You probably know that birth is a little gory, and not all glamorous as you may hope. Yes, childbirth is amazing, and beautiful, but it doesn’t come without a cost. What is that cost exactly? I’ve put together a list of eleven things that I didn’t know happens after birth, because, well, no one told me! Now, I don’t want to scare you- I want to prepare you. Some or all of these things may happen to you, but I promise every one of these are completely normal!
1. Delivering the placenta
Or in my case, two. I didn’t know this was like delivering the baby. I mean there was pushing and everything involved. I honestly thought it just came out when the baby came out. Apparently, that’s not the case, and I definitely don’t recall learning this in health class. It can come out minutes to half an hour after you’ve delivered. If you aren’t squeamish, look into what the placenta looks like! Also, how to encapsulate your placenta- many say it is beneficial to the mothers health after delivery!
2. Postpartum Bleeding
Also known as “Lochia”. Think of having a period, but for weeks. While some are lucky and only have heavy postpartum bleeding for a few days, some can have heavy bleeding for longer. Unfortunately, I was unlucky and had consistent bleeding for 4 weeks. Which, you can even have spotting up to 6 weeks, and I did. Oh yeah, and you may see some large, crazy looking clots. You’ll be sent home with a care package of pads, but I’d get some adult diapers to wear for those heavy days.
3. The Postpartum Pouch
Soft, jiggly, loose and bloated postpartum belly. While your uterus grew, so did your stomach. Your abdominal muscles and skin were stretched, thus leaving this saggy pouch that isn’t fat, but is just there. Sorry, but you may still look like you’re 6 months pregnant for a couple of weeks after birth.
4. Diastasis Recti
Remember when I said your abdominal muscles stretch? This can yield diastasis recti, also know as abdominal separation. When you press in the middle of your abdomen, it’s basically a divot in-between the muscles. You can tell if you are suffering from this by flexing your abdominal muscles or like this picture- lying down and pressing the middle of your abdomen.
5. The Massage
Every so often a nurse comes in and gives you a “massage”, during your stay at the hospital. Sounds luxurious, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The nurses are actually trying to get all of those clots out, and are trying to get your uterus to contract down to normal size after birth. I’ll admit- it’s pretty uncomfortable, but it’s necessary!
6. Breast Engorgement
Rock. Hard. Breasts. Your body is in overtime trying to produce food for your little one. You get your milk supply in, and your breasts get larger, lumpy, and hard, and they throb. Please note that while this is normal, some things are not: fever, warmness, redness, or pus. This means you may have an infection from a clogged milk duct.
7. The Postpartum Poop
If you got stitches, this will probably be one of the scariest moments of your life. TMI, but hemorrhoids are really common in pregnancy and postpartum. During pregnancy, you are taking extra iron, and your insides have shifted all around. It’s really common to be backed up. Which combining that, stitches, and if you receive any pain medications during birth-The first poo after birth is an absolute nightmare. Before you leave the hospital, ask the doctor what you should take to relieve yourself, and what will help with hemorrhoids.
8. So. Many. Emotions.
I’m going to be blunt. Your emotions go ape-sh*t. Baby blues are from those pesky hormones shifting. Fortunately, these emotions only last for a couple of weeks, and should go back to normal. If you have already suffered from depression pre-pregnancy or during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about postpartum depression, which is different than baby blues. How to know the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression: baby blues include mood instability, depressed mood, sadness, irritability, anxiety, lack of concentration and/or feelings of dependency, however postpartum depression is a more severe case of these symptoms that last longer than a few weeks, and also include feelings of worthlessness, and changes in sleeping and eating. I did experience postpartum depression, and you can read more about my journey. If you notice any feelings like the ones I had-please talk to a professional!
9. Breasts Leaking
After breast engorgement comes leaky boobs. This is also known as “let down”. This happens when your breasts are too full, when you hear a baby cry, when you lay on your chest, or when you are feeding from the other breast. I would get some nursing pads to stick in your shirt, so you don’t have any awkward moments of seeping through your shirt in public- been there, done that!
10. Night Sweats
Yes, you may get night sweats after childbirth. When this happened to me, I was really concerned. I thought I was sick, but turns out, it’s pretty common. This is your hormones at play, and your body getting rid of all those excess fluids. It’s uncomfortable, but I promise that it does go away.
With all those hormones coursing through your body, you gain a lot of hair during pregnancy. I hate to break it to you, but those gorgeous locks you earned during pregnancy have to go away at some point. Luckily, it can take a few months, with an average of three months before you start seeing hair loss. Your hair texture will be totally different, too! But, don’t worry-this is all completely normal. The “mom” cut is a go-to, and definitely helps with not having so much hair everywhere!
What were things that you didn’t know about that happen postpartum?