Warning: This post contains graphic details about my postpartum experiences.
You can never be prepared for what happens after labor/delivery.
It doesn’t matter how many books you read or people you talk to, your postpartum experience is going to be unique, special, and something you will forget (because if we didn’t we would never have multiple children). While a lot of what I’ve been feeling for the last week is vaguely familiar, there are some new experiences as well. I wanted to share my postpartum truths for those first time pregnant ladies reading my blog, and for anyone else who might be asking themselves, “Is this normal?”
All the physical changes.
You will be amazed at how your body changes drastically in the first 24 hours after you give birth. Your belly will still feel pregnant but look like a deflated beach ball. I looked down at my stomach after delivery and was shocked at what I saw. No more baby bump. Just a mushy mess and a weird looking belly button.
Another area of that will change immediately are your breasts. Your breasts might start to ache or burn – especially around the nipple area if you nurse as soon as the baby is born. Some lucky girls will have her milk come in fast. When the milk comes in, get ready to experience big, hard, porn-star like breasts. My milk came in three days after I delivered Ailey and oh-my-word – it hurt. A warm shower is supposed to help, but the only relief I found was after a little bit of pumping. The worst part about my milk coming in is shown below. I have breast tissue in my armpits that swells from the postpartum hormones AND fills with milk. It’s extremely painful, hard to the touch, and awkward looking.
I’m 9 days postpartum and when it’s time to nurse, I become humongous everywhere.
Other than the belly and boobs, the biggest change to your body you will notice happens downstairs. I haven’t looked at my lady parts yet, nor do I want to look at my lady parts yet, because they are just as swollen and strange looking as they were during pregnancy. Plus, if you’re fortunate, you’ll tear and need stitches. Ice packs, witch hazel pads, and lots of laying down will help ease the uncomfortable pain. I advise you not to inspect that area for a couple of weeks.
Night sweats are common and I’ve not gone one bout of sleep since the baby arrived without soaking the neckline of my shirt. Everything I’ve read says to drink lots of water to compensate for what you’re sweating out. If you’re breastfeeding, plan on drinking even more water!
Why am I so sore?
If you’re in active/pushing labor for a long time, you will most likely feel like you’ve been run over by a tractor trailer for a few days. My neck, arms, legs, and back were strained from pushing for an hour and a half. My inner thighs were so sore I felt like I rode a horse to Texas and back overnight.
Did you know that your uterus begins to rapidly shrink after birth?
The hospital administered Motrin, Tylenol, and a pain killer every 4-6 hours for pain management, but my cramping was so bad I could not rest. When I came home from the hospital, I continued with the prescribed medicine, but I still felt my uterus shrinking and my lower back aching along with it. When you nurse, your uterus contracts even more – so whoever says the only painful contractions you’ll feel is during labor is a liar! The other pain you’re going to feel is when you finally go to the bathroom… and I’m not talking about going pee. The hospital gave me a stool softener that definitely helped me the first time, but once I was home, it was not as easy. Be prepared to have a lot of comfort issues – drink tons of water – and if you need to, add some fiber into your diet.
Another pain you’re going to feel is when you finally go to the bathroom… and I’m not talking about going pee. The hospital gave me a stool softener that definitely helped me the first time, but once I was home, it was not as easy. Be prepared to have a lot of comfort issues – drink tons of water – and if you need to, add some fiber into your diet.
Emotions Run Wild
Initially, I didn’t feel that crazy after delivery. I was definitely out of it mentally, and I sobbed when the doctor placed Ailey on my chest, but emotionally I was OK. Then, my milk came in and things got messy. I struggled a lot on day 4 of my postpartum recovery with my emotions. I worried about my newborn getting enough to eat. I worried about my toddler feeling as loved and important as she always has while we give attention to someone else. I was cranky, tired, short-tempered, and not thinking clearly. I cried… A LOT. After a few days, the angry demons inside calmed down – but I am still very emotional.
I will keep an eye on my moods since I am not unfamiliar with postpartum depression. I had my own experience with PPD after weaning my daughter and it is pretty scary. I feel like I know the signs well enough to reach out for support from my doctor as soon as possible this time around.