Postpartum: Hard as Rocks

By Crystal Kelch

As a first-time mom, I had no idea what to expect postpartum except that my experience would be “unique”. I’d heard the same throughout my pregnancy – each one is unique and same for labor and delivery – unique, unique.  The only thing guaranteed was my postpartum experience would be my own and I certainly had my concerns about how it would unfold. I worried about postpartum depression (could I have a genetic predisposition/am I prone to this?), breastfeeding (how do I know if the baby is eating enough?) and how I would operate on this new sleep(less) schedule. Friends who’d recently delivered their first babies told me nothing prepares you for the lack of sleep and what can be BRUTAL breastfeeding. This was about the extent of what I knew going into the postpartum experience.

What snuck up on me was what I’ll call a postpartum case of hard as rocks. I got hit with major breast engorgement and dropping bowel rocks. Let me tell you firsthand, both of these conditions were painful and could have been avoided. My advice to first-time mom’s –avoiding painful engorgement is possible. Order your breast pump and freezer storage bags before you go into labor. If you are delivering your baby in a hospital, you can bring the breastshields with you and ask the lactation consultant to check if the inner diameter fits your nipple properly. As soon as those rocks start forming in your breast tissue – start pumping! No need to suffer through it.

As for the bowel rocks, this was something that completely blindsided me and was more painful than I anticipated. It was like giving birth all over again. And again, and again. I dreaded going to the bathroom when I knew I had to drop the rocks. Even with the 2x/day Colace regimen, extra water, fiber-filled diet and Squatty Potty (to avoid straining) my trepidation level was through the roof. Advice to first-time mom’s here – talk to your doctor about postpartum constipation prior to delivery. There may be something you can do proactively to avoid getting stuck in this type of situation. I wish I had talked to my doctor about it before going into labor. Knowing what I know now, I hope that sharing my experience will help all mom’s to be avoid the PCoHaR. Of course you know your experience will be "unique", enjoy the ride!