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What Mother Won't Tell You...Take 2!

So, the first "episode" of "What Mother Won't Tell You" got such a huge response that I decided to write some more.  This seems to be such a huge area that we don't talk about, so let's get it ALL out in the open!  For those friends who requested it, here you go!  Since the warning was already included on the first part, I'll just add a gentle reminder...tread lightly!

Let's get straight into details.  During the last post I included my "New Momma" gift: overnight pads (without wings), Medela nursing pads, Medela nipple cream, cheap underwear, and a bottle of KY.  Now, here are the specific details for the reason behind these items:

1.  Overnight pads (without wings) and cheap underwear:  When I first went into labor and went to the hospital, even though I had taken all the preparatory courses, I still had very little idea of what to expect.  So, when I saw the gigantic "get everything", looks-like-a-puppy-potty-training pad on the bed, I was a little confused.  My water had already broken, and I hadn't even had the baby yet.  What was this supposed to get?  Well, to say it nicely, labor and delivery is not a clean thing.  It is messy.  Both before, during, and after delivery will involve fluids that you didn't know you had in you.  It will also involve amounts of fluids that you didn't know your body could hold.  Hence, there was also a bucket that "caught" everything as Baby was delivered.  Unfortunately, I can't explain everything about this because I refused the mirror that was offered during delivery...hey, I want to have another child some day!

After delivery, one might assume that your body has expunged all (or at least most) of the pregnancy-related items within you.  Ah, but you would be wrong!  I was dumbfounded when the labor & delivery nurse told me to put on the disposable, one-size-fits-all, mesh underwear with the inserted pads that basically formed a diaper.  Then, six weeks later, when my body was still ridding itself of fluids, I actually called my OB to ask if this was common.  I was sure that I had somehow been afflicted with a major pregnancy-induced catastrophe that would require hours upon hours of doctor visits, specialists, and eventually a medical journal write-up detailing the rare instance of my affliction.  However, none of this was to happen as my OB informed me that all was perfectly normal. 

Now, to explain the "without wings" requirement: delivery causes quite a shock to the lower half of a woman's body.  I was shocked to learn that it would be hours before I was able to go to the bathroom (and we're just talking #1) and then days before I could do the other (even with stool softeners).  The swelling that occurs after birth is one that takes weeks to go down.  My doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory for me and, when that was finished, I used an over-the-counter medicine, but there is still irritation when anything touches certain inflamed areas.  Therefore, I highly encourage anyone who asks to purchase the pads without wings so as to reduce the rubbing on inflamed areas.  Whether or not you have an episiotomy, you will have swelling...it just happens.

2. Medela nursing pads & nipple cream:  For all women, regardless of whether or not you decide to breastfeed, you will experience a wonderful (sarcastic comment input here) experience known as breast engorgement.  Basically, a few days after the birth of Baby and just before your milk comes in, your breasts will grow to a ridiculous size and will harden as if they are made of concrete.  If you decide to breastfeed, your baby (who may still be learning how to latch on) will have such difficulty latching onto your concrete breasts that he/she may cause damage to said breasts (my baby took a chunk out of one of mine - who said no teeth wouldn't hurt?).  There are several products that you can buy to help reduce nipple and breast pain during this time, but my recommendation is to use a lot of warm washcloths and/or steam showers.  Not only does this help with the pain, but it also helps with the milk let-down which then turns those concrete breasts into something slightly less painful.  You can also pump prior to Baby nursing in order to allow him/her to more easily latch on.

Well, if you're worried about the breast engorgement, don't be.  It only lasts a couple of days.  Then, your milk comes in and the real fun actually begins!  Now, as a temporary tangent, my baby had A LOT of difficulty nursing.  So, some of the things I experienced will not be experienced by every mother.  As with every pregnancy, all stories and experiences are different.  After my milk came in, I experienced milk let-down practically all day.  Not only was my baby having difficulty nursing - hence not sucking all of that milk out of my breasts - but she was also crying a lot (she was hungry!) which caused me to have milk let-down nearly all day, every day.  Here is the reason for a quality nursing pad!  Being the ever frugal family, my husband and I decided to try the cloth nursing pads.  They didn't work for the simple reason that they became soaked within a matter of minutes.  Without any layer to contain the milk, it quickly soaked through to my nursing bra and then my shirt.  I tried several different nursing pads and then came to the Medela pads.  While they are a bit more expensive, I now use nothing else.  The Medela pads are comfortable, they don't look like you've stuffed your bra, and they contain the milk.  Granted, for about the first eight weeks, I had to change out the pads 3-4 times per day, but they worked!  As I have continued nursing, I still used nursing pads, but thankfully don't have to change them as many times a day.

The other experience with nursing is going to be nipple pain.  I had tried to prepare for this.  Prior to delivery, my doctor had told me to use a washcloth to scrub my nipples and begin to "harden" them so that they'd be ready for nursing.  I'm not sure if this worked or not because, after I began nursing, the pain was so severe that I ended up going to four different lactation specialists and two different doctors to try to determine what was wrong.  My nipples were cracked, bleeding, and - as previously mentioned - damaged.  There were times that I nursed and screamed.  But, I continued because this is what I wanted to do.  While nipple creams do not alleviate pain, they do help to reduce symptoms that can cause pain.  I tried a couple of different nipple creams, all of which said that I could safely nurse Baby without having to remove the cream.  The first few creams that I tried were more like Vasoline.  They were sticky, left a film which then transferred to Baby during nursing, and was difficult to clean from the nipple shields when I pumped.  Medela's nipple cream is one that goes on more like lotion.  It doesn't leave a film, and it made me feel more comfortable using it while nursing.  I also felt like it helped reduce the cracking and bleeding.  I used it religiously!

3. KY (or any other brand of lubricant):  Let's face it...if you've had a baby, then you've had sex and will eventually decide to have it again!  Now, remember all that I wrote above about swelling?  Well, you add sex to the mix and it's friction crazy.  Therefore, without getting into too many "specific" details for those friends and family who are reading this blog (and without losing my dignity and giving TMI), lubricant (and lots of it) will be needed.  If you are breastfeeding, you may need it longer.  Don't feel ashamed about it, it happens to us all!

So, for those of you who wanted more information as to why we need these products, I hope this blog entry has satisfied your curiosities!  lf you made it this far, I applaud you!  And, for those of you who this blog entry may scare, remember, being a mother is the BEST job you could ever ask for.  With each passing day, life gets better, pains go away, you get more sleep and more smiles.  Plus, do you really think that men could go through all of this and survive?  We are women, hear us ROAR!!!

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