While my first birth experience was not an easy one, I am thankful for the postpartum care that I received as a new mother. I'll break it down into the three areas of care: my recovery, jaundice, and breastfeeding.
The hospital I gave birth at is well respected hospital and I loved the nurses (well, all but one), in the postpartum recovery unit. They were so kind, gentle, and helpful as a first time mom (again, except for the one snarly nurse).
My recovery I was tired, had some pain, and was sore, but nothing I was alarmed about or needed extra care for.
I blame my Filipino heritage for this one (I kid, but really). I was told that long labors, and especially where there was an extended time of pushing (2 hours!) often leads to some bruising and consequently jaundice. Our pediatrician was ON IT. She quickly ordered the bililights for my daughter. It was very scary as a new mom. Thankfully, her body responded well. We were given a biliblanket for her to have on her at home. She looked like a little glow worm! It was pretty annoying, but we were thankful. And after our first check up, we were able to stop using it.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I took a class at the hospital while I was pregnant and learned about all kinds of benefits to breastfeeding. Our hospital had signs everywhere that breast is best! What I didn't know was how much I would over come to attain this goal!
Well, it turns out that long labors with long pushing can delay milk production. And my first night as a mom was a difficult one. I couldn't figure out how to get Sophia to latch. She would cry and cry. The lactation specialist gave me some tips. The sweet nurses responded so kindly to my many, many requests for help through the night. As my baby cried and cried, I did too. I felt like such a failure! Here I was, a brand new mom, and I was failing at taking care of my precious little girl.
In the morning, the doctor came in and told me that her Bili levels had gone up and that I wasn't producing milk. We had to supplement with formula (back then I didn't know donor milk existed!). Then lactation specialist came in. I wept, and wept, and she hugged me and reassured me that it would be ok. She gave me a plan and told me how we would nurse, and pump, and get my supply going. She promised that if I stuck to it, I would be able to breastfeed.
So, full of sorrow we gave her formula, and it was still a few days before my milk came in. I followed the nursing plan exactly. I was beyond tired from pumping, and trying to latch her and formula feeding. I was also in unbearable pain from cracked nipples. I cried many, many times those first few weeks. But we did it!
6 weeks later I joined a breastfeeding support group. By that time, the hardest part was over, but I did find community in that group. I found education and understanding I could not have found anywhere else.
Thanks to my breastfeeding class, that lactation specialist, and my breastfeeding group, at the time of this writing, we have been nursing for 22 months! I NEVER thought I would nurse this long (but that is another blog for another day!).
Thank God for good nurses and doctors who listen and care... and even hug you when you need it!
In my next blog I will compare my prenatal care with 4 different OB doctors and 1 midwife... stay tuned!