Postpartum is rough. You expect to feel good after you have a baby. Pregnancy is tough and sore, so you’re ready to start feeling like yourself again, but that doesn’t happen immediately.
Sure, you know that you’re not going to sleep much, and you know that delivery is going to hurt. Otherwise, the postpartum realm seems to be talked about very little, and it’s like a taboo topic. No one tells you what happens once pregnancy is done.
I know I had no idea when I had my first baby. My mom told me to expect to bleed a lot after delivery. Okay, but how much is a lot? I didn’t know if it would be like a period. I had no idea what would happen with my breasts – whoa buddy! When my milk arrived, I was shocked, but my husband was sure happy.
Moms need to know what to expect after they have the baby. Let’s get real for a minute, and look at 19 things about postpartum that no one tells you – but I will. With four kids under my belt, the postpartum stage is one I’m very familiar and understand well.
1. You Bleed – A Lot
When I was first told that I would bleed a lot after delivery, I wasn’t sure if a lot meant a heavy period or what. I really didn’t expect the Nile River for solid few days and a heavy period for a week or two. Take stocks out in your favorite pad company, because you’ll bleed a lot.
No, tampons and menstrual cups are not allowed. You have to use postpartum pads. Some women bleed less than others, and they can thank the stars for being so kind. Other women bleed continuously, and I’m a lucky one that falls in that category.
It doesn’t matter so much if you deliver vaginally or by c-section. Either way, your uterus has a wound where the placenta was located, so you’re going to bleed as your uterus shrinks back down to its normal size.
2. You Don’t Need to Pack Underwear to Take to the Hospital
You probably have a lot of things in your hospital bags for labor and delivery, and underwear doesn’t need to be one of them. The hospital will give you mesh underwear that are gigantic but feels amazing. They hold the diaper-sized pads in place perfectly. It’s almost like wearing a cloud for a diaper.
Make sure to get some extra ones to take home. The mesh underwear are life – seriously. Ask your girlfriends; they’ll tell you what’s up!
3. Those Granny Panties Are The Bomb
Sooner or later, you do need to wear some actual underwear – boo. Granny panties are going to hold those large pads in place between. Larger underwear is a better choice if you have a c-section as well because they’ll sit much higher than your incision.
4. Don’t Pack Skinny Jeans – Leggings are Life
I know you’re ready to get back into your regular jeans, but that won’t happen yet sister. Leggings are your friend for a few more weeks. Many mothers, like me, pick to continue wearing maternity pants for a while. Everything is still going back down to normal size anyway.
5. Leaving The Hospital Takes Forever
Don’t expect to easily leave the hospital. They seem to do everything that they can to make the leaving process take forever. You have to see your doctor, the pediatrician, and fill out tons of paperwork. Some hospitals will fill your prescriptions beforehand (for pain medicine especially if you have a c-section), but that takes even more time.
6. Your Boobs Explode in Size and Leak
3 to 4 days postpartum, your milk supply arrives, and you’ll wake up with boobs the size of footballs. They’ll be huge, hard, and sore. It’s just not a fun time, but partners sure seem to think that they look pretty awesome.
Not only are your boobs suddenly massive, but they also leak – everywhere. If your baby cries, you’ll leak. In the shower, there is a flood of milk going down your stomach. Don’t head to the store without some breast pads because you might hear a random baby cry. Your boobs get excited and leak.
7. The First Poop After Baby Is Scary
If there is one thing every mother can understand no matter how they delivered, it’s that the first poop post-baby is scary. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, it isn’t comfortable.
For vaginal deliveries, you are sore on your bottom and you might have had some stitches. For c-section moms, you feel like you’re going to bust open your incisions by trying to poop. It’s not fun, but it’s an important milestone.
Take stool softeners often, drink lots of water, and eat fiber-filled foods.
8. Hemorrhoids – Enough Said
You just pushed a baby out. As you might imagine, hemorrhoids are a natural thing that happens when you apply so much pressure down there. Witch hazel pads feel so good on them as well as hemorrhoidal creams.
9. After Birth Pains Hurt and Get Worse With Each Baby
So, you had the baby and you think the contractions will stop. Your body has a surprise for you – afterbirth pains.
Afterbirth pains are important, even though they are painful. The purpose of these pains is to help get your uterus back down to size. Breastfeeding increases after birth pains, but it also causes your uterus to go back down to normal size faster.
With each baby, many parents note that their after birth pains got worse. Your uterus knows what it’s doing and gets to work faster getting your uterus back down to normal.
10. Your Body May Not Bounce Back Quickly
Yes, your baby is now in your arms not in your belly, but that doesn’t mean your body will bounce back fast. In fact, you might still look a bit pregnant for a few days or weeks. Mom belly is a real thing!
Give yourself time and be patient with your body. Take it slow. It can be frustrating when you set expectations too high.
11. You’re Going to Lose Some Hair
Postpartum hair loss is a real issue that a majority of moms will face after childbirth. Around 3-4 months after you have your baby, you may notice that you’re clogging drains with hair. Your hair might come out in clumps. It can be concerning, and you’ll probably wonder if you’re going bald. Postpartum alopecia is normal and will start to decrease between 6 months and 12 months postpartum.
12. Stretch Marks Take Time to Fade
Your tiger stripes are well-earned, so don’t be ashamed of them. They’re symbols of what you went through for your baby. Stretch marks take time to fade. It won’t be immediately. It could take a few months to notice a difference in them.
13. Hormones Are Scary
If you thought pregnancy hormones were crazy, wait until you see postpartum hormones. One minute you’re exhausted and crying because you’re exhausted. Then, you cry because you love your baby so much. An hour later, you’re angry at your partner or crying because you’re so happy. Don’t watch any sappy love movies.
After the baby leaves your body, you experience a rapid drop in hormones, and everyone responds to those hormones differently. You might have hot flashes or you might feel really cold. You might be happy, sad, or everything in between. The postpartum stage is like an emotional rollercoaster.
14. You Eat Like a Horse
After I have babies, I’m always starving. I eat anything and everything in sight, even gross hospital food that I normally wouldn’t eat. I call the nurses at the hospital in the middle of the night for extra food.
Birth is exhausting, and you need energy. You will be hungry! Then, breastfeeding can make you ravenous. I crush food all day long after I have babies. So, try keeping a box of snacks next to your bed or wherever you plan to be when you’re nursing. Also, you’ll want to have a few water bottles. You need to stay hydrated.
15. Breastfeeding Doesn’t Always Feel Natural
Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it feels natural for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you that breastfeeding isn’t difficult – it is. I’ve breastfed four babies, and all of them have posed some sort of problem or issue that we overcame. At first, it doesn’t feel natural, especially for first-time mothers.
Don’t feel bad if breastfeeding doesn’t come easy for you. You may have to get help from an LC or a trusted, experienced friend. Find good information online about what to expect, and make sure your pediatrician is well-versed in breastfeeding.
16. Having a Baby Can Be Hard on Your Marriage
In those first few days, you and your partner will feel so in love. You brought a baby in the world, and you love that baby so much. The overwhelming amount of oxytocin going on in the room makes for a huge love fest.
After a few weeks, you’ll find that it can be hard on your marriage. You’re both very focused on the new baby that you forget about each other. Make sure to take time for your marriage. Go out to eat and take the baby with you; a change of scene can be helpful.
Plan a movie date. Have dinner together at home. Go fishing. You can be parents and still pay attention to each other. It’s very easy to lose yourself when you become a parent. Make it a focus.
17. Your Bladder Will Never Be The Same
After I had my third child, I decided to take my daughter to a trampoline park for her birthday. Bad idea. No one told me jumping on a trampoline is a bad idea for moms. I totally peed myself.
I can tell you that now with a laugh, but the truth is, your bladder won’t be the same again. Sneezing is a dangerous thing for many months because carrying and delivering your baby stretches those muscles out down there.
Sneezing, coughing, laughing, and anything to do with those muscles can cause a problem. You can do exercises to try to gain those muscles back, but I’ve never found them helpful. I just accept the fact that sneezing will forever cause me to cross my legs and pray.
18. You Need Help
You can’t do it alone. Okay, you CAN do it alone, but it’s a lot easier for you if you have help. The postpartum stage is rough, and you’re going to be sore and tired. It’s best for mothers and baby if the mom has help, so she can rest with her baby for a while.
C-section mothers need help for sure because of their incision. Picking things up, walking too much, and improper care can cause problems with your incision.
A c-section isn’t just a way to deliver a baby; it’s serious, abdominal surgery.
19. Postpartum Depression is Real
PPD(Postpartum depression) isn’t a joke, and it should never be a joke. Every 1 in 7 women will have postpartum depression (source), and it can be very difficult. PPD can cause you to feel depressed, anxious, disconnected with your baby. Don’t think it won’t be you, because it can be.
I always thought I wouldn’t have postpartum depression, but I was wrong. With my first child, I had PPD. For the next two pregnancies, I didn’t. So, when my fourth baby arrived, I was in the clear – right?
Wrong! I ended up with postpartum anxiety and had many panic attacks.
It’s real, and it can happen to anyone. So, seek help and be honest with your friends and family about how you’re feeling. It’s not your fault, and you can get medication to help with your feelings.