Postpartum Hacks for an Easier 4th Trimester (Part 2!)

I wrote this blog post (Postpartum Hacks for an Easier 4th Trimester) almost two months before I had my son. Now that I’ve been fully in the trenches of all things newborn once again (little man is now two months old!) these hacks need an update. There were some really important things that I had forgotten from my own postpartum period before and from those of my past clients. So, here are the updated things that are essential in that early postpartum period. Enjoy!

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BREASTFEEDING: BRING IN THE BIG GUNS.

Sometimes breastfeeding is hard. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. I’ve experienced bad latches, tongue ties, cracked and sore nipples, and it sucks. Like, really sucks. I can remember crying one night because I knew my baby needed to eat, but I didn’t want to feed him - it hurt too much. I’d have to psych myself up to put him on the breast, and then sit there through gritted teeth until he was done. I can remember my husband one day asking me if I was in labour again because I was screaming in pain.

Nurses and midwives helped, and I had my own breastfeeding knowledge and skills to use, but it took an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (aka IBCLC - Jandy Beresford in case you’re wondering!) to get me sorted. Within 10 minutes of being there she had diagnosed a tongue tie that had been missed, and within 18 hours of her visit I was sitting at the Newman Clinic getting the tongue tie released. It was immediate relief on the first latch post-tongue tie, both for my nipples and my mental health.

Look, I know IBCLCs cost money out of pocket, and it’s the last thing you want when you have a newborn. But, if breastfeeding fails, think of the cost of formula over your baby’s first year - that shit is expensive. A good IBCLC are worth their weight in gold, and yes, there is a difference between a Lactation Consultant and one who is board certified. IBCLCs go through hundreds of hours of clinical hands-on experience and have to write a hefty exam - it can take YEARS to complete. If you’re having trouble with breastfeeding there is no one better to call. And it’s also the reason I recommend all my clients invest in seeing an IBCLC if breastfeeding issues are not resolved with the usual recommendations and latch support.

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POSTPARTUM BODY: PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIO

Nobody can deny that pregnancy is hard on your body and that birth is traumatic on your pelvic floor. Damage to the hammock of muscles that make up your pelvic floor can lead to incontinence, pain during sex, low back pain, and even pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help to repair the damage to the muscles and prevent the above issues, or fix them. Seriously, pelvic floor physio is one of the best things you can do for your body and health, and especially after giving birth!

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BREASTFEEDING: INVEST IN A GOOD BREAST PUMP

If you need a breast pump, I highly recommend investing in a hospital-grade pump. They are more versatile and durable than a regular breast pump, and you’ll get more milk with less effort. They also hold their value really well if you plan on selling it after use, and there’s the option of renting one for around $75 - $100 per month. Recommended hospital grade pumps are the Spectra and Medela brands. For those in Durham Region, the Durham Breastfeeding Resources page has a list of places where you can rent breast pumps, from Pickering to Bowmanville and every city or town in between.

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POSTPARTUM: YOU SHOULD GET A DOULA FOR THAT, TOO

I’m fairly lucky. My husband took 8 weeks of parental leave after the birth of our son, and we have family nearby that are always ready to step in and help with the kids when we need it. Even so, I wish I had hired a postpartum doula - there is only so much help I feel comfortable asking family for and so much more that I wanted to do but couldn’t with a newborn. Like make myself a meal. Or get laundry started. Or sit on the floor and play with my toddler. All the small things that I took for granted before having a little one in my arms almost 24/7. Yes, you can make it all work without outside help, but why make life harder than it needs to be?

I’d love to hear if you think I missed anything out in the comments below., and of course if you want to chat about getting some postpartum help for yourself I’d love to hear from you.