by, Kristen Wesley “The Mom”
There is a moment after labor when you realize that not only is your sweet little baby a patient, but that you are too. At least for me, that was something that hadn’t really registered. On the day that my little baby girl Isla was born I very quickly began to understand we would both need a ton of care in the hospital and at home.
You would think from all the books I read, articles I scoured, and the numerous second hand accounts from friends I received, it would have sunk in. But it just didn’t. It literally never occurred to me that I’d be a patient too during and after labor and birth.
It all became extremely clear while my little bundle of joy was on the scale being measured and weighed, when the doctor said “okay, I’m going to work on you now”. Work on me, I thought? What does that mean? The hard truth was that it meant stitching up my episiotomy and sewing a tear on the inside of my vagina. All of this, the aftermath of an hour and half of pushing out baby Isla.
The patient theme was echoed again when I made it to the mother-baby unit and my nurse said she’d be back to check on me every hour for the next three. And when she came back to check on me, boy did I need her help. I needed her help not only to get out of bed, but to go to the bathroom, and to reapply the “padsicle” of support I had in-between my legs.
The padscile was just the start of my postpartum care. The below are the six most helpful things I needed as “patient mom,” once I arrived home.
- Mesh underwear from the hospital, your new best friend: The mesh underwear they give you really helps at home. Take all of them; ask for more if you have to. This underwear is great because they give your “parts” room to breathe while also holding in place the biggest maxi pad or padscile you have ever seen.
- Maxi pads: For me I had to buy the large over-night ones. They filled up my underwear and covered everything front to back. Choosing the big ones helped keep them from sliding around. These were also very helpful when I was sitting in bed nursing while leaking from below.
- Sitz bath: The idea of this did not work for me, and the contraption they sent me home with just did not fit in my toilet. So instead I used the portable showerhead. It worked marvelously. I stood in the shower and oscillated the shower head back and forth on my nether region. I felt clean and appreciated the water and other liquids running away from me into the shower drain.
- Squirt bottle: The bottle they give you at the hospital becomes your trusted ally. Fill it with warm water and use it EVERYTIME, you have to go to the bathroom. I even continued to use it long after leaving the hospital, as many areas down there are not easily cleaned when sensitive.
- Witch hazel pads: I was lucky enough that I didn’t get hemorrhoids but my perineum, the area between the vagina and anus, was still extremely inflamed. The cooling of the pads really helped alleviate itching and tenderness. Every time I went to the bathroom, I changed the maxi and witch hazel pads.
- Stool softeners: The fear of going number two after pushing out a baby is real. Stool softeners really helped me to literally “smooth the way.” I continued to use them for months, as every time I had to go the pressure was an all too familiar feeling.
A combination of the above, rest, and cuddling with my newborn is really what got me through my recovery. As a mom that is finally feeling semi-back to her old self, I only wish that more people understand how long it really takes “patient mom” to feel better. Recovery is slow but if you have the tools at home to help, it will be a road less painfully traveled.