There were a lot of things that I learned as I became pregnant and a lot more that I am learning about postpartum and early motherhood. It’s a whole new world!
My delivery was straight forward and there were no complications postpartum. I consider myself lucky. Within a few weeks, I was back to normal.
I can’t sugarcoat it though, it feels really crappy for a couple weeks. The end of pregnancy makes you feel like an overstuffed turkey, and postpartum makes you feel like you just joined fight club. You are bruised, sore and miserable, deprived of sleep and having to adjust to motherhood and breastfeeding. At times, it can feel pretty lonely since the physical part is only happening to you. Even without the famous hormonal swings, the emotional changes that happen to new mothers is something only women will know. Sorry guys! But there is something that changes fundamentally in the way we see the world and how we start to rank people in our lives when we give birth to a child.
Having support for me was essential to ward off any baby blues or postpartum depression. It can be pretty overwhelming to do it all on your own, so if there is one piece of advice I can give you is get/accept help from your family and friends.
In addition, here are other things that I wanted to share with you that most likely, no one will tell you about postpartum.
10 Things No One Tells You About Postpartum
- Stitches – tears are very common in vaginal birth. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how bad. Only a few lucky women don’t get them during their first birth. With that said, most likely you will bear stitches for a couple weeks. If you never had stitches, it’s a brand new experience. I’ve had a few before, but never in such a sensitive area. It’s hurts to walk, sit, pee, lay down, go up stairs… There is a reason you don’t see many women postpartum running errands. It’s not a pretty sight.
- Cramps during breastfeeding – we attended a breastfeeding class and they talked about cramps during breastfeeding. But what they failed to mention is that they go on for as long as you are breastfeeding in the first weeks. That doesn’t sound so bad if you breastfeed for 10 minutes at a time, but with Roark it was like he was permanently attached to my breast for the first 2 weeks. He fed for 45 mins at a time at every hour (counted from the beginning of the feed) which meant he was only off for 15 mins intervals or during his naps (1-2 hrs long). It’s brutal for the first couple weeks, but once your uterus is back to its normal size, the pain disappears or becomes very faint.
- Bruised perineum – the area between your vagina and anus will take a beating during delivery with the pressure and stretching of a newborn’s head coming out, so needless to say, it will be bruised. In addition, that’s where most tears happen so you’ll most likely have stitches here. But nature calls don’t stop until you are healed. Most people will not tell you that the first poop postpartum will make you think you are delivering another baby, only this time without drugs. During delivery the intestines go on hiatus. Without food or water and with a huge loss of fluids, you end up dehydrated. Constipation follows and you get the picture! So drink lots of water after delivery and take those laxatives.
- Bleeding gushes – one of the things that nurses do post delivery is to check your uterus position and size. They do this by pushing on your lower belly. These “massages” are downright painful. Every time you get one of them, you will also gush leftover blood. Having someone constantly checking the state of things below the waist can be quite uncomfortable, but believe me, after you deliver a baby, you could care less who is seeing you naked.
- Bladder issues – if you have an epidural, your bladder may not respond to urges as it is suppose to. If you are unable to empty it a couple hours after delivery, a catheter may be needed until you regain control of it again. In addition, nurses will check that you are eliminating a certain amount of fluid postpartum, so they may ask you to pee into a container.
- Breastfeeding – hands down the hardest thing you need to learn post delivery. Although extremely natural, breastfeeding is far from being automatic. Babies don’t come out knowing how to nurse. They can smell the milk and go for the breast, but they don’t always know the best way to do it. In addition, our sexy appendages which have only been used as decoration up to this point, are not used to being “used” several hours of the day. It takes time and at times you’ll want to quit and switch to the bottle, but if you make it past the first 3 weeks, then you will enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding – portability, cost savings, bonding, weight loss etc…
- Sleep deprivation – babies sleep a lot, just not in one go. The problem of sleep deprivation is one of quality vs. quantity. You can nap with the baby in 1-2 hrs increments, but it will not leave you rested as a full 8 hrs night of sleep. Thankfully babies start to sleep longer by 2-3 months.
- Hunger – I thought once I delivered Roark, I would stop eating every 2 hrs, but actually breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day, which made me even more ravenous than before.
- Mama bear instincts – I am not sure this happens for every new mother, but as soon as I held Roark in my arms I became a mama bear. At times, the natural instinct to protect my “cub” is so strong, I feel like no one should be holding him but me. That includes people I love and trust. The crazy mama bear instincts slightly fade as the hormones settle, but I bet it will never go away.
- The weight comes off super fast – the most positive postpartum symptom has to be the fast weight loss. Within 2 weeks I had lost almost all the weight I gained during pregnancy. I gained 37 lbs during pregnancy and lost 30 lbs within the first two weeks without any dieting or exercising. The last 7 will probably take me a while to loose since I am hungry all the time. The amazing thing is I just had a baby and lost 30 lbs! Celebration is in order! Where’s the chocolate cake?
These are the 10 Things No One Tells You About Postpartum. What else do you think I should add to this list?