What they don't tell you about postpartum

9:04 AM

I'm writing this post because several posts like this one saved me that first week home. I don't know why it is that there is so little literature out there about postpartum recovery and why you really aren't prepared for it at all but if I can help at least one of you I'll be happy. I actually thought about giving a small TMI warning here but I refuse to. There is nothing TMI or embarrassing about childbirth. I think the sooner we let go of the stigma associated with postpartum recovery the sooner more and more women won't feel so lonely and lost. We all go through it and it is one of the things that come with bringing a child into this world. 
I was probably worse than most in that I thought I would get some relief from all the annoying side effects of pregnancy once I gave birth. Hah. I would have given anything to be pregnant again instead of going through postpartum. To be completely honest with you it is by far one of the scariest things I've ever gone through. Perhaps it's largely due to the fact that up until delivery I was a very healthy person - I had never been very sick, never been to the hospital, or even been past the first round of evaluations at the emergency room. So to go through everything that is involved in childbirth and then to have to be in the hospital for two days was totally horrifying for me. 
I wanted to document a few things I wish I had been told that in advance to make me better prepared for what was about to happen:
  • It will get better. Sometimes it will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. However, if something is bothering or if you think something just isn't right listen to your body and go see someone about it. I was concerned about a certain area and ended up having a very quick, albeit painful, procedure done that helped things immensely the second week.
  • Things will never look the same down there. Unless of course you, like Giselle, descended from Mt. Olympus and your babies kindly and gently excuse themselves from your vagina while you take a bubble bath. For the rest of us - be prepared for some changes. When it's all said and done it will more or less look the same but not completely.
  • They say the stitches will come out on their own in a week or two. Maybe for some. For me I was still seeing stitches ten weeks out. Nothing wrong with that though it can hurt from time to time since that area is incredibly sensitive for a long, long time.
  • You will also bleed for a very, very long time. Once again they say it tapers off at four weeks but it could be longer. It feels like having the longest period of your life. 
  • Do not, I repeat DO NOT take any nice clothes with you to the hospital. I literally threw out everything I had been wearing there. The tank top because I was still wearing it when I placed her on my chest (I got blood on it) and my bottoms because I got blood on those too. Expect bucket loads of blood so anything you don't want to part with don't bring with you.
So here is my list of tips to get you through that first week or two:
  • Buy lots of comfortable, ugly, granny like underwear. Trust me you will need it to contain everything.
  • Buy the biggest, thickest pads you can find. Also, take everything they will give you at the hospital, their pads are really great too.
  • I myself never felt uglier than I did postpartum - I was terribly pale, with huge dark circles and I showered sporadically. In light of all this it was nice to come home to the lovely set of pajamas I had been saving for this very occasion. It was a small way to pamper myself a little.
  • Speaking of clothes, make sure you are well stocked in the leggings and sweatshirt department. Don't kid yourself into thinking you'll be wearing anything else. The thought of wearing actual pants will make you cringe. And not because you can't fit into them.
  • Get yourself a decent sized water bottle. I was quite surprised to discover how incredibly thirsty breastfeeding made me. Even still I wake up parched in the middle of the night so I always make sure I have some water nearby. 
  • Neosporin. This is something I wish they had told me to use at the hospital. Instead I only found out about it from my midwife two weeks later. It will significantly help speed up the healing process and if you get the pain relief one it will really help with that too. 
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby products were THE biggest lifesavers for me that first week home. I read about them on another mommy blog (she is no longer blogging unfortunately) and I am so glad I had them waiting for me at home. I used the spray for practically three weeks and I would throw one of the tea bags in the bath every time I took one. And speaking of baths my midwife recommended that I take up to three a day and they were so helpful with healing as well as offering much needed relief. 
Those are the main things that I found so helpful for me. If there are any other questions you may have or if you're going through postpartum recovery now feel free to email me and I will help as best I can. If anything it's always helpful to know you're not alone. And don't be afraid to call your mama, she went through this too and can be a great support to you.

Of course this is simply my experience and it may not reflect everyone else's. However, I did read a lot of message boards those first few days (more than I would care to admit...) and it seems that a lot of what I experienced was echoed by other women and I found that to be a huge consolation for me at the time. 

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13 notes

  1. Love this post! So true about everything and bravo to you for putting it out there. I guarantee you will help many by writing this :)

  2. thank you for sharing! I pinned this and will re-visit come almost delivery time!

  3. This is soo completely true. I think my biggest tip would be get out of the house- even if it's around the block or to Target.

    :) Have a wonderful Wednesday

  4. Yes!!! Awesome post.
    I was told not to take a bath for SIX weeks following delivery, but I broke that rule two weeks in.
    Taking a bath is my nightly ritual and it helped me feel somewhat normal again.
    As for the stitches, so glad you mentioned that. I thought I was the only freak who still had mine seven+ weeks later (I was horrified to see them when I finally had the nerve to look down there).
    My advice is TAKE THE STOOL SOFTENERS, ladies...
    With my first child, I was reluctant to take any medication following childbirth and I found myself in the bathroom crying for hours when I had the first bowel movement.
    This time, I was smarter (and more comfortable).
    Again, GREAT post...thank you!

  5. i'm a few years out from having a baby but THANK YOU. and yes, i will probably email you in a few years :)

  6. I'm so glad you found this helpful! And thank you for the extra tips, I'm sure there are some mama's out there that will find all of this very useful. It's a tough time but it's good to know you're not alone. xo

  7. I have no kids, and I'm not expecting any soon, but I loved this post! I'm bookmarking it for future reference, though, and I'm going to refer my pregnant friends back here. Loved it.
    P.S. I'm so happy you came back to blogging!

    1. Thank you Alivia! Happy to have you reading along! xo

  8. Another thing that helps is a compression band. It helps your belly go down really quickly. Here's a link on my blog that could be helpful for some new to mommy hood! (sorry this is super cheesy to do- feel free to erase this after you read it) hopefully it will help you also. http://elsabags.blogspot.com/2011/08/post-partum-check-off.html?m=1

    1. Fantastic post Nicole! Thanks so much for sharing it here! Your blog is adorable! Wish I was so crafty! :) xo

  9. pinning this for the future! thank YOU for posting! xo

  10. I'm sharing this on my blog's FB page! No one told me either. I've written a few similar posts, but you summed it up perfectly! I was miserable! https://m.facebook.com/LoveLikeJohnnyAndJune?__user=1298820026

  11. This is such a great post! I'm due in September with our first baby & this will be extremely helpful with getting ready for baby's arrival! Thanks for sharing!!


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