Postpartum Struggles

The day I found out I was pregnant again was one Sunday after a very emotional morning at church. Ohk, I’m usually emotional but even I noticed that that was a bit extra! So I stopped at Shoprite on my way home to buy a pregnancy test, got home and tested it and to my surprise it was positive. I’m pregnant, so what now??? I nervously dropped the bomb to my husband then, like many other women out there, I turn to my friend Google. 

Google search “When did I fall pregnant?”, “When will my due date be?’, “what are the early signs of pregnancy?’, and I went on like that till the day I went into labor. I literally Googled everything from the time I didn’t know I was pregnant to the birthing part. I would tell myself that I had to know everything there is to know for me to be prepared for the worst. By the worst, I meant birth. It was as if I thought somehow everything will go back to ‘normal’ immediately after giving birth. I even went as far as convincing myself not to buy maternity clothes because pregnancy is just a few months and I won’t be needing the clothes afterward. 

Oh, how quickly we forget. One would expect someone who’s doing this for the second time to remember what she experienced the first time around, right? 

I now understand why some new mommies go through postpartum depression. There is so much focus on preparing the woman for the pregnancy journey leading to giving birth and so many conversations about it, that we make it seem like everything after that will be so smooth that we don’t need to prepare ourselves for it. ‘It’s motherhood, it’ll come naturally, you’ll be such a good mother…’ 

I went into postpartum so chilled, especially after the smooth labor and delivery I had. I felt like a superwoman, I mean what else, other than sleepless nights, could hit me? The answer to that was soon to be answered. 

  1. Postpartum Edema – The day we got discharged I wore a dress that I wore throughout my pregnancy, but for some reason, it was very tight on me. This is the dress that was perfectly fine with my belly and should be sitting even looser on me getting rid of half of the belly. My face was all puffy and my hands and feet were swollen up, with the one leg bigger than the other one. The same thing happened after my first pregnancy, but mommy had forgotten about it. Postpartum Edema is swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles and weight gain caused by an excess amount of fluid remaining in the body tissue after childbirth. The duration of the healing process differs for everyone but it can be sped up by eating healthy, staying hydrated, and resting. Swelling in new mothers is usually not a cause for concern but a doctor should be consulted when the swelling is accompanied by frequent headaches or when the swelling is only on one side of the body, as that could be a sign of a blood cloth. Fortunately for me, it was just mild edema and the swelling started going down after about two weeks.
  2. Breast engorgement – About two days into breastfeeding, my breast started getting very heavy and too big for the bra’s I had. Both my breasts were hard and lumpy and I had swollen lymph nodes in my armpits. It was so painful at some point that I would have my arms slightly lifted up so that there’s no pressure on the breasts or armpits. I had mastitis with my first baby and I was really not ready to go through that much pain again. I massaged my breasts and armpits as much as I could to get rid of the lumps and I would position my son in such a way that his chin would face towards the area that is swollen and lumpy. I would also soften my breasts before feeding by applying a hot compress, as it makes it easier for the baby to latch on. Postpartum breast engorgement is very common in the first few days after giving birth and usually goes away within a few days as the body adjusts the milk supply to the baby’s needs. 
  3. After-pain / Involution – The previous two postpartum conditions were not that bad as I had experienced them before. However, after-pain was a totally new experience that added more pain to breastfeeding. This one was a bit strange. It felt like I was getting contractions over and over again. Involution or after-pain is the process through which your expanded uterus shrinks back to its normal size. During this process, you will feel sharp cramps in your abdomen when your uterus is contracting. I mostly felt these cramps while breastfeeding. To my first time moms, you might be lucky enough not to feel these pains, but just keep this in mind in case you’re thinking about trying out for baby number two. Oh, and it apparently gets worse with every baby. There I was thinking that it’ll get better with experience…

There are so many women out there with different stories to tell about their postpartum complications, but yet only a few expectant mommies are informed and equipped to handle the struggles that come with being a new mom. We really need to be more vocal about these struggles. I was getting very worried about the cramps I was feeling until I decided to mention it to my mother inlay and she assured me that it’s normal. I was fortunate to have women to have her but for those who don’t have anyone to have these conversations with there are a lot of communities on social media platforms. Do your research and go on one of these groups and speak about your symptoms. I’m certain that you will find someone who has had the same experience or who knows of someone who has been through the same and together you could come up with a solution and not just help you, but all those mommies who might be afraid or too ashamed to speak out. 

These are just the three conditions that I had. I would love to hear about your postpartum experience. Please subscribe, comment and share with your world. 

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