New motherhood

Guest post: 5 random things to know about postpartum recovery


Guest post written by: Lacey Park 

When people find out you’re pregnant, they like to give you advice. Lots and lots and lots of well-intentioned, out of the blue, nobody asked you, advice.

“Enjoy sleeping while you can.”

“It’s probably a girl, I can tell because you <insert slightly offensive comment about your body or behavior here>.”

“Make sure you give your baby a bottle in the first few weeks or he won’t ever take one.”

When I was pregnant (even with baby number 4), it seemed like everyone in my life had a piece of advice to share and while all of it came from a place of love, or concern for my wellbeing, not all of it was useful.

So here are 5 random things I wish people had told me about the postpartum recovery period:

Postpartum Mood Disorders are a common side effect of giving birth.

study published in the journal Pediatrics screened over 1100 moms and found that 17% had anxiety symptoms in the weeks following birth. That’s a significant statistic and one that I think needs to be talked about more. Personally, I experienced Postpartum Depression and Postpartum OCD, both of which went untreated because I was afraid to tell anyone what was going on.

Not-So-Random Advice: Please, talk to your midwife or doctor if you do not feel like yourself in the weeks and months following birth. You and your family will be glad you sought support, I promise.

Peri-bottles are a miracle following vaginal birth (if you know how to use one)!

A Peri-Bottle is a squirt bottle, usually provided by the hospital or your midwives after birth. Not every is lucky enough to get a detailed explanation on how to use one so here it is: Every time you use the bathroom, first fill the bottle with warm water. Squirt the water onto your vaginal area as you pee, then pat dry when finished. It will reduce the stinging associated with urine meeting your sensitive lady bits and reduce the need to wipe (isn’t that a relief?).

Not-So-Random Advice: Don’t even attempt to use the bathroom without your peri-bottle until your bottom is feeling more comfortable.

Breastfeeding can result in intense cramps!

My breastfeeding clients are often surprised by the intense uterine contractions they experience while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding stimulates a release of oxytocin, a hormone that causes smooth muscle contraction. This cramping helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state and reduces blood loss. The contractions may be more intense following subsequent pregnancies.

Not-So-Random Advice: Ask for pain medication during your hospital stay or call your pharmacist for pain relief recommendations. If you prefer to avoid medication, breathing and visualization techniques can help you manage the discomfort. A heating pad placed on the area may be soothing.

You don’t have to let anyone hold your baby.

You are under no obligation to let people hold your baby. It’s totally acceptable to keep your baby in an infant carrier when visitors arrive (or to simply tell them you aren’t ready for visitors). Furthermore, if you want to take some time to go for a postpartum massage or just take a long, uninterrupted shower while someone else enjoys the baby, that’s good, too! Do what is right for you!

Not-So-Random Advice: For help around the house, assistance with breastfeeding, infant care, and self-care, and someone to hold your baby while you take that hot shower, without the random advice and judgment, a postpartum doula is an excellent investment!

You get to parent your way.

There’s so much information out there and it can be stressful trying to sift through it all. It’s important that you do what you feel is right for you and your family. People probably aren’t going to stop giving you advice once you are a mom, but you will eventually feel confident enough in your role to smile and nod!

Founder of Chinook City Doulas, Lacey Park is a Labour Doula, Postpartum Doula, Postpartum Placenta Specialist, and Childbirth Educator.