It’s over. The long nine month wait. The pain of labor. A baby, so long awaited, is finally here. Now all will be well in the world, right? Well, sometimes there are other things that happen as the new Mom settles down into motherhood. Things she didn’t quite expect after the whirlwind of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Now it is the afterbirth postpartum period. This period is all about adjustment, of sleep deprivation, of long days and nights. It is also a period of joy and learning all about the unconditional love that a mother will have for her child. It can also be about some not-quite-so-mushy moments. It’s about some of the gross things that happen postpartum. Unfortunately, these kinds of things are common place for most Moms after their bundle of joy arrives.
What kinds of ways does the body struggle? Well, it’s a long healing process, and of course it really depends on the woman, her labor and delivery, and the way her body will choose to heal itself. Things like aches and pains that linger around for a while, massive hormonal adjustments, and other things she may have thought were long behind her, will occur.
She will be juggling this with a new baby, so it’s important that self-care is at the top of the list for her. It’s a pain to manage the after birth side effects, but like any new Mom will say, it’s something they learn to handle day by day. Being gentle with herself is the best way to go. But then there are the other things that happen that are way worse and grosser than she can imagine. Here are 15 Gross Ways You Didn’t Know The Body Struggles To Heal After Child Birth:
15 Things Shift
Yes, the girls sure do go though their share of hard times. For women who are already on the larger side, this can prove especially difficult. For those on the smaller to medium side, this could prove to be kind of fun, at first. They will leak if Mom has not fed baby in a while. They will develop infections if the latch is not correct, or if Mom gets sick. They will get sore, crusty and bloody. Basically, things happen that a woman never thought possible before.
The important thing is, at any sign of strange odor, rash, or discomfort, she needs to go see her OB/GYN, midwife or a lactation consultant. They will be able to give her the medication and tools to heal. And a reminder that the girls will also get bigger whether she deliver vaginally or by c-section due to those lovely hormones.
14 It Gets Dry Down There
She thought that all the vjayjay stuff would be behind her now that junior is on the outside? Not so fast. Her lady parts here have also been through some very challenging moments, and depending on how well or tough the labor and birth experience was, they will need lots of TLC in order to heal and get back to their pre-pregnancy shape.
As her hormone levels ebb and flow and adjust to being a feeding and nurturing machine, she will have to adjust to some dryness and discomfort. As much as possible, she needs to rest, eat well, and stay hydrated. This, along with a healthy diet, will help restore the natural balance in her nether regions. She should abstain from sex for the first six weeks and use a lubricant when she does have sex.
13 PUPPS And Not The Cute Kind
Ah yes, rashes and itchiness are quite common for many Moms postpartum. There is a skin condition called “PUPPS” (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). This is basically a common rash that sometimes occurs on women’s inner thighs and arms. What helps is a steroid cream, but Mom has to be sure that the cream does not touch any part of baby. Fun times for sure.
Itchiness is also common in pregnancy and after. There is a condition called “obstetrics cholestasis.” It is also called “Itchy Moms Syndrome." It is a serious medical condition where bile levels rise high. It can put baby’s life at risk if it is not monitored. For most women though, bile levels go back to normal after 24 hours. As long as she is being monitored in hospital or checking in from home, things should go fine.
12 A Very Long Visit From Aunt Flo
Lochia. Even the name sounds like some evil villain from a sci-fi movie, or maybe that’s just my impression. Really what it is is basically the big period that follows delivery. It is bleeding (not continuously) for a period of no less than two and usually not more than eight weeks where all that material that helped to house baby comes out.
Tissues, blood, clumps of things, and well, no need to say more. This all comes out in little bits, and Moms have to wear pads postpartum so that the pads can absorb all this post-baby material from getting everywhere. It can be painful, but most of the time it is just gross. This needs to come out so Mom’s body can get back to normal. Sometimes if she has had an epidural, the pain could be less.
11 Little Rocks Of Hell
Yep. It’s hard to believe that with all the other stuff that a woman has to go through during pregnancy, labor and delivery that gallstones also can be quite common, but there you have it. They happen. It is usually in the case of multiple births when there is a lot more pushing involved, but sometimes even in regular baby births the stress and strain of pushing can aggravate or cause gallstones. Oh, the pain!
Most people who have had them tell of no worse pain than that. Well, imagine if a woman has just been through a tough delivery, has to take care of a newborn and has to have gallstone surgery? Ouch is all we can say. This is painful on so many levels. Having to take care of a baby is hard enough without having to heal from this surgery.
10 The Bleeding Seems To Never Stop
That sounds like an intro to a horror film, but think about it: a whole human being is coming out of her body. There will be blood. Just how much is shocking to most women. Within the first ten minutes that a woman delivers her baby, she will have lost more blood than what would fit in a small ice cream container. Sometimes, she will lose even more blood. And that is just the beginning.
Many women will continue to lose blood in the coming days postpartum, like when they have been sitting or lying down for a long time. Gushes have also been known to happen when breastfeeding. This is all normal in the first six to eight weeks postpartum. She may also pass large clots in the first 24 hours after delivery.
9 You'll Want To Keep It In, But You Can't
Yes, these are unfortunately quite common from all the pushing, straining and lifting that happens before and during labor and delivery. Sometimes if Mom is up and about too quickly and doing too much physical activity, this could also trigger hemorrhoids to strike. Usually as painful as they are, they should resolve on their own, but a woman needs to make sure she is extra careful with self-care. She needs to increase hydration and drink lots of water, add more fiber to her diet, and avoid things that will make her strain.
This is when she needs to ask for help with anything that could be stressful so that she can heal. Surgery would only be necessary in extreme cases, but this is still difficult to handle while taking care of a baby.
8 "No Thanks, I'll Just Stand"
And then there is the whole “sitting down thing” after birth which is not as easy as it sounds. It actually can be SO hard to find a comfortable position that the frustration can be enormous, never mind the pain. As women, we all have different pain thresholds, but let’s face it, birthing a human out of the lady parts is not for the fainthearted.
The three to six week pain threshold for healing is a really an average. Some women may take longer to heal, and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as she takes care of herself during the healing process, she's doing it right. Things like special seating devices, salt baths and squirting water in her vjayjay if there is discomfort there when using the facilities, can go a long way to helping the healing process.
7 Pressure Is Not Controllable
For some women, blood pressure issues do not go away once the little one is in their arms. Some women have reported dizziness, passing out, and weakness well after the labor and delivery is over. What is recommended is monitoring her pressure, consulting with her doctor if she has any issues with continual dizziness, erratic heart beating, or just is not feeling like herself.
The important thing is to rest when she can, ask for help when she needs it, and not be afraid to mention anything that seems out of the ordinary to her doctor or medical team. Hormones will be wreaking havoc on her system for a while, but it is always better to check out any health concerns right away then wait and have a potential emergency.
6 Swelling All Over
Swelling is very common during pregnancy of course, but what many doctors do not tell the new Mom is that it is quite common postpartum as well. If she asks, she will most likely be told that swelling will unfortunately get worse before it gets better. She may be discharged from the hospital and be fine, then get up the next morning and see her legs are double the size they were the day before.
This is due to her intravascular volume, which is the body’s blood supply which increases in order to nourish the baby inside. Post delivery all that fluid has to go somewhere, so it may happen in the days and weeks that follow that she’ll notice her limbs swelling and having to pee a lot more. Don't worry, things should get back to normal soon.
5 Like You're Detoxing
Ah, those trusty hormones. Many women will experience sweats during their premenstrual cycle and in pregnancy, but it is also quite common to have the sweats and/or shakes during and after delivery. Shakes are more common directly after birthing baby due to the shock her system experiences or the high. It could also be due to the reaction her body gets from the pain medication she may have been given during birth.
Sweats, on the other hand, are basically due to her body being a milk machine. It is hard at work making nourishment for baby day and night. The more often she breastfeeds baby, the more milk comes in and so the process continues. It is also part of the hormones adjusting back to post pregnancy levels. There will be lots of ups and downs before she notices she is not perspiring so much anymore.
4 Tearing, Lots Of Tearing
No matter how natural or how many birthing exercises and meditations a woman has under her belt, she will tear down there in her nether regions. She will need to be able to handle her body healing through tears no matter how long it takes. With stitches, there will be the required healing time, and her doctor or midwife will be able to give her a rough timeline of when she will be able to be up and about.
With a c-section she will need to stay in the hospital at least 3 days, and she cannot get up and move at the beginning as she is still too weak. Baby care will be taken over by nurses and her partner. Once she is home, she will need to pace herself as the incision heals, and do only the basics of caring for baby, but no heavy lifting.
3 Feeling All Beat Up
A woman may not expect to crash a few hours or days later after delivery, but it does happen. Her body has just birthed a full human being. She needs to expect to feel all beat up like she’s been in a fight. In a way, her body has. Her body will also be handled quite a lot by doctors and nurses, almost as much as when she was pregnant. They will be helping in getting her uterus to shrink down from the size of a watermelon to the size of a cantaloupe.
She should expect nurses to be pressing on her belly and massaging it every fifteen minutes for the first two hours after delivery. It will be painful, and she'll feel it more if she didn’t have an epidural. This will help her heal in the long run though.
2 Swelling Down South
As any woman can imagine, birth can do quite a number on her vagina, both inside and out. One of the things that happens is an increase in swelling down there. This happens especially if she has been pushing for a long time. Labias actually can triple in size, which is very common if Moms are birthing for the first time.
This means that post-delivery, it takes time for the vagina to get back to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women have found that ice packs can help tremendously with swelling, as they will help bring any discomfort or pain down a notch. She needs to remember to be gentle with herself and with her body as it heals from one of the most life altering things it will ever do - childbirth.
1 Stitches - Ouch!
Then there are stitches. Only this time, she is not a kid who has a playground cut on her arm or leg. These stitches are in her lady parts, and she’ll need to navigate around them for a while as she heals and gets used to her postpartum body. It will be uncomfortable and painful at first, but with good medication and resting when she can, she should feel better in a few weeks.
As minor vaginal tearing is quite common with first time Moms no matter how they deliver, she will have to adjust to the possibility of having this done as part of her postpartum recovery. If she has not had a medicated birth, she will receive a shot in her vaginal area before the stitches are done. This hurts and is far from fun.
So that’s it. If a woman can trudge through all or most of the above, she is on her way to mastering motherhood slowly. As long as she remembers she has support the whole way and to focus on her own healing, she cannot go wrong on her journey.
Sources: Self.com, TheBump.com, The Berry.com, PregnantChicken.com