Postpartum

Sex After Birth: When & How to Approach Postpartum Sex

How do you know when you’re ready to have sex after birth?

husband wants to have sex but i just had a baby and i’m not sure if i’m ready

Do you need to be ready to have sex again 6 weeks after giving birth? If you get an “all clear” from your doctor or midwife at your checkup, does that mean you should feel ready for sex again?

A lot of women find themselves confused and feeling isolated when it comes to the conversation of sex after baby. Who can you talk to about sex when you’re a new mom? Can you bring it up at playgroup or with your friends? Women feel like they should be ready, even if they aren’t. This leaves new moms wondering if they’ve done something wrong, if their body is “broken” or if they are disappointing their partner.

The pressure to be ready for sex after birth can come from many places.

  1. Many providers mark the 6-week check up with an “all clear” to return to sex and exercise.

    While some providers take time to discuss all the changes a woman has experienced after having a baby, many women have felt rushed in these appointments and deduced to being sexual and fit again. This conversation of “your vagina is healed, you can have sex and exercise” creates a layer of pressure for a mom to be ready for intercourse.

  2. Pressure can come from a society that prioritizes sex in many ways

    There is an underlying assumption that a new mom “owes” sex to her partner because the partner has waited until mom is physically able again.

  3. Some women feel pressure from partners who don’t understand all the changes of new motherhood.

    A partner may feel like an “all clear” from a doctor is the green light everyone needs. When women are taught so little about their natural changes in postpartum, partners have even less understanding. This can be confusing and cause resentment in couples.

RELATED: Is this Weird for Everybody? Postpartum Sex

mom is not sure what to expect having sex after giving birth.

So What Does It Mean to be “Ready” for Sex Again?

A woman needs more than healed stitches to be ready for sex. It is a mental, emotional AND physical experience and transition. Some women are ready to get “back in the sack” right away, but for many women this is complicated and takes more time than the prescribed “all clear.”

Physically Ready

Being physically ready for sex includes healed birth sites- whether that is vaginal or cesarean (or both). This is usually what your medical provider is checking for you and giving an “all clear” for at a follow up appointment. Your pelvic floor undergoes a lot of changes and sometimes damage through birth and delivery. Many countries have pelvic floor physical therapy as standard care. In America, this is often something the new mom must seek-out. Pelvic floor physical therapy can be extremely beneficial if you’re struggling with incontinence, a “bearing down” weight on your pelvis and/or if sex is painful at any point. Many women (including myself) find sex to be significantly better after pelvic floor rehab. Breastfeeding can create a different feeling in your breast. If your breasts have been players in sexual experiences previously, you may need to address the change in sensation, feeling or even breast pain as you adapt to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can also cause more vaginal dryness meaning- lots of lube is needed!

RELATED: Do I need to Exercise My Pelvic Floor?

Mentally Ready

Motherhood, especially early motherhood, takes a lot from you mentally. Your day is filled with figuring out how to take care of baby, set new schedules, making appointments, figuring out naps and feedings, etc. On top of this, your hormones are continuing to shift and many women are met with some mental health struggles in postpartum.

It is just as important for a new mom to be mentally ready for sex as it is for her to be physically ready.

When you are thinking about engaging sex again, consider what mental roadblocks you are facing. Is it hard to find time to think about anything sexual and therefore, get in the mood? Are you facing anxiety, depression or another struggle impacting your libido and mood? Is your changed body creating self-talk that is impacting your confidence?

Once you are able to identify these mental roadblocks, they are important conversations to have with yourself, a trusted friend and your partner. Working through these things not only has a positive impact on your sex life, but your life and motherhood overall.

feel like i’m not ready for sex after birth but my husband really wants it

Emotionally Ready

If we feel depleted, it can be hard for us to connect. If we feel resentment or like our needs aren’t being met, we can shut down. Being emotionally prepared for sex can mean having our cup filled and feeling safe and accepted. This could be seeking self-acceptance, acceptance from our partner, etc.

If you are feeling depleted and/or disconnected, prioritize intimacy that is not necessarily sexual, but creates space for you to be seen and feel connected. This could be intentional conversations with your partner, foreplay, body acceptance practices and self-talk, etc.

RELATED: Postpartum Emotions

Words from the Postpartum Together Community

When I asked my online community what they would like to say to a mom who is thinking about sex again after baby, here is what they had to say. May these words help you remember you’re never alone, motherhood and relationships are messy, and there’s no one “right” way or timeline for you.

  • Listen to your body and take the time you need (before and during)

  • Talk to your spouse about your insecurities and what they can do to help

  • Use lots of lube

  • Stop if you’re in pain or uncomfortable

  • Start by taking a shower and appreciating this new you

  • It’s okay to not be ready. Your body is a priority.

  • Don’t feel bad if you need to stop

  • Don’t force anything

  • Sometimes your mind is your biggest enemy. If you feel ready, try. If it’s not comfortable, stop.

  • Lots of foreplay

  • It can be scary and overwhelming

  • Talk about it. A Lot. Take it slow. Try and relax.

  • You create your own timeline

  • Your husband doesn’t care that things are in different places- he loves all of you, not parts of you.

  • Go for it if you’re ready. It can help you return to parts of yourself that you have forgotten in motherhood.

  • Speak up about what feels good and what needs to be different

  • Decide to make it more about you and have fun

  • It’s okay if you don’t want to have intercourse but do find other ways to connect with your partner

  • You are still sexy

  • Just because there is societal pressure doesn’t mean you’re ready

  • Everyone’s experience is different and that is okay

Related: Setting Boundaries After Baby

Everyone’s experience is different. 

That is okay. Your experience is valid. 

There are ways to move into intimacy and sex, but there are not timelines or guidelines you need to abide by.

Having sex after birth is different for everyone, but there are a number of things you can evaluate to help you know if you are ready, what your needs are, and how to communicate that with your partner.

FREE DOWNLOAD:
6 Questions to Help You Get Back in the Sack

(Click to download)

sex after baby hurts, i don’t know if i’m ready for sex after birth, postpartum mom wants more time before sex again
Postpartum, pregnancy

New Mom Therapist: Guide to Finding a Maternal Therapist You Can Trust

Finding Counseling Support for Perinatal Mental Health: Pregnancy and Postpartum

how to find a therapist when you have a baby

Having a baby changes many areas of your life- it changes your body, your mind, your energy, your relationships, your work, your identity. In the midst of these big transitions, many women benefit from having an outside perspective from a professional maternal health therapist. However, when you are knee-deep in new motherhood, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

If you are currently pregnant, I recommend utilizing a postpartum plan (free checklist download) to make sure you are thinking about your postpartum needs and prepare resources ahead of time.

When I realized I needed therapy, the last thing I wanted to do was reach out and ask friends for recommendations- I didn’t want to start a conversation about what is supposed to be the best time of my life by saying I was struggling and needed help.

Why it Can be Hard to find a Maternal Therapist

My brain was already fried on a daily basis and the thought of researching and looking for a maternal health therapist felt like a job I couldn’t take on. With so many things calling for my time and attention, I struggled to justify using that time for my own needs and care. If you’re feeling this way:

1. You aren’t alone, even when it feels like it
2. I’ve compiled ideas and resources to help ease the journey for you

Related: What Is Maternal Ambivalence?

how to find a therapist after you have a baby

What do you need in a maternal health therapist?

If you are a mother (or pregnant), you want a therapist who is trained in perinatal care. This is important because while not all of your conversations will be about the pregnancy, birth, postpartum journey, there are many changes in a woman during this time that has an impact on experience and you want a professional who understands that. You may also have strong preferences regarding a therapist’s background and areas of expertise.

Is faith important to you in this process? Look for someone who has an aligned faith background.
Does sexuality play a big role in your relationship and life? Find a therapist who has an understanding and an inclusive practice.

Do you have previous trauma that may be forming your life now? You want a therapist who has trauma training.

Not all therapists have the same approaches, values, etc. and you can be selective about what is most important to you.

What logistics do you need to consider when finding a maternal health therapist?

What are your scheduling needs? Are you at home? Will you be returning to work soon? Are you a working mom? Do you have childcare options?

Think about what logistics are non-negotiable and what you can alter in order to make this work. If childcare is an issue, you will want to ask the therapy office if you can bring your baby with you. Perhaps you can ask a friend to swap childcare with you so that you can both have a free afternoon to tend to your own needs. If you’re working or going back to work- what scheduling do you need to consider to make ongoing appointments work?

Would virtual appointments be more well-suited for you than in-person?

Related: Postpartum During Coronavirus


online search for therapist in your area

Where are the trained professionals in your city?

You can use Psychology Today and/or Postpartum Support International to guide your search for a good therapist. 

Using Psychology Today (Specific to United States)

  1. On PsychologyToday.com, enter your city and it will populate a list of therapists

  2. On the left side bar you can filter by specifics.

  3. You want to make sure to filter for “Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum” under “issues.”

  4. On this side bar you can also filter for faith, sexuality, language, therapy type, ect. to increase your chances of having a good fit with your therapist.

  5. Browse therapist profiles- look at their areas of expertise, experience and the language they use to describe their practice.

  6. Look at the therapist accepted insurance plans if you are planning to utilize insurance benefits

  7. If someone feels like a good fit, call and see if he/she is accepting new clients

Related: What Is Postpartum Anxiety?

Using Postpartum Support International (Directions are in US terms, but international support is also available by country)

  1. On Postpartum Support International home page, click the “Find Local Resources” button
  2. Select “United States Map”

  3. Select your state

  4. Find a coordinator in your area

  5. Call and tell them you are looking for a perinatal trained therapist near you. They will help you find someone.

find a therapist trained for postpartum or pregnant women through postpartum support international

Finding a maternal health therapist to help you work through your big life transitions is one of the strongest things you can do. By taking this step you not only help yourself, but you allow yourself to be the best version of YOU for those you love.

If you are pregnant and thinking about your postpartum care and needs- good for you! Preparation and planning is such an important part. Part of my speciality is helping you walk you through the areas of transition. This postpartum planning eCourse was designed to give you a postpartum plan to help you think about what you “don’t know you don’t know” about postpartum, have a support team ready, be proactive in your relationship and more!

how to plan for postpartum- preparing for life after baby
Postpartum Stories

Postpartum After Infant Loss: One Mom’s Story of Changes

A Mother is Still Postpartum After Loss

Trigger warning: In this post, our contributor, Erin, talks about unexpected infant loss. Some details may be difficult to read. While we at Postpartum Together believe it’s important to enter other women’s stories, even when uncomfortable, we also recognize the need to protect your heart and mind.

unexpected infant loss and postpartum for mom

Please introduce yourself and your partner and some background to your story. (Including where you are living and what that is like!)

Hi! I’m Erin, and I live in Uganda with my husband, Francis, who is Ugandan. Uganda is quite diverse and has everything from bustling cities to national parks where the elephants roam free. Francis and I live in a small, rural town in northern Uganda, about 35 kilometers from the city where he grew up, where most of our friends and family live, and where we attend church. Our town recently got tap water (woohoo!) so we live in a home with no running water inside, relying on solar power to meet our needs. Francis is an English and Literature teacher in a nearby secondary school (high school) and I work as a graphic designer serving US-based clients remotely.

My side of the family lives in the US, and from our door to theirs it’s about a two-day journey. I spent my childhood in Pennsylvania and my adult life in Ohio before moving to Uganda in 2015. Francis and I got married in 2018. I love life in Uganda and have imagined living here long term since my second visit in 2010. Meeting and marrying Francis has solidified that dream for me.

What did you know about postpartum prior to your own experience?

I’m a bit of a knowledge-gatherer, so felt like I did a moderately good job of preparing for postpartum, primarily through internet research. Being that this was my first pregnancy, I wanted as few surprises as possible (though obviously there are ALWAYS surprises even if you do tons of research). We read articles about what to potentially expect physically and emotionally, saved so many resources to refer back to later, and started following some great accounts on Instagram.

Additionally, I have limited access to American conveniences, so I wanted to plan in advance to make sure I had some products to make the healing process more comfortable. I actually felt well prepared to help heal my own body and knew I would figure out all things baby with time. My closest friend also gave birth last year, so hearing about some of her experience was also so helpful!

I didn’t know that losing my child was a possibility. No one mentioned that. Babies die far too often, be it from miscarriage, still-birth, infant death, or death at an older age. Should parents be told that it could happen? Should we be prepared for that horrible possibility? I don’t know the answer to that.

How did being away from your family and birthplace impact your TTC- postpartum experience?

We got lucky and became pregnant the first month we tried, one month after our wedding. It felt almost too easy. Once pregnant, we heard the question a lot from people wondering if we would have the baby in Uganda or in America. Many expats choose to go to their home countries to give birth, whether it’s because they want to give birth in a familiar setting, to be close to family, to make it easier to get their country’s citizenship for their children, or another reason.

My pregnancy was low-risk and it made sense to deliver here in Uganda — babies are delivered here all the time! My husband was denied a visa to travel to the US (we had hoped to go for Christmas 2019 after Silas was born) and I couldn’t imagine delivering our son without Francis or being in a different country for so many months. I have known some women that have to deliver in the US health reasons, away from their partner, and I felt so fortunate that we didn’t have to do that.

We found a great birth center about 40 minutes from our home. A few of our friends delivered with their midwives and they have wonderful rates of infant and maternal health. We received great antenatal care there. Everything was going so well and we were confident about what was to come.

Both Francis and his mom, Florence, were present for Silas’s birth and I felt so taken care of by them and our midwives. It’s typical here to have a helper with you when you go to deliver your child. Hospitals and birth centers don’t provide the same amenities as many US facilities, so Florence helped with washing linens, boiling me hot water for bathing, and more. Also, many men here do not attend their wife’s births, and even less are active in the labor and delivery process (much like in the US a few decades ago). Francis was so amazing and supportive throughout the whole process, I really don’t know how I could have done it without him!

It was a bit strange not having my parents nearby, but we kept them updated via WhatsApp. I’ve always been independent so it felt pretty normal to be honest. When my niece and nephew were born, my parents and I were able to meet each of them within hours of their births, so knowing my parents wouldn’t meet Silas until he was a few months old was something new to wrap my head around.

All that being said, things don’t always go to plan. Silas was born healthy and strong. I had a beautiful and empowering birth experience. Silas was delivered vaginally and unmedicated (which is normal in this part of Uganda and what I had hoped for) with almost no tearing. After delivering him into this world I felt like I could do anything! We had a blissful day together napping, learning how to feed, cleaning diapers, and getting to know each other. Silas was so amazing.

At around 20 hours after birth, Silas starting having some breathing issues and, to make a long story short, our sweet boy devastatingly passed away in a hospital at around 24 hours old. I would say it was my greatest fear coming to life, but I never feared losing a child because, in all honesty, the thought never crossed my mind. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening for a while, and once it sunk in I kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare we were living. When I held his lifeless body, I kept waiting for him to suddenly return to life, to start breathing again, to start moving again. But he never did.

After we held him and said our goodbyes, I followed Francis, carrying Silas’s body to the mortuary with my midwife’s arm around my shoulder. We left the hospital without our son. My womb empty, my arms empty.

The next few days were a blur. Neighbors came to our home within hours of our return, children eagerly shouting, “Auntie, where is your baby? We want to see him.” I had to learn how to say, “My baby died,” in Acholi, the local language. I curled up on our couch weeping, a wet spot of tears on the purple pillow case appearing all too quickly. Our pastors and friends from church came that same day to sit with us and talk about Silas’s funeral. Florence, with help from Francis’s siblings, made all of the preparations for the burial.

Here, you don’t hire a funeral home to take care of all of the details for you. No, you have to hire a neighbor to dig your son’s grave; a mason to come build the headstone; a carpenter to build a small casket. Caskets that size shouldn’t need to be built. You have to pick up your son’s body from the morgue the morning of his burial; take him to your family’s home; watch your husband’s mother gently clean his lifeless body as aunties watch in reverence, clothing him in the outfit you planned to bring him home in. Blue and white striped pajamas with an elephant on the chest. It’s all too much. And it’s all so tender and messy and beautiful and holy. The veil between heaven and earth is so, so thin.

It was difficult not having my parents here to mourn with us. We also didn’t have things like meal trains. My parents’ friends brought them food for a week or two and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious. Some friends bought food and neighbors occasionally shared meals. We don’t have a fridge or freezer so we couldn’t keep anything for long. Friends let us stay at their home in the city for so many nights, feeding us and loving us and letting us rest. Acquaintances offered free meals at their restaurant. We felt taken care of the best our situation allowed for. Friends still check on us to see how we’re doing. One friend sends me a message every month on the 12th because Silas was born on October 12th.

Friends and family showed up at Florence’s home for weeks after the burial, sometimes unannounced, to pay respects to Silas and our family. That is one time I have felt thankful to live far away from our family. I don’t know how I could have hosted people in the weeks that followed Silas’s birth and death. And yet it is expected.

Can you share more about what parts of postpartum you still experienced after the loss of Silas? 

Like all mothers who have gone through labor, my body ached for days. Weeks? My muscles were sore, everything hurt. Silas’s funeral happened just two days after he died, and that morning my milk was ready to go. My goodness, I thought my breasts were going to explode – and all of the hugs did not help! Thankfully, we found some Sudafed to help dry up the milk within a week. I wish I could have pumped the milk and donated it, but without proper refrigeration that’s not an option and it’s just not common where we live.

The emotional pain added to the physical. I had a lot of strange symptoms after Silas died, like chest pain and dizziness. I did so many tests at the hospital to rule out a lot of things, but looking back I think it was likely postpartum anxiety combined with grief. I honestly didn’t know where to go for help locally, though maybe it exists. A friend here who had a baby earlier in the year offered to take me to a facility where she went for a lot of postpartum follow up appointments which was so kind of her.

I was able to still take three months off of work, so I spent a lot of time resting, journaling, listening to podcasts, connecting with other grieving mommas, praying, and moving which thankfully helped. I had to train my brain to rewrite my dreams for the future. I’m still doing that.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

What do you wish more people realized about postpartum after loss?

Just because my child died does not mean my postpartum experience also died. I still need postpartum care in addition to grief care. My midwife did a great job at reminding my husband and I of this before we left (and when we went for our checkups). Francis was my greatest support in recovering and took care of me so well, asking for help when we needed it.

What are some of the things that people said/did that were hurtful? (Even if well-intentioned?)

There are so many.

“Don’t worry, I know God will give you another son.”

“Your pain will go away when your next child is born.”

“You just need to be strong.”

“I know exactly what you’re going through, my sister also lost her baby.”

Also, with some Christians (I identify as a Christian/follower of Jesus – I don’t love all of negative excess that comes with the word “Christian,” but that’s another topic) I was made to feel like my grief showed a lack of faith. People would tell me not to cry because Silas is in a better place. While I do believe that Silas is healed and whole and in the arms of our loving Savior and I take great joy in that, I still miss him. Grief and faith can live side-by-side. I could go on and on about this.

What are the things people said/did that were most helpful in a difficult time?

One of my closest friends would often tell me, “I don’t know what to say,” and that was SO refreshing to me.

With another friend, the first time I mentioned Silas to her after he died, said, “I never wanted to talk to you about him because I don’t want to make you sad.” I appreciate her honesty.

Here’s the thing: there is no helpful thing to say when someone dies, especially someone’s child. You can’t take away the pain, you can’t make them forget. You won’t make people sad by talking about the one they lost. Some people seem caught off guard when I talk about Silas or being pregnant with him in normal conversation. But I can’t act as if Silas never existed. Silas is real, he grew inside of me for 9 months, I held him in my arms and kissed his sweet newborn head, smelling his yummy newborn smell.

Silas is and forever will be my son. I love to talk about him. There is always the thought of him just beneath the surface, he’s on my mind basically all of the time. I’d rather someone talk about him and make me cry than never talk about him.

Also, if someone is going through a loss or hard time and you want to help, offer very tangible help. This goes for postpartum parents with living children, too! Instead of saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” say things like, “I would love to bring you dinner from (this restaurant) on (this day), what would you like?” or “Can I come over this weekend to help with laundry and vacuuming?And then follow through. The world seems so big after loss and I didn’t know how to ask for help most of the time. Offering specific things is so very helpful.

Anything else you would like to share about Postpartum After Loss?

If you’ve gone through loss or are figuring out life in a culture that’s not your own, I’d love to hear your story and connect! Feel free to message me on Instagram @erin.nyero 

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage, loss or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.


RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby

Birth, Postpartum

Bleeding After Birth: Postpartum Lochia Impact on New Moms

What to Expect About Postpartum Lochia

You knew your baby would leave the hospital in diapers, but did you know that you would too? After the process of childbirth, you will experience lochia which is bleeding after birth. For all women, it is important to know what kind and amount of bleeding is normal, what products you need to be stocked up on, and how long this bleeding after birth will last after having your baby. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, you will experience bleeding after birth that should decrease and change color over time. This is a mix of blood and mucus and it starts after your delivery. When you were carrying your baby, the body requires extra blood and tissue. Now that you have delivered, the body gets rid of the extra. Your body is healing from where your placenta was attached and your uterus is shedding lining. You may also be recovering from a tear or episiotomy.

How Long Does Bleeding Last After Birth?

Women can expect to bleed for 4-6 weeks after birth, though the blood should change over time.

Related: Cramping After Birth

Products to help with Bleeding After Birth

Click here for easy access to products through Amazon:

If you give birth in the hospital, stock up on the supplies they offer. You will also want to have supplies at home ready to go to help ease the period of postpartum bleeding.

Adult depends: Yes, these are the adult diapers. You will likely only need them for a couple of days, but you will want to change them frequently.
Pads of various sizes/Pantyliners: Have different sizes on hand as your bleeding decreases over time
Peri bottle: While this is more geared towards pain, it can be a great way to clear some of the blood without a painful wipe
Witch Hazel Pads (tucks): Again, mostly for pain, but these are a good substitute for toilet paper those first few days as you’re facing pain. The witch hazel is soothing to the vagina.
Loose Underwear/Mesh Underwear: The last thing you want is for everything to be tight and suffocating. Mesh undies are a great way to stay comfortable and breathable. 
Padsicles: If this sounds like a combination of pad and popsicle, that’s because it is. These frozen pads with the soothing power of witch hazel and aloe vera might be your best friends. Learn how to make them at home in this blog post.

Click here for easy access to products through Amazon

Postpartum Bleeding Problems

It’s important to know the signs of when postpartum bleeding is not normal. Large blood clots, bleeding that does not decrease over time and foul-smelling bleeding are reasons to contact your doctor. In the first few days, blood clots may be as big as a golf ball, but that should not be the case after the first couple of days. Postpartum hemorrhaging happens in 1-5% of women after birth and early detection is vital.

Call your doctor if you have:

Red and heavy blood more than a week postpartum

Large clots (bigger than golf ball), or high number of clots

Discharge has a foul-smell

Fever or chills

Dizzy and/or nauseous

Racing heart

Note: Postpartum bleeding may increase when you are breastfeeding, engaged in an activity (walking steps, etc.), straining to use the restroom or when you first get out of bed.

Bleeding is a normal part of postpartum as the body transitions from pregnancy and birth. However, if you feel your bleeding is abnormal, contact your doctor.

Disclaimer: The information on Postpartum Together is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Postpartum Together Site. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.

Birth, Postpartum, pregnancy

DIY Padsicles: How to Make Frozen Pads for Postpartum Recovery

Make Your Own Frozen Pads for Postpartum Recovery Care

After giving birth, your body has a lot of healing to do. If you delivered vaginally, or delivered by cesarean but did some pushing and laboring, you may have swelling and tearing of your perineum. (The perineum is the area between the anus and the vulva.) Padsicles will be a key to alleviating pain and healing as a postpartum mom.

Postpartum bleeding is normal and most women experience vaginal pain after delivery. Think about it- you removed a human from your body- it’s going to take some time to let that heal! You may experience painful urination after delivery and general pain in that area. This is why padsicles can be such an important part of your postpartum recovery kit, and they are easy to DIY (and cheap!)

I’m going to tell you what you need to make DIY Padsicles, why you’ll love them and when to use them!

This post contains affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may get a commission for the products recommended.

padsicles ingredients.JPG

What You Need to Make Homemade Padsicles:

Homemade padsicles are an easy way to aid your healing after birth. You only need 4 things, although some women like to add a 5th ingredient. (Find all of these in my quick Amazon Postpartum List)

  1. Maxi pads

    You can choose what size (or sizes) you want to use. In the video, I am using a large hospital pad. However, this will work with any store-bought maxi pad. I recommend getting one that is long enough to fill your underwear and thick enough to hold the witch hazel and aloe vera.

  2. Witch Hazel
    Witch hazel is anti-inflammatory making it a safe soothing topical remedy. Witch hazel is often used to treat sunburn, razor burn, bug bites, hemorrhoids and more. It is traditionally known to have a soothing effect on the skin.

  3. Aloe Vera
    Aloe vera is known to reduce swelling and itchiness. It has a cooling and soothing effect, making it a great part of padsicles for vaginal relief. Aloe vera is also healing for wounds, which is good news for a new mom with a painful vagina.

  4. Freezer-safe bag and/or pad wrapper

    When using a standard store-bought pad, you want to leave the wrapper on while making the padsicle and wrap it back up for freezing. If you use one that does not have a wrapper, or choose to remove the wrapper, you can simple roll the pad and place in a freezer-safe bag. Once you’ve finished your batch of padsicles, it’s easiest to put into a large freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer until they are needed.

  5. Essential oils
    Some women like to add essential oil such as lavender to their padsicles. This may be an added benefit, however, the witch hazel and aloe vera will be enough for the healing mom.

My “recipe” is to squirt them until the pad is adequately wet and will freeze well. I do not measure. However, if you love to measure, here’s a suggestion:

Step by Step Making Padsicles

  1. Unwrap the pad, but leave the wrapper attached so that it can recover the pad after you complete the padsicle

  2. Start with witch hazel. Saturate the pad- 3 to 4 tablespoons worth.

  3. Add the aloe vera. Use 2-3 tablespoons worth.

  4. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil if you’d like.

  5. Use a spoon or stir stick to spread evenly over the pad.

  6. Fold the pad and cover with wrapper.

  7. Put in freezer safe bag and into the freezer until they are needed.

  8. Pull them out and enjoy the relief after baby.

When To Use Frozen Pads After Delivery

Vaginal pain will likely continue for 5-14 days. As time progresses, if you are getting rest and being easy on your body, the pain should decrease each day. Padsicles are great for the first few days after you get home. Personally, I have made 1 pack of maxi pad padsicles for my postpartum recovery and they were more than enough for my healing. I wore them throughout the day for 4-5 days after coming home from the hospital. While in the hospital, take advantage of the ice packs they have available as well as tucks pads and any other accessible recovery items.

Alternatives: How to Buy Them Instead

If you don’t want to make padsicles at home, and you want to have an equivalent, you’re in luck! There are a few products on the market that help with postpartum recovery.

Frida Mom Perineal Pad Cooling Liners

DIY Padsicle Kit

Dermoplast Pain & Itch Spray

Tucks Md Cooling Pads

Reusable Perineal Ice & Heat Packs

Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray

Are you preparing for a new baby? Postpartum is an exciting time, and it can come with a lot of unexpected. I’ve taken the guesswork out of it and am helping women like you prepare for an empowered postpartum. How do you set up your support team? What conversations do you need to have with your partner beforehand? What red flags should you look out for? How do you prepare to still take care of YOU while taking care of a baby? I’m letting you in on it all in the My Empowered Postpartum eCourse.

Birth, Postpartum

Postpartum During Coronavirus: The Unique Struggle Of New Moms In 2020

Having a Baby and Being Postpartum During Coronavirus and Social Distancing

Hey momma, I know this isn’t what you had in mind. Chances are when you envisioned bringing a baby into the world, you didn’t envision this. You did the work and took the classes. Postpartum during coronavirus was not what you had in mind.

You prepared the nursery. And yet here you are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic during a season of your life that is supposed to be full of joy and community.

Joy and community are still here, it just might look a little different.

PIN 1 -min.png

This site may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission for any sales made. These allow us to continue to give you tons of free resources and information for your journey.

You Have Permission to Grieve Your Birth and Postpartum Experience

If you feel like part of your experience was taken from you, it’s okay to grieve the loss of whatever dream and picture you had. Grieving doesn’t make you ungrateful. Feeling cheated out of something doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate what is. We grieve the loss of an idea, a hope, a vision we had. Humans grieve changes all the time and it’s healthy to do so. When we give ourselves space to grieve, we allow ourselves to acknowledge our emotions instead of suppressing them. When we choose not to suppress, we take back power. If you need to grieve your birth experience, your coming home experience, your “welcoming baby to the world” experience, it’s okay. You can be thankful, loving, and grieve at the same time.

Adapting to the Change of Having a Baby During Coronavirus

It may sound cliche, but sometimes unexpected changes can be very beautiful. This takes off some of the pressure for things to look and feel just the way you imagined. Unexpected things can reduce the external pressure you may internalize from others to look or feel a certain way. It gives a kind of freedom that doesn’t always come with things falling right into place.

The Impact of Social Distance on the Family with a New Baby

Postpartum can be a lonely season- your body is changed in so many ways. Your hormones are going through big fluctuations. You are learning a brand new baby and new rhythms and you often don’t understand yourself, let alone see how anyone else could understand you. The partnership (if applicable) you knew is taking on a new role. Social distancing means that you probably don’t have visitors- no family or friends to sit on your couch, cuddle the baby, and hear your stories. You may have less access to asking the question “How did you do this?” or “Does she look okay?” There are likely fewer places to get out to as a new family (when you’re ready to) and less social spaces to introduce your baby and your changed family.

bringing baby home during coronavirus and social distancing

If social distancing impacted your birthing situation, you may be noticing the impact of that. Perhaps you weren’t able to have that birth photographer or doula like you planned. Maybe it meant that your mom or sister couldn’t be in the room with you. You may feel like there are fewer people to join in those moments and help to validate and recall your birth and early postpartum experiences. This could mean that there were fewer people in the hospital to help take care of the baby, leaving you more exhausted. Perhaps you were discharged earlier than you would have liked so that you could be moved out of the hospital as Coronavirus rates increased.

For many families, social distancing due to Coronavirus has impacted work situations whether that is the loss of work, a move to work from home, or working in public with more emphasis on staying safe. We honor that this can be a stressful transition during an already big life transition.

RELATED: Communicating with Your Partner after Baby

Every postpartum story is different. However, being postpartum during coronavirus comes with challenges that no generation of women has dealt with before and momma, I want to honor the bravery it took to pioneer this time and season.

Permission to Celebrate

Earlier I gave you permission to grieve, but I also want to give you permission to celebrate. It is okay to celebrate even when the world is going through a difficult time. To slow down, step away from the news and the world, and turn in towards your new baby and family. It is okay to take this opportunity to be home without the pressures of the outside and to get to spend sweet slow time together. Being postpartum during coronavirus has silver linings too!

Ability to Rest as a New Mom

In many cultures across the world, the postpartum season is honored with slowness. New moms are expected to rest, recover, and be served. Traditions call for taking care of mom and baby and not rushing back to anything. In the US, we often feel instant pressure to bounce back in all ways- and to prove we are almost “superhuman” in the midst of being a new mom. Perhaps a gift in all of this is the chance to slow down and honor the season.

RELATED: Where do we learn about postpartum?

having a baby during the pandemic

With less social spaces to feel pressure and judgment, you have space to figure out who you are as a mom. Less push to get “out and about” means you can honor the healing your body and mind need. With less to “achieve” you can be present.

Related: Postpartum Resources

Staying Connected While Being Postpartum During Coronavirus

Social Distancing is maintaining a physical distance, but it doesn’t have to mean being isolated and out of touch. Thankfully, technology gives us ways to see our friends and family, even from afar. Apps such as Zoom, Marco Polo, House Party, and Facetime make it easy to talk with friends and family in real-time. You can schedule group video calls to keep in touch, share how you and baby are doing, and let baby see the people who mean the most to your family. This is also a great time to utilize emails and letters- which means your words will be saved longer than they would be in a conversation. Because our children will be learning about COVID-19 in the future, it’s a fun time to start an email address for your child and write letters he can access as he grows.

Ways to Let Others Help You

Just because people can’t hold your baby or hug your neck doesn’t mean they can’t help and support you at this time. Your needs are still valid and there are creative and safe ways for you and your family to be cared for in this time. As new moms, women can often feel bad about expecting and accepting help, but remember, this is a season that you were meant to be nurtured and cared for by your community. There are unique ways others can help you when you are postpartum during coronavirus.

Meals

Meal trains are a family’s best friend. Often meal train deliveries come with a visit from the person delivering, but in this season you can designate a spot by your door for drop off with a little sign that says “Thank you! See you when we can!” and be supported by the outpour of love in the form of food from others. You may want to leave out a cooler to ensure meals stay safe as we approach late spring and summer. If you are concerned about the transfer of bacteria, you can leave antibacterial wipes by your door to immediately clean off anything that is delivered.

According to the FDA’s most recent statements, COVID-19 is not believed to be able to transfer via fresh food. A concern would be if the food is left out for a long period of time and then coughed/sneezed on. It is okay for you to put this information on your meal train website and ask that only those who can abide by the FDA guidelines sign up for meal delivery. The FDA also notes there is a low likelihood that it can transfer via surfaces, however, if you want to still wipe surfaces or transfer food immediately to storage containers of your own, that is a precaution you can take. You can find the latest information from the FDA on COVID-19 here.

Help with your yard/outside work

During this time of social distancing, you may not be comfortable with someone coming in to help you clean your home. As the season is changing, though, you may have yard work that others can safely help you with. From preparing your garden, mowing your lawn, painting a shed or outside fixture, there are a number of tasks that come up with the season change, and allowing others to help you with these things takes a load off of your plate as you bond with baby.

Group Text

Whether it’s your friends from high school or college, a group from your workplace, moms and aunts in your life, or a group you found in a FB group full of women delivering around the same time as you, a group text can be a great way to keep going through the long nights of early postpartum. It is always comforting when someone else is up feeding the baby at 2am when you are. It can be helpful to have a group you trust to send pictures of questionable poopy diapers, cracked nipples, and no-sleep selfies.

Virtual Support for New Moms Who are Postpartum During Coronavirus

Virtual support means you can connect with others who are committed to postpartum women and families through the ease of the computer. Online support provides ways for you to learn with others and have guidance through your transitions.

Postpartum Together

Postpartum Together offers a variety of small groups for the transitions of motherhood. We help you prepare for life after baby and go through the changes. You can find coaching groups for things like The New Mom Crew, Back to Work After Maternity Leave, Healthy Body Image After Baby, Transitioning to Stay at Home Mom, Sex & Intimacy After Baby, and more!

RELATED: Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Body Restore

Fourth Trimester Restore is NOT about weight loss. It is about reconnecting with your core, pelvic floor, and whole body as you regain strength in a mindful and healthy way. Fourth Trimester Restore is an online group with opportunities for 1-on-1 coaching and access to a group page to talk about caring for your body after baby. Tell her CHELSEA sent you.

Lactation E-Consults

During this time, most lactation consultants are offering e-consults to help you with latch, pump fitting, nursing techniques, milk storage, and more. You can ask a local lactation consultant if e-consults are available or check out a resource such as Lactation Link to find an LC to work with.

RELATED: Amazon Pumping Must-Have List

Virtual Doula

Doulas have also become a service turned mostly virtual during this time. That’s Major is a collective of virtual doulas and with a quick quiz, you can be matched to the doula that most meets your preferences and needs. You can also contact a doula you know and trust and ask about their virtual service offerings.

The Birth Lounge

In the birth lounge you can get prepared for an empowered and evidence-based birth. Hehe, the birth lounge founder, is daily checking on COVID-19 updates to best prepare moms for birth. Inside the birth lounge, you can connect with other moms going through the same thing and hear from experts monthly. You can use POSTPARTUMTOGETHER at checkout.

You can do this. You can have a beautiful postpartum during Coronavirus.

Momma- I know postpartum during social distancing and COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve experienced. It comes with unique challenges and yet I hope you find it comes with unique support opportunities and ways to celebrate the ease into a new way of life. My hope for you is that this time is filled with slowness and honor you might not have otherwise had and an ability to connect meaningfully with yourself, your family, and others who show up in this season.

If you’re a postpartum mom looking for a place to connect, be supported, and empowered, click here to see when the next Postpartum Together group starts.

motherhood, Postpartum

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? How to Figure Out What You Are Experiencing

How Long do The Baby Blues Last?

How do I know if my wife has depression or the baby blues

So you’ve recently had a baby and the emotions are setting in. Naturally, you’re feeling a lot of things and you might be wondering: “Am I experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression?”Your life has changed drastically in a short amount of time and your body is also reacting. During pregnancy, your progesterone levels increase up to 200x their baseline levels and when you deliver your placenta, that progesterone is leaving the body causing a steep drop. Sounds a little bit like a roller coaster, right? So if you’re emotionally feeling like a roller coaster, this is probably why and you are not the only one.

How can you tell if what you are experiencing is a “natural” part of the transition of baby from inside to outside of your body and the drastic change in hormones that brings? How can you tell if you need to seek outside help or if this will subside on its own?

What Contributes to Postpartum Mental Wellness?

As mentioned above, there are natural swings in hormone levels when you are pregnant, during birth and after. Your body is changing along with the needs of a growing baby and the transition from inside the body to outside the body. Additionally, starting the process of breast milk production causes hormone fluctuation whether you decide to breastfeed or not. Late in pregnancy, many women struggle to sleep and when the baby arrives, many women experience ongoing sleep deprivation. This lack of sleep can make it harder for hormone levels and emotional responses to return to a baseline level as the brain and body do not experience restorative rest. This means it can take weeks and even months to stabilize.

RELATED: How long is postpartum?

What is Baby Blues?

-Typically within first 1-2 weeks after birth

-Sadness

-Crying

-Irritability

-Trouble Sleeping

-Can see feelings objectively

With baby blues, women can identify that this is temporary and marked by things like lack of sleep, big transitions and hormone shifts. The mom with baby blues recognizes that this is difficult, but knows it will pass and can see things objectively. She feels these things but does not feel that they are all-consuming.

Related: What are the Baby Blues (Zulily contribution)

chart shows difference between postpartum depression and baby blues

What is Postpartum Depression?

-Hopelessness

-Helplessness

-Ongoing crying

-Brain fog

-Rage

-Lack of interest in people or things

-Withdraw

-Difficulty bonding

-Intrusive thoughts (thoughts of harm to self or baby)

The mom who is experiencing postpartum depression will see symptoms beyond the first two weeks. Symptoms may onset after delivery to up to 1 year postpartum. This mom might feel that there is no end to the negative emotions. She feels withdrawn and not interested in people or things she was previously interested in. She may not be able to “find” or recognize herself in the midst of all of the emotions. This mom may have rage she cannot control. In some cases, this mom believes the baby would be better off without her and she struggles with intrusive thoughts of harm.

RELATED: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Stories

PPD Risk Factors

While there are no guarantees about who will and who will not experience PPD, there are some risk factors that increase your likelihood.

Women who:

-Have a history of mental health disorders

-With a mother/father/grandparent/sibling with a history of a mental health disorder

-Pregnancy, birth, or postpartum medical complications-Mothers with baby in the NICU

-Mothers of baby with colic or medical complexity

-Women with little family/friend/community support

If you are pregnant and know that you are at risk for PPD, Burd Therapy’s Preventing PPD course may be the tool you need.

Everyone Deserves Postpartum Support

Whether you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression, or just going through the transition into motherhood, you deserve support and there is no shame in not having it “all together.” No one really has it all together, even if it appears that way on the outside. If you believe you may be struggling with PPD, contact your provider- either your OB or your Primary Care Provider, and tell her how you’re feeling. If possible, find a therapist  who can provide you with a safe space to talk about your transition and feelings. Share your experience with those who are close to you and care about you- many people want to be helpful and supportive and there is no reward for doing it all yourself.

Whether it is medication, therapy, a holistic approach to navigating this new stage, know that help is available and help doesn’t make you weak. As a medication-taking, therapy- going, yoga loving mom who loses her mind without these tools and resources… you’re in good company and no one wins a trophy for not needing help.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for any mom

Pumping

Pumping Moms Must-Have List for Better Breastpumping

PUMPING MOMS MUST-HAVES

You’ve asked for it so I’ll make it quick and easy. What did I quickly grab off of Amazon when I realized my life had handed me the path of exclusively pumping? What do I keep stocked up on so that exclusively pumping is as seamless as possible? Here’s the quick list for pumping moms:breast pumping list-min.png

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!

Learning to be One of the Pumping Moms

There were so many things to quickly learn when pumping entered my life. It was in the hospital, going between the NICU and our home, when I learned to exclusively pump. After directly nursing my son for 16+ months, I had only pumped to go out and that was rare. When our daughter was born with a cleft palate, pumping became one more thing on the list to learn in the chaos. I became one of the pumping moms unexpectedly.

It started with learning how long it takes for milk to come in, then I learned to maximize my flange size, set up a pumping schedule, how to store/freeze/thaw/feed, and how to still get some sleep and take care of my two little ones.

Hours were spent on Google and following my favorite Instagram accounts related to pumping. After awhile, it became a part of me and my family but not without the help of some of the products that made it possible.

What You Need in Your Pumping Bag

Bottle Drying Rack
Take out some of the time by using a bottle drying rack between uses.

Dishwasher Basket
Not all pump and feeding parts are dishwasher friendly, but many are and you can save yourself some time washing.

Quick Sanitizing Wipes
Pumping on the go or at work? These quick sanitizing wipes give you the clean you need without finding a weird sink at a gas station or your employee lounge.

RELATED: Pumping While Traveling

Milk Bag Storage Organizer

Freezing breastmilk? This storage organizer helps you store efficiently. I bet it’s Marie Kondo approved.

Nipple Butter
Pumping brings nipple pain just like direct nursing does. Refresh your girls with nipple butter to help ease your experience.

Deep Freezer

If you have over supply or more than enough milk, invest in a deep freezer so that you can keep that milk for the weeks or months down the road (or donate it to other babies!)

Manual Pump (Great for back up!)
While I highly recommend a double electric pump for the majority of the time, sometimes you need a back up or aren’t near power and this manual will save the day!

Milk Storage Bags
That milk has to go somewhere!

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra

Hands free pumping is a non-negotiable. Get more done while pumping!

Car Adaptor
One of my top tips for pumping is to pump on the go. For me, that meant pumping while driving. On the way to the store? Pump. School drop off? Pump. Driving to or from work? Pump!

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Learning to Embrace the Unexpected

Pumping is sometimes planned and sometimes unexpected. No matter your path to pumping, it is so important to havethe support both from people and products to make it happen. Pumping moms are a special kind of moms and I want to say I am proud of you!

There you have it! Follow the links to fill your Amazon cart with ways to make pumping simpler for you!

Are you pumping and traveling? Let me make it easier for you. Grab this Pumping and Traveling Checklist to make sure you have everything you need!

Postpartum Stories

Inducing Lactation and Being Postpartum as the Non-Birthing Mom

Inducing Lactation but Not Giving Birth

In a transgender relationship, both Chris and Amy carried babies for their families. Amy shares her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.Inducing lactation as the non birthing parent in transgender 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!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER: TTC TO PRESENT

My name is Amy and my husband’s name is Chris. We met while working together about 10 years ago. We got engaged about 2 years after we started dating and moved to start our life together from Kentucky to Ohio.

Chris and I struggled with infertility and after about 5 failed IUIs decided to switch to Chris and see if he had better luck (Chris was born female ). After 5 more failed IUIs and a miscarriage, Chris became pregnant with our first child, Hayden. I induced lactation in order to share in the nursing bonds with Hayden.

When Hayden was about a year old we decided we should start trying for a second because we knew it could be a long road. I desperately wanted to carry a baby so I was going to give it another try. We got pregnant with Milo on our first IUI.

Hayden is now almost 5 and Milo is 3. We feel like our family is complete and feel so blessed to have been given these two little amazing beings.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I didn’t know much about postpartum before Hayden was born. I had heard of it but mostly in the negative ways we all hear about postpartum.

Our experience was unique in that I experienced postpartum from a non-carrying and carrying parents perspective. We don’t talk much about the non-carrying parents perspective but it’s definitely one to consider. 

Back then, I was one of those “We will never…” pre-parents that everyone knows and loves. You know the person who thinks that getting pregnant, birthing a baby, raising a child will be like a scene from a picture-perfect movie?

Due to this fact, I really didn’t prepare or give postpartum much thought because everything was going to be rosy!

Quote about non birthing parent experience

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOUR PARTNER BIRTHED- HOW WAS HE REGARDED BY OTHERS THROUGH THE CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM TIME?

It was tricky for Chris because he struggled with a lot of issues with his own body and he was pre-transition at this point (so not always presenting as male and he wasn’t on any hormones at the time).

Navigating the fertility clinic was rough. There are not currently a lot of doctors who understand trans men giving birth.

We were lucky enough to pair up with some amazing midwives who while they were not well versed in the trans community. They were amazing and super willing to learn. Between them and the help of a doula, we were really treated amazingly.

The hospital we birthed at was incredible and they followed our directives in the birth plan explicitly (pronouns, how he wanted to be addressed, assuring the desired level of privacy he requested during checks).

Chris has always taken a male role in things so I do know that through our first pregnancy people often forgot he was pregnant.

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOU INDUCED LACTATION TO BREASTFEED. DID YOU NOTICE HORMONAL CHANGES AND EXPERIENCE ANY POSTPARTUM SYMPTOMS IN THAT WAY?

Yes! Part of the inducing lactation process is tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant (through the use of medication). This can definitely affect your hormones and then when you start pumping that kicks up hormones in your body as well.

There are so many emotions that you experience through infertility and then the massive emotions and responsibility that comes with preparing for a baby and parenthood. You add those things on top of the medical process of inducing lactation and it’s very difficult (but amazing at the same time).

When Hayden was born I had so many emotions that just come with being new parents. Navigating it was much harder than I imagined. I think this was because of the hormonal changes.

Related: Online Pumping Course (This can help you to induce lactation)

WHAT SURPRISED THE BOTH OF YOU THROUGH YOUR DIFFERENT POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCES?

We had very different birthing experiences and pregnancies. For Chris, there was a lot of emotions surrounding his own body and transformation when Hay was born. He has always said when she was born he knew he had to continue his transition because he couldn’t ask her to be who she was as a person and to stand up for what she believes in without him being true to who he was.

Because of this his postpartum, while hard, was empowering but also isolating. Being treated like a mom when you are a trans male can be very emotional.

For me, I never expected to be a non-carrying parent so experiencing this side first made my second postpartum experience just slightly different as I had experienced it from both sides.

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM WITH A GENDER TRANSITION?

Oh so many things! Not just with assigned gender transition but also with each parent their needs, fears, and anxieties are not cookie cutter.

There are so many things that can trigger a person and preparing for a baby can really magnify emotions. When your emotions are also tied to your assigned gender at birth this can be really damaging.

If I had to choose *one* wish, it would be that medical professionals, friends, family, birth workers, everyone really, asked questions in a respectful way. If you don’t know, just ask! It really can go a long way. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED?)

We were really lucky to have a super supportive family, birth experience, the community surrounding us during Hayden’s birth. Although there was a lot of learning, people worked very hard to stay respectful.

Where we really felt hurt was when I was pregnant with Milo and after. People seemed to be astonished that I hadn’t birthed Hayden (because we ALL know there is only one was to have children…cue sarcasm). We were often having to explain over and over our family.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

Actual honest to goodness help. Having a community that is there for the parents and not just the cute babes (even though they are the best) is incredible. Making meals, folding laundry when they visited and making Hayden feel special was huge.

I think the biggest thing was when people would just listen. Not offer advice, just listen.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? 

A persons family makeup is different no matter what it might seem. It’s so important that we don’t ASSUME anything.

From conception to parenting methods every family takes a slightly different path so if you don’t know…just ask!

There are so many ways to be a family, none of them wrong and all of them amazing.

If you’d like to talk more, are going through a similar experience or just have more questions you can contact Amy here.

Thank you to Amy for sharing her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.

Related: Postpartum with Chronic Illness

Blog about inducing lactation and transgender birth

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Postpartum

Your Pelvic Floor After Having a Baby

WHAT IS THE PELVIC FLOOR?


pelvic model

If you would have asked me 4 years ago what the pelvic floor is, I probably would have told you it’s the back room in a club where shady dancing happens. After my first child, I remember peeing myself a little when I was working out, and honestly, I just thought that was my forever because #motherhood.

During my second pregnancy, I started working with a trainer who specialized in pregnancy and postpartum and she started teaching me about the muscles that hold everything together. Little did I know, it is so much more than kegels.

According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, “The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. A woman’s pelvic floor muscles support her bladder, womb (uterus) and bowel (colon). The urine tube (front passage), the vagina and the back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. They also help sexual function. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.”

RELATED: Back in the Sack:Guide to Postpartum Sex

Supporting my bladder, womb and bowel?
Helping sexual function?
Sounds like an important part of the body.

It’s kind of a disgrace that we don’t really learn about this in sex ed. Or anatomy. Or the OB office or… anywhere unless we actively seek it out.

BODY CHANGES IN PREGNANCY AND BIRTH

During pregnancy and childbirth, a baby is bearing down on your pelvis which impacts the tissue and muscles. Whether you deliver vaginally or have a cesarean birth, you experience a change. This function is also closely tied to your abdomen which often experiences separation during pregnancy and postpartum, adding to issues such as incontinence. As you carry and deliver a baby, there are a number of shifts- these shifts cause the muscles and tissue to adapt through the changes.

RELATED: Where We Learn About Postpartum

woman prepares pelvic floor by kegels

WHEN DO YOU NEED PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY?

If you’re experiencing painful sex, a heavy weight feeling in your pelvic area, or are experiencing urinary or bowel incontinence, it’s a good idea to seek out physical or occupational therapy. If you’re feeling out of touch with your body after giving birth, you may benefit from pelvic floor PT. Many professionals recommend that all mothers get some level of PT after giving birth, regardless of red flags, because of all of the changes and impact on that area during pregnancy and childbirth. In countries such as France, this therapy is standard care after birth for every mother. While many women are thinking about weight loss and outward appearance after baby, there is much more and by actually addressing the internal, you set yourself up for a stronger, connected body.

ARE KEGELS ENOUGH TO FIX MY PELVIC FLOOR?

The pelvic floor is so much more than kegels. I’ve been doing kegels for as long as I can remember and when I went to PT, she told me I needed to RELAX my pelvic muscles. Everything was holding tension and not being able to relax my floor muscles was contributing to painful sex and bladder issues. Come to find out, I hold stress in my shoulders, hips and my pelvic floor. Kegels can be a great part of strengthening and healing IF that is what you need. Seeing a pelvic floor therapist allows them to examine your muscles and tissue and give you insight as to what will help it best function.

After seeing my therapist for 3 months, I “graduated” with exercises to do at home and then started using the Perefit Kegel exerciser to gamify my exercises- it helps you to both contract and relax the muscles and helps you to build endurance. And honestly, kegels are more fun when you’re collecting stars.

Are you looking for a virtual way to learn about proper postpartum exercise? Check out the 6 week course from Strong Body Strong Mama Fourth Trimester Restore (and tell her Chelsea sent you!)

WHAT DO THEY DO IN PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY?

Does the idea of having someone “evaluate” and help you “repair” that whole area, “down there” feel a little intimidating? I know. But let’s face it, if you’ve given birth you’ve already had someone else “down there” so giving it attention to improve its function doesn’t have to be scary.

There are different approaches to pelvic floor therapy. To get an accurate understanding of your function and needs, your therapist will most likely want to do an internal exam. (If you’re uncomfortable with this, there are ways to talk about your pain/function and provide ideas without an internal exam, however your assessment may not be as accurate and therefore your treatment may not be as effective.)

BIOFEEDBACK

Some pelvic floor therapists use biofeedback to gauge your function. With biofeedback, sensors and a computer monitor are used to show muscle activity and allows you to see what areas need attention.

DRY NEEDLING

Dry needling is a method of relieving tension that involves inserting a thin needle into the muscle tissue.

MANUAL MANIPULATION

Similar to dry needling, manual manipulation targets the release of muscle tissue but the therapist will use hands or another tool as opposed to needles.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

Your therapist will teach you exercises you can do in your therapy as well as at home to exercise your pelvic floor. This may emphasize contraction strengthening and endurance or relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles (or a combination.) While I highly recommend seeing a therapist who can help you with an individualized plan, you can also find resources online. Please find exercises from someone specifically trained in prenatal and postpartum care such as Strong Body Strong Mama.

CHAT WITH A PELVIC FLOOR EXPERT

Sarah from Pelvic Floor and More answers questions just like yours so that moms can understand their pelvic floor and be empowered to take care of it- from understanding to advocacy to practice. Listen in and learn- because you deserve to!

ARE YOU CURRENTLY PREGNANT AND NEED TO MAKE YOUR POSTPARTUM PLAN SO THAT YOU’RE PREPARED FOR THINGS LIKE THE PELVIC FLOOR AND MORE? GRAB MY FREE POSTPARTUM PLAN CHECKLIST TO GET YOU READY!


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