I don’t want to scare you but don’t expect your postpartum recovery to be all rainbows and unicorns. It’s messy, exhausting, painful and beautiful.
I remember how confused I was about everything that I was experiencing after my first child was born. I ended up googling everything to make sure that I wasn’t the only one going through this.
Having a baby is such a beautiful life-changing experience, but recovery is so different for every woman. Don’t expect yours to be like your best friends or even your mom’s.
Honestly, the first 2 weeks after giving birth was horrible for me. I felt dirty, ugly and wanted to shower all the time.
What they don’t tell you about Postpartum:
1. You become a different person
Having a baby humbles you in so many ways – whether you like it or not. You will be lying naked in a room full of strangers. I remember how awkward I felt with my first baby but by my third baby, it didn’t bother me anymore. I realized that they don’t care about my body or how it looks. Whether you poop or not during birth, doesn’t bother them. What’s important to them is how your baby is delivered, as well as your health and your baby’s health.
Having a child changes, you a little.
2. You bleed … a lot
You might want to stock up on those oversized pads and mesh panties because you will bleed a lot. Sometimes, all you would want to do is sit in the toilet to avoid the mess and pain that comes with it. This is how your body heals but it isn’t a pretty site at all.
3. You will have engorged breasts
When your milk comes in, your breasts will get engorged and with that comes pain…and lots of breast pads! Breast pads will become your best friend. You will need to have spare ones everywhere.
4. Breastfeeding can be painful
Breastfeeding isn’t exactly beautiful in the beginning especially if you are a new mom. It can cause excruciating pain especially if your newborn doesn’t latch properly (and no you are not doing anything wrong – so no guilt trip okay?) – and even if your newborn does latch properly, it will still be painful because your nipples become sore from the constant nursing. Nipple cream is a lifesaver for sore and cracked nipples. Use it every time you nurse.
5. You are emotional and exhausted
Your mood swings are all over the place after birth. You might not even like your baby immediately. Baby’s cry might irritate you. Your husband’s voice might annoy you. You may want to cry all the time. Lack of sleep may add to this so make sure you have help at home so that you can rest.
Postpartum is a mix of emotions that doesn’t go away immediately. It could take months or years to overcome it. Postpartum depression is a reality. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
6. You will most probably pee in your pants
Now I know why they say Kegel exercise is so important during pregnancy. Whether you have a normal birth or a c-section birth, there’s a chance you can still experience this, and it doesn’t really go away.
7. The after-birth contractions
This was a huge surprise for me. Every time I breastfed my baby I experienced the after-birth contractions which are completely normal, but it does hurt a lot. It feels like labor all over again.
8. Your stomach muscles can split
This can happen if you have a big baby or lots of babies. After my third child, this happened to me. Luckily it wasn’t too serious, but my stomach is big and flabby which still gets me the question if I am pregnant all the time.
9. You will still look 6 months pregnant
Your stomach doesn’t deflate immediately after birth, it takes a while and you will need to exercise to get back into shape. Strangers may ask you when you are due if you are out and about without your baby.
10. You are always thirsty and hungry
During recovery, you will be drinking gallons of water a day which is totally normal. You will see a change in your eating pattern but that is fine too – especially if you are breastfeeding. Your body needs to produce a lot of milk, so you will need to eat and drink a lot to get a good flow.
11. You might sweat a lot
You might sweat and stink thanks to your hormones.
12. Your hair will fall
This was one thing I really hated about postpartum. Three kids later and I am still struggling to get back my lush full hair I had before kids. This took a big knock on my self-esteem but there’s not much you can do about it except using good hair products to maintain the hair that you have left.
13. Constipation and Haemorrhoids
The first time you go to the toilet after birth might feel like birth itself, but it doesn’t stop there. Constipation can continue when you get home, so it is important you take the meds your gynae prescribes for you.
14. Your marriage will change
The first year after having a baby will be very different. Your relationship might change with your partner but that doesn’t mean its ruined. Give yourself time to heal and things will get back to normal.
15. You will need mom friends
During my first recovery, I craved having mom friends around who understood what I was going through. You need a tribe that will always be there for you even if it is at 2 am in the morning.
The reality is there is a lot that goes on during postpartum but don’t let that scare you. You just gave birth to a beautiful baby, so your body needs to heal and sometimes it isn’t what the baby magazines tell us. Each one of us has a different experience to share but it’s so worth it…