Mom just gave birth to a beautiful baby. She should give herself a high five for a job well done as she is sleeping on the hospital bed, cuddling with her newborn, thinking of all the things she gave up on, during her pregnancy – all of that seems minuscule when she looks at the tiny bundle of joy yawning, with her tiny fists bundled up on her chest.
But sister, let me pop the bubble now, postpartum is beautiful, just like pregnancy was, till it's not. Of course, you have a precious child in your life now, who will keep you sane(hopefully!) in this insane world for as long as you last. But, reality bites!
Postpartum is tiring, more tiring than pregnancy ever was. Your child needs you, 24/7, 7 days a week. Well, maybe not. But, you get the picture. Postpartum is bright and yellow with happiness abound. Also, postpartum is tiring and red. Why red, you ask? Red, because there is blood, lots and lots and lots of it.
Postpartum bleeding, or lochia is definitely not fun. The bleeding can last for about 6 weeks postpartum, sometimes less, sometimes more. You tell me that you were dreading changing the baby's million diapers. Well, that can be taken care of - there is dad, or grandma, or grandpa, or aunt, or uncle, or maybe, even your dog (Can she, pretty please?). But, who will change your pads a million times, who? You, my friend, you are all alone in this, and it is not pretty.
So, how does postpartum bleeding screw with you? Here’s how.
15 It Is Making Up For 9 Months Of No Periods
The honeymoon is over. You thought you were going to get away with flaunting your white pants for some more months, didn’t you? The sad truth is, it’s over. Though the heavy bleeding after giving birth lasts only for a maximum of 7 - 8 days, the truth is it feels like the time when you first started having your periods. Your brain has lost the memory of how it was having periods, because you were busy enjoying the no-pads, no-tampons break.
It hits you like a rock. You feel like a kid who has been on a continuous supply of Halloween candy, and then your parents tell you that they ate all your candies. Only difference is that this is not the prank version of Jimmy Kimmel’s “I ate your Halloween candy”. It is reality. It is red, bloody and gory, and it is here to stay, at least, for a while. Brace yourself.
14 Plumbing Gone Faulty
With menstruation, the amount we bleed is about 10 to 35 ml per period. But, with postpartum bleeding, it is about 500ml for a vaginal delivery and 1000ml for a C-section. If you are good at math (I am not, I had to use a calculator), it is about 50-100 times more than your regular period. It is crazy, isn’t it? It feels like once you have had a baby, the internal plumbing in your body has gone bonkers and you are like a waterfall during torrential rains.
Typically, postpartum bleeding can last up to 6 weeks. For 4 days after the delivery, the blood is bright red and then turns into light red to pink to brown to yellowish white discharge. The amount of bleeding and the time it lasts varies from woman to woman based on various factors, just like pregnancy. What doesn’t change is the fact that it will be worse compared to your regular periods.
13 Don’t Forget The Clots
Do you hate the clots that come out of you during your periods? You will love them compared to the ones that are out during the postpartum bleeding, because they are worse. You have just given birth. Your body is coming to terms with the fact that it has just pushed out a huge pumpkin. There are tissues that have been damaged, remains of the pregnancy that need to be cleared out so that your body can return to what it was before pregnancy (?!?).
The tissue mass has to be expelled out of the body and hence the horrid clots. They are so huge sometimes that you will wonder if you are losing an organ you didn’t know you have! And if you have had stitches, God bless you, because you just might find a unicorn in your pads! Well, at least I did.
12 You Smell Like A Rotten Egg
You are enjoying the new baby smell when you smell something rotten. You check your baby’s diapers. The line is still yellow, and no poop either. Nothing, nada, zilch. You scratch your head, but cannot get the smell out of your nostrils, or should I say head? Then, the realization sets in that it might be you. So you do the unthinkable, and panda bear yourself into smelling your lady. Uh-oh, she stinks!
Typically, lochia doesn’t stink. There is a slight hint of smell when there is bleeding, be it menstruation or postpartum bleeding. But, women find that there is a strong smell after they have given birth and attribute it to the bleeding. In some cases, it might be only because we are a bit more conscious about our bodies. In other instances, it might be a serious case of postpartum infections that might be giving out a foul smell.
11 You Have To Wear Ginormous Sanitary Pads.
Sanitary pads are a bane of my existence. I am petite, hence find the usual store brand sanitary pads huge. I ruffle up the aisles till I find the smallest of sizes. So, when the nurse brought sanitary pads that looked like it was a cotton diaper-changing pad for the baby, I said, “Thank you, I have one.” I still remember the look on her face when she said, “No darling, these are for you. Trust me, you will need them.” How rude! Now, I can’t thank her enough for having filled my going-home bag with the ginormous sanitary pads.
If you are pregnant, remember to ask your nurses for those ugly looking, dinosaur sized sanitary pads before you leave the hospital. They do the job, even if you walk like you are squatting when you are wearing them. Also remember, no tampons.
10 You Have The Worst Mood Swings!
After having given birth, do you still feel like snapping at your husband for making you dinner? You feel like the souls of the 4 Gilmore Girls, Lorelai Senior, Emily, Lorelai and Rory, reside within you at different times? Is it the same, dreaded PMS like feeling that is back? You, my friend, are going through postpartum mood swings that is similar to PMSing x 10.
Hormones change during and after pregnancy. If you are a hormone, then I guess it is like you are on a roller coaster ride. You swing from being happy to being sad to being depressed to being excited. Hormones tend to be blamed for everything, but to an extent, it is what it is. So if you just had a fight with your husband because he cleaned the baby’s dirty baby diaper, go ahead blame the hormones for your mood swings. It is allowed.
9 Stress Is Mom's New Best Friend
“Oh my god, baby’s poop looks slightly less yellow than it should. It should have been sun yellow and this is sunflower yellow. We should call the doctor!” As your husband tries to collect his tongue that has fallen on floor, you realize that stress is killing you. It is very common to feel anxious after giving birth. Don't forget about the mommy brain fog, it is very real too.
Everything seems to have changed. There is a new life which depends on you. But, postpartum period brings about new things to stress about. Did the baby poop, did she burp, is she eating and the million other concerns that a new mom faces elevate the stress levels to unimaginable heights. It is not only mental stress; it is physical stress too. The problem is stress affects postpartum bleeding. It increases bleeding and in some cases, stress can cause the bleeding to stop and start again. Taking it easy is the way to go for keeping the red monster at bay.
8 Granny Pants, Here I Come
Remember the time you made fun of those huge granny pants. Karma is a bitch. You have to wear them during the postpartum period. It is the rule. It is not, but they help keeping those ginormous sanitary pads in place. Where do you find them? Don’t worry, the friendly nurse will hand over a few of those too. Don’t make the mistake of refusing them.
To be fair, the undies are not as huge as granny pants. But, they are stretchable and white and made of thin, transparent clothing material. They are comfortable enough. They help you not stain your clothes while you sleep, and change positions. Even if they stain, they can be thrown into trash without a second thought. Take my advice, keep your lacy lingerie safe. But one friendly advice, make sure you don’t get caught in these undies in front of your friends. It is hard to unsee it, and they might be scarred for life.
7 No Kiss And Tell Sessions
Your husband wants to “Netflix and chill”. But, sex is a strict no-no for about 6 weeks, till you heal completely. He knows that; he just wants to kiss and cuddle with you. But you are not interested. You wonder where those nymphomaniac hormones disappeared that couldn’t keep you in control the whole time during pregnancy. You look at the baby, she is sleeping peacefully. You try to get cozy with your husband. But, you can’t.
Hmm strange, isn’t it?
You are tired. You are in pain. You are having a blood-bath. You are attached to the baby almost the whole time. You need some space. That is why intimacy doesn’t feel like it did a few days before your delivery. There are exceptions. It depends on how painful or how tiring your labor and delivery was. But, it is your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest and take care of yourself.
6 Cramps And Contractions Are Back
As you look at your beautiful child, you experience what seems like a contraction. Uh-oh, you have the urge to call your doctor and ask if there were 2 babies and they missed taking the other one out. But, contractions are normal postpartum.
The contractions might be feel painful for a day or two and then gradually decrease. There might also be cramps associated, including leg and back cramps which are similar to the ones that happen during menstruation, just worse. But remember, it is important for the contraction to occur, because it ensures that there is lesser blood loss and lesser clots. It is an indication that your uterus is working its way towards contracting and shrinking to its original size and position. Contractions can seem severe in some cases, and it helps to contact your doctor in such cases to rule out any complications.
5 Pregnant Again!
It has not even been a week since you gave birth to a baby, and you look like you are about to deliver. Strangers annoy you by asking your due date. You smile, grind your teeth and wait for your husband to appear with your sleeping newborn in the stroller and point them towards her. They get embarrassed, their cheeks turn red and they mumble something about the baby being cute and disappear.
You look at yourself and think if you will ever lose the baby weight. The thing is that whenever there is bleeding, the body tries to retain water to prevent dehydration, causing your stomach to bloat and make you look like you are pregnant. Yes, thank you lochia. Also, the digestion process is slower after birth, hence there is gas and bloating. Don’t worry, your stomach is not the only thing that is bloated. Your hands, face and legs can get bloated as well.
4 Eat Greens, Mom Is Anemic
You get a call from your doctor asking you to eat more green vegetables and to take your iron tablets. She says the dreaded word – Postpartum Anemia. You thought anemia was a concern only as a child when you used to hate green vegetables, not as an adult. But, your doctor says otherwise. She says it can affect the milk quality and there might be less iron for the baby in the milk. Also, anemia can cause fatigue, inability to perform daily chores, irritability.
You wonder what caused anemia all of a sudden. Well, you lost a lot of blood during delivery and now are a newly diagnosed anemic patient, on a diet of broccoli and spinach. You thought you could eat and drink what you wanted, but you are now forced to eat greens and take supplements!
3 Pass On The H Cream
Ever wondered why we women have to undergo the painful process of delivering a child? There should have been a way where the baby daddy could take in some postpartum symptoms from the mommy. The top on my list would be hemorrhoids!
Postpartum bleeding is not restricted to just vaginal bleeding. Your anus can give the vagina some company, by popping out those nasty hemorrhoids and fissures. Ask me, I had both! Some women have hemorrhoids during pregnancy too, but some get it after delivery.
Remember the time in the hospital when the nurse insisted on you pooping before you left the hospital. She knew what was to come. You are constipated and your first bowel movement seems like you are in labor again, pushing and trying to deliver. The straining can cause hemorrhoids and fissures and they can bleed as well. To expecting mommies, stock up on those witch hazel pads, peri bottle and some stool softeners. You will thank me someday.
2 Postpartum Hemorrhage – The Scary Fact
They say you are born again when you give birth to a baby, because the process is transforming, both physically and spiritually. But, there are cases where mothers suffer from complications during birth. The number one complication is postpartum hemorrhage. If the postpartum bleeding is more than 500ml in vaginal births and more than 1000ml in C-section births, then the mother is said to be suffering from postpartum hemorrhage. It occurs in about 6% of births. If it is not treated, it can even lead to death of the mother, rendering the child motherless.
It can happen right after birth or a few weeks after birth. It might have causes like placenta previa, placenta accreta or due to deep cuts in the vagina or perineum during the pushing stage. If postpartum hemorrhage is not contained, it can lead to anemia, or in severe cases, death. Breastfeeding helps uterus to contract by releasing oxytocin and might help preventing late postpartum hemorrhage.
1 Mom Feels Dirty
You read it right. Confused? I said there will be a lack of intimacy and now I am saying you will feel dirty. Because this is dirty in the literal sense. As a pregnant woman, you thought that once you have the baby, all you will do is cuddle with the tiny blob of love, showering her with kisses and love. But, the bleeding takes a toll on you and you wait for the baby to sleep, so you can go change your ever soaked pads, your plain white grandma undies, and take a quick hot shower. Let’s be honest here – you are tired.
You feel the pad soaking wet, but the baby is hungry. When the baby sleeps, you are busy doing some other chore that seems important at that time. Finally, you get some time to change your pads, and you sit on the pot or hop into the shower, and feel dirty, because there is blood dripping down your legs. You see a blob of Cutie sized blood clot down the drain. You are downright emotional and feel yucky. Not because you love your child less, but because you are tired and overwhelmed with the whole postpartum ongoings.