Posts Tagged ‘fourth trimester’

My Pregnancy: Week 1 Postpartum

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Week Postpartum 1

Another beautiful baby graced the world with its presence this week—my sweet baby. We spent half of this week in the hospital and the other half at home. Three pregnancies in and I felt more confident than before. A few little things I’ve learned along the way brought me comfort in the hospital this time around:

  • I shifted my expectations somewhat, no longer really hoping to sleep much in the way that I hoped with our other children in those newborn days. Accepting that my child is going to spit up on me, causing me to go through three shirts some nights, makes the actual experience less frustrating.
  • I learned with the last pregnancy that changing into my own clothes helped me feel at home. This time as soon as they removed the catheter, I transitioned to my clothes that were nursing friendly.
  • I limited visits. The day is surprisingly full with nurses and doctors visiting, nursing, getting used to baby, sifting through paperwork, trying to take in your newborn, ordering and eating food to coincide with medication times (if on pain relievers), updating family and friends, and recovery. Those first 48 hours I got only 4 hours of sleep yet I didn’t have a spare moment.
  • I took my time getting baby onto social media. We share on a private page with family and a few close friends that live scattered around the country. We don’t have smart phones, so photos went on that private page when it was first convenient for us. I didn’t rush and found confidence in knowing that prior to social media, just ten years ago, people used to wait days or weeks to see a photo or update about baby. People can wait.
  • I bathed as soon as able to stand for a few minutes safely. With my first baby I put off bathing, partly in fear of the healing and partly because I didn’t want my husband to have to help and see me in all my postpartum mess and glory. This time I utilized the nurses who were more than willing to help get me undressed and cleaned up. I still use the restroom with privacy from hubby and this didn’t change in the hospital; he did help me dress and get to the bathroom as needed. Negotiate your own comfort zone as you go, but be open and willing to ask for help without shame. Nurses are there to help in all aspects of your recovery.
  • I didn’t try to cover up. I remember my mother-in-law holding up a towel while I tried to nurse my first baby. He wouldn’t latch and all I recall from that moment was my anxiety mounting while visitors chatted in the background. This time I either more strongly advocated for visitors to leave when needed or I didn’t try to cover up so much, particularly with nurses (they’ve seen it all). Your hospital room is a sacred space, the initial place where you and your baby learn to thrive in this world. Let it all hang out.
  • Utilize the services they offer, especially lactation consulting. This was my third time around nursing. I’ve nursed two children successfully for over a year each. Still I welcomed the consultant when she first stopped by unasked. I then sought her out the moment I noticed difficulty with nursing (soreness).
  • Let the nurses assist you (significant other and family too). With each child there was a night that proved especially difficult. I was tired, in pain, and at emotion’s end. Hubby slept at home each night due to back pain and sub-par sleeping options at the hospital. With my second child my mattress started to slide down. I remember finally using the call button as my C-sectioned-self tried unsuccessfully to push it back where it belonged as my child screamed, ready to nurse. This time the nurses rounded just as I FINALLY got my very sleepless baby to sleep, waking her. Let people help you. Picking up on how frazzled I seemed, my nurse offered to take the baby just for an hour or two to let me rest. I’m so glad I allowed it; she rocked her to sleep that once, offering me a major reprieve at a crucial moment.

Given the uncomfortable end to my (any?) pregnancy I was a little surprised to find myself missing being pregnant by the week’s end. While I’m still sure we’re done having children I find myself nostalgic already in a way that is uncharacteristic of me. Maybe it’s the hormones. Ultimately, it’s the end of the baby-making era for us and I feel it. In a way I enjoy the late, long nights. It may be that this isn’t my first rodeo so I’m just used to them. Add in there the nostalgia factor and I know all too well these are the last nights that I’ll have a newborn to enjoy.  With that said, another week of life, new life, is in the books.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

The Fourth Trimester: When Mastitis Strikes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

When mastitis strikes

I encountered my first bout of mastitis when my fourth baby was
5 weeks old. I breastfed all four of my children over a total of six years, and I can summarize the experience in exactly one word: TERRIBLE!

I was in bed in near tears because my body was so sore and achy. I would alternate between having the chills and a very high fever causing me to sweat buckets. I felt absolutely miserable, but was also desperate to clear up the infection without the use of antibiotics.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue. It generally starts as a plugged milk duct that becomes infected. The effected breast will be red, swollen, painful, and inflamed.

How is Mastitis Treated?

The very best form of treatment is a preventative approach. For example, avoid restrictive bras or clothing, empty your breasts completely at each feeding and/or pumping session, and nurse and/or pump on a frequent basis to avoid engorgement. Additionally, keeping stress levels low (yes easier said than done) is important, as stress can be a trigger for mastitis.

Even when all preventative measures are employed, mastitis can creep up on you rather quickly. A clogged duct can turn into mastitis within hours. At the very first sign you might be experiencing a clogged duct, make sure you pay attention to your body. Apply lots of massage and heat to the area and nurse, nurse, nurse.

When mastitis strikes, a common course of treatment is a round of antibiotics. While this can be effective, some moms may opt to treat mastitis without the use of antibiotics. I preferred to avoid the use of antibiotics and employed the following holistic treatment and comfort measures:

  • Rest – this is essential! Try to let go of everything else and focus on resting your body. This is definitely a time to call upon your support system for help. When I had mastitis, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting and my husband was home from work. This allowed me the ability to stay in bed for almost two days straight while my body healed. As mothers it can be difficult for us to let go of all the responsibilities nagging at us, but to the greatest extent possible allow yourself to rest so your body can heal.
  • Massage – Massage effected area frequently. You can massage with coconut oil or even a bit of arnica gel/cream (just be sure to wipe any residual amount away before baby nurses). As much as possible keep breasts moving; even jiggle them to help your milk flow.
  • Nurse – Continue to nurse your baby frequently and in varied positions. You can even massage the affected area while baby is nursing to try to release the clogged duct. Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Babies are extremely effective in getting milk to flow so keep your baby close and nurse often.
  • Heat – Applying heat to affected area can help reduce inflammation and soften the tissue. You can take hot showers or use hot compresses before each nursing session.
  • Fever reducer – You may want to take something to reduce fever. This chart shows risk factors of medications while breastfeeding. Both Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are considered safe while breastfeeding. Homeopathic options such as belladonna may be something you consider exploring as well.
  • Boost Immune System – Vitamin C is a highly effective immune system booster. Some health care providers recommend a therapeutic dosage of Vitamin C (3000-5000 mg/day) to combat mastitis. Echinacea, green tea, zinc, vitamin B, garlic, and ginger also help boost immunity. I drank several cups of this garlic ginger broth when I had mastitis.
  • Stay well hydrated – Drink lots of water, especially if you are sweating due to fever. Keep a water bottle next to you as a reminder to keep consuming water.
  • Castor Oil Packs – Another alternative treatment option is a caster oil pack. This article explains how to do a castor oil pack as well as the benefits of doing them.

While mastitis is very challenging to cope with and definitely feels like a huge bump in the breastfeeding journey, know that it generally only lasts about 24 to 48 hours. Often it is our body’s way of telling us to S-L-O-W down. So listen to your body. Pay attention to this its message. And above all take the very best care of yourself as possible. After all you are nourishing another little person with your wonderful milk.

Please note: As with any health issue or concern it is always best to contact your health care provider regarding course of treatment.

Sarah Johnson is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer. 

The Fourth Trimester: A 12-Week Postpartum Series

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Most people are familiar with the three trimesters of pregnancy:

The Fourth Trimester

  • First trimester is from conception to week 12.
  • Second trimester is from week 13 to week 27
  • Third trimester is from week 28 until birth

But did you know that the first 12 weeks out of the womb are often referred to as the “fourth trimester”? This is a time of rapid changes for both you and your baby. Your body changes significantly during this time as, “your reproductive tract returns to its non-pregnant state. In addition, your cardiovascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, urologic, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and nervous systems all also return to a nonpregnant state” (Postpartum: 4th Trimester). Your baby is also growing and changing as he/she is adjusting to life outside the womb and his/her body is learning to regulate itself.

The fourth trimester is certainly a special time for a family. It is a time of bonding and developing new connections. However, it can also come with challenges as you navigate new roles and how to care for a new family member.

This weekly series will examine common topics that arise during the first 12 weeks after giving birth. For example, establishing breastfeeding, learning to love and accept your postpartum body, nourishment for a nursing mama, cloth diapering from day one, newborn baby wearing and much more.

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And who better to share about the fourth trimester experience than a mama who is going through it herself? Blog contributor Sarah recently gave birth to her fourth son and is enjoying the trials and tribulations of the fourth trimester experience…for the fourth time! She is greatly looking forward to sharing her journey with you.