5: Journey of my tough postnatal recovery

Welcome to Every Mother Matters. I’m Sharon and in this episode, I will be sharing with you the journey of my tough postnatal recovery.
Welcome to Every Mother Matters.  I’m Sharon and in this episode, I will be sharing with you the journey of my tough postnatal recovery.

Before I was pregnant, I was not in the pink of health.  I knew that my digestion was very weak and I had chronic fatigue symptoms.  My energy level was very low too.  I was tired from Monday to Sunday.  As meat was hard to digest, I became a vegetarian.  I had a group of friends who were raw eater and vegetarians.  I wanted to find an alternative way to improve my digestion.  I thought raw food was the answer because it was easy to digest.  In fact, based on my body constitution, raw food made my body even weaker.  After giving birth to my 1st baby, my body was simply too weak.  My labour was 40 hours and I did not have proper rest after childbirth as we did not engage a confinement nanny or maid and my husband did not extend his leave to help up after our baby was born. 

My friend recommended to me her neighbour’s maid who was good at handling kids and doing housework.  I was considering having a helper at home and I discussed it with my husband.  He did not see the need because we were expecting our first baby only. He thought that I should be able to handle it as well as his mother who has 4 childrens.

We did not engage a confinement nanny because I did not trust anyone to handle my newborn and the nanny cost was high.

After my 40 hours of labour, I was physically very weak.  My baby slept a lot and never woke up for milk.  I could not sleep so I rested in bed.  I wanted to carry my baby and placed my baby on my chest or sleep beside me.  I asked the nurse if it was possible.  The nurse told me that it was not so safe for the baby.  So again, I did not listen to my instinct.  I missed my baby a lot even though he roomed in with me, but I needed to sit up to see his face.  I should have asked the nurse to push the baby’s cot next to my bed.  I was exhausted from worrying about my baby.  

I was not in the mind to watch the time to wake my baby up every 2 to 3 hours. My Baby continued to sleep and barely woke up for milk. 

On the 3rd day, my baby had jaundice and needed to be under phototherapy in the nursery room.  I missed my baby even more. 

2 days before my labour, I was not sleeping and eating well due to my nerve pain.  Plus 40 hours of labour and 2 days of worrying and missing my baby.  I did not slept for a few days already.  At night, I went to the nursery room 3x to peek outside and asked the nurse how my baby was.  My gnae was informed about it too but no one said any comforting words to me.  My husband scolded me for going to the nursery room instead of resting.  Probably due to too much separation, I ended up with separation anxiety and depression.  There were gnae, midwife, nurses, my husband, my doula but I felt very much alone without support.

On the 4th day stay in the hospital, I finally dozed off at night.  I woke up when I heard my husband snoring.  I started to miss my baby a lot and went to the nursery room again.

Later, I learned from a friend that I could request the hospital to bring the machine and baby to my private ward to room-in with me.  I guessed it was much easier for the nurse and baby doctor to keep my baby at the nursery.

In the hospital after I birthed my baby, I was emotionally and physically exhausted and became very teary.  My case was referred to the women’s health department.  The person-in-charge of my case was a very nice and educated lady.  She called me once in a while to follow up on my case.  I also joined other mummies in the group gathering, which was held once a month.  It was nice meeting up with other mummies.  Some mummies were taking anti-depression drugs prescribed by the doctor.  The feedback I got from one of the mummies was that if she did not take the drug, her husband would see the difference in her condition and reminded her to take the drug.  She was taking things very hard on herself because both of her daughters were special needs children as she explained that they were both slow in learning as compared to normal kids.  So, she needed to personally take care of her childrens. I could understand why she was depressed.  I guessed anyone in her shoes facing the same situation would feel the same even if we put a man in the same situation. How individuals handle the situation may be different and the choice chosen may be different.

Even though the lady in charge of my case also recommended medication for my case, I did not see it as a solution.  So, I did not go to the doctor for the drug. 

In fact, I never see myself as sick or having any mental issues.  Many postnatal depression or postnatal degeneration was viewed as a pathology but I think otherwise.  I was feeling very lonely, overwhelmed, mentally and physically exhausted.  What I truly needed was proper rest, postnatal support, encouraging words.  I felt misunderstood by the experts, professionals and family. 

I feel that in marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal, we never know what we are really entering into even with technology advancement and all the expertise and family members around.

I saw a youtube video which explained that basically the primary caretaker was sleep deprived of 700 hours in the 1st year after the baby was born.  For the husbands to understand this, they need to know that the wife loses 500cc of blood during natural childbirth. So imagine if the husband donated 500 cc of blood today and for the following one year, he is 700 hours lack of sleep. Then what happened to his body? Will he look as good now?  Not possible, correct? Then what happens to his nervous system, digestion, mental alertness, mood and the general health and well-being? Can you imagine?

To understand what the wife is going through, the husband needs to know that the wife is still losing energy, heat and blood through lochia and breastfeeding.  That is a lot!

Lochia is not menses.  It is still bleeding but is postnatal bleeding after childbirth.

Breast milk is the energy that converts the blood into milk. So, postnatal woman is losing energy, heat and blood through external gestation which is breastfeeding.  

I knew I was not in the right state because instead of feeling joyful with my newborn, I was overwhelmed, worried and started to experience separation anxiety when my baby was not with me.  I contacted my natural therapist to check if she was able to visit me in the hospital on that day or we could arrange a day.  Monday was her rest day and she did not want to work because it was important for her and her work that she was doing, she needed her day off.  We did not follow up on that.

There were many relatives from my husband’s side coming to the hospital.  All were too excited about the birth of my baby.  The first grandson from the son in the family.  

I felt that the only person who came to visit me was my father.  The rest came to see my baby, not me.  I felt a lack of family support and understanding.  It took me years to regain my strength and well-being.

My husband did not understand what I went through. Initially I was glad that he took one month leave to help me with confinement but when I was discharged on the 5th day, which was on a sunday, he finished his leave and was back to work on the next day.  My husband listened to his mother and aunts to take leave earlier as everyone expected the baby to come earlier. I birthed my baby on the 3rd day passed the expected date of delivery.  I was left alone with a newborn.  My mother-in-law came to bathe the baby everyday.  I did not rest and recover well.

Back home from the hospital, while I entered the master bedroom, my mother-in-law suddenly pressed her hand on my breast and commented that everyone had milk except me while pointing her index finger towards me. 

I believe that every woman has milk.  But as a first time mother and new to breastfeeding, which is a very much learnt skill, what I needed was encouraging words and reassurance.  

I tried to latch for an hour but could not without the lactation consultant help.  I did not attend any breastfeeding class or learn about breastfeeding.  My mother-in-law and my husband were beside me, but they did not have the knowledge to know how to help me with the latching so that I could breastfeed my baby.  

Back home, I could not relax.  I was constantly worried about my baby boy.  I woke up 3 times at night to check if he was breathing.  What I needed was skin to skin contact so that we could exchange sensory information and both of us could relax. Worrying takes away a lot of energy, which I was already depleted. 

To my father, who is now in his 90s, life is tough and that is what life is about. This was how he was trying to encourage me.  I probably need to digest it harder to feel his love and strength. 

I wanted to give my baby boy the best care, but it did not happen that way.  I ended up with depression and separation anxiety.

I felt that no one was there for me in my difficult times when I needed help the most. 

Key takeaway:-

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives place us on a path to the best things that will ever happen to us.  There is a purpose, which is to put us back on track.

Postnatal care is a specialised field and very much a learned knowledge.  Husband loves his wife. But the fact is they are not in the business of doing postnatal care to know how to support the wife during postnatal and most of the husbands may not have a role model to learn from.  In the previous generation, it was the women’s stuff and  Husbands were only in charge of earning and providing for the family.


It took me much pain to learn through my mistakes.

A mother’s health is the basic foundation to the family and the society, but is often neglected or misunderstood.  Educating new parents is what I want to do.  This is my purpose and the reason that makes me a passionate newborn care instructor. Because life is short.  Why should we repeat the same mistake and learn through our painful experience.  To prepare during pregnancy is to prevent. 

Not everyone has a second baby to redo everything from pregnancy, birth to postnatal and breastfeeding.  We can do it right for the 1st baby.

It is my dream and mission to teach. Life is to thrive!

You can connect with me through my facebook, instagram and Linkedin and my links will be in the show notes.  I look forward to seeing you in my next episode where I will be sharing with you more stories and tips.

Instant Podcast Leader Soul Rich Woman