here are a few gems from the first chapter about the first weeks postpartum:

“The ordinary divisions of time–into morning, afternoon, evening, and night, and before and after meals–have lost meaning.  In their place there seems to be a long, uncoiling, endless ribbon–feeding, changing, cleaning up, soothing and rocking and patting, starting the laundry, tidying up a bit, feeding again, bouncing the baby up and down, managing to wash yourself and pull on some clothes if you’re lucky, feeding again, carrying the baby around, drying the baby things, grabbing something to eat, picking the baby up, feeding, dashing to the shops, and then feeding again because the baby is still fretful.  There is never any point at which you can say that you have finished.”

“Some new mothers say that they did not know what tiredness was until they experienced the exhaustion that comes from straining every nerve, concentrating with set purpose on doing everything right with a new baby, while at the same time feeling powerful emotions…For the tiredness is not just a question of needing more sleep, or of trying to fit everything into a twenty-four hour day that seems suddenly to have shrunk.  The emotional intensity of becoming a mother and caring for a new baby is in itself demanding.” 

“Maternal emotions are urgent, raw.”

“For several months after birth it is normal to be in a heightened emotional state.”

“Yes, there are times when you lose all self-confidence and feel that you are a terrible mother and a failure as a woman.  But there are other times when you feel a luxurious contentment, like a cat who has been at the cream.”

Sheila Kitzinger is a social anthropologist and writes many wonderful words about women, babies, and birth.

While I love the words, Norah loves the pictures.  After flipping through the pages on our drive to the coast, she drew some detailed pictures of perineal tears and episiotomies.  Oh well.  Maybe she has a future in medical illustrations?

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Postpartum: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Having survived my first day alone with a 3 year old and a newborn, I am–if not settling into–at least, accepting my new normal. 

Here are some highlights from my first two weeks:

Husband:  Aside from being the best birth partner on the planet, Scott played host to our visitors, cleaned house, had special daddy/daughter dates with Norah, brought me 156 million cups of Mother’s Milk Tea, made delicious breakfasts, and was the all-around hero of the story.

Family:  My family is incredible.  They have fed me, cleaned my house, and picked up strange items I needed at obscure places (my mom went all over Greenville searching for myrrh, no-sugar added coconut water, and vegetarian capsules).  And check out the wonderful cloth wipes my mother-in-law sewed.  Yes, she embroidered “Cedar” on them.  I bet I have the only personalized bum wipes in town. 

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Friends:  I knew my friends were wonderful but wow!  First, this food chain idea is the best.postpartum.gift. EVER.  Period.  We’ve been supplied with a delicious meal every night–beginning with mom bringing our traditional Sunday feast over after the birth.  I’ve had friends drive 45 minutes to an hour to bring a meal!  It has blown me away.  And Cassandra drove from the far side of the world to give me a day-after acupuncture treatment!  Spoiled.  Utterly spoiled.  And Scott keeps saying, “Wow, you have great friends!”  Yes.  Yes, I do.

Placenta:  When Carey heard I had more bleeding than expected, she swooped into action to arrange for my placenta to be encapsulated by our friend Crystal.  I had wanted to do this but felt I would be too busy with my “galactagogue plan” to take time to do it myself.  The placenta is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and hormones that can assist the body in recovering.  And many people believe that it can prevent or lessen the effects of postpartum depression.  In some studies, it has shown an 86% success rate in increasing milk supply.  So bring on the placenta. 

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Diapers:  Having never cloth diapered a newborn (we started late with Norah), I have been pleasantly surprised at how smoothly that has gone.  She hasn’t worn any disposables.  I was worried the meconium would stain.  It didn’t.  I had two grassy green stains (from the chlorophyll supplement I’m taking) that disappeared after I put the dipes in the sun for a few hours.  Magic.   

Breastfeeding:  This one is a day-by-day.  I had breast reduction surgery 12 years ago.  There have been days I supplement an ounce or so with donated breastmilk based on signs from Cedar and her weight.  I’m using a syringe and feeding her with it while she is latched and actively nursing.  I prefer this method to the SNS.  I weigh her almost daily with the same scale we used at birth.  I definitely have more milk than I did with Norah.  It takes two weeks for domperidone to reach maximum effectiveness so I’m hopeful my supply will continue to increase.  I increased my domperidone dosage from 90mg/day to 120mg/day this week.  Unfortunately, the domperidone causes horrible headaches and the only thing that helps is a cup of coffee.  Do I give my child caffeine so that I can continue to make milk?  Yep.  I’ve been reading that the headaches fade with time.  So we’re still in a wait-and-see place.  But I’m hopeful.  And regardless, I know I’ve done everything I could.  I feel really positive. 

Babywearing:  Hoorah for wearing babies!  Cedar loves being worn.  So far, the Maya ring sling and the Moby wrap have been her favorites.  I didn’t expect to use the ring sling much since I prefer wraps.  I would have gotten a prettier sling.  I’m disappointed that she doesn’t like the My BabyNest.  But that is why I have so many products–she might like it next week…

In other news, I’ve been pooped on 4 times and peed on 3 times.  I’ve realized I need more nursing tanks.  I spend most of my day nursing.  I’m writing this blog entry with a sleeping baby snuggled to my chest in a Moby wrap.  I love it.