Okay, it's been two weeks (I KNOW! Already!!), and I'm feeling great - tired, of course, but otherwise fine. I have to keep reminding myself that I did have major surgery only 16 days ago, and am still very much "in recovery".
It's very tempting to try to be superwoman, but eventually, the adrenaline will wear off and I need to be gentle on myself. Good to stay active, and increase your activity every day, but listening to your body after childbirth is so important. Babies are entirely dependent on us, so we need to be as healthy as possible. Here are the top tips for childbirth recovery I've learned in the past two weeks...
1) REST! - this is number one for a very good reason, rest is so important. It's virtually impossible when you have other kids, but resting when you can will make all the difference.
I was very lucky in the first ten days because I had both Steve and my mum to help with making dinner, doing bedtime stories for Daisy, fetching things for me when I was feeding and doing the tidying and laundry. I was also able to get back to bed for an hour or so each morning and that really helped.
If you don't have help, try to make life easier in the early days by getting ready meals or easy dinners, and keep housework to a minimum. Obviously you can't ignore it completely, but dropping your standards for a couple of weeks will make life much easier. As long as your family has clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat from, it's all good! Hell, if you need to, buy plastic disposable plates and chuck them away, whatever helps!
2) WATER - I've never drunk so much water in my entire life as I have in the past couple of weeks! Breastfeeding makes you incredibly thirsty, and childbirth makes you lose a lot of water, so drink loads of the stuff. I had a pack of 6 sports bottles of water, and whenever they're empty, I refill them and keep them in the fridge so there is always water on hand for when I'm feeding.
I used to think tea, coffee and fizzy drinks made me feel better when I was tired, but nothing refreshes you quite like ice cold water, and it's free!!!
3) PAINKILLERS - take them. Seriously, even when you feel okay, just take regular painkillers for at least a week after birth, because the pain sneaks up on you, and usually hits a sudden peak just when you're feeling really tired. I'm on day 16 and only stopped the pain relief yesterday!
4) CRY - you will feel tearful at points, even if you're perfectly happy. It's a combination of hormones, tiredness, overwhelming emotion and adjusting to the massive change in your life, so let it out! I warned my family well in advance that if they saw me crying, not to worry, that it was perfectly normal. I have had a couple of teary days, and all I really needed was a cuddle. With my older two, I repressed the tearfulness, because I didn't want people to think I wasn't happy or wasn't coping. It really doesn't mean that at all, it's just a normal process, so let those tears flow, you'll feel better for it.
5) SUPPLEMENTS - I've been taking Arnica, a homeopathic remedy which is really good for recovering from trauma and reducing swelling and bruising.
I've also been taking Fenugreek, for increasing milk flow. My milk is flowing like an ocean, so I highly recommend it!
Placenta capsules - I read about the benefits of consuming your placenta before I gave birth, so I took mine home and encapsulated it myself. I'll write a separate post on that another time! I've been taking 2-4 capsules a day, and I feel awesome! You can pay someone to do it for you, but it's easy enough to do yourself, and it makes you feel like a super clever surgeon/pharmacist ;)
6) TALK!!! - Talking is so important. Talk to your partner, no matter how happy you both are, there will be times when one or both of you is feeling frazzled and stressed. As long as you both communicate and assure each other that everything is fine, it will make life so much eaiser. When you're full of hormones and tiredness, it's so easy to take little comments or sighs personally. All it takes is "Sorry, I'm just tired. I love you", to make everything better again. Don't fall into that trap of niggling about who has had more sleep or who has changed more nappies. Building resentments is pointless, just talk about it!
I do all the waking up in the night, I'm breastfeeding so there's no point in Steve waking up. He did offer to change nappies, etc, but I really don't see the point in us both being awake! I'd rather he got a good nights sleep so he could let me back to bed in the morning. Coming to arrangements like this before your baby comes can avoid resentments and arguments afterwards.
Also, building a support network of other parents is brilliant, you can share stories, swap top tips and discoveries and if you really need to, have a good old moan to someone who has been there and understands.
As the old BT adverts said, it's good to talk.
7) FRESH AIR - so, so important. No matter how exhausted you might feel, a bit of fresh air always makes you feel better. In the first couple of days, I would just take Amelie out to the garden and sit while Steve hung out the washing, and as soon as I felt able, I'd take her in her pram around the block. Now, I'm building up to longer walks, but still trying to get outside every single day. You will have times when you feel like the walls are closing in, and just five minutes of reminding yourself that there's a world outside really, really helps.
8) PATIENCE - finally, be patient. Especially if you've had stitches or surgery, recovery requires patience. Don't do too much too soon, the time will pass regardless, and paradoxically, if you rush yourself, you might actually find your recovery takes longer. Take this time to enjoy your baby, and slow down. This is your moment, accept the help and take it easy!