Postpartum

How Long Is The Season Of Postpartum After Birth

FOURTH TRIMESTER AND BEYOND

Right before having my baby, I saw a hashtag movement: #thisispostpartum. It felt empowering to see and was just what I needed before birth to take confidence in all the changes my body had already undergone and was about to go through. I vowed to be a part of this movement of authenticity. I vowed to show more of the unglamorous parts of being a new mom. I vowed to show up not just in the posed family pictures, but the wide range of emotions and experiences that come with postpartum after birth. I vowed to experience the whole season of postpartum and not limit myself to weeks or three months.

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

 

 

How Long is Postpartum After Birth?

I hit the six-week mark and visited my midwives for a follow-up appointment. By some measures, I had come through the “postpartum period” and yet I still felt so NEW and evolving. I continued to use the hashtag and to discuss postpartum.

More than the Fourth Trimester/3 Months

I hit the 3-month mark- the time when women in America are expected to be back to work (if not before.) Surely by now, things were back to normal, right? Surely I wasn’t still talking about my body, emotions, and mentality as if it were related to my new child. Sure I’ had moved on and gotten my life together. And yet, I continued to discuss postpartum and a period of transition because it still felt raw and new. 

More than the Length of US Maternity Leave

Here I sit at 6 months post-baby, and yet I still consider myself postpartum. When my hormones are out of whack when I look in the mirror and see a different body than I previously knew when I struggle to connect in ways I used to when I feel the conflicts of different areas of my life demanding my attention… I still call this postpartum. 

RELATED: Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Who decided that we can put a timeframe on postpartum?

Milestones: Postpartum After Birth is Days, Weeks, Months

Women believe the first postpartum milestone is six weeks- the time you usually have a check-up with your provider and can be cleared to “get back” to activities. Milestone #2 is commonly accepted as that 12 week period- when we are expected to be back at work (if not already). 

Postpartum is the season of adjustment and change- physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and personally (a series of experiences I’ve coined as “The 5 Pillars of Postpartum”) that follow the birth of a child (and as reproductive psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks says, “The Birth of a Mother.” 

We don’t have to let some societal construct be the timeline by which we judge our personal growth, change, and “achievement.” We are not timelines and charts.

Hormones and Body Changes in Postpartum After Birth

Hormones

Even past the early weeks, we have hormonal shifts. Our hormones continue to change and fluctuate. Relaxin. Prolactin. Oxytocin. Estrogen. Progesterone. Things that can continue to affect our hormones and emotional experience include bonding, feeding or weaning, change in time spent with baby, the return of the menstrual cycle, etc.

Physical Body

Our physical body- it’s still healing. It’s still changing. It’s still balancing feeding another human and maintaining ourselves.

Our body looks different than it ever has because it’s in a season it’s never been in before.

Our bodies weren’t made to “bounce back to normal” because they have been through so much-given so much-grown so much. These bodies serve a much bigger purpose than how they look in a bathing suit as summer approaches. At 6 months- my body is still postpartum and it is still brilliant. 

If it takes longer than 6 weeks for your body to drop the “baby weight” that’s totally normal. If you never have the same numbers on the scale and the same curves in the same places, that’s totally normal. If your clothes never fit the same way, that’s normal. 

If you’re 3 months after-baby and your hormones still feel in flux, that’s natural. If your relationships are still transitioning, it’s okay. If you’re still figuring out your new identity- you’re not alone. 

No Perfect Timeline of Postpartum After Birth

Someone somewhere decided to put a time frame on postpartum and it seemed to stick. Maybe we need a new name for the six week-twoish years after a baby, but maybe we could just stop putting the pressure on ourselves and others and ground in the truth that this is STILL postpartum and we are allowed to STILL be changing, unsure, growing and figuring out a new “normal.”
Tell me- have you felt rushed to be “back to normal” after a baby? What do you wish someone would have said to you in your postpartum period?

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

Are you looking for education, normalization, and support through your postpartum? Maybe Postpartum Together is a good fit for you.

Birth

Homebirth Waterbirth Story

The Birth I Dreamed of: A Homebirth Story


mom holds baby for the first time after a birthing pool home birthmom holds baby for the first time after a birthing pool home birth

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

A Birth Plan

I never imagined I would feel so deeply and passionately about pregnancy and birth. To be honest, I hadn’t given it too much though throughout life and just figured it… you know… just happens. You get pregnant. You are pregnant. You go into labor. You go to the hospital. You have a baby and then you just know how to take care of said baby. To some extent, I suppose this is mildly accurate, but I’m extremely thankful for all I’ve learned along the way about options, priorities, and how to make the experience personal and a part of our life story to be deeply considered and meaningful to us.

We had a home birth planned from around 2 or 3 months in. Around the same time, we decided I would deliver in the water if at all possible to enjoy the benefits of aiding in laboring pain and alleviating pressure. Our set up was ready a couple of weeks ahead of time:

On Saturday, August 6th, I woke up to a little bit of a “bloody show” and figured that meant we had a day or two before meeting our little guy.  I went on a walk with my mother in the morning. We took our familiar route and made it up the hill that had become more and more difficult for me over the last couple of weeks. I felt good, but I was also starting to feel contraction pains. My mom quickly download a contraction timing app and we timed them for the rest of the walk. They were about 30 seconds long and 3-5 mins apart at the time. These started around 9am.

EARLY LABOR

We kept timing these contractions for a couple of hours and they were consistent, but still pretty weak and short. I just knew, though, that this was the time. It’s crazy how people say you “just know” and I wasn’t sure that I would… but deep in my soul I was positive that my body was about to do the miraculous work. We called the midwives around 12noon and let them know we would keep them posted on things.

Since we knew the time was coming, Mike and I took a nap and went out to lunch.

 The contractions continued, but hadn’t increased in intensity yet so we decided to go out on the boat with my parents. We went out around 4 and as we were coming back around 7, I felt a shift. The contractions took a different turn and got stronger- to the point where I had to pause and couldn’t continue my conversation through them. Mike and I walked back home from the boat dock and I had to pause each time a contraction hit. The time was coming!

We again checked in with the midwives and while they thought we still had some time, being a first time mom they came out to support the journey and arrived at our house around 10pm. My mother ran to the grocery store to stock us up on snacks for the night and I quickly retreated to the bedroom where I stayed for hours. During that time, I was so so thankful for the Bradley Method practice Mike and I had committed to. For months, we had practiced breathing through contractions, communicating during that time and using different positions and techniques for pain management. (Plus we had practiced massages, which came in handy for sure!) I tried to labor in the bed so that I could sleep between contractions (since it was night time and I knew there was a lot of work ahead) but it was difficult- I felt the pain was a bit more intense for me in the laying position and the couple minutes of sleep were quickly interrupted by the next contraction. I opted for spending a large chunk of my time on my knees on the floor and my head resting on the bed- it seemed to be a better position for contraction pain and ease of breathing and it allowed Michael to take a supportive role behind me with rubbing my shoulders and back. At some points it seemed the time was going by so slowly, but before I knew it, it was 2 in the morning and I needed to leave the bedroom for a change of scenery.

RELATED: Birth It Up! Natural Birth (eCourse)


how to labor at home for a home birthhow to labor at home for a home birth

ACTIVE LABOR

We ventured out to the living room where the midwives and my mother were on the couch. It was a night for them of in and out sleep and late night conversations while monitoring me (in a very non-invasive way, thank goodness) and preparing the space for the birthing to take place. I found relief sitting on the stairs through contractions and leaning forward against Michael. He was continually supportive in helping me to breathe deeply and remain calm.

By around 4:30am I knew I was ready to get into the pool. The pool had already been partially filled, so the team worked to fill it up the rest of the way and create a good temperature for me to be in. My body was craving the relief of the warm water and a change up. I could tell at this point that each surge was getting us closer to holding our baby.

Shortly after getting into the pool, Hannah, one of our midwives, checked my dilation and I had gone from 5 to 7. She said it was shortly after getting into the pool that I started the transition period. THIS WAS BRUTAL. Up to this point I felt like I had handled my contractions pretty well and had been able to breathe through them and use visualization. I was tired, but not yet overwhelmed. As the surges got stronger, though, there was definitely a time when my will power felt like it was diminishing. It was during these strong and frequent contractions that I considered asking to be taken to the hospital for drugs or a C-Section to get rid of the pain, but I never verbalized it and things continued to progress in a way that I didn’t have much time or mental space to think about anything but getting through each contraction.  One by one. My support team was amazing at helping me to concentrate on where we were in each moment- not getting ahead of myself and not getting overwhelmed.

It didn’t take long for any thoughts of leaving home to go away and be replaced by the excitement (though still drenched in pain) of how close we were. There were three things that continued running through my mind during these transition contractions.:

1. Shaun T’s quote from Insanity Max: 30 (the fitness program I was doing when I found out I was pregnant and that pushed me mentally more than anything I’d ever accomplished up to that point.)

2. The theme from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt “Females are strong as hell”

3. The signs that I had hanging on the wall right in front of me when I was in the pool


birthing pool homebirth storybirthing pool homebirth story

These transition contractions lasted until 6:30 am when I started to feel the urge to push and the midwives agreed that it was time to move into the pushing stage. While I had used a couple different positions in the pool for laboring in contractions, when it came to pushing, I found one position that worked for me and refused to move from that position.

The pushing stage was unlike anything I could ever have anticipated. I knew it would be painful. I knew it would be a challenge, but the feelings went beyond my imagination. It wasn’t just the pain, but the complete shock of something so different from anything I had ever felt. This is when my peaceful deep breaths were no longer the norm and I couldn’t help but to let out long loud grunts through each push. To be honest, I felt animalistic but in retrospect, that makes total sense to me.

MY BODY IS POWERFUL. MY BODY CAN BIRTH THIS BABY

I just kept pushing through each urge and was amazed at how clearly my body indicated to me when it was time to push and when it was time to relax. It’s as if the body knows exactly what it’s doing and was made just for this. There were a few times when my midwives had to direct me to breathe it out and not push, and I’m glad they did that to save me from tearing. During some of these surges, I found myself doubting whether I could do it. Wishing I could just hit a “pause” button and come back to it when I felt stronger. I asked the birth team if they really thought this was going to work or if they had been tricking me into something. I felt desperate. It was about that time when the midwives announced that he was crowning and they thought that he would be in my arms in 15-20 minutes. At that point I knew I had done this for hours and hours and 15-20 more minutes was completely feasible. I felt like I had regained strength. Within the next couple of pushes, his head was partially out and I had to hold it without pushing for a few breaths… that was probably the most uncomfortable point of all. The midwives asked if I wanted to reach back and feel his head and as much as I was filled with anticipation, I could not fathom the idea of moving and so I just stayed put, focused on holding, breathing, and pushing. Within the next two pushes, our little miracle had slid out into the water.

As soon as the midwives held him up, he let out a giant cry and informed the world of his presence. e stayed in the pool for awhile, bonding and letting him do the breast crawl and get his first latch as we began our relationship of breastfeeding. It was as if he knew exactly where to go and what to do. Simply amazing. During that time, I delivered the placenta and we eventually made our way out of the pool and into the bedroom.

Being in our own home was such a gift. We moved into our bedroom and continued feeding, had a check up on mommy and had Emerson’s first check up.

RELATED: Natural Hospital Birth Story


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He weighed in at 8lb 10 oz, 21.5 inches. He displayed great reflexes and didn’t take long to have his first poo.

As we lay there in our bed, the three of us, my family and the midwives were kindly cleaning up the house, preparing an herb bath for me, doing laundry, and making sure we had what we would need for our first hours and days of bonding. For months, Michael and I had discussed name possibilities. We actually had it narrowed down to 4 options which we both felt pretty good about. Once we saw him, though, none of those names seemed to fit just right. I was thankful we had left this one open and we lay there gazing at our baby boy and “trying on” different names until Emerson Wesley came up and we both agreed that was our son.


homebirth story first time momhomebirth story first time mom

DO YOU LOVE BIRTH STORIES? MY SECOND BIRTH STORY, BIRTHING SAGE, WAS MUCH DIFFERENT FROM THIS HOME BIRTH EXPERIENCE. READ MORE HERE.

Pumping

Easier Exclusive Pumping

BREAST PUMPING: TIPS TO MAKE IT EFFICIENT AND MANAGEABLE

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Are you exclusively pumping? Pumping to build a stash? Wondering if you’ll need to pump when baby comes?

When you google “Motherhood,” you don’t often come across pictures of a breast pump with tubing and plastic that connects to your body. Breast pumping, whether exclusively pumping or pumping along with breastfeeding to build a stash, adds a new element to motherhood.

First, as reproductive women, anything in a committed relationship with our breasts brings out an element of intimacy which involves a physical connection, emotional connection, and a mental connection.

There are a number of reasons why a woman may choose to breast pump, and a variety of ways to do so.
There are a number of products that make this journey easier.
There are tips to ensure that it is both effective and comfortable.
Just like with breastfeeding, there are also complications that can creep in and require troubleshooting.

We are going to talk about each of these areas.

RELATED: The Ultimate Exclusively Pumping Class (eCourse)


pumping with larken X brapumping with larken X bra

As a disclaimer, I am not a medical expert nor am I a certified lactation consultant/counselor (you can find a great one here). I am simply an experienced mother who is wildly passionate about learning and education on postpartum, and I have been both a breastfeeder and an exclusive pumper. My first son was a avid breastfeeder, my daughter was born with cleft palate and unable to breastfeed from the start, so I have found myself in two distinct places in regards to feeding.

WHO MIGHT CHOOSE TO EXCLUSIVELY PUMP?

Mothers of babies with breastfeeding complications.
Mothers who had a tough breastfeeding journey previously.
Mothers who need to be away from baby often (career, travel, etc.).
Mothers who want to closely monitor baby’s milk intake.
Mothers who have adopted and are working to induce lactation (isn’t this amazing!?)
Mothers who just simply want to go this route. (For any of a number of reasons they don’t need to explain.)

WHY BREASTMILK?

Many moms chose to include breastmilk (whether as the sole mean of feeding or as a combination with formula) because of the many benefits of breastmilk. Breastmilk provides natural antibodies to the baby, increases the immune system, and has a number of long-term effects as well. For the mother, breastfeeding can lower the risk of a number of illnesses and diseases.

The amount of breastmilk a mother provides can vary based on the mother’s supply. Some women are over-producers, some are just-enoughers and some are under-producers. There’s no magic equation here. It’s not about what moms do right or wrong, but knowing our bodies are biologically different in many ways, and milk production is one of them. Some women who struggle with production actually have insufficient glandular tissue which limits the capability of milk production. If this sounds like you, please consult a professional and do NOT feel shame!

BREAST PUMPING EFFICIENCY


how to pump while drivinghow to pump while driving

Maximize your pumping by multitasking. Now, this is not always possible but if you have an errand to run, pump in the car. If you have a paper or blog to write, try to cozy up in a spot where you can pump. Sometimes, you might even pump during lunch or dinner. It’s not ideal, but it’s your reality and by embracing it, you can enjoy it more instead of resent that machine attached.

I have found that it is imperative to have a “team” around you while pumping. This team is made up of products made to support you on this journey. These products help to make multitasking possible and decrease the time spent on the process.

RELATED: Amazon Breast Pumping Shopping List

Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
Think about how many minutes you are pumping. If you’re stuck holding flanges, you might go crazy. This time can be spent doing other things and a hands-free pumping bra makes that possible. You may even find you want more than one as these serve different purposes.
1. They get dirty/milky so they need to go in the wash. If you’re like me, 3-4 hours between pumps might not be enough time to get the laundry through.
2. Keep one in the car or your diaper bag. This ensures you’re never stuck without one on-the-go or when you get stuck at an appointment longer than usual.
3. Different bras are helpful for different reasons/times.

The Larken X:
Why I love it: It’s super comfortable and really easy to slide the flanges into. It’s also chic and makes me feel cute! You can pair it with their tank to get full tummy coverage too.
When I use it: When it’s easier to just keep a pumping bra on under my clothes, when I’m sleeping, when I want to be comfortable.
Bonus: Get 15% off at Larken with the code: CHELSEA15 (Shop here)

Simple Wishes Hands-Free:
Why I love it: It has a super snug fit when adjusted to your body size. This makes me feel like I’m getting the best suction to empty my breast. It’s quick to put on and can be put on over what you’re already wearing.

Belibea Nurish Cami:Why I love it: This tank is unlike any I’ve seen before. It has a double latch feature so that you can breastfeed or pump with it. One snap allows you to fit the pump flange inside for pumping. The double snap opens all the way up for feeding. I also love that you can have the comfort of the full tank (which includes shaping features on the side.)
When I use it:
Anytime I want to use the tank as a part of my outfit for the day.
Bonus: Get 20% off your purchase with CHELS20


belibea pumping and nursing cami tankbelibea pumping and nursing cami tank

CLEAN AND MOBILE PUMPING

Car Converter:If you spend time in the car, using that time to pump can be so efficient. You may or may not be comfortable with having your breasts and pump out while driving (I recommend staggering your car at the stop light!) but a simple nursing cover will give you the privacy. I personally use my Medela In Style pump in the car so I use this converter (which also comes with a battery pack- another helpful tool! Make sure to grab 8 rechargeable batteries so you can take your pump on-the-go. I use the battery pack and stick my pump in a backpack for walks!) If you use a different pump type, you can find your converter type online.

Sterilizing wipes: If you’re pumping on-the-go and can’t wash your parts, sterilizing wipes in the car or diaper bag are very helpful. Give the parts a quick cleaning to make sure bacteria does not build between pump sessions.
Medela Breast Pump Sterilizing Wipes (can be used on any brand of breast pump)

Sterilizing Bags: It is recommended that bottles and pump parts be sterilized once a day. Now you can boil a pot of water and do it that way, OR you can pop 2 oz of water into these bags with your parts and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Each bag can be used 20 times!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me take a task off your brain with this Free Pumping and Traveling Checklist so that you know you have everything you need!


TIPS FOR EXCLUSIVELY PUMPING EFFICIENTLY:

1. Get your pump!
Most insurance companies offer a free pump. Make sure to call while you are still pregnant and ask about the policy and what is offered to you. They will most often send you a link where you can choose a pump (you can compare pumps here). Try to get your pump before delivery so that you can set it up and learn to use it. If you do not wish to get your own pump through insurance (or if that is not an option for you,) you can often rent the medical grade pumps from the hospital. Ask your medical provider prior to delivery if you’d like to explore this option.  Most exclusive pumpers use a dual electric pump. This is going to pump both breasts at the same time and have the electric suction. Not only is this helpful for saving time, but many women report better output when pumping both breasts at the same time.

2. Know your flange size. Flange is a word you probably only use if you’re a pumper. The flange goes directly on the breast and mimics the mouth of the infant on the breast. It is important to have the correct flange size so that the breast is pumping most effectively.

3. Get your partner involvedYour partner can help you when you are pumping. Washing parts each night/morning and helping with milk storage can help cut down on the time spent on the process. Less time can help lower the stress of pumping for a mother and help her to increase the length of her pumping journey. Another way your partner can help is by feeding the baby while you pump. Think of this as special time to chat together!

4. Know what to look for in breast complications Just like with direct breastfeeding, complications can arise when breast pumping (or combo feeding.) Mastitis and thrush are two concerns you can be educated about so that you know if you’re being affected and how to address the issue. If you think you’re facing one of these complications, contact a lactation counselor or your medical provider for help.
So momma- high five to you. Whether you are an exclusive pumper, a sometimes pumper or thinking about pumping in the future, your commitment is not overlooked! Pumping is hard work, I won’t sugar coat that. Hopefully with this information and these tips you’ll find ways to make it efficient, effective, and a way of life for you and your family.
What questions do you still have about pumping? If you’re an experience mom, what has gotten you through your pumping journey? Let’s keep the conversation going below!

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