During your pregnancy, you might think being pregnant is the most stressful part of having children. And then after some time being pregnant, you’ll start thinking that pregnancy isn’t all that bad, it’s giving birth that is going to be the hardest part. The closer to your due date you get, the more you realize that what comes after you give birth is truly the most difficult. You will eventually start thinking about what to expect postpartum.
As a first time mom, you just don’t know what to expect! This article will reveal the postpartum secrets that no one tells you about, here’s what recovery after giving birth is really like!
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1. The Contractions Don’t Stop After Giving Birth
To a lot of mother’s surprise, the contractions don’t stop after you give birth. These postpartum contractions are called “after pains.” While they are not as intense as your active labor contractions, they are definitely noticeable.
After pains happen because the uterus is contracting to help shrink it back down. These contractions are especially noticeable while breastfeeding. This is because nipple stimulation causes the uterus to contract.
2. So. Much. Blood.
There will be blood – a lot of it. This postpartum bleeding/discharge is called “lochia.” Lochia contains a lot of blood, along with bacteria, and tissue from your uterine lining. During your hospital stay, doctors will be around regularly to push onto your stomach, and see how much blood shoots out of you. This is uncomfortable, but not usually too painful. You will basically be wearing an adult-sized diaper until you leave the hospital and a good-sized pad after that.
Most women bleed for an average of 4-6 weeks, some more and some less. During this time, small clots are normal, but anything larger than a fifty-cent piece should be brought to your doctor’s attention. While there will likely be more blood from a woman who delivers vaginally, women who have a c-section will bleed as well!
3. Breastfeeding Hurts
Breastfeeding is beautiful, and it’s a wonderful bonding experience. After it stops feeling like someone is slipping a needle straight through your nipple. But not to worry, the pain goes away! Your nipples may endure some chapping, so every time your baby latches it can be quite painful. But your body will get used to it after a few days, maybe a week!
Make sure you get some really good nipple butter, to help with the chapping! (I suggest the three small tubes so you can keep one in the diaper bag, one at home, and one as a spare because mom brain is real and you will likely lose one.)
Engorgement is also pretty uncomfortable, but it doesn’t really hit you until a couple of days after you deliver. The first few days, you will be producing “colostrum,” this is the first stage of breastmilk. You may actually notice a discharge of colostrum during your pregnancy. It is much thicker, and yellowish in color. Its composition is much different than that of breastmilk. Colostrum is much higher in proteins, and lower in fats and sugars. Its purpose is to provide the baby with what it needs to build up its immune system.
After a couple of days, your breasts will start to engorge, a lot! This is when your milk comes in. But, your tiny little baby cannot drink that much, so make sure you’re prepared with a breast pump before you go into labor. The last thing you’ll want to do is run out to get a pump two days after giving birth because you can’t handle the pain. This breast pump has a 5-star review on Amazon, I’m definitely buying it for my next baby!
4. Pooping is Just As Scary As Giving Birth
You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. You will likely be constipated after giving birth for a few reasons. Your stomach muscles that assist with pooping have been stretched out and weakened. So your stomach may hurt because you need to go, but it is also quite painful to poop in some cases. Your bowels will be sore from pushing, and you could possibly have hemorrhoids.
Your doctor will likely provide you with a stool softener, if not you should definitely get one. Other things you can do to help ease the pain are to drink lots of water and eat foods that are high in fiber. Many people swear by sitz baths to help with hemorrhoids as well!
5. Sleep is Non-Existent
You will somehow learn to function without sleep. While a lot of times your baby does keep you up, you also have a hard time sleeping even when you have the chance because you’re just so worried.
During your hospital stay, your nurses are in to check on you every hour or less it seems, so you can’t really sleep anyway. Your baby also wakes and eats quite often, because half the time they’re nursing, they’re basically asleep. So you don’t get much sleep at the hospital. And your first few days at home give you so much anxiety, that you don’t sleep much there either. Just try to sleep when the baby sleeps, and maybe when your husband is able to watch over the baby for you.
6. Sex Hurts
Doctors recommend you wait 6 weeks, until after your six-week check-up, to have sex. There’s a reason for this! A few actually. Most importantly, you’re at high risk for infection during those six weeks. And two, it hurts! Especially if you had any tearing, or an episiotomy during childbirth. Don’t push yourself to have sex if it is painful. You are also more likely to get a vaginal infection if you do not wait for the healing to finish before having sex.
7. You Feel Overly Emotional
There is just no avoiding the rollercoaster of emotions you are going to go through as a new mom. Number one is, of course, is joy. You will be so happy, and so grateful for this sweet little baby. But another emotion you might feel is depression. It might not make sense to those that haven’t felt it themselves, but you can be completely and totally in love with your baby, and still be in a deep depression. This is called postpartum depression, and you should definitely talk to your doctor about it. Other common problems you might face as a new mom are anxiety, fatigue, and irritability.
You might also be discouraged about your stomach. When you were pregnant it was normal to have a big belly, but after you have the baby it feels odd to have a bunch of extra flab where you might not have before. Sadly, it often takes time to lose the pooch.
Something simple you can do to help shrink down your mid-area is to wear some sort of wrap, or bodysuit for the first two months after giving birth. The reason this works is that there is a hormone that is produced during pregnancy and for the first eight weeks after you deliver. It’s called Relaxin. Relaxin helps the body to loosen and relax joints. A compression suit helps to guide and shrink the body back while the hormone is still present, and the joints and hips are still loose. This way when the hormone has dissipated the pelvic bones and hips are in the right place
Recovering from childbirth can be a challenge. But once you hold that baby in your arms, you would gladly do it again. Everyone has a different birthing experience, what was your recovery after giving birth like? What advice would you give to a first-time mom wondering what to expect postpartum? Let us know in the comments!
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