Diary of a New Mama – The Challenges of Postpartum Recovery
I often hear women asking each other about their pregnancy symptoms and birth stories. I was asked this a lot. Yet, I can’t ever recall being asked about my postpartum experience. What was my care like? What did my body feel like? How long did it take to recover? So, I decided to share, in case there are other moms who had similar situations.
This is not about postpartum mental health. This is about postpartum care for your body (although, the two are often intertwined).
I will start with a quick recap of my pregnancy and birth experience to get to the postpartum story. In short, I was followed by an OBGYN, and had a healthy pregnancy (although, I needed iron infusions in my last trimester). I had a vaginal birth with intense back contractions starting at 5pm, and baby was delivered by 5am. Opted for an epidural at 7cm dilated (was only able to get that far without pain medications thanks to my doula and my hypnobirthing breathing techniques). Needed stitches. That is where I feel the care for me ended.
I had my six-week follow-up appointment, in which I was asked if I was in pain (I wasn’t, at that time), if I was feeling depressed, and what form of contraception I planned on using. That was it. I was shocked.
Let me add, I really admired my OBGYN, and loved being in her care during my pregnancy (she was not the doctor who delivered our baby). Yet the aftercare wasn’t easily available, and I was really surprised by this. I am sure it is a function of our over-burdened health care system and not of her practice.
Eight weeks after my delivery, I started experiencing urogynecological issues. I was no longer considered a patient of my OBGYN (although I got lucky and they squeezed me in). Ultimately, I had to wait to see a specialist (five-month wait time!). I had to do my own health research and advocacy. I am not writing this for pity. I am sharing this because during a time when we are at our most tired, our energy is reserved for caring for our newborn; finding the energy to care for yourself is a huge challenge. My hope is that if women ask each other more about their postpartum recovery, our collective stories can lead to action, which in turn, can have an impact on how our health care system prioritises the health of new moms.