Getting to the 6 month mark post-baby feels like such an achievement. Idris is doing really well Allhumdulillah, we’ve started to wean and he’s generally a really fun and happy baby to be around. That’s all about the baby, the rest of this post will be all about me. Heads-up, I’m going to over-share, so if you don’t want to know about my digestive tract post birth or my 2nd degree tear and healing… stop reading now!
I’m finally beginning to feel like myself and coping better with my two under 2. The thing with babies is that they constantly change, so just when you think you’ve got everything under control and have a routine figured out, it all changes! I decided early on after my second child that I was going to take things easy, really easy, and put very little pressure on myself about anything: housework, socialising, weighloss, everything was going to take a backseat to my mental health. I wanted to focus on myself and my babies and if that meant ordering take away from a messy kitchen with unwashed hair in my maternity jeans then so-be-it.
Around 5 months postpartum I made an appointment to see my Dr. I made a list of all the things I wanted to talk to her about, however small and silly, and went along to see her. I initially made the appointment as I was having very sharp pains in my lower stomach/ abdomen. I was also feeling quite bloated and I thought the two things combined warranted a checkup. Then about a week before my appointment (I think I had to wait around 3 weeks to see my GP! The NHS!) I started to get really bad pains in my wrists and joints. My wrists especially were so painful that I couldn’t apply any weight on them, and as you can imagine with two small children, who constantly needed lifting, that was very difficult. I’ve also been severely constipated post birth. I’ve never suffered from constipation before having children and I used to think it was kind of amusing when friends complained about it. I know now that there’s nothing funny about constipation. It’s awful and dreadful and bloody painful. I also wanted her to check the scar from my second degree tear after having Idris. The last couple of times me and my husband engaged in coitus (as sex shall henceforth be called to take away any notions of pleasure!) it’s been really painful to the point I’ve had to ask him to stop as it hurts so much. I initially thought it was due to the scar and that my stitches were going to rip!
My Dr was really lovely, I presented her with my list of concerns and she tackled them one by one without any judgment, or none that I could see. She checked my stitches and assured me that they were nicely healed. She went on to explain that breastfeeding women often go off sex as breastfeeding stops you from ovulating. If you aren’t ovulating, there’s much less oestrogen circulating your body. This low level of oestrogen makes you less interested in sex, and you may have vaginal dryness too. Hence the painful coitus. The breastfeeding was also to blame for the pains in my lower abdomen as it was causing contractions in my uterus. As for the joint pains she said those were also common post birth due to the chemical changes in your body during pregnancy. She had a feel of my hands and said she couldn’t feel anything to worry about and that hopefully it would go away in time and if it didn’t I should come back. With regards to the constipation, she said I was dehydrated due to… the breastfeeding! When your breastfeeding you need to consume twice as much water as usual, it’s not uncommon to be told to drink 3 to 4 litres! I left her office without a prescription but advised to increase my H2O intake and hopefully I’d start feeling better.
It’s a good idea if your breastfeeding and want to consider contraception to speak to your GP around the 6 month mark about your options. I’ve been relying on breastfeeding as contraception, which if used exclusively, is a safe way to not get pregnant. However the moment you introduce food (start weaning your baby) you lose that protection so will need to consider something else. My periods haven’t returned yet but as I’m weaning my son I know I have to be very careful, I’ve opted for the natural way I.e. no contraception just tracking my period and ovulation cycle and I’m praying that works out for us as I don’t think I can handle 3 under 3! Also I’m not having sex!
The only other postpartum thing that is somewhat upsetting me is the amount of hair I’m still losing. Honestly, I’m surprised I still have any hair on my head, I definitely lose a good handful every time I wash it. I only wash my hair once a week now and usually give myself an oil treatment and head massage on that day. I only use natural soaps on my hair and usually have it tied up in a ponytail. It’s quite long, down to my waist now so it’s not practical to leave it loose most days. It feels so much thinner than it did while I was pregnant, but I do have very thin hair naturally. I’m hoping that the hair loss will subside in a few months but it is completely normal post birth. Regarding my weight, I’ve basically just lost interest in it. I’m no longer exercising other than going for walks when I go out. I do want to do yoga, but Idris is too demanding at the moment and it’s not worth upsetting him. I have lost most of the weight and I can easily wear size 8 jeans. I do have loose skin on my belly but even that seems to be tightening itself up. I’ve been told that some of it always remains, but let’s see, for now it’s not bothering me at all. Most of it has dropped off naturally and I think by 9 months postpartum I should be back to my pre-baby figure
So the moral of this post is to take care of yourself. I love breastfeeding, it’s such a powerful bonding tool and I love being able to provide for and feed my children, and breastfeeding is the best form of nourishment and the healthiest start you can provide for your babies. That being said it takes a lot out of you, and you are just as important. So I urge all new mamas, whatever number baby your on, to make an appointment with your GP and go and have a chat about ANY issues you might have concerning your health and wellbeing. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your babies, because to them you are always worth it.