While a stretchy baby wrap is a fantastically wonderful tool in the world of motherhood it does takes some getting used to. It’s essentially a really long piece of stretchy fabric that you wrap around your body and then put your baby into. It’ll seem difficult at first, but I promise you that it will get easier the more times you use it!
Wait, what? What do I mean “when does breastmilk come in?”
Breastmilk production is actually a bit of a process. Your body produces a variety of milk dependent on the stage that your baby is at. While this is something that your body will naturally do it does take some time and work.
The first milk that your body will create is called “Colostrum”. This milk is low in fat and carbohydrates (which are hard for your baby to digest in those first days), and high in protein. It’s easy to digest and contains what your baby needs to create temporary protection until his immune system begins to develop on its own. It also acts as a laxative to help your baby pass meconium.
Colostrum is thicker than the breastmilk you’ll start producing in a couple of weeks and can be yellow, orange, or even pink!
Here’s the super cool thing about colostrum: your body starts to produce it during your pregnancy. You can actually start collecting and freezing colostrum before your baby comes so that they get an extra boost of this invaluable milk.
Grab some syringes from your local pharmacy and hand express colostrum into the syringe. You won’t collect much (a couple of ml at a time). Make sure to date it and freeze it in a freezer bag. You can give this to your baby in the first days unthawed directly through the syringe.
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So, when will my breastmilk come in?
Your colostrum will start to change to breastmilk at around 2-6 days after birth.
It takes a couple of weeks for your breastmilk to fully come in.
During this first two weeks you might find that your breasts feel FULL! Some mothers experience only a bit of this fullness while others feel as if they’re going to burst. This is due to blood flow increasing to the breasts as well as swelling of tissue.
It’s important during this time to make sure that you’re feeding your baby frequently. Not only will this relieve the congestion and reduce that feeling of engorgement, but it will also stimulate your milk production.
There are times when a mother will become so engorged that she finds it difficult to latch her baby on. In this case try hand expressing or pumping a bit of milk to soften the breast tissue and allow baby to draw out the milk to empty the breast.
Will I be engorged for as long as I’m breastfeeding?
As your body begins to stabilize and figure out how much your baby needs (yep-your body can do that. Amazing, eh?) you’ll find that your breasts become softer.
This is confusing to some women because it feels like you can no longer feel the milk in the breasts, and many women start to wonder if they are no longer producing enough milk.
Frequent nursing is key to bringing your breastmilk in. It’s advised to breastfeed your baby at least every two hours, but it’s best to keep one eye on the clock and one eye on your baby. If your baby is showing signs of hunger before two hours feed her whenever there’s a slight indication she may want to feed. If she’s gone for two hours without feeding wake her up (tickle her feet, blow on her neck, take off her clothes) to give her some milk.
Skin to skin contact is also an important step in establishing your breastmilk supply. GET NAKED! Seriously, as often as possible strip that baby down to a diaper and get yourself topless to cuddle and nurse your baby.
This is why it’s so important to ask potential visitors to always check in with you before visiting-you need to be 100% at ease and comfortable in your surroundings. Feeling like you can focus comfortably on your baby without having to worry about the distraction of visitors or other duties/obligations for a few weeks will be a major aid in helping your breastmilk come in.
In short, the answer to “when will my breastmilk come in?” is approximately two weeks for your mature milk to come in. In those two weeks, you get to watch the miraculous transition from colostrum to breastmilk while potentially enjoying a very, very full cup size!
As the cold weather approaches you’re going to need to know how to dress baby for winter!
Learning how to dress baby is yet just another one of those things that are in that manual that we DON’T get when your baby is born. However, there is a bit of a science to it to make sure that your sweet bundle is warm enough in these colder months.
How to dress baby for winter
There are affiliate links in this post. That means that if you purchase something based on my personal recommendations in this post I may receive a commission at no cost to you. THAT will keep you warm and snug, for sure:)
Dress your baby as you would any other day. If you’re putting baby in a dress make sure they have thick tights underneath.
Pants and a onesie are ideal (with long sleeves if it’s super cold) when you’re going to dress baby for winter as they are warmest and easiest to have under a bunting suit.
Make sure your baby has socks on! You lose a lot of heat through your feet and with a baby it most certainly is not neat (okay, I forced the rhyme on that one a bit. What I’m saying is: keep your baby’s feet warm so their body will stay warm). The same goes for a toque: you lose a lot of heat through your head, too.
If it’s not terribly cold outside you can throw a jacket, pair of booties, and a toque on your baby before going out. When they’re in the car seat you can have a breathable blanket on them, too, which will keep them nice and warm.
Check-in periodically to make sure they don’t get too warm as the car heats up. In fact, if you’re able to and time allows try and warm up the car before you put your baby in so that there’s no need for extra blankets.
If it IS terribly cold outside and/or you’re going to be taking your baby out of the car seat you’re going to want to increase the warm clothing you put on baby.
When you dress baby for winter it’s nice to have a bunting suit for super cold days or days you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. These suits range from warm fleece to ones filled with down. Some of them can be really bulky, so avoid those if you’re putting baby in the car seat or stroller, however, if you do have a bulky one you can put your baby in it when you arrive at your destination or you can get one specifically made for car seats.
Most of the time these little bunting suits will have the ability to overlap the material on the feet and hands. This is a great option to keep little extremities warm. If yours doesn’t have that option make sure to put your baby in some booties and mittens, as well as a hat.
Things to remember:
-When you’re dealing with how to dress baby for winter remember that there are a lot of layers involved. If you go somewhere indoors peel back one of those layers so that baby doesn’t overheat. The same goes for in the car, especially if you’re traveling long distances.
–Babywearing will help with keeping baby (and you) warm. Babies seem to be heat generators, so keeping them nice and close will keep everyone feeling nice and toasty. You can find add-ons that go nicely with brands like Ergo that attach directly to the Ergo and act as a jacket or blanket to keep both of you protected from the elements.
-Bring a blanket with you wherever you go. You may think you’ve got baby dressed warm and snug but then a super cold wind hits. It’s nice to have an extra layer that you can put in the car seat or wrap around your baby in the carrier.
Don’t let cold weather deter you from heading outside with your baby. It’s important for them and for you to get out of the house, even when inclement weather hits. If you’re looking for tips on how to take your baby outdoors to do activities check out Little Adventures Co. for tips from two moms who do it all the time!
You’ve probably heard of a sitz bath being part of your postpartum care routine, but you’re also probably wondering what the heck it actually is.
Allow me to explain:
Your perineum is the space between your vaginal opening and your anus. It’s a sensitive spot (as to be expected) and is also the most ravaged spot of your body as you push your baby out of your vagina. While your perineum is meant to stretch to accommodate for large things going out (i.e. baby) or large things going in (i.e. *insert raised eyebrows and knowing smile*) it is apt to tear.
You can prepare your perineum by following the guidelines in this post but even then you may suffer some pretty severe tears, or, at the very least, discomfort from the significant stretching that was required to push that baby of yours out.
Your perineum is a rockstar and after the birth of your baby it needs an extra little bit of tender loving care. Enter: Sitz bath!
Who needs a sitz bath?
Well, I mean, ANYONE really can use a sitz bath. It’s meant to clean the perineum and provide relief from any discomfort, itching, or irritation. Some folks who have just given birth may opt to use one, as well as someone who’s enjoying the wonder that is haemorrhoids.
What do you need for a sitz bath?
There are very few things that you need for a sitz bath, however, it’s nice to have it prepared before baby comes so that you have these things ready and available for the exact time that you need them:
-clean bathtub (get your partner or support person to give it a good scrub before you go in. Use a little bit of bleach to make sure that you’ve killed all bacteria that may be in there. The last thing you’re going to need right now is an infection!)
-additives to the bath (optional) that you can purchase here or make on your own using ingredients such as witch hazel, calendula, lavender essential oil, epsom salts, salt, chamomile.
How to have a sitz bath
First things first: this is your self-care time! You’re taking care of the lovely perineum of yours but you can also turn this into a pleasant experience for yourself.
Hand the baby off to someone else if you are able to do so. If not, bring baby into the bathroom and either lay them on a blanket beside the bathtub or in a bassinet-wherever you can reach them if you need to and however you feel most comfortable.
Fill the bathtub about 1/3 of the way full with warm water. Avoid making this too hot or you’ll probably feel some discomfort.
Add the various herbs if you’ve chosen to do so.
Sit in the bathtub for about 20 minutes. Add some more warm water if you feel like it’s getting too cold for you.
Once you get out make sure to pat dry (don’t rub….ouch!!) or wear your birthday suit for a while and dry off au naturel.
Do this 3-4 times a day unless you’re finding it irritating to your perineum
While a sitz bath can promote healing in your postpartum body if you aren’t enjoying them try and find another way to let your body heal. The key to healing your perineum is to make sure that it’s clean, dry, and not irritated. There are many ways that you can do this so a sitz bath is only one option.
Did you use sitz baths after your birth? What were your favourite things to add? Please share recipes in the comments below to share with fellow new parents!
Chances are you’re not going to feel like having sex after childbirth for quite some time.
Some partners understand this (particularly the ones that witnessed a vaginal birth, while others may be having a more difficult time coming to terms with waiting 6 weeks. Not that you need to justify yourself but there are some physical and mental reasons that you can fill them in on.
Most healthcare providers are going to tell you to wait 4-6 weeks until having sex after childbirth and these are the reasons why:
7 Reasons to wait for sex after childbirth
Okay, so you just pushed a BABY out of your vagina. That means that you pushed a watermelon-sized head out of a loonie sized vagina. #proudcanadianwoman
Even if you didn’t have any sort of tearing or episiotomy you probably are feeling a little stretched thin-yes, literally and figuratively, but we’ll get to the figurative part later. Your labia has been stretched and is likely feeling a little tender. It will take a few weeks for everything to be a little less sensitive and may need some being left alone during that time.
If you’ve had a cesarean birth you will have stitches or staples in your lower abdomen. If you’ve had a tear or episiotomy you likely have stitches in your perineum.
Neither of these healing wounds should be irritated until, well, they’re healed. Depending on the severity of the wound this will take at least two weeks.
Before approximately the 6 week mark your cervix is still dilated from childbirth. This leaves your body open to infection that may occur from a penis or other objects being inserted into the vagina. You’ll know that your cervix is still open if you’re bleeding or by going to see your healthcare professional for a check-up.
Be careful with taking chances on infection; truthfully, the last thing you’re going to want to deal with on top of your healing body and a newborn baby is a vaginal infection.
Your entire body is going to be experiencing a world of change: back pain from 9 million months of pregnancy, excess fluid, shoulder pain from nursing, aching breasts, sore feet, tired body, etc. etc. etc..
You’ve just had a workout of a lifetime and you may not be up to a romp session.
This is 100% okay.
You, my friend, have a lot of stuff coming out of your vagina. Blood, mucus, uterine tissue will come out strong for about 10 days after birth and then taper off somewhat until around the 6-week mark when it stops.
This is your body’s way of expelling all of the now unnecessary fluid, so if you have sex after childbirth when this discharge is being, well, discharged it will be quite akin to having sex while on your period.
*One thing to note is that the smell of the discharge after childbirth is different than when you have your period-it’s stronger and just plain different. This can be hard to get around when trying to get in the mood.
**One thing to note on the one thing to note is that if your discharge is foul-smelling you should see your healthcare provider to rule out an existing infection.
Decreased sex drive
Ohhhhh hormones, you bastards.
Your body is a tornado of hormones from the remaining pregnancy ones to the breastfeeding ones to the childbirth ones. What a mix.
Oh! Ya! I almost forgot to mention the inevitable sleep loss that you can factor in, too, and right there you’ve got yourself the makings of a (probably) decreased sex drive. It can also lead to decreased lubrication regardless of if you’re aroused or not. You may not have had to use lubricant before but having a water-based one on hand now is a good idea.
Changes in breasts
Breastfeeding causes higher levels of prolactin and lower levels of estrogen in the nursing parent. This can, like above, lead to a lower sexual desire.
Some folks find it very uncomfortable to have their breasts touched in a sexual manner when they’re breastfeeding while others find it to be a turn on. This is a conversation that you and your partner should have before resuming sexual activity.
For breastfeeding parents, there may be leaking or even spraying (!) during an orgasm. Some partners find this arousing while others find it unnerving. If it’s something that’s not for either of you it can be a quick fix with a nursing bra and nursing pads.
You just fed the baby. They’re snug as a bug in a rug and you’re certain they’re going to be asleep for at least a couple hours while you and your partner(s) give this sex after childbirth thing a go.
You do a half happy, half sexy dance, take off your clothes, start getting frisky, and….WAHHHHHHHHHHH!
Baby wakes up and the mood is killed.
It takes a few weeks to really get into the groove of having a newborn. That’s not to say that at the 6 week mark your baby is suddenly entirely predictable, but you’ll likely have a bit more awareness to their patterns.
There are so many variables when it comes to a person’s sexuality, especially after they’ve given birth.
Getting back into having sex after childbirth is something that should be given great care and consideration. Your first priority is making sure that your body is healthy and able to engage in sex after childbirth-you can be sure of this by allowing yourself time to heal and by checking in with your healthcare professional for medical clearance before jumping your partner(s).
When you do decide that you’re ready try and keep these few things in mind.
Begin with an open dialogue about how and when to resume sex after childbirth. Make sure that each partner is on the same page and comfortable with plans going forward.
Lower expectations. If things don’t go smoothly the first time give it some time before trying again.
Start small. Try masturbation first to become re-acquainted with your body. Then, finger penetration with your partner a couple of times. Then, give penetrative sex a go when you’re ready.
It’s possible that your idea of what a postpartum body should look like has been somewhat skewed by media and societal standards of where your physical appearance should be after you’ve had a baby.
Remember that Barbie that had a pregnant belly you could attach and then take it off after she had the baby and that was that? That’s not what having a postpartum body is like AT ALL.
We’re here to talk about the nitty-gritty of what having a baby is like, and here’s what a postpartum body really might experience (take note, Matel)!
Things you need to know about your postpartum body
Your breasts might be HUGE
If you thought your breasts grew while you were pregnant just wait until those things are filled with milk!
It can get uncomfortable, especially in the first few days, so avoid wearing a bra while your milk is coming in (a form-fitting tank top is ideal so you can still put breast pads in if necessary). Use cool compresses to alleviate any pain, and keep feeding that baby to:
It will take a while for your belly to flatten out
During pregnancy, your uterus has grown around 500 times its original size!! Go ahead and read that sentence again…your uterus has grown around 500 times its original size. While a good ol’ fundal massage will help it contract so it can start to return to its dainty little stature it will still take some time for that to happen.
You may look like you’re still in the last trimester of your pregnancy for a few weeks after you have your baby*. Be patient; this will go down. It’s all part of the joy of the postpartum body!
*Just a note here: it may look like you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy for a few years/forever after you have your baby. The skin around your belly has stretched and it can be extremely difficult to become taut again. A lot of folks experience this, so you are 100% not alone on this.
You’re going to have some pain
So, there’s the obvious pain of “my vagina or lower abdomen has been opened and now must heal”, the lesser-known after-birth cramping (which gets worse with each baby and you should honestly have some midwife/doc approved pain relief handy for those babies), and also the general aches and pains from your body’s latest endeavor of getting a baby out of it.
Your abdominal muscles have gotten stretched which will affect your back. That, combined with the extra weight you’ve had on your front, can cause back pain. Be mindful of how you’re sitting when you’re feeding your baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Proper posture can help alleviate some muscle pain. If it doesn’t and you’re still suffering it may be wise to see a chiropractor or massage therapist.
There’s also new pain of holding your baby. Bicep curls done in pregnancy would come in hand here. Didn’t do any of those? No worries; you’ll be lugging around a tiny, adorable weight for the next 3 years so those muscles will definitely come!
You may experience skin changes
You may have noticed some stretch marks on your breasts, belly, and/or thighs as you went through your pregnancy. While those will never fully go away they will fade in time. Immediately after having your baby they may seem quite dark but as they fade they’ll turn a silvery colour.
If you had a linea nigra line that will entirely fade in time, although it may take a number of weeks.
You may also find that you’re getting some acne! Hormones combined with absolute exhaustion (trust me, washing your face might be the last thing you even think about at night) are a perfect storm for a pimple or two.
**You’re going to need some pretty heavy-duty under-eye concealer now that you’re a parent. You can use some of that on your blemish if you so desire!
Your postpartum body experience wouldn’t be complete without some lovely postpartum hormones to inject a little bit of panic in your life, would it?
While it’s not super common (around 10% of folks who have just given birth) hair loss is a thing in the postpartum period. Fortunately, most of this hair is excess hair that you would have had from hormones in your pregnancy but it’s still unnerving nonetheless.
Your hair loss should only last for about 3 months, but if it continues in full force beyond that it’s worthwhile checking in with the doc.
You may be constipated
You spent hours trying to push a baby out and now you get to relive (almost) the same thing!
The first postpartum poo is a bit of a doozy, and the few afterward can be pretty uncomfortable. The best advice: give your baby to someone else while you undertake this task (and no, this does not count as “alone time”). Eat plenty of fibrous foods and drink LOADS of water. This will help things go a little more smoothly.
Speaking of constipation…hemorrhoids may be an issue
You can prevent them/minimize them by doing things that you do to prevent constipation but sometimes they get out of hand and you’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider about it about some potential medications to help you relieve your discomfort.
Keep on top of your kegels. Ask your healthcare provider if you’re doing them properly-because there IS a correct way to do them. If you haven’t noticed an improvement by around a month maybe give pelvic floor physiotherapy a try. They can give you all the strategies you need to be able to build those muscles back up and save many a change of pants.
You need to watch for a few things:
You’re busy taking care of your beautiful new baby, but don’t forget about yourself, too.
If you notice any of these symptoms that www.parents.com indicates call your healthcare provider as soon as possible:
Chills or fever of 100.5 degrees or higher
Sudden heavy bleeding (soaking more than one pad an hour) or lots of large clots
Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Severe pain or redness surrounding, or discharge from, a C-section incision or an episiotomy
Fainting, nausea, or vomiting
Frequent urination or burning with urination
Constipation that lasts three days or more
Swelling, redness (or red streaks), and pain in your breasts, accompanied by fever
A tender, swollen, or red area anywhere in your leg or calf
Persistent headaches or vision changes
Excessive swelling of the face, fingers, or feet
Intense sadness or feeling that you can’t care for yourself or your baby
The most important thing you need to know about your postpartum body…
You may not love it. We’re pretty inundated with “love your postpartum body”, “beautiful postpartum body”, “look what your postpartum body does”, etc. Yes, there is obviously validity to this. Your body housed and nourished a child, brought that child into the world, possibly continues to nourish that child, holds that child, and cares for that child. Yes, it’s incredible.
However, there’s often a dismissal of the fact that your body has likely experienced some significant physical changes which may be difficult for you to become used to, difficult for you to love.
This is okay.
You can love what your postpartum body has done, but not love your postpartum body. Make sure you take care of it all the same, but if you’re not fully comfortable with the extra weight on your tummy or the stretch marks on your breasts that’s okay.