25 Things I Didn’t Know Happened After Giving Birth

Nine months I spend preparing myself for the day of giving birth. I was mentally and physically ready (Although, I thought I was. But that topic deserves another post) I went to centering pregnancy, took breathing technique lessons and read about hypnobirthing. The big day of giving birth came and after a sixteen-hour rollercoaster of emotions and pain, my baby was out. I survived the most anticipated day. I knew it was going to be hard, painful and intense and I thought that was it. I finally made it to my last chapter of the childbirth lessons book. But, it turned out that a lot of things happen before you even leave the hospital that I didn’t learn in class, and no one ever mentioned. I’m going to share those things with you. Not to scare you, but to prepare you. Here they are: 

  1. As soon as my baby was out and on my chest, I felt overwhelmed. Tired of pushing and not understanding what was happening.
  2. The umbilical cord was still attached to the baby and placenta. The cord feels very warm and weird.
  3. I immediately lose my heavy pregnant belly, but I still looked like when I was 20 weeks pregnant.
  4. The black line which divides the belly decided to stay with me. I have read that it might stay for some indefinite time. I still have it after 15 weeks PP.
  5. After the nurses and doctors have seen me naked and vulnerable, I lost all the modesty. I wasn’t ashamed of anything anymore.
  6. As soon as the baby is out (actually since the pushing part begins) I started to lose blood. A lot! The bleeding doesn’t stop up until six weeks PP. Some women are lucky and bleed less, some other bleed longer. But you will bleed for sure.
  7. The first time walking from the hospital bed to the shower feels painful and shaky. It might be only five steps but it can feel like hundred meters.
  8. Showering feels actually very good. It might be painful to shower standing. You can ask your partner or a nurse to bring you a chair and put some towels to sit on.
  9. The first-time peeing. Not only pee but also blood and a lot of other weird looking stinky fluid comes out of your precious body. It doesn’t hurt, and the water just comes out without needing to put any pressure. But it can be surprising to see where all those fluids come from. At home, it might be more convenient to pee in the shower and clean yourself with water afterward.
  10. The first-time pooping is scary. The muscles are very sore and because of the pushing work, you will lose sensibility on your back door. This causes that you won’t really feel that you are pooping but you are actually doing it. This sensation (or lack of) can last a couple of days or even weeks. My tip: eat a lot of fiber in order to have a good digestion. And not have any constipation problem.
  11. You won’t be able to control your farts. So yes, the farts will come out without you even noticing. Only the smell will betray you. The smell is worse than when you have a heavy stomach disease. I guess the smell is a combination of blood, poop and your body recovering. This situation can last for weeks. At some point, you will get used to it and let the gas out without apologies.
  12. Sitting down on the bed or on a chair is very painful. If you had an episiotomy it’s going to be even more painful. The pain might take days or even weeks to go away completely.
  13. A couple of hours after giving birth, a nurse will help you to hand express milk for your baby. Because you don’t have any modesty you just let her hand press your tender breasts.
  14. Breastfeeding might be painful in the beginning. You can have blisters and it can get bloody. Everyone will tell you to just hang in there and you will like to punch everyone in the face. But the pain will go away indeed. My tip: shower with warm water and massage your breasts. Before wearing your bra put some Lanolin on your nipples. If you still have a lot of pain, try a nipple shield.
  15. The first days PP you will still feel little contractions every time you are breastfeeding. This is because the uterus is slowly shrinking back down to its pre-birth size.
  16. Breastfeeding is exhausting. The first days, you will need to feed your baby every three to four hours. This is in order to get your production going on. You wake up often because newborns normally sleep just a little. If you are lucky, your baby will sleep longer at night for a couple of days on. I wasn’t so lucky and my baby woke up every three hours (day and night!) to eat until she was around twelve weeks old.
  17. The lack of sleep and the hormones will make you think that you are crazy. You might wake up in the middle of the night and not remember if you already fed your baby or just dreamed it.
  18. Some nights you might be so tired you’ll consider letting your baby cry a little bit longer to wake up feeling like the worst mother in the world. Just remember it’s not you. It’s the lack of sleep talking. Consider asking for help so that you can catch up some sleep during the day.
  19. You will get hot. Not the good looking hot, but the one that makes you wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat.
  20. Your breast might leak while you are sleeping. Since you are already in a pool of sweat why not add more liquids to it, right?
  21. You won’t be able to sleep on your stomach for a couple of days or weeks PP. If (like me) this is what you miss the most while you’re being heavily pregnant, I have bad news. The first days PP it’s very painful to sleep on the stomach due to the engorged breasts. If you continue breastfeeding it stays uncomfortable to sleep on the stomach.
  22. If you got an episiotomy, around the fourth day PP, the stitches will hurt a lot. More than the days before. So much that you will wake up crying thinking that you can’t deal with this anymore. As soon as the stitches start healing they pull the skin together and this feels like a burning sensation. This pain will eventually go away. Make sure you put cold compresses and leave your wound aired.
  23. You might miss your pregnant belly and won’t be able to make the link to the baby and the missing the belly.
  24. You might not miss your pregnant belly and be the happiest person again. And that is totally fine. (My case 😉 )
  25. You might feel depressed and find this is too much for you to handle. This is totally normal. Try to recognize these feelings and ask for professional help.

 

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Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

This list is made out of my postpartum experience. Remember that this is different for every woman. Don’t be freaked out by my list, but be prepared for some heavy days full of discomfort and pain. After the pain is gone and you can fully enjoy your new family it will feel like it was all worth it.

With Love,

Alisson

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The Benefits​ of Sensory Play

As soon as babies are born, their curiosity starts developing. Every little thing a baby is exposed to is an amazing thing to be explored. With their eyes, ears, mouths, noses, and fingers. There are activities that help develop the senses of a baby. Stimulating a baby is therefore very important. Early stimulation can help improve attention span, memory, curiosity, and nervous system development. The first year of a child is the time when the brain grows the fastest that it ever will.

There are a lot of games and ways you can stimulate your child. You can do it at home or you can join baby lessons where you will learn how to play with your baby. A famous class it’s called Baby Sensory. This programme was founded by UK’s leading parenting expert Dr. Lin Day. The course offers a complete approach to learning and sensory development from birth to 13 months. It is designed to stimulate and educate a child during the first year of life.

During the classes, parents are provided with ideas for creative play, massage, tummy time, and movement in simple ways that can be easily repeated at home. All of the activities are accompanied by music and sensory signing to help develop early speech and language skills. A sensory environment rich in sights, sounds, smells, and textures promote brain growth, increases the capacity for intellectual development and forms the foundation for all future learning. Every week the activities are different. There’s always something new and exciting to look forward to.

This summer I joined the Baby Sensory lessons in Amersfoort. The class is held by Linda Veldman in the south of the city. The lessons start always with a beautiful song called ‘Say hello to the sun’ and follow with different activities. Linda is very sweet and good with parents and babies. The lessons take one hour. During this time, we play, we sing and we discover new sensations. My fifteen-week baby doesn’t make it, to be awake and alert the whole class. At some point during the class, she will feed or nap. And that is ok. Every lesson she is more awake and eager to learn. These classes have helped me to learn how to play with my baby. It also helps me to feel more confident and happy as a parent.

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Father and daughter during a car washing time.

You can join Baby Sensory lessons too! Check here to see where is the closest location to you. If you live in Amersfoort, there are two locations. In de Leusderkwartier and in Vathorst. You can contact Linda for more information at amersfoort@babysensory.nl

With Love,
Alisson

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How I Survived The First Weeks Postpartum

For nine months, I was preparing myself for the big day of giving birth. I went to pregnancy centering, took breathing technique lessons and read about hypnobirthing. One thing I was not prepared for: the postpartum time. I guess I was too relax because in The Netherlands, through your health insurance, you will get a maternity nurse. She will help you the first days after giving birth. The one I got was very kind and helpful. She taught us a lot in terms of how to take care of the baby. Besides checking the health of the baby, she was also checking my health and my recovery process.

Apart from the help of the nurse, here are some things that helped me to have a gentle ease into motherhood:

1. Let your partner take the first two weeks off (or longer).
You probably heard it before, every labor is different. But there is one thing ALL labors have in common. You end up feeling tired, weak and exhausted. On top of that, because of the episiotomy I got during my labor (Ouch!), It took me weeks to be able to stand, walk and sit again. Making me feel a little bit handicapped. Which means, my partner was full-time helping me. Our routine was like this: when the baby woke up, my partner would wake up too, take the baby and bring her to my side. I would breastfeed her on one breast. Then my partner would take her again, change her diaper and give her back to me to breastfeed her on the other breast. When she was done, he would put her back in to her crib. We worked like this until one and a half weeks. After that, I was feeling stronger and was able to walk and grab the baby myself. My partner was still helping me a lot during the first four weeks.

2. Rent/lend a double pump.
While I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I was lucky that she latched well since the beginning. I was only having trouble with my milk supply. Around five days postpartum, I rented a double pump and under the advice of a lactation expert, I was pumping every three to four hours to stimulate my milk production. The double pump was great because it saved me a lot of time. After two days of intense pumping, my milk supply was increasing and I went back to live feeding my baby. After that, I kept a single pump that I still use to extract milk when I want to have some time off from live feeding.

3. Wear sanitary pads and comfy undies made of cotton.
Right after birth, the bleeding starts and it seems to have no end. During the first days post-partum, I was using pads made of organic cotton and zero plastic. For me, it was the best due to the episiotomy. The stitches felt very painful. The cotton pads helped with the air circulation down there, so the healing process was going well. I was lucky I didn’t get any infection. After a couple of weeks of bleeding, when I realized that it was not going to stop soon, I bought washable sanitary pads. They are very soft and easy to use and wash. I liked them because the blood doesn’t stink as much as with disposable pads. Through the whole time (and still now) I wear organic cotton underwear from Organic Basics.

4. Have family close to you.

I considered myself lucky. Five days after my baby was born my mom came all the way from Colombia to The Netherlands. She stayed with us for two months. Her help was amazing. She not only took care of my baby, she also cared for me and my partner. The first weeks post-partum are very intense and I was in a lot of pain. My mother would help me to take care of my baby so that I could rest. This really helped me to heal and feel better within weeks.

5. Eat healthy, every meal.
Due to the help of my mother I was able to eat healthy in the morning, at lunch and for dinner. I was also having a lot of snacks due to the breastfeeding hunger. The days before my mother was with us, we had someone of my partner’s family cooking for us. Every day someone else. They cooked bigger portions so that my partner and I could eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.

6. Shower every day.
This point seems obvious but I have to mention it because this really helped me to feel good. As soon as the baby went to sleep I would walk to the shower and have a moment for myself. After that, I felt like a person again instead of a living zombie.

7. Wear comfortable clothes.
For me, comfort was more important than anything else. During the first weeks, I mostly wore leggings, big comfy sweaters, and socks. The first week was very painful. The comfy clothes helped me to feel a little bit better.

8. Have as less visit as possible.
This might sound anti-social but I was glad we didn’t get any visit except for close family during the first weeks. My baby was having a routine every three hours. First, change the diaper, then feed her, then she would go to sleep and in two hours it would start again. My partner and I were full-time busy with our baby. Every hour we could get ‘off’ we would rather rest. Of course, grandma, grandad, aunts, and uncle were welcome but no one else. This was really relaxed for us. After a month when I was feeling better and able to walk and sit, we started having more people around.

9. Stayed away from social media.
The first four weeks after birth, I didn’t check any of my social media channels. While I was very happy that everything went ok, I was also very tired and exhausted. I consciously didn’t want to be on social media seeing how amazing everyone’s lives where, while I was in pain and feeling handicapped, laying on my bed. This ‘digital detox’ helped me to focus on my baby and live in the present.

Giving birth was the most bizarre experience of my life. All of a sudden there was a tiny new person with us and all we wanted to do was taking care of her.
The days after giving birth were very painful to me. I felt muscle pain everywhere, I had pain in the stitches, pain in my breasts and felt very uncomfortable on my back door. I have to admit that due to the pain, I felt that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby the first days. But I had the best of the supports. My partner and my mother (and the kraamzoorg). They made the first days easy for me. As soon as I was able to walk and bend over to grab my baby, I started to enjoy more of this rollercoaster of having a newborn.

Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

I hope these tips help you to have an easy start to motherhood.
Are there any tips I am missing? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,

Alisson

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OOTD: Ethically Handwoven in Uganda

Weaverbirds is a small social enterprise based in Uganda and in Denmark. The owner Liv, is from Denmark but lived in Uganda for many years up. After having worked in development for a decade she wanted to do something different which had a more immediate impact on both socio-economically and environmentally development. These two ideas quickly merged into Weaverbirds.

The main focus of Weaverbirds is to be as sustainable as possible throughout the entire production chain. They only use local cotton certified CmiA (Sustainable by the Cotton made in Africa) initiative. This means that the cotton is grown by small-scale farmers working under good conditions and receiving a fair price for their products. The cotton plants are non-GMO, not irrigated, and harvested by hand without the use of chemical defoliant. The workers in the spinning mill and dye-workshop are furthermore hired under good conditions and not exposed to harmful chemicals. Their weavers get paid a fair wage and are ensured constant employment and therefore always know that they have a full salary at the end of the month. They also minimize waste through the design and cutting phase, as well as by using whatever scraps they have left for other alternative products.

Weaverbirds focus as well on giving back to the community. Every year they have a charity wrap where all proceeds go to a charity of their choice. In 2017 they donated to Maternity Worldwide’s project in Uganda and they give a percentage of the annual income to a maternal mental health project in eastern Uganda.

On these series of pictures, I show you how I wear my baby in the ‘Canopy’ wrap from Weaverbirds. The pictures were made in Amersfoort by the photographer Marisa Elisa Photography.

Weaverbirds
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography
Ethically made in Uganda
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography
Sustainable baby wrap
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography
Weaverbirds wrap
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

What I´m wearing:
Shirt // Organic Basics Use this code to get 20% discount: OBxsimmonds20 Shop here
Pants // Pre-owned from my mother
Shoes // Po-zu
Wrap // Weaverbirds

I hope you get inspired and next when you need a baby wrap you support this beautiful company. Discover more about the world of Weaverbirds here: http://weaverbirds.ug/about/

With Love,
Alisson

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30+ Shops To Buy Organic Clothes For Babies and Children

As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, my search for sustainable baby clothes started. I want my baby to wear natural fibers and pieces that are made for children, not ‘by’ children. Here is a list of brands that I have gathered so far:

4 Natural Kids
Handmade organic cotton baby products.

Amy and Ivor
Vegetable leather mocassins for babies.

Baby Verhip
Sets of 100% organic cotton. GOTS certified. Comfortable for babies and practical for parents.

Bamboom
Bamboo Baby bedding and fashion. Dutch design. 100% produced in Italy.

Carlijn Q
Organic apparel for kids. Run by a Dutch momboss from Rotterdam.

Dilling
Bio wool clothes for babies and children. Wool regulates your child’s body temperature throughout the year and also reduces the risk of grabbing a cold. Dilling offers organic baby underwear in different designs and colors.

Picture: https://www.kleinebaasjes.nl

Disana
Bio and fair trade certified brand for babies, kids, and home. Made in Germany.

Engel Naturtextilien
Organic underwear and clothes. Made in Germany.

Fresk
100% organic cotton and fair baby and kids clothes. Fresk designs garments to make life cheerful and colorful.

Gray Label
Organic apparel for the little minimalist. From newborn to 10 years old. 100% organic fabrics.

Hulaaloop
Rental clothes for babies and kids. Amsterdam based. Circular economy. Run by mompreneurs Emma and Puck

Iek & Jet
Organic baby and kidswear brand. From size 56 to size 116. Run by Iek and Jet. They design and produce the collections themselves, using organic fabrics.

Picture: https://nixnut.nl

Igi Natur
Organic Baby Clothes from 0 to 6 years.

Imps & Elfs
Organic apparel and lifestyle brand. For babies and kids. Dutch Design.

Kidscase
Freestyle, versatile, fair and organic. Amsterdam-based baby and children’s clothing brand for up to 10 years.

Kindzoblij
Fairtrade children’s clothes. From size 50 to 152.

Kleine Baasjes 
Organic and sustainable baby and kids wear. Handmade in The Netherlands

Mini Rodini
Spanish based brand. Cool and organic clothes for kids. Member of the fair wear foundation.

Picture: https://www.shopsaar.nl

Nixnut 
Fairtrade baby brand from The Netherlands. Organic and soft materials. Natural colors and comfortable fittings for newborns and kids up to 4 years.

Noeser
Children’s clothes from organic cotton. GOTS certified. Dutch brand.

Popupshop
Organic basics for kids

Saar
100% fair & organic handmade fashion. GOTS certified. Run by Saar based in Arnhem.

Picture: https://www.noeser.eu/nl

WEBSHOPS WITH DIFFERENT BRANDS:

Daily Brat
Organic apparel and lifestyle items for your little one. Shipping worldwide from Amsterdam.

Faam
Antwerp based multi-brand web/shop with eco, fair and sustainable fashion for men, women, baby, and kids.

Goodmorning Sunshine
Online kids boutique. From 0 to 14 years old.

Greenjump
Biologic and fair-trade online store. More than 2000 products from brands where beautiful and convenient is just as important as sustainable and fair production.

Lidor
Online store for Babies and children. 

Little King Arthur
Online concept store. From 0 to 7 years old. With organic unique brands. Run by mothers Nicole and Marilyn. Made in The Netherlands.

Petozzi
Online store for Babies and children. 

Purestarters
Fair and pure clothes for children.

Waschbaer
Eco webshop for the whole family.

CUSTOME MADE:

A Gift
Handmade children clothes. Using GOTS certified fabrics. Run by Astrid.

Kaatje Pluk
Unique and original baby clothes and accessories. Organic cotton fabrics available. Run by Karen.  

XOOZ
High-quality Handmade Goods. Play and chill in style.

With Love,
Alisson

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