I distinctly remember jabbing my best friend in the thigh with an epi pen in a bar bathroom four years ago after she unknowingly ate pistachio butter, which triggered her anaphylactic nut allergy. She couldn’t work up the nerve to give herself the shot, so pulled her into a bathroom stall and did it for her. Cut to our other mutual friend racing her to the ER moments later, running at least four red lights to ensure she’d get her there as fast as possible. It’s just what friends do.
Brooklyn Decker can relate. After giving birth to her first child and suffering a perineal tear, she was so dismayed by the thought of doing a self-check to look at her postpartum vulva that she asked her best friend to do it and describe what it looked like.
“My best friend came that day [I had my son] and she at that point had not had children. And I’m like ‘Jen, I can’t look at [my vagina] because I think it’ll traumatize me forever but I need someone to take in what’s happening down there,’” she tells Zoë Ruderman, host of People’s “Me Becoming Mom” podcast.
Decker had a perineal tear and was stitched up after delivery, but was too scared to take a peek at the aftermath.
“And I took her to the bathroom and I literally bent over and had my best friend just take a physical record of what was going on so someone could tell me what was happening. Because so many people had commented on, like, stitches and this and that,” Decker recalls to Ruderman. “And she’s like, ‘OK, yep it’s seared in my brain. There’s a physical record.’ And yes, now she has to carry that with her the rest of her life. That’s friendship right there,” Decker says.
Perineal tears can be one of the most painful parts of the postpartum recovery process, but there’s also swollen tissues, general soreness, lots of postpartum bleeding (known as lochia) and some pretty big blood clots that come with that package, too. Not to mention all your abdominal organs shifting around, riding a hormonal roller coaster and losing so much water volume you wake up with night sweats.
Yep, it’s the stuff no one really tells you about—the stuff you don’t fully grasp the concept of until you’re actually going through it—or your best friend is.
Now a mom of two, Hank, 6, and Stevie, 4, Decker has partnered with Bodily, which has created woman-designed products and evidence-based resources for the postpartum period—so you know what you’re getting into, even if you can’t bring yourself to look.
“I believe so strongly in Bodily’s mission that I became an investor in the company very early,” Decker shares. “I connected to their goal of supporting women in their postpartum birth recovery after my own very standard, yet very challenging recovery. I was shocked to find out there wasn’t a resource for research-backed information and thoughtful products to help my healing process. I got very sick with mastitis 8 months postpartum simply because I was wearing the wrong bra, if only Bodily had been available then!”