Monday, November 1, 2010

Healing After Birth

Although I had prepared ahead for a recovery period after Viviana’s birth, I didn’t expect it to be as long or as painful as it was. It was one of those details that I just overlooked and didn’t give much thought to- forgetting that the births/recoveries of Mom’s that I had witnessed were her 6th, 7th, etc. births. Because I pushed for 2 ½ hours, and held Viviana’s head in a full crown for an hour, there was more tissue trauma to recover from, too, than there would’ve been if pushing had only lasted an hour, or less. I was blessed to not tear, except a small one on the labia, which heals more quickly and isn’t as painful as perineum tears. My midwife did an incredible job supporting and stretching the perineum (and I did a lot of stretching for a few months prior to the birth, as well as massaging with Evening Primrose Oil the last several weeks)- since I was stretched to the very thinnest max and managed to not tear, I’m convinced she could keep anyone from tearing.

The first several days I could barely walk, for the next week or so, only with great pain. Around two weeks, I noticed significant improvement, and didn’t feel much soreness or pain while sitting, and only felt rather sore when standing/walking. By three weeks, I was getting around well, and was primarily sore when standing for very long, or after walking around a lot. At four weeks, things had continued to gradually improve. By 6 weeks, I felt pretty much 100%.

In spite of being longer than expected, I’ve been blessed with a good recovery, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve done to speed or help the healing process.

A few weeks prior to the birth, I soaked and froze pads. I made a tea from the Herbal Afterbirth Bath, available from In His Hands Birth Supply ( I boiled 2 cups of water, and steeped ¼ cup of herbs in it for 20-30 minutes. I purchased OB pads from In His Hands, which didn’t have a sticky back, and ended up working really well for these, though you can use regular pads with the sticky backs, as well. Then lightly dip the tops of each pad in the tea- you want the pads to get enough tea in to freeze well and be effective, but you don’t want to saturate them, or get the backs wet. Flash freeze on a cookie sheet, then store in freezer in Ziploc bags. I used quite a few of these during the first several hours after birth- the cold felt so good and helped with the swelling, and the herbs aided in the healing process. During the following few days, I continued to use these, and ended up making more when I ran out, because the ice helped relieve the pain for a short while. To aid against leaking (because I can’t stand feeling dirty!), I wore a poise pad, and placed the iced pad on top- it worked like a charm.

I also applied a couple different salves several times a day. One was Miracle Salve, available from, and the other was an herbal salve my midwife makes.

Another thing that worked well was making more of the Herbal Afterbirth Bath tea, and putting that in my Perry bottle. This, too, was soothing, and landed lots of healing herbs on at the same time. Along the same train of thought, I also used the tea to do sitz bathes a couple times, which I think were really effective- I wished afterwards that I would’ve tried them sooner, as I didn’t try it till around 2 weeks after Vivi was born.

Along a different thread, the recovery time’s been a great opportunity to just enjoy our new daughter. I know it’ll look different with future births when there are toddlers and other children who need attention, though I hope to still be able to remain low key and enjoy giving them extra attention as well.

I spent nearly the first two weeks mostly just taking care of and loving on Viviana. Her own bed was a foreign idea to her, and I spent the day nursing, rocking, resting, and just gazing at our beautiful girl in wonder. The newborn stage is so fleeting, I’ve enjoyed getting to cherish each moment, knowing she’ll never be a baby again. Although I was ready to swing back into life again by the end of it, and feeling a little bit too useless, I treasured the opportunity I had to just revel in being a mom. Ben and I had been really looking forward to our “baby moon”, and the chance to let life outside the home stop for a while, while we settled into our new life together.

Toward that end, I did a lot of deep cleaning before Vivi was born, and made sure I stayed caught up on regular/weekly/daily cleaning, so that everything would be done whenever she decided to arrive, and I could let it slide for awhile after her birth.

I also froze several full meals, and a long list of partially made/easy meals. Since cooking for two people takes such minimum time, it took hardly any time to fill the freezer- but was still nice to have afterwards. We greatly enjoyed the rewards- it basically left me with laundry being the only thing that needed to keep getting done…and dishes, which my too-good-to-be-true husband did for me.

We were also really blessed to receive several meals from friends, which were a huge help, especially the first week when I had a harder time moving. I’ve never previously made it as much a priority to do meals for first time moms as for moms with large families or lots of littles, but being a first time mom changed my perspective, and will alter my future priorities. I always viewed meals as being more a help while moms learned how to incorporate the new level of busyness into their lives, and figure out how best to get it all done- which would be more of a challenge for moms who are already maxed, than a young mom who previously had plenty of time on her hands. But since I wasn’t very mobile for a while, meals were a huge blessing….besides just the treat of giving Vivi and me extra time to relax together.

Every woman’s recovery is different….and I don’t have much experience in the field yet. But, I hope you’ve still been able to gain some new insight and ideas that will, perhaps, help your recovery road. Or, maybe you’ve gained ideas into how to bless other moms. Whatever the case, I hope you were blessed!

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