Meet Marcela Ramírez
Meet Marcela Ramírez. Marcela is a first time mother to a baby boy and a full-tim architectural designer based in Miami, Florida. In our Meet The Mamas Series, Marcela gives us a glimpse into her labor and delivery experience and shared what she wish she had known about the postpartum recovery process.
Mama Marcela and Baby Baby
Can you tell me about your labor and delivery experience and how were you feeling?
I had an induced delivery at 39 weeks. In the sonograms the baby's size was constantly in the higher percentages and I am a petite woman, so the doctor thought it was best to deliver before the baby was too large for me. I went into the hospital with an appointment, thinking of my own birth which was, as my mom retells it, a painless 3 hour ordeal. But when I arrived I was only 1 cm dilated. I refused the epidural and tried to go as long as I could with my illusion of what I wanted the experience to be, this raw connection with the ancestral journey into motherhood. I tried doing yoga with all these cables and devices entangling themselves with my limbs. I tried breathing through the contractions thinking of how they meant my cervix was expanding. 12 hours later the doctor came to check how far along I'd come-- 2.75 inches. Naturally, I burst into tears and asked for the epidural. After I got it I felt no pain, and also no legs. I couldn't turn myself in the bed and I lay awake overnight trying to heed to the nurses advice (rest, they said). Instead, I bothered the nurses and my husband every few hours to rotate me to a different position hoping to find a comfortable one. Finally in the morning it was time, and everything went so fast then. Nurses flooded the room. I played my birthing playlist which was a mix of 90's hip hop and woman empowerment songs. I pushed like I was doing a long workout. An hour and half later this long little red body was crying in front of me and I never thought I'd be so happy to hear cries in my life!
How long was your recovery after giving birth? Did you run into any challenges? What helped your recovery the most?
It was quite long. I would say about 5 months. I tore while pushing and had to get stitches, which got irritated somewhere in the first 6 weeks and were taken out manually. One irritated area in the perineum healed so slowly I had to put cream on it at night. But the wound made being intimate with my husband very painful which made the recovery period rough because I would question if I would ever enjoy sex like I did before, especially since I didn't hear other women ever having this problem months after giving birth. Eventually it healed and I can say sex is good again.
What are some products or support you wish you had when you got home that first week after giving birth? What was really helpful in making your life easier as a new mom?
I prepared so much for the birth that I was completely clueless about the recovery. I wish I had so many things that I didn't find out about until later.
- Sitz baths with minerals
- Pads specifically for postpartum (period pads aren't as soft down there)
- Disposable underwear
- Big granny panties (not Victoria Secret ones)
- Witch hazel foam
- Laxatives and stool softeners
What are some of your favorite self care rituals to do postpartum?
Sitz baths followed by a long warm bath with music.
And what were some of your favorite meals or snacks during your postpartum recovery?
I missed eating soft cheeses during pregnancy, so brie, grapes, and crackers were my go to. My family also brought me a bunch of Malta, which they say stimulates milk production. (Don't know if that's true but I didn't have a problem with milk).
I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with getting help from family or friends. Did you have help, and what was it like? What would you have done differently in terms of getting help from family or friends?
Our family helped as much as they could though it was the height of the pandemic in Florida so we were on our own for a lot of it. Sometimes my Abuela would drop off soup which was a godsend. I wish I would have tried to set up a food circle where people help us cook or even just asked for food gift cards at the baby shower.
Did you experience any baby blues or postpartum anxiety or depression? Do you have any advice for new mothers struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression?
I think on and off. I definitely had/have a lot of irritability from the lack of sleep, or maybe from hormones. I've had therapy sessions that helped me cope with some of those baby blues feelings in the beginning. I think my advice is sleep when you can and set up a therapist before you give birth so that you can be ahead of the curve.
What's the worst advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
This is a great question. I've honestly had so much advice I can't keep track and definitely had to pick and choose what I followed. I think a big one is don't let people make you feel bad about holding your baby. It's your baby and you if you need to cuddle with them to build that bond then do it!
What's the best advice you've gotten for postpartum & early motherhood?
Every baby is different. What works for one doesn't work for another. If someone gives you advice and it doesn't work its ok, try something else. There is no always-right answer to babies.
Any closing advice for someone who's just about to be a new mom?
Take long showers/baths while you can. It's hard to find time to do self care things when you have a newborn. Also, the classic, sleep while you can :)
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