It’s Jess here today!
Labouring and birthing my second baby was (relatively speaking) a breeze. Everything moved so quickly! From the moment I felt the first contraction to the moment the midwife laid him in my arms, a total of 3 ¼ hours passed by!
Buoyed by this powerful experience, I went to nurse my baby and he latched like a champ.
He continued to nurse well and when we brought him home he even slept in his bassinet ON HIS OWN!
Say what? My first baby would never settle outside of our arms. I was in great disbelief.
Everything seemed to be on track for a smooth postpartum experience.
Just When You Think it’s Smooth Sailing…
I was pumped because at this point in my life, I was already full on running my own business so there was no option to take a paid maternity leave. Instead, my husband took parental leave, freeing me up to continue working. I was already working from home, having carved out an internet-based business of blogging and online group coaching. How hard could it be to continue doing this in between nursing a baby?
I remember that first week: holding a nursing baby in one arm while writing a blog post on my phone with the other hand! I was super mama! I could do it all!
…until I couldn’t.
My Fight With Mastitis
A week postpartum my parents invited us to spend the day at their place. My husband stayed at home to tend to some things while I packed up the baby and his older brother. It felt like a BIG DEAL to leave the house but I rationalized with myself that all I would be doing is driving for half an hour, sitting on a different couch to breastfeed, then driving home at the end of the day. Not so hard, right?
Well, while I was there, I got struck with a fever and very painful breasts. I laid in bed all day, finally feeling a bit better in the evening, and dragged myself and my little family home.
I rested and recovered the next day.
But a week later we attended my niece’s one year old birthday party and the same thing happened. I got struck with a debilitating fever and painful breasts. It was then that I realized I was getting mastitis, a painful breast infection. The “classic” progression of mastitis begins with a plugged duct (evidenced by a painful lump), followed by a wedge shaped red, inflamed section of the breast, and sudden onset of fever. I didn’t have any plugged ducts so I didn’t initially clue in to what was happening.
Again, I rested and recovered the next day.
Then mastitis hit me a third time and instead of recovering with a day of bed rest, my symptoms worsened. I remember that I couldn’t lift up my tiny newborn baby to bring him to my chest to nurse because I was so weak. I got a prescription for antibiotics from my midwife and shortly after the first dose, it was like a switch had been flipped and my fever broke.
After I recovered I became a teeny bit obsessed with Hendrix’s latch. I thought it looked and felt fine but there had to be SOME reason for this recurring mastitis! I needed to get to the bottom of this! It kept ruining my productivity! I got him checked for a tongue tie, I got hit with a fourth round of mastitis, I visited a lactation consultant …. and came up empty handed.
It was then that the problem became apparent to me.
I was my own problem.
My drive for productivity and to “do stuff.” I’m one of those people that can’t just lie on a beach and relax; I get antsy…. I have to be doing something!
So, I refocused my priorities and gave myself permission to just rest.
And guess what? Mastitis never paid me another visit.
What’s the point of this story? Mamas, it’s okay to rest after having a baby! Even if it’s your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 19th baby (especially if it’s your 19th!). Even though it’s not your first rodeo, your body still needs the rest, even if your mind doesn’t think it does! I write this with the hope that you can learn from my mistakes and have a smoother postpartum experience!