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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Another Dutchie Thing: Geboortekaartjes

Geboortekaartjes. A Dutch tradition of which I thought it was weird and unnecessary. A waste of paper. I even made fun of it on this blog post, I’m sorry. I could never understand or care about this ‘sending cards’. I didn’t grow up with that. Even when I was pregnant in The Netherlands and I actually had to start thinking of this, I was against it.
But one day, when I was six months pregnant, my partner and I visited my mother-in-law for a coffee. Chatting with her I found out that she collected all the birth cards she ever received from her friends and family, included her first two grandchildren. ‘how can I miss a card from Luna?’ Not only her collection was important, also the tradition of presenting the baby with a postcard is very important, she told me. It’s also a nice way to keep contact with family members you otherwise don’t have contact with at all.

It was after that visit that I decided to join the tradition of sending birth cards. One thing I was clear about, it needed to be simple and super easy to do. That is when I found Hip Design.

Hip Design has different categories with hundreds of different cards. It also has the possibility of uploading your own design. From the category ‘geboortekaartjes’, my partner and I decided to go for a minimalistic card for baby Luna. We chose a simple template and we adjusted the colors, the font, and the size. On this website, it’s very easy to edit the cards. User friendly approved. When we finished our first draft we ordered a ‘proefdruk’. We received that with samples of colors for the envelopes and the kind of papers for the card.

After some corrections, we were happy with the end result.

This is how our card looks like:

Baby Birth Announcement
Picture by Marisa Elisa Photography

We opt to send it in a lilac envelope. Once Luna was born, my partner took care of all the arrangements and sent the cards to his (our) family. I took advantage and also sent some cards to my friends in Germany. Unfortunately, the delivery service to Colombia is really bad. Otherwise, I would have sent some to my family as well.

Even before we sent Luna’s birth cards, we received a lot of cards from family and friends expressing their congratulations. This felt very special. I have to admit that I liked to receive beautiful messages in the form of cards. I’m glad I joined the tradition.

How did you like this tradition? Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,
Alisson

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The Power Of Vulnerability

To keep my mind fit I like to read books and watch TED talks about these topics. Last summer I came across this talk about vulnerability by the Dr. Brené Brown:

As soon as the talk was finished, I discovered that Brené Brown has written a couple of books where she explains topics like authenticity and worthiness. I decided to learn more about it and got the book “Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution”. This book teaches us to rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes, and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness. Brené describes this in a three-step process:

The Reckoning: Accepting our story and be aware of our emotions.  Allow yourself to be curious about your emotions and how they connect with the way we think and behave.

The Rumble: Owning our story. Get honest about the stories we tell about ourselves. Then challenge these assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead a more wholehearted life.

The Revolution:  Writing a new ending to our story based on the learnings from our rumble and use this new story to change how we engage with the world.

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Today I want to share my favorite quotes of the book with you:

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” ― Brené Brown

“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed.” ― Brené Brown

“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.” ― Brené Brown

“…sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.”  ” ― Brené Brown

“C. S. Lewis captured this so beautifully in one of my favorite quotes of all time: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― Brené Brown

“I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.” ― Brené Brown

“TEN GUIDEPOSTS FOR WHOLEHEARTED LIVING” Cultivating:

  • Authenticity: letting go of what people think
  • Self-compassion: letting go of perfectionism
  • A resilient spirit: letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  • Gratitude and joy: letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
  • Intuition and trusting faith: letting go of the need for certainty
  • Creativity: letting go of comparison
  • Play and rest: letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
  • Calm and stillness: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  • Meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  • Laughter, song, and dance: letting go of being cool and “always in control”.

― Brené Brown

I hope you enjoy them and get inspired to read the whole book.
Did you already read the book? How did you like it?
Let me know in the comments below.

With Love,
Alisson

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ALL-YEAR-ROUND BASICS MUST-HAVES

Looking for sustainable and ethical fashion brands have become my hobby since I started this blog. My latest discovery is the ethical and sustainable clothing brand: Miss Green.

Sustainable and Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing, and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing the impact on the environment of all business operations, throughout the supply chain.

Slow Fashion is the movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste.

Sustainability is at the core of the Dutch brand Miss Green. For the owner, Maaike Groen, is very important to produce her clothes as responsible as possible with the environment and with the garment workers. The people who make the clothes earn a fair salary and work under good conditions. They only produce in European and Indian workshops with a GOTS certificate and a SA8000 standard, which means that they ensure organic and socially responsible production. During the production process, no harmful chemicals are used and the substances are as biological as possible. Besides, Miss Green rely mainly on her gut feeling. They regularly visit the factories and workshops to view and choose fabrics, but above all to talk with the people who make Miss Green´s clothes. They only have two collections per year.

After checking out their current Spring/Summer collection, I listed out my favorite items for you:

1. Tanktop Irene

 

Every wardrobe needs a tank top. In the summer, to wear it in the hot days and in the winter, to wear it under a sweater.  The materials of these ones are 95% Tencel and 5% Elastane. The price is €29,95 and they have it in 5 different colors. Sizes are from XS to XL

2. T-shirt Ozlem

 

T-shirts are my personal favorite basic. The materials of these ones are 95% tencel and 5% lycra. The price is €39,95.

3. Longsleeve top Billie

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This is a basic must-have. You can wear on every season and combine it with any bottom. The materials are 67% bamboo, 26% organic cotton and 7% elastane. The price is €59,95 and they have it in 3 different colors.

4. Cardigan Moira

 

This cardigan is a good all season basic. Perfect for a chill summer night, or a nice layer for the winter. You can make casual but also dressy outfits with it. The material is 100% organic cotton. The price is €99,95 and they have it in 2 different colors.

5. Jumpsuit Ann

 

Since this spring I am a big fan of jumpsuits. They are comfortable and suitable for multiple occasions. This Ann jumpsuit on the picture above in black is made out of 95% organic cotton and 5% lycra, the price is €69,95. While the blue one is made out of 87% organic cotton and 13% elastane. The price is €99,95.

Blouses have always been part of my wardrobe. In white and blue are my personal favorites.  The material is 100% Tencel. The price is €79,95

By buying ethical fashion you are supporting the company and the people who is behind it making the clothes. I hope you get inspired and next time you are looking for basics, give it a try and check Miss Green. You can shop online HERE
Or you can check their map HERE to see where is the closest shop for you.
In Amersfoort, you can find them in the shop “Keizerin” at the Zuidsingel 70.
*Tencel or lyocell is a sustainable fabric, regenerated from wood cellulose. It is similar in hand to rayon and bamboo, both regenerated fabrics. However, Tencel is one of the most environmentally friendly regenerated fabrics. It is obtained from eucalyptus trees that are grown on farms—no old growth forests, genetic manipulation, irrigation, or pesticides are used. These forests and the pulp produced for Tencel have earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification that the products come from socially and environmentally responsible forests.

With love,

alisson-simmonds-rosado-con-hoja