9 Postpartum Secrets Nobody Told Me
I know people love to talk to you about everything related to pregnancy, birth, and babies. Countless women have shared their experiences, insights, and advice with you. By now, you’re probably certain you know what to expect; maybe you’ve even read a book or two.
However, the postpartum period is intense, and there are some things that people apparently don’t like to discuss. I am here to share the things that really caught me by surprise:
Am I really the only one who didn’t know about this phenomenon until I lived it?
Shortly after I gave birth, a nurse wanted to help me to the bathroom. Being the strong and independent woman I am, I was convinced I didn’t need assistance. The nurse insisted, saying she wanted to show me how to take care of myself, and provide me with the proper pad—though, after seeing it, I am sure she meant to say “diaper.”
I had no idea how much bleeding would take place after delivering my child, or that some amount of it would continue for four to six weeks. Holy shit. When people speak of “the trauma of childbirth,” I totally get it now. It’s the kind of shock to your system that makes your body want to bleed for more than a month.
Your baby is now in your arms, or fumbling around at your breast. Surely those labor pains should be history, but not necessarily. Many women have painful cramps for days after delivery, but worry not—it’s just the uterus shrinking back to its normal size, and doing so in the most obnoxious way.
You might not poop for a little while after delivery, and there might also be a lot of uncomfortable air hanging out in your belly. I remember wanting the relief of a good poop, but also being terrified by the thought of expelling anything else from my nether regions—like actual parts of my nether regions. Get somebody to pour you some prune juice, stat.
You’re probably overjoyed by your new baby, and your newfound role as a mother. This is the experience that is most acceptable and common to share on social media—but don’t let Facebook fool you. Plenty of new moms feel detached, indifferent, sad, scared, and anxious.
Don’t judge yourself for how you feel—let it roll. If you aren’t living in bliss right away, give yourself time to get to know your baby, adjust to your new responsibilities, and recover from the fluctuating hormones that are making you borderline-insane.
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5. Postpartum body
I’m not one of those people who expected to leave the hospital in my pre-pregnancy jeans, but I also didn’t know I would still look five months pregnant. I went out three weeks after having a baby, and someone had the audacity to ask me if I was pregnant. I wanted to cry. I wanted to slap a B. But instead I bought Spanx.
6. Breastfeeding woes
One would think that something as natural as breastfeeding would come easily, but I now understand why so many women give up in the first few weeks. Nursing moms contend with painful engorgement, leaky breasts, and babies who won’t latch. I know I’ve shed tears over it all.
7. Poop obsession
The hospital will send you home with a chart to track your baby’s poops and pees. As a new mom, the excitement I felt over discovering a poopy diaper was similar to winning a raffle. Things were working well. Yippee!
The dynamics of friendships change when you have a baby. Schedules, priorities, and interests transform. Nurture your old friendships, but welcome new ones too, because many new moms experience some amount of loneliness. Find people you can relate to.
I wish someone had told me a long time ago, “Life won’t be fair as a mom. Accept it.” Maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to punch my husband for sleeping while I got up and nursed the baby all through the night.
Try to enjoy the beautiful and chaotic world of being a new parent. Don’t succumb to neuroses. Trust that everything will be okay. Be easy on yourself, and don’t expect to be perfect. Anticipate a lot of judgment and unsolicited advice. Just smile and nod, while you continue to do you. Breathe deep, relax your shoulders, and practice using your laptop with one hand.