Before I got pregnant, I hadn’t thought much about postpartum recovery. I hadn’t been around any women who had given birth recently since I was a child, so I really wasn’t prepared for what I had coming when I gave birth.
We have all heard that giving birth is painful, but we don’t always hear about the pain that comes after. We don’t typically hear about the blood, the tears, the breast milk leaking everywhere.
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To try to prepare myself for postpartum recovery, I searched the internet. What I found was a whole lotta nothing. “Get some rest” and “wear big pads” was pretty much all I could find on postpartum recovery. Why? Probably because people try to avoid talking about gross stuff, and well, postpartum recovery is pretty gross.
The period of postpartum recovery is a gross, emotional, confusing time. It is also beautiful because you have a shiny new baby, but it is overwhelming, nonetheless.
I had a Plain Jane, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, as did most of the woman I was comfortable enough asking about anything postpartum. Despite pestering these woman with questions through my pregnancy, there was still a few things that shocked me about postpartum recovery.
SO MUCH CRYING
I was unpleasantly surprised at the small things that caused me to cry during my postpartum recovery. The smallest inconvenience would send me into a crying fit that left everyone wondering what would set me off next. Crying a lot during this period is totally normal and should die down after sometime.
Some mild “baby blues” is also normal, but please, please, please be on the lookout for signs of postpartum depression. You have to remember to take care of yourself during this time just as much as you have to take of your new baby.
The first thing on my mind after giving birth (other than my baby) was when I could eat. My pregnancy appetite stuck around for six long months after I had the baby, and honestly I wasn’t sure if it was ever gonna go away.
Keep in mind I was not breastfeeding, but I still felt like I was constantly starving, I seriously wanted to eat everything in sight. If you plan to to breastfeed, you can bet your appetite is gonna be outta control for a while too. But it does ease back down to normal after some time, thankfully.
I don’t particularly like talking about blood, but it needs to be said. I want you to be prepared, so we must discuss the blood. In most cases, there will be a lot of blood. When you stand up for the first time after giving birth, you will feel it. It’s like that feeling when you realize you have just started your period, except 100x worse.
Also, don’t be surprised if you make a huge mess the first couple of times you use the restroom during your postpartum recovery. I had a small crime scene in the hospital bathroom the first time I tried to go postpartum, followed by saying “I am so sorry!” a million times to the poor nurse who had to clean it up. Don’t feel bad, it happens and it is okay.
Postpartum bleeding can also last sooo long. Doctors say it can last two to six weeks so I was really hoping it would stop somewhere around four weeks. Nope. No such luck.
It started to stop around six weeks, then it picked back up with what I believe was my first period postpartum. That week I had an IUD inserted which brought on more unwanted bleeding, which lasted about four months. I’m sure it would have stopped sooner had I not gotten the IUD, but I just figured I’d give you a heads up that your birth control choices can prolong bleeding.
IT HURTS TO MOVE
Walking, sitting, standing, you name it and it probably hurts during postpartum recovery. The first couple of days are the hardest. I mean, it truly hurts to do anything, but I found sitting to be the worst. During your postpartum recovery, you will hopefully master the art of sitting down gently as not to cause pain.
I read somewhere that sitting on a boppy pillow helps tremendously with the pain of sitting down postpartum and I was shook. Why did I not think of that? I would have given just about anything to be able to sit without antagonizing pain during my postpartum recovery. Do yourself a favor and keep an extra nursing pillow on hand to sit on and thank me later.
IT HURTS TO PEE
A little bit of everything hurts during postpartum recovery, but peeing is the actual worst. There are two reasons why I didn’t drink much water while I was healing from giving birth. Number one is because I was so busy taking care of my newborn that I honestly forgot about taking care of myself.
The second being the fact that peeing hurt so bad that I didn’t want to go more than needed. This is not a healthy way to deal with the pain, but that’s what I did so sue me. Luckily the pain with urination subsides pretty quick, and numbing sprays and creams help, but it’s still painful in the meantime. Hang in there, it gets better.
I also don’t enjoy writing about poop, but here we go. So, you’ve just had a baby. You’re a little sore and you’re not a fan of the stitches but overall you feel okay. Until you realize you have to poop sometime or another. I was downright afraid of my first postpartum poop. I forgot to pick up a stool softener before I had the baby and the hospital didn’t offer me one.
Luckily, my baby was born just a few days before Thanksgiving and since I felt okay, I decided to join my family for the holiday dinner. My dad made the same spicy turkey he makes every year, and it never fails to make my nose run. On my way home from the dinner, I stopped by Walgreens to pick up a stool softener, only to find I had to go as soon as I got home. I hadn’t taken the stool softener yet so I was afraid of what was to come.
Thanks to the spicy turkey (and my Dad) I had no problems with the first trip to the bathroom since giving birth. I still took a stool softener for a few days for good measure, but overall it wasn’t bad at all. So take some Colace and eat some spicy foods (if you are not breastfeeding) and you will be just fine.
EVERYTHING IS SCARY
When you bring your baby home and realize that you can’t protect them from everything anymore, you feel so helpless. Even if your baby is sleeping soundly, you may not sleep at all.
Despite how exhausted you are, you may stay awake watching your baby’s chest rise and fall, scared to death they will suddenly stop breathing. This dies down some but never fully goes away. My daughter is seven months and I still poke her sometimes when she’s sleeping to make sure all is well. Welcome to motherhood.
THERE MAY NOT BE AN INSTANT BOND
When my daughter was born, I was excited but also very overwhelmed. I loved her more than anything, but I also had no idea what I was doing. I felt awkward holding her. I felt bad that I felt awkward about the whole situation. I didn’t feel this instant bond that most people mentioned.
Luckily, my husband had an immediate (and unexpected) bond with her and was absolutely wonderful with her while I took time to adjust. Don’t feel bad if you lack an instant bond with your baby, it didn’t take long at all for us to bond well and now I’m her favorite person. Most the time she doesn’t even want to go to anyone else, so hang in there.
MILK COMING IN
As a first time mother, it was a very odd feeling when my milk came in. On one hand I was proud of my body for providing food for my baby, while on the other hand it was uncomfortable and awkward. It looked like I had gotten a boob job overnight and they were hard as rocks.
My boobs looked great, but they didn’t feel great. They will also leak a little (or a lot), but I used these to help with that. You can also use these if you’re trying to be more environmentally friendly.
For those of you that don’t know, the linea nigra is the line that sometimes appears on a pregnant woman’s belly. I didn’t hate my linea nigra per se but it certainly wasn’t my favorite part of my newly changing body during pregnancy. After giving birth, I was excited to get my body back to “normal.” Much like my squishy belly and stretch marks, my linea nigra also stuck around for a while.
I gave it a few weeks but eventually googled “when will my linea nigra go away?!” I wasn’t pleased with the search results. I found out it could take a few months or maybe even a year for my linea nigra to disappear. I was even more displeased to find out it may stick around forever.
But alas, I quit stressing it and by six months postpartum it was gone. Since I wasn’t paying attention I can’t tell you exactly when it decided that we should part ways, I just looked in the mirror one day and it was gone. If you’re linea nigra has been ignoring the eviction notice, hang in there, there is a good chance it will disappear sooner rather than later!
Postpartum recovery, to put it simply, is unpleasant. When you are going through any or all of the above, just keep in mind that it does get better. You will return to your normal self, and it will all be okay.
What shocked you about postpartum recovery? How long did it take you to recover?