What postpartum really looks like

All the nurses really emphasized not only making sure that baby was well taken care of and fed, but that mom was prioritizing mom and mom’s recovery. I really had the best care with nurses at Lenox Hill and am so grateful for all their kindness and support, in addition to their hoarding endless supplies for me to take home (which is apparently against official hospital policy, but like I care?). They advised me to do sitz baths to take care of my healing vagina and rectum, to apply heat pads to my breasts before breast feeding, as well as to my stomach during and after breast feeding since feeding baby would cause my uterus to contract. This was actually a good thing, as this meant that breast feeding would “tell” my uterus to contract and reduce down to pre-pregnancy size. The bad news here, though, is that those contractions would feel like menstrual contractions, and thus would likely be painful. They also suggested using nipple butter, shea butter, or lanolin on my nipples post feeding and pumping, and to walk around with my breasts out to “air” out my nipples to prevent cracking or pain.

And that rectum pain can be felt in ways I didn’t even think about. In the days after baby’s birth, it hurt down there every time I coughed, sneezed, or laughed. The sneezing caused the worst pain; I wasn’t sure if something was going to come out of my anus, whether it was poop or something else! I hoped this wouldn’t last too long.

Postpartum is not sexy. It does not look Instagram or social media ready at all and is anything but glamorous. So, Chris took a photo of me post feeding the baby, and this is basically what it looks like: heat pads on both breasts and my stomach, as well as my sitting on that inflatable butt cushion the nurses gave me and on top of the couch. A filled to the top water bottle is on a stool next to me. The baby is on the side of me in her lounger. This is definitely what postpartum looks like.

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