Holding that little bundle in her arms and she will most likely be thinking only one word: wow. She will sometimes be thinking that word while crying, screaming for joy or just being quiet and at peace with herself. She is part of that special sisterhood of mothers. She nurtured, labored and brought life into the world. That is a miracle for any new mom to behold.
Seeing her little bundle of joy nestled in her arms will bring lots of happy and positive thoughts. She may also feel overwhelmed and under prepared no matter how many baby books and articles she has read. Of course, she will be a great mom and learn as she goes. The next few days will pass in a whirlwind as she adjusts to new motherhood. She will rise to it like a champion and soon be a pro just like the rest of her sisterhood.
What people do not tell her, and what she often learns the hard way, is that the physical and psychological recovery that happens after delivery is not so straightforward and simple for most women. It is downright challenging, and sometimes scary. But as long as she is armed with good information, she will get through the difficult moments with lots of support from her mom friends as well as from her family.
She needs to be gentle with herself in all ways, and she needs to take things one day at a time. She is adjusting to a whole new way of life- taking care of another human being’s needs and wants. What kind of things make for a challenging recovery? Here are 14 brutally honest stories about post-natal recovery that give this new mom some ideas.
14 It Can Get Ugly
Just the word “drastically” can get most women’s stomachs quivering, but heck, it’s true. Think about what HUGE things pregnancy, labor and birth are. A woman is bringing, er, pushing a whole human being (or sometimes more than one) out and it hurts. A lot. Even with wonderful deep breathing and positive visualization, ladies, it is not a walk in the park.
A mom from Scotland posted on Facebook about her experience of what birth and post-natal recovery really felt like. She didn’t like the rainbows and unicorn way childbirth is sometimes painted. She used phrases like, "Labor is one of the most ugly things ever... A dodgy wee midwife that's not slept in 35 hours trying to set about your vagina with a needle and thread.” It’s direct, it’s in our face, and it has been liked over 22,000 times on Facebook.
13 Water Is Life
Another mom on a parenting support board online mentioned the fact that no one tells women they will experience a lot of constipation after birthing a baby. It can go on for weeks or months. The important thing, especially if she is breastfeeding her baby, is that mom remembers to drinks lots of liquids. Water and other hydrating liquids will help her to replenish her resources for her baby.
As new moms are often very tired, it's common that they will forget to get in all of their liquids or be too tired to get themselves a refill on their glass of water. But it is essential that she drinks a lot to help her recovering body get back on track in the number two department. She and her baby will both be more comfortable if she is able to move freely and without pain.
12 The PPD Is Real
A Cleveland, Ohio mom’s post about how shocked she was after delivery is also burning up online with shares, support and comments. She speaks about how women, particularly moms, are supposed to have it all together. She also talks about how scared moms are to fall short of societal expectations. Even if they don't have it all together, they pretend like they do. “As a society we are supposed to, especially as mothers, have it all together, and I think that does such a disservice to other new mothers.”
She also talks about disclosing and seeking help when you need it, "It shouldn't be terrifying for me to say what's going on, even if you're struggling." What is helping her is seeing all the wonderful responses she is getting online from other women encouraging her to not be afraid to speak up.
11 Sleep Deprivation Is Not Exaggerated
A mom from England talked online about such a severe form of postpartum depression (PPD) that she was not able to sleep even when her daughter did. She talked about how her daughter was pretty much sleeping through the night at 12 weeks old. But mom was afraid to sleep for fear something may happen and her daughter may need her. She was constantly checking up on her daughter to see if she was toot hot or too cold. She worried about SIDS and exhausted herself to the point where she was deliriously accusing her husband and mother of trying to hurt her baby.
Once she got help for her psychiatric issues and postpartum depression in the form of therapy and medication, she was a new woman. She tells other struggling mamas to speak to a professional and get help if a woman is not feeling like herself.
10 Things Get Dark
One mom shared her story of postpartum anxiety and antenatal depression online. She talked about struggling with some of the lesser known symptoms that are not as prominent and often overlooked. Even though her symptoms weren't as well known, she was still struggling with depression and needed help. Her symptoms included, “indifference or hostility towards your partner or your baby, poor concentration, struggling to sleep (when given the chance) and feeling guilty. Someone can suffer with a combination of the symptoms, but not always all of them.”
She also talked about how 10 to 15% of women will suffer from some sort of anxiety in the first six weeks of giving birth and sometimes longer. So there is no shame. She keeps in mind that she is not alone in her thoughts and encourages others to seek medical help and support from family and friends.
9 Breastfeeding Is No Walk In The Park
Another mom talked about a common issue that is not as talked about as postpartum depression, but can be just as stressful and intense for new moms. This issue is trouble with breastfeeding. Many moms struggle with breastfeeding their babies and either having to consult a lactation consultant or having to switch to formula or other bottle feeding.
While most women encourage their friends to do what is right for them and their baby, many would be very hard on themselves if they couldn't breastfeed right away. They may feel like they are failing in some way or that they are depriving their baby. This is particularly true if a mom had planned to breastfeed all along. She needs to remember to relax, and do what she needs to do to keep her baby and herself healthy. No one who truly loves her and wants the best for her and her baby will argue on either side.
8 A Breaking Point
Postpartum psychosis is a severe form of PPD where a woman has reoccurring thoughts of either harming herself, her baby or both. One mom from England talked about how she started having ITs (Intrusive Thoughts) about harming herself and worried about hurting her baby. She also resented her baby while being preoccupied with caring for his every need. She spoke about how she would look down while nursing him and feel bad that he has a mother who does not love him. Gradually, as she stopped sleeping and eating, things got progressively worse and she thankfully sought medical help.
She learned that PPD is not her fault. She did not ask for it. Rather, it is her body’s way of handling childbirth. And with the proper type of medication, she can function well as a mom and a whole human being again.
7 Issues Down There
Then there are the physical changes that happen with a woman’s body post-natal. A physical therapist who worked for the US Army recounts being told by her OB/GYN about the usual 6 week recovery time post delivery. As a former runner and a woman in excellent athletic shape who had a vaginal delivery, she was told she could start running as early as three weeks postpartum. She then talks about her second degree vaginal tear and how it affected her body and the way she handled exercise.
She speaks about the gap of information between obstetricians and other health care professionals when it comes to pelvic recovery. She wants to bridge this gap and get the information out to women and medical health professionals. Her practice now involves postpartum physical therapy to help women heal their pelvic areas.
6 No One Talks About The Spine
This same physical therapist talks about other physical changes that occur in a woman’s body post-natal. As more women are starting to come forward about their struggles with the psychological effects of pregnancy, such as postpartum depression, physical effects have begun to take a backseat. We rarely hear about a woman's spine or back post-birth. According to this physical therapist, women have restricted rotation in their thoracic spine and this will affect how she carries herself and moves comfortably.
Many women suffer from chronic back pain after childbirth and have to learn to live with a limited range of motion. We have to remember that the body is the sum of its parts and it's important we focus on getting all the pieces moving together in a pain-free and healthy way.
5 It's Dangerous To Be Isolated
A scary trend we're seeing is moms who were socially isolated in areas away from family and friends, who did not receive a lot of emotional support, and became depressed and overwhelmed as a result. In some cases, this isolation triggered postpartum depression. In other cases, it led these women to question themselves as moms in how they were parenting and if they loved their babies enough.
They realized that they just needed a mommy break and someone to talk to, help them around the house, or play with the baby for a while so they could rest. A lot of moms who told these stories now realize that spreading the word about connecting can help curb social isolation that is very much a part of our North American experience of motherhood.
4 The Scar Is Deep
A lot of moms who are not in the health care sector, and even those moms who are, realize that once they have children, the standard six week recovery time is just that, a standard time. Many women, particularly if they have had a c-section, may need a few months to get back on their feet. And even with a vaginal delivery, particularly if there is second or third degree tearing, moms can expect to take longer to heal as well.
There is no shame or need to stress about this. It is the body’s way of handling and healing. More information needs to get out there telling women to listen to their bodies. When it is tired, she needs to rest. When it is sore, she needs to sit down. When she feels like she is doing everything right and there is still pain and discomfort, she needs to go see her doctor and get additional help.
3 Starting Over At Square One
Then there was the California mom who had a high-risk pregnancy and a premature delivery of her son at 24 weeks. She had been on bedrest for most of her pregnancy. So not only did she have her son in the NICU and was concerned with his physical and emotional development, but she had to relearn how to walk again once she had delivered her baby. This proved to be no easy feat, as there had been a lot of muscular atrophy in the months she had been forced to stay in be during her pregnancy.
She spoke about first needing to relearn how to sit up without feeling dizzy. Then standing up was the next order. But due to the muscular atrophy, she could not stand more than a few seconds without her legs giving out. She recovered, but stressed the importance of moms pacing themselves through recovery time.
2 You Won't Feel Like Yourself
Emotional support was the number one priority of all of the moms whose stories are recounted here. Emotional support can be a visit from a friend to bring food, clean or take care of the baby. It can be a phone call, an online support group or a partner to share with. If more support is needed, moms can reach out to medical professionals who specialize in postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis. It is important that she reaches out, even if it is just to get some more information.
Finding someone who can direct her accordingly and not make any judgment on how she is feeling and what she is saying is key. Most women feel guilty about their thoughts, but they need to know that in seeking help, they will see that they are not alone. Many women feel sad or overwhelmed when their baby comes for different reasons. Getting the proper support and tools to handle motherhood is their first step to feeling more like themselves.
1 Everything In Slow Motion
Finally, both the physical therapist mom and the mom who had the high-risk pregnancy and was put on bed rest, spoke openly about how women did not need to rush around after childbirth. There are psychological reasons for taking it easy, but there are also physical reasons for moving slowly as the body recovers from the very intense processes of pregnancy and childbirth.
Moms, especially in the first few weeks or months at home, will not be as alert due to sleep deprivation and attending to their baby’s every movement. This is why taking it easy when she needs to is so important. Every woman needs to slow down at first so that she can get back to her pre-pregnancy energy levels. There need not be any pressure. This process happens at a different rate for every woman.
So there you have it. Stories form the heart that show women what they can possibly expect with the reminder to be loving and true to themselves. Everything else will work out in the end.
Sources: DailyMail.co.uk, Babble.com