It seems like women are well-prepared for pregnancy and childbirth, but no one really prepares a new mom for what happens after they’ve had the baby. The postpartum time is a tricky and delicate time for many women. Hormones go haywire, breasts grow to gargantuan proportions, and sleep is a thing of the past.
Have no fear, we’re totally here for you. The more you know about what lies ahead, the better prepared you’ll be to handle those first few weeks after childbirth. Please enjoy this list of 10 things no one tells you about postpartum recovery.
10 Postpartum Abdominal Pain
Don’t be shocked if you have extreme cramps after giving birth. Involution is when the uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size, and it can be uncomfortable. It’s normal to feel contractions during the first day and it will more than likely subside after three days.
Breastfeeding moms often deal with this even more because oxytocin is released when a newborn suckles, which triggers contractions. There are a few ways to find relief from after pains. Massaging your tummy can help, as well as taking ibuprofen. These cramps won’t last forever but it’s certainly not fun to feel them.
9 Ice Packs Will Be Your Best Friend
Prepare to learn some harsh truths about that aftermath of vaginal birth. Many women tear during the birthing process and end up being stitched up by their doctor. This can leave the vagina feeling beat up and bruised. Even if there wasn’t any tearing, ice packs offer huge amounts of relief to a sore crotch.
The nurses offer new moms mesh panties that look ugly but feel so good. You won’t want to take them off. It might be a good idea to request extra panties so you have a set or two to wear when you get home.
8 Stool Softeners Are So Necessary
We’re not going to lie to you: going number two after giving birth can be a terrifying thing. A woman uses the same muscles to push out a baby as she does to have a bowel movement. Everything in that area feels swollen and sore. Don’t be surprised if you just want to avoid it altogether.
You can be proactive, though. Taking a stool softener makes the whole experience less daunting. You’d be smart to add it to your list of items to take to the hospital with you. It’s not something that many people tell you to pack, but we're here to give you the hard truth.
7 Look Out For The Baby Blues
Many new moms are hit with the “baby blues” after giving birth. It’s normal to be an emotional mess for a few weeks, so don’t be surprised if you cry at the drop of a hat. There are things you can do to keep the blues at bay.
Be sure to get as much sleep as possible and reach out to friends and family if you feel depressed. Your doctor will give you a questionnaire to fill out at your 6-week check-up to screen you for postpartum depression, so be honest with your answers and reach out for help if you need it.
6 Expect To Sweat
Another unexpected symptom that happens during postpartum is night sweats. Many women wake up in the middle of the night feeling totally sweaty, but it can happen at any time during the day. The body is simply shedding excess fluids that were retained during pregnancy.
You can also thank fluctuating hormones for being drenched in sweat. Don’t panic, though. Most ladies feel relief after a few weeks of giving birth. Just drink lots of water and wear light-weight pajamas when you sleep at night. It can be a bit annoying, but it’s not a sign of trouble or anything.
5 There Will Be Blood
Let’s talk about Lochia, the heavy flow of blood and mucus that appears after delivery. You should be prepared to bleed for up to 10 days after you’ve given birth. Light bleeding and spotting can happen to new moms for up to six weeks after delivery.
Your body is simply shedding the blood and tissue it needed to nourish the baby while you were pregnant. It’s uncomfortable and annoying, kind of like a regular period, but it can go on for longer. Be sure to pack some maxi pads in your hospital bag. You won’t be able to use any tampons, trust us.
4 Prepare To Have "Mom Brain"
Many new moms have moments where they feel like they could be losing their mind. Thanks to fluctuating hormones, the daunting tasks of motherhood, and sleep deprivation, some women totally fall victim to the dreaded “mom brain.”
Don’t panic if you have no idea what day it is or completely forget where you put your wallet. You will feel irritable. Your brain might feel foggy. Just be patient with yourself. It can help to write lists or pre-plan before an important event. Eventually, moms settle into their new role and gain their sanity back, we promise.
3 Feeling Like A Leaky Faucet
Breastfeeding moms often have to deal with leaky breasts and it’s pretty surprising when it happens. It’s totally normal, though. Don’t be shocked if you’re shirt is suddenly soaked. It’s actually a sign that you’re breastfeeding properly because you’re producing milk.
It can be embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a few steps. Be sure to have some bra pads on hand and change them often so your nipples don’t get sore from exposure to moisture. Another way to handle a leaky letdown is to give yourself a hug to apply a bit of pressure on your breasts.
2 It's Normal To Feel Overwhelmed
Becoming a new mom is an exhilarating experience, but it can also be overwhelming at first. We’ll be honest with you, it’s totally normal to freak out when you take your baby home from the hospital. The burden of responsibility kicks in, and it’s easy to feel like you’re unqualified to keep a tiny human alive.
Please don’t panic and be sure to be open to any help that is offered during those first few days of being home with the baby. Hormones are all over the place, and the more support a mom has, the more confident she’ll feel.
1 Bonding Can Take Time
We all have the expectation that we will instantly fall madly in love with our baby. The unfortunate truth is that some moms don’t bond with their newborn right away. It can be upsetting to not feel an immediate connection, but don’t fret—sometimes it can take a bit longer.
Try not to feel guilty if you feel disconnected. Bonding can be complicated by having a C-section or if a preemie baby has to spend time in the NICU. Just continue to offer your little one as much skin-to-skin contact as you can and bonding will happen before you know it.