Postpartum comes with A LOT of unexpected surprises. There are hundreds of things that can happen after you give birth. Some mamas experience more changes than others but I’m going to be straight forward with you and tell you what I personally went through and what I think were the most shocking to me. Why? because these are things that I honestly wish someone would have told me about so they wouldn’t come as a huge shock. Please note that my delivery was vaginal, and my experience will be based on that.
Before I get started, know to always speak with your doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. Remember this is just my personal experience. I’m sharing this in hopes that you get a little more acquainted to what’s normal and what could potentially happen so that you don’t get too many surprises all at once. So let’s get this started.
1. YOUR TUMMY WILL WOBBLE – IT’S OKAY AND NORMAL
I mean it’s not rocket science, right? You just grew a human in your belly and now it’s out. Your tummy needs time to heal and get back to its place. Getting back on a nutritious way of eating is the best thing you can do for your mind and body. Getting back to a routine or the gym is also important to start whenever your body is ready because you will FEEL better. Working out was a total game changer for me. But please please don’t rush yourself. It takes time to adjust and getting back to a routine.
2. STRETCH MARKS MIGHT BE VERY VISIBLE
You may or may not have stretch marks depending on the type of skin you have or how much your belly grew. In my experience, my whole lower and mid tummy is filled with them. Some parts of the back of my legs legs, thighs, love handles and booty as well. Red or purple stretch marks are very common, especially in the early stages of them. They will fade with time BUT they will be there forever (read my blog on 6 Ways to feel comfortable with your stretch marks if you are having trouble adjusting to your new body features- which to be honest I 100% struggled with). Some mamas get a lot of stretch marks in their boobs as well since they grow A TON if your milk comes in and/or if you decide to breastfeed (I breastfed for 15 months but got little to none- so again, it depends on each body).
3. YOUR BOOBS BECOME HUGE AND THEY WILL HURT ONCE YOUR MILK COMES IN
Whether you plan on breastfeeding or not, it is very likely that your milk will come in and when the time comes, your boobs will become huge and they will hurt. It’s a sharp pain that you are not expecting in any way. You might even catch the first form of milk (colostrum) coming in once you start leaking a bit from your breast ducts (which are located in the areola). My milk did not come in until I had my baby. Some mommies get it before, and some take a little longer after birth. If you are worried about your milk not coming in “on time” I recommend you speak to a lactation consultant- they are THE BEST! They will guide you nad help you with every single question or concern you have.
4. YOU WILL LOSE A LOT OF HAIR AROUND YOUR BABY’S THIRD MONTH
Mama, I don’t mean to scare you, but you will see chunks of hair while you shower or after while brushing your hair. THIS IS NORMAL. I’m not going to lie, I thought it would never grow back again and I didn’t think this was normal. This is why I am telling you that it is. It’s okay, and it will most likely grow back, eventually. If you are not taking anything to help strengthen your hair folicles, I do recommend taking hair supplements (biotin) but again, speak to your Dr. or lactation consultant about it.
If you are breastfeeding: Make sure you speak with a lactation consultant to see which product you can take. Also, the significant amount of hair loss will happen around the 2 or 3-month mark but it could also happen before or after. So once you reach this mark or start to notice your hair fall out, make sure not to panic.
5. YOU MIGHT GET HEMORRHOIDS AND IT’S NOT NICE
With vaginal deliveries, it is common to experience hemorrhoids. There’s external and internal. I had them both, but the internal ones are a HUGE pain in the butt – pun intended. Pooping hurts but forcing yourself to sit in the toilet is pretty much the worst thing you can do to help those hemorrhoids shrink. A way to avoid them in the first place is to eat foods high in fiber and taking soft gels before you leave the hospital after delivery (ask your doctor and lactation consultant if nursing which you can take) and just go poop whenever you need to go. Remember NOT to force yourself because they can get worse.
6. BLOATING AND SWELLING ALL OVER YOUR BODY
You might experience bloating and swelling especially if the nurse gave you Pitocin or an epidural by the anesthesiologist. Bloating will also happen if you have not had a bowel movement. My best advice is once again, eat foods with a lot of fiber in them or take fiber supplements that will help your digestion. Any medication given to you before your delivery will take its time to leave your system so just be mindful of that and don’t be so hard on your body or yourself. I would also recommend ice packs on your vagina. The cooling effect will help overall. The hospital can give you some just make sure you wrap it around something so your vagina (especially if you tear) doesn’t stick to it because that will be very painful- OUCH! Trust me.
7. YOUR VAGINA WILL STING FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS
Yup. This is pretty normal for vaginal deliveries. If you have a VD your vagina WILL be swollen. I would 100% recommend a peri bottle for you to use EVERY SINGLE TIME you pee. It soothes and really alleviates the burn and helps with swelling. Especially if you tore about 5 inches like I did. Your skin is healing so this means you might take a little longer to have sex again too! Don’t rush into it.
8. PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY MIGHT BE NEEDED
This is a topic I could go into depth, but I’ll keep it brief. Bottom line: If you need floor therapy you will know. This varies from one body to another. My experience was that I didn’t feel anything “abnormal” (just my “normal” vaginal discomfort from my tear) until sex came around and I just could not get through with it. The sharp pain was unbearable. That’s when I realized I had to do something. I went to therapy and I did take longer to heal than most which was about 2 months (2x per week sessions). Please make sure you ask your Dr. about it just to get informed because it is very important that if you do need PFT that you treat yourself and avoid any kind of suffering. Trust me, this stuff really works!
9. POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION
Not everyone will experience it, but research says 1 out of every 9 moms will experience it. I was part of the unlucky pool and I will elaborate on the topic in my future blog but for now I will tell you this. When you experience PPD you feel like you are in the body of another person who has multiple personalities and disorders. Yeah, it sounds that bad because that’s how bad it can get. Besides this horrible symptom, some others are: worrying or feeling overly anxious, feeling worthlessness or guilt, sadness, hopelessness, oversleeping or being unabe to sleep when your baby sleeps, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, mood swings and even more.
10. PROBABLY NONE OF YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY CLOTHES WILL FIT
This honestly depends on a few different factors, but this is normal for most. Unless it’s a flowy dress, you’re probably not getting anything to fit properly. Unless you want to be uncomfortable, and in all honesty that’s the last thing you want to be. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Most women will not fit into their jeans early on their postpartum. My recommendation is to buy a few clothes you feel comfortable in and fuel your body with nutritious foods. If your jeans don’t ever fit again because your pelvis opened up, it’s okay mama. You will be just fine with a number up in size. You’ll still rock that amazing body of yours!
I’m sure there are other physical changes mamas will experience or some I experienced that I’m not mentioning, but if I'm being honest, these were the most shocking (call them traumatic if you may) but this blog was not about sugarcoating motherhood. It was about how you can mentally prepare for if or when this happens to you. My intention is to be real and raw with you, in hopes that you can be your best self in every way possible. Remember that no matter what… you are a beautiful and amazing mother!