10 Things I Didn’t Know About Postpartum
I’m a reader. And a researcher. Whether it was when I was pregnant, or what giving birth would be like, or things my children are doing, I like to know as much information as possible. When I was pregnant with both of my children, I probably researched a new topic every single day; and this was because with my first I wanted to learn as much as possible about pregnancy, and with my second it was because I was eager to learn everything about increasing my odds of getting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), which I got! However, it didn’t occur to me to research about what would happen to my body (along with everything else) after having a baby. I just assumed I’d pop the baby out, rest up and be a bit sore but everything would go back to normal-ish. Negatory! So here’s a list of things that I didn’t know about post partum stuff with your body!
1. You will have vaginal bleeding for up to 6 weeks. Yeah, wasn’t aware of this one! I had no idea that there was this thing called “lochia”. Lochia is the normal discharge (blood, tissue shed from the lining of the uterus, bacteria etc) after birth. It was like my body was like “Ha! You didn’t have your period for 9 months, here’s payback of now bleeding every day. Oh and you can’t use a tampon, have fun sitting in your own blood. Enjoy!” With my first it lasted 6 weeks, with my second it lasted close to 5. And it happened with my c section with my first, and with my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with my second. Didn’t matter where the baby came out, the blood still came out. Stock up on the biggest pads you can find. I mean, if I could have worn our king size mattress in my sweet mesh undies, I would have.
2. It takes a few days for your milk to come in. And by a few, it took 5 days with my first and 4 days with my second. I remember on the 5th day with my first baby I was using the restroom and glanced down and was like “Hey I have Pamela Anderson boobs! My milk has arriiiiiiiiiiiiived!” (Picture me singing this loudly while on the toilet. I’m sure it was a glorious sight).
3. You will leak like crazy at night when you roll over on your boobs, so wear a sports bra and some nursing pads. Ok, seriously NO ONE told me that I’d wake up in my own milk bath if I just free boobed it like I always did. So with my first baby, the first night I went to bed without a bra like I always did, I was shocked when I woke up literally soaked in my own milk. And I was pissed. Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me this would happen? So I highly suggest wearing a nursing bra, or my personal favorite: just a really comfy sports bra and some nursing pads and you’ll be all set, my friend.
4. You will not look like Kate Middleton after she has a baby. When I had both of my kids, there was no way my ass was going to fit into a beautiful dress and heels, with my hair coiffed to perfection and my makeup done beautifully. Kate Middleton, more power to you. Though I do think some major usage of Spanx was involved in those first post partum pictures. Just saying. Anyway, that was not me. No, yours truly was rocking her husband’s sweatpants from college, along with some ratty slippers, giant mesh hospital underwear that could double as a hammock, and a humongous shirt and/or sweatshirt. Makeup was nowhere in the near vicinity, my hair was thrown up in a very sloppy bun. And that’s ok! You’re not the damn Duchess of Cambridge, paparazzi aren’t going to take pictures and let people scrutinize you when you still look four months pregnant, even though you’re holding your new baby in your arms. It’s ok to look haggard. And for those who want to get all dolled up? More power to you. Honestly, to each their own.
5. You will cry, laugh, and get mad at the most random shit. And I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. And normal! Your hormones are going to be all over the place. Shoot, between both of my kids’ births I remember laughing hysterically to the point of tears because my husband was having trouble setting up a sun shade tent for our toddler; sobbing like I was up for an Academy Award because I had to reheat the same cup of coffee four times before being able to drink it; and getting super pissed because our dog farted and woke the baby up.
6. Showering can sometimes feel like your nipples are being flicked by a thousand hands. That may sound weird, but it’s the closest description I can think of. It was that or “your nipples will feel like they’re being stabbed with knives” but ya know, maybe not everyone feels like that. Do NOT let the spray hit those puppies directly. Also, it felt like this after my first baby, but not currently with my second. With my first, any time I showered I had to cover my boobs with my hands, or just put a wash cloth over them because they were SO sensitive. I’m not sure if it was because I had never nursed a baby before and the nerves were sensitive? Regardless, it can happen, and from what my doctor said, it’s perfectly normal. But always check with your doctor if you’re concerned.
7. Breastfeeding can be HARD! They say breastfeeding is natural, and it is and can be, but it also is a huge learning curve. Or at least it was for me. And I had to re-learn this with my second (even though I had just breastfed my first for 18 months) as he had never breastfed before and I forgot what it was like breastfeeding a newborn. I really relied on help from nurses and Lactation consultants to help me with the correct latch and how to angle the baby’s head and the different holds. What really threw me was the suggestion to offer my boob to my baby like I would a sandwich. There I was, holding my boob like a sandwich? It can be very confusing, I highly suggest getting help from a Lactation consultant.
8. Going to the bathroom can be… interesting. For different reasons. Not to be too indelicate, but I remember dreading have to go #2 after my c section because constipation is REAL, and any sort of pushing was beyond excruciating. And I dreaded going #1 after my VBAC because: ouch it felt like the fire of a thousand suns!! Dermoplast & stool softeners are your friends.
9. Your marriage/relationship with your spouse/partner will be changing (such is life) and that’s ok! And normal. It used to just be the two of you and now there’s this tiny baby needing to be held and changed and fed and burped and anything else. Stress can really affect a marriage and in my opinion, communication is key. Remember, your partner isn’t clairvoyant, what may seem super obvious to you might not seem at all obvious to them. And just remember, this flurry of hormones and sleepless nights are fleeting, it won’t always be like this. You soon will develop a new “normal”, just try to work through it all together as a team.
10. You will experience a VAST range of emotions regarding your new baby. Utter joy and so very much love in one moment, desperation and panic at another, frustration and stress at the next. And it’s all normal. If there’s anything I really want to leave you with, it’s this: it all changes in a blink of an eye. This doesn’t last forever. Also, reach out & talk to your partner, family, friends (especially other mom friends who have experienced this all before!) or even your doctor, as postpartum depression is very real & can happen to anyone. And as always, you’ve totally got this Mama!