Post-Pregnancy Real Talk

March 29, 2019
Some post-maternity real talk! - M Loves M @marmar

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since we had Corinna. In a lot of ways it’s been an easy transition to go from 1 to 2, but there have been some challenges that have made the postpartum period a little harder for me. I thought I’d share a post-pregnancy update below  about what’s been going on, and what I’d probably have done differently. This might not be interesting or relevant to a lot of you but I wanted to share my journey in case any of you are in a similar situation. I feel like the postpartum period is one that doesn’t get addressed as often and it’s important to realize it’s not as easy as you might expect. 

One thing that’s been the most challenging with Corinna has been our breastfeeding journey. It’s true that every baby is so different because the difficulties I’m facing this time around aren’t the same as with Augustine. This time, my milk came in really fast two days postpartum and I was in the very painful engorgement stage for about 5 days. Usually it lasts about 2 days but this was definitely longer. I was worried about pumping because I didn’t want to signal to my body that it needed to produce more milk, so I just nursed on demand with her. Corinna is able to put larger sleep chunks together which is great but I probably should have woken her up more often to nurse her so that I knew my breasts were emptying completely.  Because I was so engorged, her latch wasn’t the best which led to some bleeding and cracks. Ouch! I went to my midwife who prescribed a compound nipple butter. 

Over the next week or so the engorgement went down and my nipples started to heal. I started to get these hot and cold flashes at night where I would be so chilly and then I’d wake up in a sweat. I thought that this was part of the postpartum hormones because I remember this happening with Augustine. I had an elevated temperature of about 99 degrees one night, but other than that I felt fine. Then, I started to notice this lump in my breast that grew to the size of a golf ball and then a tennis ball. I thought I had a clogged duct but I made an appointment with my midwife who scheduled an ultrasound and gave me antibiotics just in case I had mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. Usually if moms get mastitis it’s within the first 3 months of breastfeeding and can be accompanied by a high fever of 101 or greater. Milk being trapped in the breast is the main cause of mastitis but it can also be caused by a blocked milk duct, or bacteria entering your breast {possibly from those cracks}. At the time I didn’t think I had mastitis, even though I was in a ton of pain. I really just thought I had a clogged duct especially since it hurt to lift my right arm up, or sleep on that side.

At the ultrasound the radiologist said I definitely had an abscess which is rare but it’s what happens when mastitis isn’t treated quickly. A breast abscess can form with a build-up of pus and milk {yuck!} and to be treated it needs to be drained. After the abscess was drained I felt a lot better although the area has still been a little tender and red, especially where the stitches are. I have a follow-up next week to make sure everything looks ok and I’m just hoping this doesn’t happen again. 

Luckily I’ve still been able to breastfeed, which is what my main concern was with the treatment plan. It hasn’t been the easiest start to our breastfeeding journey but I’m praying it’s better from here on out.

Besides the breast issues, things have been pretty good. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself that I still have a baby belly and I can’t fit into any of my jeans. It took 9 months to grow my sweet girl, so it’s going to be a process to get back to “normal”- whatever that will look like. I think maybe I could fit into my jeans 5 or 6 months postpartum with Augustine but I did rely on leggings since it was the winter. This time, I’ll be living in all the sundresses I can, as soon as it warms up enough!

If any of you are going through similar breastfeeding struggles, know you’re not alone! If you can, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant. They can help assess what’s going on and also check to make sure the baby is latching on properly. In the hospital with Augustine I loved having the lactation consultant come by to help. Even if you don’t think you need their help, have them watch you nurse and ask for tips on different latches and positions. The lactation consultant wants to help support you because breastfeeding is not something that comes as naturally as you would expect. Having Corinna in a birthing center with a midwife was an incredible experience that I don’t regret, but I do wish I had more lactation support before I left. I think maybe I could have avoided the cracked nipple issue which probably was an entry point for the bacteria that led to mastitis. Also, I wish I had known what to do to best handle engorgement earlier on. You live and you learn though, right?

When I thought I had a clogged milk duct, many of you shared some very helpful tips with me. Here is what I will do next time earlier on: warm compresses 15 minutes before feeding, and cold compresses afterwards, massaging towards the nipple, soaking my breast in warm water and 1 tablespoon Epsom salts, massaging area with back of an electric toothbrush, using a silicone breast pump filled with warm water and 1 tablespoon Epsom salts, dangle feeding, Phytolacca Decandra homeopathic tablets, and Lecithin capsules (1 1200 milligram capsule 3-4 times a day). 

Ok I think that’s a big enough update for today! I have to say, one of the best things about being a mom is being a part of a larger motherhood community that offers so much support and guidance.

I’m grateful to so many of you who have shared your stories with me and given me tips during this time!! I can’t thank you enough!!


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