A woman's body goes through many changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Baby books and parenting websites offer amazing insights and information for expectant moms. From the first doctor's appointment to writing up the birth plan, our hands are held every step of the way. There are apps that help women track their weekly progress as their baby grows. Many magazines are dedicated to educating pregnant ladies about proper nutrition and exercise. It seems like every well-meaning person who rubs a woman's growing belly offers some sort advice on the miracle of childbirth.
While we may seem well prepared for pregnancy, labor, and delivery, when it comes to postpartum recovery, most moms have no idea what to expect. The 6 weeks after baby arrives can be a crazy time for our bodies. Hormonal changes, weird sensations, and gross bodily functions unfold right before our unsuspecting eyes. It can be quite a shock that leaves many women wondering why they were left in the dark.
Those first weeks with your little one can be precious and sweet but they can also be scary and maddening. There are things that no one tells you that happen after the baby arrives. You probably wouldn't want to know about it until after you've given birth but you really need to know beforehand. The details aren't pretty and it can be daunting. Have no fear, I've complied a list of the 15 things they never tell you about postpartum recovery. Keep in mind, every woman is different.
Women who have a vaginal birth and receive stitches from tearing will feel like their hoo-hah was turned inside out and put right side out again. Ice packs are a girl's best friend. After a new mom is stitched up, a nurse stuffs the poor thing into huge mesh panties that look like a diaper. Most ladies could careless that they look like a grandma, those panties feel amazing. Then, a nurse shoves an ice pack down there and it feels so good.
Percocet is a girl's second best friend. Don't be afraid to ask for any pain relief that the hospital has to offer. This isn't a sign of weakness. Other ideas for relief include soaking in a sitz bath or keeping a constant rotation of those beloved ice packs.
Until the vagina heals, expect to walk like a cowgirl who was bucked in the crotch a million times.
Sometime after giving birth, a new mom's breasts begin to produce a pre-milk substance called colostrum. It's a golden, super-potent liquid for baby that comes in small doses. It usually doesn't cause discomfort to produce colostrum. Around five days after giving birth, a woman's milk begins to come in. Suddenly, the breasts feel as hard as rocks. They're huge. They're sore. They're leaky. Some moms experience engorgement, which basically means that her boobs are engorged with milk.
For relief during a painful engorgement period, place frozen cabbage leaves over sore breasts. Ibuprofen and warm showers can sooth soreness as well. Throw out any bras with under-wire and wear a soft, stretchy nursing bra. Most importantly, drink lots and lots of water. Staying hydrated is super important for moms who breastfeed their baby.
Prepare to feel like a human baby bottle as mom and baby settle into a regular nursing routine.
The first post-labor poop can be scary. Even if no one wants to talk about it, we need to address how terrifying it can be. Let's face it, the moment a new mom sits on the toilet, it feels like her vagina might pop when she pushes. The pressure mounts, the tears form, and she abandons ship. The problem is, eventually, she won't be able to avoid it. With just a little preparation, that first trip to the bathroom won't be so intimidating.
For starters, a stool softener will make the entire process much easier. Take one as soon as possible after giving birth. Purchase an entire package and pack it in your hospital bag. Also, applying counter pressure in the front makes things easier in the back, so freeze some maxi pads, and then hold onto your junk while you push.
A good mantra is, everybody poops. Good luck!
Cramping after childbirth is a process called “involution” and it's mildly insulting. I mean, a new mom more than likely spent a handful of hours dealing with contractions while in labor and now they have to deal with even more discomfort? It feels like a betrayal. The cramps are caused by the uterus shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size after a woman has a baby.
The afterpains are most intense on the first day or so after giving birth and taper off around the third day. Breastfeeding can bring on these cramps or make them more intense because the baby's sucking triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions. Ways to find relief from involutions are: taking Ibuprofin, massaging the tummy during cramps, or to lie face-down with a pillow under the lower belly.
Sobbing doesn't officially help with cramping but don't be surprised if it occurs.
While we're on the subject of crying, it's totally normal for a new mom to cry for no reason. One moment she's blissfully snuggling with her bundle of joy and the next, she's bawling for no reason. Between the hormone surges and the exhaustion that can of having a new baby, it's no wonder some ladies cry at the drop of a hat.
The baby blues can hit shortly after giving birth and can be confusing. At a time when all should be joyous, don't feel guilty if sadness creeps in. Symptoms to look out for are sadness, irritability, restlessness, or anxiety. The blues can last anywhere from a few short moments to a few hours in any day. They usually subside after two weeks or so after delivery.
It's important for new moms to reach out to their health care provider if the baby blues lead way to postpartum depression.
An advantage of pregnancy is that a woman doesn't get her period for 10 months. It's the one break that mother nature gave us as our bodies grow. Well, after the arrival of a baby, blood returns with a vengeance. The first bleeding after delivery is called, Lochia, which is the discharge of the blood and mucus from the uterine wall to which the placenta was attached during pregnancy.
Most women will experience blood and Lochia discharge for 3- 6 weeks. For the first few days it will be a heavy flow and will be colored dark red. Towards the end of the first week the flow should taper off, get lighter in saturation and color. Eventually, it will fade to brown, yellowish or white discharge.
Be sure to stock up on maxi pads, especially after a vaginal birth. Your lady bits will want absolutely nothing to do with a tampon.
It's easy for a new mom to feel touched out. We treasure the late night snuggles with our little one. Often times, mama spends those first few weeks cradling her baby while breastfeeding. Although, these bonding moments are important, by the end of the day a woman might want to be left alone. Of course, the arrival of a baby can be hard on a person's partner as well and they can end up feeling neglected.
For the most part, the last thing on a new mom's mind is sex. Just the thought of being touched by one more person can make her skin crawl. It's normal to feel nothing down there during postpartum recovery. Between the soreness and hormonal adjustments, a woman's libido can take a hit.
Once you get the all clear from the doc, don't be surprised if it takes some time for you too feel frisky.
Some new moms wake up in the middle of the night drenched, as if they had just ran a marathon in their sleep. Unfortunately, night sweats are common in the weeks after delivery. Hormone changes cause a woman's body to rid itself of all those extra fluids formerly used to nourish the baby. It will taper off as the fluids make their way out the body and hormone levels get back to normal.
In the meantime, be sure to drink lots of water to keep from becoming dehydrated. This is especially true if you're breastfeeding. Maybe invest in loose, cotton pajamas that won't be restrictive. Place a washcloth next to your bed so you can wipe your sweaty pits when you wake up.
If all else fails, crank up the air conditioner, sleep under a lightweight sheet, and invest in some really good deodorant. Your partner will thank you.
Breastfeeding moms often find themselves ravenous after they nurse the baby. It's no wonder either, when the body is busy producing food for an offspring, it can make a lady downright hungry. It's all too easy for a woman to put pressure on herself to lose the baby weight but nursing moms need to eat when they feel an increased appetite.
The good news is that breastfeeding burns 300-500 calories a day so it's important to stay nourished. Just be sure to make healthy choices. Skip the French fries and fill up on hight protein foods. Choose fruits and veggies instead of potato chips and ice cream. It's also crucial for nursing moms to stay hydrated. Your body is working hard to produce milk. Many women lose the baby weight faster from all the calories burned during nursing.
You've now been given permission to stuff your face with food. Enjoy!
The moment that parents drive away with their new baby from the hospital is exciting. It can also be terrifying. This little life is dependent on you to keep it alive. It can be a reality check once one leaves the security and support of the nurses and staff at the hospital. The best thing a new parent can do is learn as much as they can about caring for baby while in the hospital. Ask questions you may have and take notes.
Stocking up on parenting books can give moms confidence as well. Keep them close by so you can refer to them if needed. Don't be surprised if you feel completely unqualified for the job. Enlist in help from anyone who offers to lend a hand.
Most of all, trust your instincts and don't be hard on yourself if you don't have it all figured out right away.
Chances are that many new moms have no idea where their car keys are. Half the time, they can't remember if they fed the dog, they've forgotten their husband's name, and don't know why they walked into a room. These women aren't stupid, they just have “mom brain”. Feeling like you've lost your mind is totally normal even well beyond immediate postpartum recovery. Don't panic, you will eventually regain intelligence.
Many factors contribute to the dreaded mom brain. Sometimes settling into a new role as mom can take a lot of brainpower. Long nights with the new baby and sheer exhaustion can also make one forgetful. Once the hormones get back in balance, you should feel more like yourself. It can take up to a year or more the fog to lift.
In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Leave yourself voice mail reminders or place sticky notes on the fridge.
When baby first comes home, they will have no respect for normal sleeping patterns as they need to eat about every two hours. They don't distinguish between night and day, which means their little eyes will pop open at all hours. New moms are forced to adjust to brutal early morning wake up calls and surviving on very little sleep. Exhaustion can do strange things to the human mind so it's important to take good care of yourself and avoid sleep deprivation.
The best thing you can do is nap when the baby naps. If you can't fall asleep on demand, at least take that time to rest. A little disco nap can work wonders. Be sure to accept any and all help offered.
Let grandma come over and hold the baby so you can pass out. Allow your best friend to cook dinner while you sneak in a shower.
Some new moms instantly connect with their new baby. Their maternal instincts kick in the moment she locks eyes with her little one and all is blissful in her world. Other moms have a harder time bonding with their baby and it may take longer for her instincts to click. They may feel distant and find it hard to be affectionate. Women who have challenging pregnancies or difficult deliveries may struggle with delayed maternal instincts.
It's easy to feel guilty when this happens. Everyone expects mothers to behave a certain way and it is stressful when, out of no fault of their own, a mom just doesn't feel that connection. If this happens, the best thing to do is to take care of number one. Self care is the first step toward taking care of baby.
So, hand your infant off to a loving caregiver and do something for yourself.
This may sound silly but some women don't know what clothes to wear after they've had a baby. Those comfy jeans that they loved before they got pregnant won't fit for a while. Don't be devastated if those favorite pants won't zip up. On the other hand, it can feel weird to put maternity clothes when you're not expecting anymore. Yoga pants? Sweat pants? No one wants to find themselves wearing “mom jeans”.
The truth is, it's easy to lose your identity when you become a mom. It can be hard to relate to people you once connected with and somehow that gets wrapped up in those jeans you so badly want to fit into again. Don't worry too much about identifying yourself by your clothes and just dress for comfort.
Put something on that makes you feel pretty and you'll be back to your sassy self in no time.
There is a moment when a mom locks eyes with her baby and they fall in love with each other. Those late nights are so worth it when they snuggle into the crook of your arm and fall fast asleep. Their little coos can melt your heart in a second. Time spent bonding with your baby is so sweet and an amazing love unfolds between the two of you. The first few weeks when they come home are so special. Your hormones may be bonkers but somehow they make every crazy moment worth while.
Try to enjoy getting to know your baby. Turn off your phone, stay in your pajamas, and cuddle your little one as long as possible. Study their tiny hands and feet during bath time. Kiss their soft head while you rock them to sleep.
There is nothing more beautiful than falling in love with your baby.
Sources: Whattoexpect.com, Webmd.com