Women tend to prepare for birth by reading up on the experience and taking classes. Though there's no way to know what's actually going to happen when the baby comes, women feel somewhat prepared because they have likely heard birth stories from their friends. What they may not be prepared for is after birth when the postpartum recovery starts.
Having a baby is a miracle, and recovery from birth is the miracle that immediately follows. After pushing a child out of the body or being cut open and having a child lifted from the uterus, women bounce back. Mom not only takes care of herself while healing but also fulfills the every need of a tiny, helpless infant.
As amazing as it is that women can recover from so much, women don’t always know what they are getting into when sent home to recover. Besides being sore and tired, new moms also usually end up grossed out by all the bodily fluids, both the babies and their own. There will be blood, poop, and a fair amount of rank breast milk leaking everywhere, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. That's why it's important for moms to know early on what to expect so they can prepare and have help on hand to get them through this dirty, difficult time.
Bring on the beautiful babies, but be warned, moms. With them come these dirty recovery processes that must be endured.
15 The Blood
There's a reason mom comes out of birth wearing mesh panties. Actually a more accurate term would be diaper, we come out of birth wearing a diaper just like the child we brought into the world. However, the reason for our diapers are different. We need them to hold the massive amount of blood that will leave our bodies after bringing a tiny human into the world.
Women who have C-sections or vaginal deliveries will bleed because the placenta being removed from the body leaves blood vessels open, and all the extra blood we had running through our bodies will make its way out. Luckily, we had all that extra blood so we can still keep living even as we feel like we should faint from all the blood loss.
Some doctors describe the bleeding as a very heavy period. Women who have actually been through the experience describe it as the bloody Nile River flowing freely from our bodies.
14 Baby Fluids
It's not just our body fluids that are nasty while we are trying to recover from labor. We actually have to change diapers and deal with having a person spit up on us. It's part of being a mom, but it adds to the feeling that postpartum recovery is just one big fluid fest where mom never truly feels clean.
Though babies stop with those crazy tar-like meconium diapers fairly early, what comes next isn't much better. Breast milk runs through the body quickly, so as fast as mom can feed a baby she'll find she's changing his diaper again. Changing the diaper of a baby boy often means being peed on, and changing a poop diaper of a little girl leads to using an entire package of baby wipes just to make sure all the crevices are clean.
13 Breast Milk Leakage
Mom will be grateful when her milk comes in, especially because the let down process is painful and it's nice when it's over. What she finds once the milk is in is that it never really feels dry on her chest anymore. Even if she is not actively nursing a baby, she will still leak milk, and this leaves everything she wears reeking of sour milk.
Breast milk running down the front of the body is also a really weird sensation. On the one hand, we know it's just milk and it's okay. On the other hand, it's sticky and warm and in our bras. There's no possible way to shower every single time we find ourselves drenched, so toweling off as best we can until the next surge is the only option we have. Plus, babies will sometimes let the breast milk slip out the sides of their mouths when they are nursing, sometimes even managing to send it down our backs.
12 The Stitches
It's rare that a woman comes through having a child without battle scars. Women who deliver their babies vaginally often suffer from tears and sometimes even receive an episiotomy if the situation demands it. Both of these situations lead to stitches. Moms who have C-sections will walk away with stitches or staples holding their insides together and keeping them on the inside.
Though we obviously want stitches or staples in place so our body heals properly, taking care of them is gross. Wiping after tearing and knowing we might brush up against the stitches is awful, leading many women to purchase perineal irrigation bottles so they can clean without contact. C-section stitches are impossible to avoid since we see them when we look down and have to adjust our panties so the elastic band doesn't rub against the stitches and cause us to scream. Recovering from childbirth is not for the faint of heart.
Just when mom thought her backside might be the only part of her lower region not affected by birth, here come the hemorrhoids. That's right, why hurt only in the front when the entire lower region can be inflamed all the way around?
Hemorrhoids often occur during recovery because mom becomes constipated. Going number two after having a child is horrifying, and it really does hurt. However, not going leads our stool to back up in our bodies and make us constipated, which will only make our next poop hurt as well.
The best solution to this problem involves drinking tons of water, consuming fiber, and taking stool softeners. In fact, try to do all of these things before constipation strikes. Not getting constipated in the first place is the best way to avoid hemorrhoids, something that any recovering mom should try very hard to do.
10 Dealing With The Umbilical Stump
Though mom may remember that precious moment when dad cut the umbilical cord, she may have forgotten that the stump was left in the baby's belly button. That's right, our child comes home with an umbilical stump just hanging outside of his belly button, turning black and growing hard day after day.
Mom can't just pull the stump out, so she has to spend her days folding down the diaper so it doesn't rub the stump and waiting for it to fall out on its own.
We know this cord is part of our baby and the way he was nourished while in the womb, but that does not make it less nasty. The good news is it usually falls out within a couple of weeks of birth. The bad news is before then it can become infected, causing the area to turn red and to leak a discharge that stinks. If this happens, mom needs to call the doctor.
When we're in the hospital, nurses generally want to know if all of our organs are working properly after giving birth to a person, so they will ask us to fart or go number two. It's totally humiliating, but it gets us out of the hospital.
The problem is when some moms make it home, they realize farting isn't going to be a problem. The problem will be stopping.
Due to all of the medications that are pumped into us at the hospital and the pain medication we're sent home with, many women find they produce quite a bit of gas after the baby is born. Organs have been smashed for months and finally have a chance to move again, and that may mean more flatulence that stinks while we recover.
The good news is women have babies who poop in their diapers, so all foul smells can easily be blamed on them.
8 Not Showering
Mom will know she has truly arrived as a mother when taking a shower, something she used to just assume she would be able to do every day, becomes a luxury that has to be planned hours in advance. Showers are so hard to take with a newborn that many moms just give up and sit around smelling like spit up and rotten milk for days.
Infants really don't like it when mom is not within grabbing distance, and much of this could be due to their poor eye sight early on. They want us close where they can feel or see us, and that can't happen if we are in the shower. At first, clothes sticking to mom's body will gross her out, but over time she will likely find she barely notices.
When dad comes in from work, pass the baby off and enjoy the luxury of soap, warm water, and feeling clean, even it only lasts for five minutes.
Many breastfeeding moms are lucky enough to avoid mastitis completely, but there are others who will develop this bacterial infection early on. It's painful and gross, causing a woman's affected breast to become rock hard, turn red, and often develop knots due to blocked ducts.
Adding to the fun is high fever and exhaustion, all while trying to care for an infant. Women often need antibiotics to treat this infection, and that means their stomachs may become upset from the medicine. Babies can also develop looser than usual bowels when nursing while mom is on an antibiotic. It's an overall awful situation, and there are women who actually have to deal with it while still in the early days of recovery.
Mom needs to keep nursing if possible because that will help stop the pain and release the milk in the breasts. It's painful and can bring mom to tears, but letting milk back up further is not a good idea.
6 The Memories
Some of mom's grossest recovery moments will be the times when she decides to take a trip down memory lane. Reliving birth can be beautiful because we receive a precious baby from it, but it can also remind us of experiences we may have forgotten.
Common questions women have about birth once it is over are: Did I poop while pushing? Did I pee on someone? How many people actually saw my lay bits during that time? Did all that blood come from me?
Yes, it's likely mom pooped. Yes, she probably peed on a nurse or maybe her spouse. Everyone saw mom's lady bits because that's how birth works. It strips us of any previous modestly. And hopefully all the blood came from us unless dad passed out and cracked his head when he hit the floor.
Mom's best bet is to focus on the lovely parts of the birth experience and just forget defecating in front of a room of people. It really does happen to almost everyone.
5 The Look Of Mom's Stomach
Rock hard abs are not going to magically appear after we give birth. In fact, a flat stomach isn't even a reality during the recovery stage. Our bodies stretched to house an actual person, and we will live with the aftershocks from that for a long time.
Our stomachs are not gross after birth but rather a sign that we survived. However, since they look so much different than what we are used to, mom may find seeing her skin hanging low with the stretch marks still so vivid is a bit of a shock. Walking makes us feel like our bellies are bouncing, because usually that extra hanging flesh is moving in rhythm with us.
It's not necessary to do anything drastic to restore our stomachs. Over a period of time, our bodies will recover and it will show on the outside. We won't ever look exactly the same, but we'll feel more like ourselves eventually.
4 Unexpected Hair Loss
While pregnant most of us have the best hair of our lives. It's thick and shiny and just seems to be getting better every day. For some women, that changes when the baby comes.
Many moms report having to dig their hair out of the sink or shower to make sure it doesn't clog the drains. After birth, hair may start falling out due to hormone changes that cause weird reactions in mom's whole body. It is gross and frustrating to stand in a bathroom holding an infant in one arm and digging our hair out of a drain with the free hand.
This situation sometimes takes care of itself as recovery moves forward, but if it continues mom may want to see her doctor. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on our thyroids, and that may be the reason our hair falls out. If that's the case, medication may be prescribed to help our bodies get back on track.
3 Constant Urination
The peeing we did while pregnant was so annoying and seemed to be constant. However, pre-children we at least usually knew when we were going to pee and could make it to the bathroom on time. Not so after having a child.
The poor uterus and bladder go through a lot during pregnancy and labor, and the pelvic region is seriously tested. Doctors recommend kegels for moms after they give birth because this tightening exercise helps strengthen muscles so mom can actually avoid incontinence. However, it doesn't always work and mom will find she is peeing when she coughs, sneezes, or laughs. Forget jumping rope or anything else that jostles mom's insides unless she is wearing one of those sexy mesh diaper panties.
While recovering from birth, mom will likely notice this change and feel embarrassed, but she may also be too tired to care. Just know that this is usually a forever problem once a woman's body has lived through bearing a child.
2 Snotty Cries
The emotional ups and downs we went through during pregnancy are nothing compared to the emotional upheaval we experience after birth. Suddenly we have this little person we love so much, and we're overwhelmed by the feeling. We're also scared to death that something will happen to them, we're sleep deprived, and we really, really want a shower. This combination means tears that are often labeled ugly cries.
Ugly cries lead to snot leaking, eyes swelling, and mom barely even able to talk for all the crying. It's gross but okay, and most women go through it many times while hormones settle down and they get used to being a new mom.
If the snotty cries suddenly become bouts of soul-crushing darkness or if mom feels she is so overwhelmed she can't function, she needs to seek help. Postpartum depression and anxiety are possible while mom is trying to recover, and it's important to have a team of people helping mom get through if she is struggling with either of these.
1 The Thought Of Intimacy
Seeing our partners as parents can be a real aphrodisiac. Any man who is willing to get up at two a.m. and help us calm a screaming baby is sexy in our eyes, but that doesn't mean we want to even think about intimacy in those days after birth.
It's recommended that women wait six weeks, sometimes eight if a C-section was necessary, before engaging in sexual activity. Most women are just fine with that. Moms are tender, tired, and many are afraid of what intimacy post-birth is going to feel like. Considering how babies have to exit the body, intimacy sounds awful in those first few weeks after recovery.
Eventually mom will be ready again, but it's okay for her to talk to her partner about her fears. As long as everyone is on the same page about moving slowly and allowing time for healing, it will work it.