Having a baby is no easy task. A woman’s body undergoes extreme stress, significant changes, and in many cases, excruciating pain. There can be tearing, stitches, soreness, aches and pains, and for some women, even surgery (C-section mamas.)
Given the fact that delivering a baby is such an enormous and trying feat, and given the fact that the body undergoes such extreme circumstances, it’s important for expectant and new moms to understand that it is going to take some time to heal.
New moms shouldn’t expect to be able to jump up and start doing the things that they were able to do prior to having the baby right after delivery. Even the simplest tasks, like light household chores and going to the bathroom can be a major task and put more strain on the body.
Obstetricians say that it takes about 6 weeks for a woman’s body to fully heal after having a baby. During that time, new moms really need to heed the advice of their doctors and take it easy. That means not doing any tasks that involve excessive physical strain, such as heavy lifting, and no – or limited, modified – exercise.
This may sound like a drag, especially for those new moms who are used to being self-sufficient. And yes, in some ways, recovering from having a baby really is a drag. However, there are some wonderful things new moms can – and should – enjoy while they recover.
Here’s a look at some of the best and worst parts about recovering from childbirth.
15 Cons: Difficulty Walking
Walking after delivering a baby can be a unique challenge, too. The muscles and ligaments in the hips and pelvic region have stretched out as a result of the pregnancy hormone relaxin. Plus, they stretch out while the baby is passing through the birth canal. Add to that the strain on the vaginal area during childbirth, or healing from the incision of a C-section, and walking can be a difficult feat.
For many new moms, that waddle that they had while they were walking during pregnancy doesn’t go away right after the baby is delivered. It can actually last for a few weeks after the baby arrives, and it’s definitely not enjoyable. Anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of knowing someone who's had a baby before might not understand why you're still waddling when you walk, but you've got a good reason to strut like a duck for at least a few days.
14 Pros: A Reason To Bond With The Baby
Let’s start off on a positive note and discuss some of the best things about recovering from childbirth. First and foremost, the absolute best thing about recovering from having a baby is bonding with the baby.
While a new mom is giving her body the time that it needs to recover, she will have ample opportunities to bond with the baby. In fact, the recovery period is kind of like nature’s way of giving mama the time to really connect with her baby. The first few weeks of life are the most vital for connecting and bonding with a baby, so the postpartum recovery period is the perfect time to do so.
New moms can really take advantage of this time period by holding and cuddling their babies as much as possible; rocking them, singing to them and soothing them. Baby will develop a sense of security and trust in their moms, and moms will develop an even more profound love for their babies.
13 Cons: Lochia
Of course, the postpartum recovery period isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows. There are some downsides, too – and those downsides can be big bummers. Here’s a look at some of the biggest drags about the postpartum recovery period. And yes, there are a few.
Lochia is the technical term for the postpartum bleeding that a new mama experiences, and guess what – it sucks! It's like a big long sucky period that lasts days. Hence the need for adult looking diaper pads.
It’s kind of like a menstrual period, but it’s a whole lot heavier (at first) and it lasts way longer (up to 6 weeks.) Lochia is the result of excess tissue and blood that is shed from the lining of the uterus. It can be extremely heavy, and it can even be uncomfortable. This long-term vaginal bleeding is totally a major bummer.
12 Cons: Hormonal Fluctuations
Another major downside of the birth recovery period is the fluctuating hormones that a new mama has to endure, and those fluctuations can be wicked! One minute you're loving your little baby, the next minute you're in a puddle of your own tears.
During pregnancy, there is a major surge in hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, relaxin, human chorionic gonadotropin (hGC), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – just to name a few – soar, and immediately after having the baby, those hormone levels start to drop, which can wreak havoc on a woman’s body (and expectant mamas think that having to deal with changing hormones during pregnancy is hard!)
As those hormones start to level off, a woman experiences crazy mood swings, changes in her skin and hair and hot flashes, among other side effects, and those changes can be hell to deal with.
11 Pros: Bigger Chest
New moms start to notice their breasts filling out way before their baby arrives; however, after having the baby, the breasts fill out even more! That’s because the breasts are starting to establish their milk supply, which means an even bigger, fuller and more voluminous chest.
While this may seem like something of inconsequence, it is something that many women will enjoy. For women who long for a bigger chest, they will have the opportunity to experience what they have always wanted during the weeks following childbirth. Sure, it may be vain, but it can give new moms a real boost in their self-esteem.
Especially if they are feeling self-conscious about the rest of their post-baby body. And if a little va-va-voom helps you feel better about yourself in the meantime, just roll with it.
10 Cons: Still Having Baby Bump After Having The Baby
Mamas who are expecting their bumps to disappear right after the baby arrives are in for a big surprise, because that baby bump sticks around for awhile, even though the baby has moved out.
While there are some women who look completely deflated and have a flat stomach right after having a baby, the majority of women still look pregnant after they deliver. Their bellies may not be as big as they were during the latter stages of pregnancy, but they can certainly look like they are about 3 or 4 months pregnant.
Why does this happen? – Because uterus and the abdomen have stretched so much during pregnancy, and it takes time for things to get back to normal. For some women, those baby bumps never fully disappear, and that’s perfectly OK! – Think of it as a reminder that a baby was created in that belly!
9 Pros: Not Feeling Guilty About Asking For Help
For women who feel guilty about asking for help, the childbirth recovery period is the perfect time to ask for help… And not feel guilty about it.
From the changes that the body endures during the 40(ish) weeks of pregnancy, to the pain and strain of childbirth, and all of the changes that occur during the postpartum period, moms are going to need some help… and they definitely should not feel guilty about asking for it!
Heck, mamas create a whole new person, bring that person into the world, and nourish and nurture that person; the least that others can do for them is get them a sandwich when they want it, run the vacuum cleaner… Or do anything else that they damn well want them to (within reason, of course!)
Another major bummer during the birth recovery period: Cramps.
During labor, the uterus contracts to deliver the baby (hence those horrible, cramping contractions during labor.) And, sorry ladies, but that cramping feeling doesn’t subside after the baby is born. Though the cramping isn’t as painful as contractions, it can still be pretty uncomfortable.
Why does cramping continue to occur after the baby is born? – There are actually two reasons:
- The uterus is trying to rid itself of excess tissue and blood that it collected during pregnancy
- The uterus is trying to get back down to its pre-pregnancy size
These cramps fluctuate from severe to mild, and while they may stink, the good news is that they subside pretty quickly. After a week or two, all cramping should be gone.
7 Pros: Discovering How To Be Strong
Another totally awesome thing about the postpartum recovery that moms can enjoy is learning just how strong they are.
As we’ve already mentioned, the body undergoes some serious strain and pain during childbirth, and the results of that strain and pain can last a while. New moms have the opportunity to discover just how much pain they can endure after having a baby. Additionally, having to take care of a new baby can be really trying on a mother’s patience.
The sleep deprivation; the constantly having to care for someone else; the hormonal shifts… Having to deal with all of these things, coupled with coping with the leftover aches and pains really allows a new mom to learn just much she can handle and just how strong she is while she recovers from childbirth.
6 Cons: Difficulty Lifting
After having a baby, it can be hard to lift things. In fact, doctors recommend that women avoid lifting anything that is heavier than their babies during the first 6 weeks after delivery. Especially if she delivered via c-section, then heavy lifting is off the table for at least 6 weeks.
Lifting heavy objects can cause stitches to burst, for both moms who have had C-sections and moms who have had an episiotomy or vaginal tearing. It can also just be uncomfortable to lift anything heavy, just because it requires the use of the core muscles, which have undergone a lot of strain during childbirth.
For moms who are used to being self-sufficient, being limited by what they can lift can be a real challenge to contend with during the postpartum recovery period.
5 Pros: Taking Time Off
Of course, it isn’t a vacation, but it sure is nice to be able to take time off from work after having a baby. For some women they're placed on bedrest, which again isn't a vacation, in fact it's the furthest thing from it. Bedrest can cause all kinds of health problems not to mention psychological ones.
During maternity leave, moms are able to stay home with their babies, during which time they can bond with their little ones, establish and get used to a new routine, and take the time to recovery physically and mentally. No, maternity leave certainly isn’t a vacation.
But, it is nice to have the time off and get used to a whole new role in life, a whole new lifestyle, and a whole new person during maternity leave.
4 Cons: Anxiety/ Depression
One of the biggest downsides of the childbirth recovery period is anxiety and/or depression. There are a lot of changes that occur after having a baby, the hormones fluctuate, the body looks completely different, the sleep deprivation, the realization that life has completely changed and having to care for someone else completely – all of these changes can be overwhelming, and they can lead to anxiety and/ or depression.
There's no way to mentally prepare for the responsibility that comes with having a baby and it’s not unusual for new moms to get a case of the baby blues. If those feelings persists and become severe, or if there is a development of completely irrational fears, new moms should speak with a healthcare professional, as there is a chance that these feelings could be related to a clinical condition and require treatment.
Also moms with a history of depression or more likely to suffer from postpartum depression as well.
3 Pros: Being Waited On
This leads us to the next thing that is awesome about the childbirth recovery period: Being waited on. Now admit it ladies, who here among us didn't enjoy being waited on and pampered by absolutely everyone while they were pregnant. No one! Because we all enjoy the special treatment, as we should.
Let’s be honest: How often does someone get to have others wait on them? – Not too often. During the recovery period, get to – and deserve to – have others wait on them. If they want to have someone adjust their pillows, get them a bowl of ice cream, run to the store, massage their feet, or do the household chores, their loved ones should deliver!
Remember, new mamas created and brought a new life into the world; the least their friends and family members can do is wait on them!
2 Cons: Bathroom Woes
Going to the bathroom may seem like a simple task, but for women who have just had a baby, going to the bathroom can be quite challenging.
Firstly, for women who have had a vaginal delivery, urinating can be painful. The general soreness of pushing the baby through the vagina can make peeing painful, and if there was tearing or an episiotomy, it can also cause a burning sensation.
Passing bowels can also be challenging. Putting strain on the area while trying to bear down during a bowel movement can be painful on the vagina. For moms who have had a C-section, bearing down can cause pain in the abdomen, and it can even make them feel as if they are going to burst their incision open.
Additionally, after having a baby, many women experience constipation, which can cause pain while trying to go, you know, and can just be uncomfortable in general.
1 Cons: Still Having To Get Things Done
Right after having a baby, most people understand that a new mom needs some time off. She just went through a trying and physically taxing experience while birthing the baby, and it is going to take some time to heal. However, what many people don’t realize is just how long it takes the body to heal after having a baby.
While a new mom may be waited on the first days after delivery, soon, her help may disappear, or people may not be as willing to offer her help because, well, they just assume that she should be better already.
As a result of this – and just the general nature of life – new moms still have to get things done while they recover, despite the fact that they are not fully healed and in pain. Laundry, washing dishes, caring for other children (in addition to the newborn), and so many other things have to be tended to, and after delivering a baby, who wants to do any of these things?
Sources: Babycenter, Web MD, Fit Pregnancy