Two weeks have passed since I’ve had the girl and it’s been as unpredictable as I imagined it would be.
The first 3 nights were spent in the hospital which was great because I was so numb from the epidural that I really didn’t start moving until the next day, and I was able to get help with breastfeeding. But it was annoying to get reacquainted with a new nurse every time their shift changed while wondering if they might be better or worse than the last. I know that’s to be expected in a hospital, but it was frustrating nonetheless.
Regardless, I was nervous to go home because it meant that real life with this new little girl would start. But K reminded me that it would be so much better than the hospital because we were fortunate to have been able to get a “confinement” nanny for a month.
Lesson 1 – Take advantage of help if it’s available to you – friends, family, nannies, anyone.
I had a hard time accepting help when it was offered during majority of my pregnancy, but when it came to taking care of a baby, I was willing to accept as much help as possible. My parents came for my delivery, and they would have gladly done as much as they could to help. But thanks to the confinement nanny, they could relax and enjoy their new granddaughter.
Confinement nannies are postpartum nannies, common in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, who stay with you for a month as soon as you get home from the hospital to help you recover while they care for your baby. They’re well versed in Chinese Medicine and use that knowledge in the lactation-inducing, anti-bloating meals and ginger baths that they make for you. They also let you rest by doing everything required for your baby until you’re ready to learn and/or do it, e.g, bathe and swaddle your baby, put them to sleep, change their diapers, help you breastfeed/formula feed, etc. The term “confinement” is used because traditional confinement nannies want the new mom to stay indoors for the entire month so that you’re protected from pollution, etc. Some won’t even want you to wash your hair for the entire month! But modern confinement nannies will encourage you to go for walks to get your body moving normally again, and are OK with you washing your hair as long as it’s not every day.
We met our confinement nanny through good friends who had her after they had their baby. I was a bit skeptical at first, but once I met my friend’s confinement nanny and heard about her experience, I was sold. She’s one of those modern, flexible confinement nannies who still pushes for specific things if she knows they’ll be beneficial to you, e.g., specific warm foods to promote recovery, herbal soups for lactation, etc.
Unlike a lot of help available in Hong Kong, confinement nannies are not cheap. But based on my experience with her over the past two weeks, I couldn’t think of a better investment. Even my parents, who were even more skeptical, thought she was well worth it.
Lesson 2 – Be patient with yourself.
I am terrible about being patient with myself when it comes to work, dance, fitness, basically anything that I think I can control. And now I can add postpartum recovery to that list. If it was anyone else going through this, I’d be able to easily say, “You just had a baby! You need to let yourself heal and it’ll take time!” But when it comes to myself, I struggle to apply these statements.
You always hear about how childbirth is natural, but you rarely hear about it as something that causes trauma to your body. Pregnancy and delivery really take a toll on your body so it’s important to be patient with yourself as your body heals and tries to find it’s new normal.
They say it takes 6-8 weeks to recover depending on your body type and the type of delivery you have, and to establish breastfeeding (it can be SO frustrating) so I’m trying really hard to be patient. If you’re going through this or are about to, please know that it’s important to be patient with yourself as well!
Lesson 3 – If you’re breastfeeding, It’s good to have 2-3 nursing dresses in case you don’t feel like wearing pants at home.
I bought 3 nursing shirts to wear around home, but after delivery, I didn’t feel like wearing pants or leggings. So K quickly went to buy 2 nursing dresses for me so that I could wear those instead. They’re nothing fancy but are super comfortable and they do the job.
Lesson 4 – Anticipate changes every day.
I can’t speak to anything beyond the first two weeks postpartum, but just from what I’ve experienced and heard so far, I think it’s safe to assume that things will change every day, every week, every month. These past two weeks, even though I’ve had help, have still been overwhelming. I’ve learned something new every day. From the baby’s different cries, to breastfeeding (if you choose to) and everything that comes with it, their diaper change schedule, how often they sleep, etc., all of it has changed daily and will continue to, especially in the next few months. I have to remind myself every day that I’ll figure it out and to stay flexible. It’ll just be a new kind of normal!
Lesson 5 – Your recovery may not only be different from what you expected, but also different from everyone else’s.
Similar to Lesson 10 in a previous post, 10 Things I Learned During Pregnancy, your recovery will be different from what you may have expected. I expected the worst for my recovery, but the day after my delivery I realized that I had heard much less about recovery than I had ever heard about pregnancy. I’m not sure if it’s because no one wants to scare you about how hard delivery and recovery could be or if they just forget about how difficult they were, but only a few of my friends had told me about what they went through. So I messaged friends through the week asking what they did about breastfeeding, pumping, etc., and about what was normal. Hearing what they experienced was super helpful, but I also could see that my experience would be different.
Like pregnancy, everyone’s delivery and recovery experiences will be different from one another so while it’s great to get advice from others, know that however your recovery is going is normal for you. Flexibility not only applies to the changes that will occur as you find a new normal with your baby, but also to your recovery. Use your support system and ask your OB if you have any questions. And most importantly, trust that you will get through it and figure it out – I’m hoping the same for myself!
As for our confinement nanny – she’s been amazing. Thanks to her, I’m feeling much better and the baby’s doing well. I am a bit worried about what we’ll do without her, but based on how things have been going on her days off, I know we’ll figure it out – we have to!
Blog edited by: Betty Ho