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Navigating Postpartum - Stana's Journey

Navigating Postpartum - Stana's Journey

Hey mama, so you’ve gone through the magical door to motherhood and birthed your baby! Can we just say Congratulations! We think that every time a baby is born, so too is a mother! And while we spend so much time preparing for baby, as new mamas we often forget to prepare ourselves for the transition to motherhood. 

We want to know (and share) what really goes on postpartum, so we asked mamas to share their experiences, ideas and words of wisdom about how they are navigating their postpartum journey. At Viva La Vulva we want to normalise what our bodies go through after growing and birthing a baby, and becoming a mother. Postpartum experiences are rarely talked about, but a baby changes you, your body and your soul! 

If you love the idea of normalising everything postpartum and wanna share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, wisdom with other mamas to be - you can share your story here. 

Thank you for this important conversation Stana and helping us normalise these stories by telling yours, powerful mama.

I have quite an eventful story of Harvey's birth haha but it was a really positive experience!

My C-Section Recovery:

I feel like I was really fortunate in the fact that I had knowledge about the body, recovery, how to support my recovery from my yoga & pilates training, and a general passion for how the human body works. I was able to use this wisdom to heal my body really well! I started out by making sure that I really respected and prioritised my healing from birth & the cesarean, especially for the first 6 weeks. I was super diligent in allowing others to help me out - as hard as it was, I resisted cooking, cleaning, driving, and exercising too much and gave myself all the permission I had to rest and take it easy. Don't get me wrong, mentally it was challenging to let others do simple things like emptying the dishwasher and hanging out the washing but I firmly believe this set up such a strong recovery foundation for the rest of the first year! 

I remember when my midwife took off the bandage, the funniest thing happened! I had just been bracing myself for it to hurt as the adhesive would pull my pubes but what actually happened was I was uncontrollably laughing!! It was intensely ticklish on the side the surgeon knotted the stitches on! To this day (1 year pp), I still am even more ticklish and sensitive on the whole right side of my back and front haha! I'm guessing a nerve was in the mix with surgery or my body likes to be a bit different lol!

I used the Viva La Vulva hypercal spray a few times actually since I had the whole kit there! I tended to air out a lot more - it was summer so it was easy. I'd wear loose flowy dresses and pull my high-waisted undies down so my incision could air out as much as possible. I think this helped me avoid any infections!  

Something I did as soon as the dressing was off was to start 'scar massage' to bring back feeling and to help me process any trauma from the emergency surgery. I started in the shower using the tips of my fingers and lightly dabbing them along my incision. When I felt ready, I moved to rubbing two fingers in circles as slowly as I felt like I could, adding more pressure when I felt comfortable. I saw my pelvic health physio at 10 weeks postpartum and she said I was ready for a more vigorous scar massage moving in a star shape and pulling the skin in opposite directions on either side of my incision. It was a bit uncomfortable and felt like pulling and stretching my scar but the payoff was huge!! Now, 1 year postpartum, I have full feeling around it and no numbness at all. Sometimes, if I've overdone a bit of exercise or been doing heavy lifting of things like gardening for a long period of time, I'll get a sharp little pain or feeling of tightness in my right side near my scar (where the stitches were knotted together) but a layer deep down, and it's my reminder to rest and take it easy.  

As for exercise, I made sure to wait for clearance from the pelvic health physio. At 10 weeks, I was in pretty good knick because I hadn't overdone exercises yet and had been following my own program of postpartum pilates to do gentle core activations. Now, at 1 year postpartum, I've been able to do the same exercise I was doing pre-pregnancy. 

Some things that I found really helpful the days after birth were:

  • Because I had a cesarean under general, I had the anesthetist and a bunch of other doctors come by the next day to check-in and explain what happened and were available to answer any questions I had. I know this wasn't the case for some friends who had similar births so my advice would be to make sure you debrief with your midwife or ask to see the doctors/surgeons/anesthetist who was present so you can have any questions answered or the situation walked through again. 

  • The nurses/midwives on the ward can/will change your pads when you need it. Don't try be a hero and do it yourself, ring the bell and ask them to. 

  • Wearing a pad on the inside of your high-waisted undies so it acts as a barrier between your incision and the undies. 

  • Use a poo foot stool - thank me later. 

  • Walk and mobilise as soon as you can. 

  • Bring your compression socks with you and wear them after birth. I had lots of post-surgery fluid retention and since you spend so much time lying down, it's easy for the fluid to stick around.  

Something I didn't expect in recovery:

  • Post-birth, the nurses/midwives will press on your belly to feel how your uterus is contracting like in a vaginal birth, too. This can be uncomfortable and make sure you've had pain killers beforehand. 

  • For the first maybe 3 days post-birth, you'll have an injection (I think for blood thinning) in your tummy. It's not the nicest thing in the world but is over quickly. 

  • I started baby-wearing Harvey from around 2 weeks postpartum using a Chekoh stretchy wrap. The stretchy wrap is amazing because it sits high above your belly button and doesn't rub on your incision at all. I didn't expect after wearing it for 30 minutes that my belly would be aching and sore - makes sense though since my core was cut wide open haha. It took me a few weeks to build up to be able to wear him for longer periods of time and easing in was definitely the way to go! 

  • I had a terrible reaction to tramadol that they prescribe right after birth. I was vomiting and couldn't keep water down. One of the nurses realised it was the tramadol after about 10 hours and switched me to Sevredol which made me feel a million times better!

Thanks so much for sharing part of your postpartum experience with us!

VLV xx

Navigating Postpartum is a series by you, our sisters. If you love the idea of normalising everything postpartum and wanna share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, wisdom with other mamas to be, we wanna hear from you - please get in touch with us here.


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