Surprising postpartum aches and pains you should know about

Let’s get straight to the point here; although you expect being a tad bit sore after delivery, the fact of the matter is that you are going to experience days and even weeks of severe postpartum problems. At the moment, you may be focused so hard on delivery that you may not even think of these problems – but you should because these can have a significant impact on your postpartum life.

I’m sure you already know the delivery drill – not only have you read about it endlessly, you’ve even watched all those delivery videos available on the internet now. You think your doctor is going to tell you to push, and you will – a lot though – and it will all come to a happy end. No, the next chapter of the entire birthing experience is going to begin the moment your pretty little angel is handed over to you. Honestly speaking, the postpartum aches and pain you will have are guaranteed to be gross, hence explaining why your mom and her besties forgot to mention them to you.

So in order to prepare you for those icky aches and pains during the postpartum period, here’s a bit of a run down on a few of them:

7 You will get extremely crampy

See, your uterus has been hard at work all through labor, struggling hard and contracting itself to push your baby out. Now that your little one has made an arrival, your uterus has one more job to finish – contracting back to its original size. For many women, this entire process feels like abdominal flutters and aches – quite like menstrual cramps – which tend to become more ‘pronounced’ while breast-feeding. Just in case things get overly painful for you, get in touch with your doctor so you may be given over-the-counter painkillers. But no matter what, just hang in there because this entire episode is going to come to an end in about a week’s time.

Uterine contractions are basically a means of getting your stomach to deflate. But this doesn’t mean it has to be pretty – the contractions are not going to be pleasant at all. If anything, you may just find yourself getting shocked by the force of your discomfort because the contractions may be as bad as labor pains at times. At the minimum, they will feel like vicious menstrual cramps.

These cramps are essential

That’s right – no matter how uncomfortable, uterine contractions are totally essential so your uterus can go back to its normal size. One of the best means of stimulating your uterus for this purpose is breastfeeding because it tells your body that the baby is out and your pregnancy is done with. Even holding your baby close to yourself for a bit of skin-to-skin contact can go a long way in stimulating the uterus for women who aren’t breastfeeding. 

6 You will bleed for awhile

Most first-time moms expect bleeding a bit at delivery, but find themselves getting the shock of their lives by the massive quantity that appears afterwards. To be honest, there’s no one and nothing in this world that can prepare you for how much you are going to bleed. Although it should start to taper off after two or three days, the flow can end up continuing for well over four weeks after birth. You may notice an increase in flow while nursing as breastfeeding triggers uterine contractions. However, any big gushes that you may have after a few days should be reported to your doctor right away. While you are at it, just use pads for a week or so and then switch to using panty liners afterwards. Refrain from using tampons as these tend to trigger infections.

The bloody discharge that you are going to have after delivery is known as lochia. No matter the name, it will be just like a period though you may consider it the heaviest one of your entire life – after a ‘period reprieve’ of nine months, the flow is definitely going to appear heavier. Lochia is basically made up of leftover blood, tissue and mucus from your uterus, mostly from the site where the placenta was attached to the uterine wall. You should expect to have heavy bleeding from anywhere between three to ten postpartum days, after which the bleeding is going to start tapering off.

When will it stop?

This bloody discharge known as lochia is going to come to an end soon. You will probably stop bleeding sometime between four and six weeks postpartum. If it helps, your flow will turn from red to pink, then brown and will finish off with a yellowish white appearance. 

5 You will start aching all over

Once you have your baby, you may end up feeling as if you’ve lost a boxing match. Your ribs are going to start aching, your back will be sore and your abdomen will start throbbing too. As experts say, all of this is fairly standard and pretty normal. With all the contortions and pushing involved in labor, it is totally natural for you to start feeling achy, washed out and tired. But there’s good news – all of this discomfort is just going to last a few days and you may just need an over-the-counter painkiller to deal with it all.

As if going through labor isn’t uncomfortable in itself, you will soon find that every single part of your body aching as if you’ve just had a couple rounds with Mike Tyson. But the one thing that you should be assured of is that all of these symptoms and problems are completely normal and there isn’t a thing for you to worry about. With all the pushing and contortions that your body goes through during labor, all these symptoms are just a side-effect and are hence natural.

The most common pains

One of the most common postpartum pains that women complain about is that of back pain although for different reasons including using an awkward posture while breastfeeding or holding their baby. You may also experience a severe headache that may be triggered by stress, changing hormones and even sleeplessness. In the postpartum period, you may also complain of joint pain all over your body including your ankles, feet, wrists and hands.

4 You will have huge breasts

Engorgement – that’s what it’s called, and yes you will find yourself having huge breasts after giving birth to your precious baby. As your milk starts coming in, your breasts are going to start feeling warm, full and tingly. Although it may not hurt for every woman out there, it may prove to be painful for you. One of the best means of dealing with engorgement is that your breastfeeding your baby. As long as your baby latches on well and completely drains your breast, there is a good chance that you won’t experience much pain.

But what should mothers who don’t plan on nursing their babies do about it? Suffer through it all? No way – there’s a way out for everyone. If you don’t plan on breastfeeding your baby, the best thing for you to do is to wear a tight bra and make sure that your breast does not get stimulated. Also, if you are a nursing mom, you should try your luck with warm packs to relieve yourself of the discomfort that engorgement triggers. If need be, you should also consider applying bags of frozen peas or ice packs in order to ease the pain.

Can I pump?

If you want an outright answer, no you cannot pump – at least it isn’t recommended for you to pump unless your little one simply refuses to nurse. The thing with pumping is that it will simulate your body to produce even more milk, which is literally just going to add to your problems. So just try to avoid pumping your breasts as much as you can if you truly want to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.

3 Constipation – and hemorrhoids

Right after delivery, you may start having a bit of difficulty with your bowel movements. In some cases, this problem is completely psychological and is triggered by anxiety over episiotomy stitches. In other cases, it is just your body’s way of reorganizing itself as all your body organs start settling down. No matter the case, it is highly recommended for you to stay relaxed – panicking is not going to get things going down there.

The reason why you should refrain from panicking is that even if you’ve received stitches, things will definitely get back to normal within a week of having your baby. In case you are still uncomfortable, it is best for you to get in touch with your doctor and he will help you out by recommending a stool softener. You can also help relieve constipation by drinking lots of water, eating plenty of fiber and exercising a bit during the day.

Is there something else that I can do?

There are plenty of home treatments that you can take up to relieve the discomfort associated with constipation and hemorrhoids. For constipation, you should refrain from straining during a bowel movement, get a little exercise every day and eat a high-fiber diet with adequate amounts of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. For hemorrhoids, it is necessary for you to keep the anus clean after each bowel movement. You should also use cold packs and apply them on the area for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Also, it is best for you to avoid sitting on hard chairs for long periods and once again, don’t strain during a bowel movement.  

2 Your C-section scar is going to hurt and feel itchy

If you have your baby by C-section, there’s both good and bad news waiting for you. To begin with, the good news is that you have escaped many of the unpleasant side-effects of having a vaginal delivery such as hemorrhoids and episiotomy stitches. However, the bad news is that a C-section is a major surgery that is packed full of its own issues. Some of the most common issues that you will face right after delivery include nausea and severe bouts of fatigue. But the most irritating side-effect of having a C-section is that of having feelings of tingling, numbness and severe itching at the site of your incision.

In the beginning, your C-section scar is going to feel slightly puffy, raised and may have an appearance darker than the rest of your skin. However, you can rest-assured that it is going to start shrinking significantly within six weeks of surgery and will not hurt as bad too. If it continues to hurt just as bad, it is best for you to get in touch with your doctor right away.

Is it going to be an ugly incision?

Just so you know, your incision is going to be just about 4 to 6 inches long and nearly 1/8 inch wide. As the scar starts healing, it is going to match closely with your skin color and will narrow as well. While it’s healing, there is a good chance that it will have an itchy feeling. If you have a low-lying horizontal scar, it is definitely going to be hidden by your pubic hair so there really isn’t a thing for you to worry about in terms of its appearance.

1 Your hair is going to fall out

I know how disappointing this is going to sound, but you need to know that nearly 10 percent of women experience severe hair loss right after pregnancy as a result of decreasing hormone levels. But you need to relax because you probably won’t go as bald as you may feel. See hair typically thickens all through pregnancy and eventually shed that extra hair in the months after giving birth. If it’s any help, things are going to get back to normal in about three months or so.

All through your pregnancy, you will be thrilled with that thick and lustrous mane of hair. But once you deliver your baby, poof, it’s all going to come to an end. You will be alarmed and even shocked that your hair is falling out. If it helps, you can assure yourself that you won’t go bald – this is just a temporary phase and is the result of declining estrogen levels. Although this particular problem can last up to a year, it will probably start getting better between the third and sixth month of your postpartum period. The problem is fairly hormonal and in no way indicates that you are deficient in vitamins or nutrients.

What do I do?

To begin with, it is highly recommended for you to get yourself a new cut. If you’ve always had long hair, you should consider getting yourself a layered cut with bangs that come down to the chin in front or frame your face. Also, you should keep your hair moist and moussed using the right products such as a volumizing mousse. 

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