I’ve said it before, but I was super naïve when it came to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. But if I was naïve about those things, it was nothing compared to how totally clueless I was about postpartum recovery! There were good things, of course. But oh man, were there bad things.
I’m going to outline some of the not-so-fun stuff about postpartum recovery. I honestly didn’t know these things so hopefully there are some good takeaways here for other soon-to-be mama’s!
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Obviously the best part about being postpartum is your baby! And you’re no longer pregnant. Woo-hoo! I couldn’t wait for this day. Everyone kept telling me my baby would be late (“First babies are always late!”), and I was sick of hearing it because I just wanted to not be pregnant anymore! Luckily, he came a few days early and we were in love immediately! Unfortunately, that’s about it when it comes to the “good” (even though it’s a pretty positive one).
Here we go. Your postpartum body is extremely stressed. Like, literally under so much stress! You just grew a human for 9 months and then in a few hours that human is outside of you. Your body is going through shock! All the stretching (of your skin and ligaments) and hormone levels are suddenly drastically different and your body is trying to figure it out. Because of this, your emotions are going to be all over the place. Happy, sad, mad, happy again, depressed. It’s exhausting. I knew about the baby blues, and the potential for postpartum depression but I really wasn’t prepared for how up and down I’d feel!
There's also some pain. The nurses were great and gave me so many ice packs and pain killers whenever I wanted them….which was all the time. I mean, it makes sense that there’s going to be pain, right? Sitting on a chair was really difficult – so I chose to lay down for the most part. The pressure was just too much. Plus I had about 10 layers of pads on, so it was just uncomfortable on top of that. Luckily, the pain only lasted about 10 days.
I couldn’t wait to be not-pregnant so that I could sleep normally and comfortably- HA! I was wrong about this too. For me, sleeping and rolling over was almost worse AFTER the fact. Everything hurt and I had to move super slowly so getting in and out of bed was hard. Again, this only lasted about 10 days. Whew!
The Downright Ugly
I knew you’d bleed post-baby but I had NO IDEA it would be so much. In the hospital, they give you mesh underwear and I beg you –TAKE SOME HOME! They are wonderful for postpartum women because you save your own underwear from being horribly stained (which WILL happen). I had to keep googling “when will the postpartum bleeding stop” because I thought something was wrong. Turns out, it can last quite a long time for some women – up to 16 weeks sometimes. Luckily, for me, the bleeding subsided about 8 weeks out.
To help with pain and to catch some blood, I made DIY Padiscles. I saw this article on PrettyProvidence.com and knew I had to try it. They worked great! The materials were easy to find and they were super quick and easy to make. I highly recommend making some of these a few days before baby comes.
I also recommend getting the longest, thickest pads you can find. You can eventually taper down to thinner ones but get long ones! I like these Always pads.
The body odor! Oh my god, the body odor. This one is probably the worst, honestly, because it affects other people. I'm NOT not kidding when I say the B.O is horrible. Hormones are still regulating for quite some time, so getting extra hot is going to happen. Overnight, when I’d wake to feed Liam, I would be drenched in sweat! By the morning, the stink is so bad I can't stand it. This happened for about 10 weeks for me.
Finally, the feelings I have about my body are absolutely part of my recovery. I know I made this wonderful little human and I should not care how I look but I do. It’s definitely something I struggle with every day but I’m trying not to let it bother me. I’ve been slacking on working out, and Liam is 10 months old I’d like to be on a regular regimen. But who knew how tired you’d be?! I should’ve, but still.
Those were the worst (and best) parts about postpartum recovery for me. I know, I know –it’s all so obvious now! But I truly had no idea what I was in for.