Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me About This?
It seems that everyone has advice for pregnant women. Even with all this advice, there are still a few things no one talks about...
My, there are emotions…
It is very common around day three postpartum, to start feeling more emotional. Hormones are all over the place, trying to get back to normal. Day three is also when your milk comes in typically. You also may wake up drenched in sweat. 1
Know that being teary can be normal. Baby blues affect about 70% of moms. This usually is mild and goes away within a few weeks after birth.
Some moms will experiences more severe symptoms of depression, known as postpartum depression. Rarely, postpartum psychosis can occur as well. Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or weakness in mom. 2
Prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms. It is important to contact your care provider if you are feeling you may be developing postpartum depression
You feel gross…
Yes, everyone should feel like a queen! You just managed to BIRTH A HUMAN, with your body! I still can’t get over that. It is amazing. But… after birth we are squishy. I felt like the Pillsbury dough boy, for real. Nothing fits either. I wore a lot of yoga pants and leggings during the first month postpartum.
Anecdotal evidence shows that belly bands or belly binding can be helpful to get back to your pre-pregnancy shape. The idea is that binding your belly can help your abdominal muscles and organs get back to their normal size. 3
Exercise is the only proven way to help get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Be aware that it takes time for your abdominal muscles to recover. Until then, avoid planks and crunches. Diastasis recti can occur during pregnancy and these exercises can make it worse.
Give yourself some grace. You did just birth your baby! Take time to recover, start slow and listen to your body.
You are leaking…
It takes time for the wound where your placenta was to heal. Lochia, or postpartum bleeding, will occur for 3-6 weeks for most moms. This is the lining of your uterus shedding after birth. The bleeding will be heavy at first and then start to slow. 4
If you have bleeding that soaks a pad in 15 minutes or less call your doctor immediately. If the bleeding starts getting heavier, it can signify you are doing too much. This can be your bodies way of telling you to slow down and rest.
Not only do you grow your baby, AND birth your baby, you can FEED your baby... with your body. AGAIN, blows my mind. Your initial milk is called colostrum. This thick, yellow milk is low in fat, high in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies. It is easy for babies to digest and is the perfect food for them. The first day of birth, baby’s stomach is the size of a marble. They do not need a lot! 5
Around day three your mature milk will come in. When this happens, engorgement, or full uncomfortable breasts, can occur. This usually goes away within 18-24 hours. Your breasts will adjust over time, making the right amount of milk for your baby. If you are having prolonged or very painful engorgement seek help from a lactation consultant or care provider. 6
When you have a letdown, or when the milk is being expressed, it will happen on both breasts. This can be messy if you aren’t prepared. In the beginning the Haakaa pump can be very helpful. It is a silicone breast pump that catches the let down on one side while you are breastfeeding on the other. This milk can be stored and frozen so the milk isn’t wasted! 7
Once your supply regulates and hopefully you aren’t leaking quite as much, my favorite breast pads are Bamboobies. They are made out of bamboo so they are very soft. They are washable so you don’t have to waste so many throw away pads! 8
Dad likely needs attention too…
Yes, dad probably wants some love. Refer back to #2 and #3… It really isn’t the most attractive feeling. It often takes six weeks to recover physically. Your cervix needs to shrink back down and go back in the right position. While you are still bleeding postpartum, that means you have an open wound basically where your placenta was. Give yourself time to heal. Sometimes mom is ready by six weeks, sometimes she isn’t ready until six months. Everything is normal, and it is okay!
Know that you ovulate before your menstrual cycle returns. You can get pregnant soon after having a baby even if you are exclusively breastfeeding! Having open communication is key to finding the right time to resume sexual activity.
the postpartum period isn’t always glamorous. It is though, such a beautiful time to make memories with your new family. Take time to relax and enjoy your new baby. Give yourself grace and patience. You will never be the same again. We are given the gift to be mamas to our little babes. They are only little for a little while.
The best way to prepare for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum is to educate yourself! Sign up for one of my classes today! siouxfallsbirth.com
Paige Goldade - A Birth Boot Camp Instructor living and loving in South Dakota. She is a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers. She works as a childbirth educator and Board Certified Registered Nurse.