Postpartum: What I Wish I Had Known
When you’re pregnant, often people are happy to jump in, share their birthing experience, and offer up their most trusted laboring advice. However, it is less common to have women super open about postpartum recovery, and what to truly expect in the days and weeks following delivery. There are so many things I wish I had known.
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Most of us may have known that there would be some postpartum bleeding, and maybe a bit of soreness, this was my expectation. Certainly, a little bleeding and a tiny bit of soreness may be all that some women experience, and that is very normal. But, there is a sliding scale for what to expect, and some women can have a much more intense postpartum recovery than others. Not to mention, the type of birth that you have can definitely play a role in your postpartum healing. For example, women who gave birth via cesarean may have a longer and more intense recovery period, as they experienced a major surgery. From personal experience, and from speaking to other mothers, these were the top things we wish we had known about postpartum recovery;
- Massaging Your Uterus- I am specifically talking about shortly after birth, if your midwife or doctor firmly massages your stomach. As if you haven’t been through enough discomfort already! They will do this every 15 minutes or so, and show you how to do it as well. It was extremely uncomfortable/pretty painful, and not something I was expecting. It is all for a good cause though, as it helps your uterus to contract, which in turn eases blood loss. But in the moment, I wanted to shove my midwife’s hands off of my ever-so-sensitive tummy! It is normal to feel small ‘contraction’ type cramping in your lower abdomen, especially when nursing, this is your uterus contracting back to it’s normal size. That’s right, the contractions don’t end with the birth!
- The Blood! So Much Blood!– Despite uterine massages, you can still expect a lot of bleeding in the days and weeks after giving birth. By golly, I could’ve shoved a bath towel in my oversized underwear and it wouldn’t have been overkill. This of course can vary, especially depending on how much rest you get. I did not rest at all, I was constantly on the go, and therefore the bleeding took longer to slow down.
- Blood Clots- It is normal to pass a blood clot or two, smaller than a golf ball, in the first few days after giving birth. Sometimes it’s like… ‘what just slid out of me?!’. Definitely was a strange experience, and not something I had really ever heard anyone discussing!
- Big, Hard, Sore Boobs!- A few days after you give birth, your milk comes in, I guess I didn’t realize just HOW much milk came in! I felt like I had two massive boulders in my chest. Boulders that leaked everywhere, and at times sprayed in every direction like a water park!
- Petrified To Pee!- Well… and poop. Let’s be real. Everything is so sore and swollen to begin with, that using the bathroom can be scary! Especially if you tore or had an episiotomy, it can burn, as the acid from your urine gets into your laceration. Peri bottles will be your saving grace- squirt while you pee my friend, squirt while you pee. It’s also common to feel itchy if you tore or had an episiotomy, that is simply your wound healing and should subside in about a week or so.
- You May Pee Your Pants- I’m talking about after the birth is over, and you’re all happily settled into your comfy bed with your cute little baby… and then suddenly… yup. There was barely a two second warning between realizing you had to pee, and and actually peeing. This doesn’t happen every time, or to everyone, but certainly don’t feel like you’re alone in this!
- Emotional Rollercoaster- Your body has just been through an incredibly intense experience, put that on top of having a new little one to care for 24/7, and you may feel kind of out of it. Do not feel pressured into being more social than you want to be, and remember, it’s normal to feel like you’re stumbling through this new parenting thing.
- Asking For Help- Whether you’re asking someone bring you a glass of water, or requesting assistance with feeding your baby. Asking for help in any way does NOT make you a failure, uneducated, or lazy. It takes courage to speak up, and my hope is that you have a wonderful support system in place, who will be happy to help! Remember, no question is a dumb question. It is much better to ask for help, than to struggle silently.
Like a woman’s birthing experience, her postpartum experience will be unique to her. Not everyone’s the same, and nor should we be! We should feel open to communicating with other mama’s about what our postpartum recovery was like, even if they had a different experience, it will educate us about how it could go for us next time. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to have an open line of honest communication with your Doctor or Midwife. In the event that you feel uneasy, or are questioning something… anything, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call them.
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When To Seek Medical Assistance:
- Severe pain in your abdomen or groin area, that does not ease up with pain killers
- Constant headaches
- Become faint/dizzy/get vertigo
- Are completely saturating a large pad in an hour
- Have fever or chills
- Pain in calves and chest
- Hard, painful lump on your breast, that may be hot to the touch and red
- Still have bright red blood four days after giving birth
- If you pass a blood clot larger than a golf ball / if you pass multiple clots day after day
- Smelly discharge or pus
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Major mood swings
- Chronic anxiety & stress
- Feeling down (sad/depressed) often
- Have angry or frightening thoughts
Tags: new baby, newborn, postpartum care, pregnancy questions, what no one told me about postpartum, what to expect postpartum, your body after baby