The thought of birth and the delivery process is a lot to take in. Your lady bits are going to do something pretty amazing, like pushing out a tiny human being, but in order to do that you’ll be pushing (quite literally) yourself with every fiber of your being leaving your body exhausted, swollen, and in pain. Luckily the care you’ll receive by your doctor(s) and nurses are on point and will make this transition from delivery to recovery much easier.
I will preface this post with the fact that there will be pretty gnarly details of birth/recovery but in the efforts to shed light on the things no one told me or talked about in what to expect after you greet your little one.
I also would like to mention that every birthing and recovering experience is different and I am only sharing my own. I had a vaginal delivery, epidural, gave birth in a ‘baby friendly’ hospital, and had an episiotomy. My son had a vacuum assist (which failed) and my entire labor from start to finish was around the 15-16 hour mark with three of those hours just trying to get my large-headed baby to crown. However, despite how your labor and delivery goes, in most cases, women experience similar discomforts during their recovery.
Here are just a few things you may expect…
IN THE HOSPITAL
Right after delivery the nurses did their tests and footprints and such with Greyson and were eager to get us wheeled up to our room and for us to get settled in. Since I had an epidural walking was going to take some time to regain control of so they kept me in a wheelchair and placed me in my bed. I continued to be hooked up to Pitocin for a few hours (you can see the IV in my arm still) so that my uterus stayed contracted, which helped keep me from hemorrhaging (it’s routine). The nurses would also check on me regularly and push on my stomach to ensure everything was normal and looking/feeling good (even though the last thing I wanted was someone pushing down on me).
I was required to have a nurse assist me in using the restroom the first three times before I was allowed to go on my own. Sitting up was painful, trying to get to my feet was painful, walking was difficult, and attempting to sit down on the toilet just to stand back up and make that march back to my bed was daunting. However, over time it got easier – just keep drinking the hospital Big Gulp sized water cup and peeing won’t be as scary.
Your nurses will also show you how to care for the lady bits that just got hit by a Mack truck so don’t hesitate to ask questions. There were a lot of “is this normal?” or “what should I do when…”. Each time they were happy to assist me and walk me through what I would soon be doing on my own in a few days time. My hospital provided ice packs for the first few days then recommended warmth for the rest of my recovery. Be sure to ask your nurse for anything else you may think will help you feel comfortable while at home.
Stool Softeners: These are largely overlooked and will come in handy especially as your first official poop after baby will be the scariest thought ever and yes, it will be painful. These guys will help not only ease your mind, but you know, your poops too. I would highly recommend these especially if you had an episiotomy. Just breathe through it and I even found comfort in leaning to one side while trying to #2. Also, it will probably take you a few days before you even feel like pooping (ranks under the “it’s normal” since labor slows down your digestive tract).
*Keep in mind the foods you eat too when back at home. Think about eating and drinking foods/beverages that will be easy to digest and expel when the time comes.
Dermoplast Spray: This was provided by my hospital or at the very least it was stolen from my hospital when I was discharged. Your nurses should help you that first day with your dressings and how to use the bathroom and this spray really helped calm the burning sensation I experienced down there. This also helped me for my perineum and the episiotomy stitches I had during delivery.
Peri Bottle: Again, this is amongst your care package when you leave the hospital and you will use it all the time at home. After birth and during recovery you will not be wiping when going to the bathroom. Instead you’ll fill this bottle with WARM (not hot) water and spray to clean yourself – and it will be the best feeling to hit your lady bits in a while.
*Plus, when you’re done with it – clean it thoroughly – and hold onto it as it can come in handy for pretty much anything you need a squirt bottle for. I use it to keep Greyson’s wipes moistened while in the wipe warmer since I noticed they would dry out if not used right away.
Preparation H Wipes: This may be an optional item, and I’ve seen a lot of people opt for witch hazel instead, but these were also provided for me at my hospital and these PH Wipes have witch hazel on them so win, win. My nurse showed me to use them by laying them on my pads so when I wore my fashionable dressings and sat down there was a cooling feeling and it helped ease the pain.
Always Maxi Pads (overnight w/ wings): My sister recommended these and I am thankful for it because the wings help keep the pads in place and the overnights were thicker so I felt protected. You’ll be bleeding for a fews days if not weeks so it’s important to have a pad that has complete protection against leaks.
*It is a general suggestion to hoard the pads the hospital gives you since they tend to be quite expensive on the outside. So, always assume to take whatever the hospital can give you plenty of and place them in your take-home bag. Nurses also change shift every 8-12 hours so as you get a new nurse ask for more stuff! They pretty much know you’re hoarding them anyways…
Mesh Underwear: These are amazing and there’s a reason they’ve been in use for recovering mothers for centuries. Okay, not centuries but for a pretty long time. You don’t have to worry about messing them (and you will those first few nights) because you can throw them away. You can buy these online but again, ask your nurses for plenty to take home.
*Once you graduate from the mesh underwear I suggest high brief cotton panties (I used Hanes) so that you can still wear your dressings and the feeling of anything high waisted at this point feels like you’re keeping everything tucked in, which is nice too.
Waterproof Pads: These bad boys are for your bed when you first come home. I had them in my hospital room and they came in handy to keep your bed clean from blood or other fluids. I just took mine from the hospital since they changed them out regularly.
Motrin: I took Motrin every 8 hours on the hour due to the soreness and pain I felt after delivery. They kicked in pretty quickly and allowed me to get comfortable enough to sit up, move around, and sleep a little. So, if your nurse asks you your pain level and it’s anything over a 5 I suggest Motrin. Besides, it’s also safe for breastfeeding.
Maternity Leggings: Ladies, don’t be quick to throw those out just yet. Not only do you have a significant bump still, you’ll love these for the first few weeks/months in recovery because they allow you to wear pants and keep everything snug. I lived in mine for many months after.
+ Where did I keep all this stuff? I took an old shoebox and filled them with all my necessary items and kept it on the back of the toilet tank. If you have a small table or ledge that is in front of your toilet or at sitting level I recommend putting your dressings there because you’ll be very sore and it’s much easier to reach in front of you versus behind.
+ Also, make your new dressing before sitting down. That way it’s all ready to go when you’re done and you’re not left hovering in pain to set it up.
+ You’ll need privacy during your recovery so I recommend keeping visitors to a minimum and definitely don’t allow family to stay with you during this time. You’re in pain and feel like a stuffed animal for the first few weeks – and then there’s the whole breastfeeding and caring for your newborn thing going on too.