You’ve delivered a precious baby, now get ready for some truths from a mom who went through a crazy first week postpartum. Here are 7 Things to Expect Postpartum :
1. The Pain
Postpartum recovery is well underway as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size. It will feel exactly if not stronger than period cramps.
If you’re actively breastfeeding you will feel it more, as the hormone oxytocin is released while breastfeeding, which gives you contraction-like pains.
Bits and pieces are what you’ll feel down there. You will be sore and achy for weeks to come but it all starts the moment you go into labor and for those moms that had the epidural about 2 to 4 hours after delivery.
Every time you sit it will hurt, when you move it will hurt and when you pee it will hurt. Oh, when you sneeze, breathe and blink it will hurt. EVERYTHING HURTS. But it’s all worth it! I can with absolute certainty assure you, that it is.
You will bleed from delivery for up to 6 weeks. The bleeding can range from what a period is like regularly to a bit more and for some women a little less. The first bleed is called lochia, it’s bright red, heavy and might contain blood clots. It will get lighter over time and stop.
Normal postpartum swelling is called Mild Edema and it’s caused by excess fluid that remains after birth. Oh, the swelling! That was the worst for me and I had not been told about it at all.
Because I had the epidural ( which causes water retention by the way) I was swollen from head to toe. Those “glowing” after delivery pictures? Yup, um no.
To help reduce postpartum swelling drink water all the time (even if you’re not thirsty), elevate your feet as much as possible.
Another one is moving, I know you’re tired and sore and sleepy with a newborn and everything hurts but please move, you will thank me later. Now don’t go running but walk from the bedroom to the kitchen or to the bathroom, whatever works.
4. The Thirst
From the moment your baby is on your chest to the moment you go home you WILL be thirsty. It will feel like you were at the beach all day without a sip of water. that you walked the desert for a day and lost all of your liquids.
If you’re breastfeeding it will be worse. Breastmilk is 88% water so mama gets on drinking!
5. Hormone Changes
Ever thought about hormones going haywire after giving birth? No? Well, me either. Let’s start with smells, remember while you were pregnant and you might have had those smells you couldn’t stand? Then let me tell you, this time around is you who you’re not going to stand.
Right after delivery, I was taken to my room at the hospital and I went about laying down and holding my baby when this whiff of death reached my nose. No, it wasn’t the blood but something else…
Ladies, I have never ever smelled myself and be disgusted. I smelled like a garbage truck, I took a shower as soon as the nurses told me I could but it didn’t end there. The whole time I was at the hospital I stank! I was clean and showered and I didn’t sweat but I sure did smell bad.
The reason for this horrible smell is hormonal changes and just like our scent changes in puberty, the hormonal shift as your body recovers from pregnancy can change your body odor.
Now, just because you can smell it doesn’t mean everyone else can and this is because that heightened sense of smell when you were pregnant doesn’t go away right away as the body settles down. This may or may not go away in time, 3 months and it hasn’t settled down for me.
As part of postpartum recovery, you will have some constipation. This is caused by many things considering what your body has gone through before, during and after delivery.
One main one is that from the moment you were taken to the delivery room, whether c-section or natural birth, you did not consume food so your stomach is empty.
Other reasons for this may be you had a bowel movement during labor, pain relievers (narcotics) also tend to slow down the digestive tract.
Your constipation may even be mental if you had an episiotomy or postpartum hemorrhoids as you may be scared about the pain and/or tearing up your stitches.
If you’ve had a c-section or have one scheduled then it can take up to 4 days for your digestive system to get back to normal after this surgery.
I did not have a bowel movement for three days after delivery. While I was in the hospital I was given stool softeners every day and that last day I was able to release. The fear was real but just let your body do its thing, and you should be okay.
7. Sleep Deprivation
This is a difficult one, moms and moms to be prepared to not sleep. I know you’ve been told her and over by EVERYONE right? “ You won’t be sleeping, catch up now because it will be awhile.” Um, thanks but no thanks, right?
I was so very sleep deprived that I fell asleep with my baby on my chest, my very newborn baby. I was so scared when I realized it! It was horrible, I felt like I was on a dream.
My body felt so heavy and my mind clouded, it was like I couldn’t control my own body. My husband was asleep beside me and I got him up so he could soothe our baby and I went straight to sleep.
So, you will not sleep much. With that said, mama, rest as much as you can, you sleep while baby sleeps. Do not worry about anything else okay? If you’re well rested your baby will be well cared for and there’s nothing better or safer than that.
If you have visitors, friends or family members coming over please ask for help. Need laundry? ASK. Need to run errands? ASK. Need a break, a shower, or simply to need to eat? ASK. No one will judge or complain.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. The most important people around will understand.
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