5 Postpartum Secrets No One Tells You Before Birth
In the spirit of authenticity, I’m pulling back the curtain on the 5 biggest postpartum secrets that moms rarely share, but that every new mom needs to hear. Prepare yourself, it’s about to get real:
1. You will bleed for several weeks after birth. 🤕
Okay, so you just went through one of the wildest and most miraculous experiences of your life. You get a well-deserved break from people having their hands all up in your nether regions right? Unfortunately, no.
For many moms, especially those that delivered vaginally, one of the most unexpected and least talked about postpartum procedures is called the “fundal massage.”
It’s a simple, but mostly gross procedure that involves pushing on your abdomen to get out any excess blood – which reduces your chances of large clots, or even worse, hemorrhages.
To be clear, there is nothing relaxing about this massage and when the nurse does it, you will actually feel blood flowing out of your body… awesome.
But wait, there’s more: When you get home, the bloody discharge (called Lochia) will continue to flow out of you for days, and carries with it a stale, musty smell like vaginal discharge. (See also #3, sex after childbirth).
Everyone is different, but I bled for almost four weeks. It’s about as terrible as it sounds. I had no idea it could last that long. That’s four weeks of pads, people! No one told me this would happen.
A very important heads up: My doctor instructed me to watch out for large clots the size of an orange or larger. You will see some clots come out into the toilet or on the pad, but you should call your doctor immediately if the clots are large. It could be a sign of continued bleeding or hemorrhage.
2. Delivering naturally? Your vagina might tear. 😦
I think the fear of a vaginal tear is so great for some women that they would rather undergo a c-section.
First, let me tell you that I understand that fear. The vagina is one of the most tender places on the body. You don’t want to hurt it!
Plus, your vagina is an important part of your sex life, which is what got you into that pregnancy situation in the first place. I’m pretty sure we all want it to stay happy, comfortable, and intact after childbirth.
As it turns out, vaginal tearing to some degree is pretty common. After all, you are pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon.
Now, some women just experience micro tears (my doctor called these “skid marks”) and others experience larger tears that require stitches (and follow up appointments).
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Stitches in the vagina do not feel good, but epidurals and numbing shots helps a lot. After a couple of weeks, you will feel much better, and several weeks after that, you may be totally back to normal.
👇 PS. My wonderful nurse gave me the BEST techniques to ease the pain post stitching.
First, fill a squirt bottle with warm water. Squirt the water over your vaginal area before you begin to pee, and then keep the water flowing to rinse. Dab carefully to dry off when you are done. This squirt bottle is much better than the one they will give you at the hospital.
Second, wear those hospital-issued disposable mesh undies because it is going to be a disaster area for a few days. Pro tip: ask for a few extra pairs to take home, and double them up for extra coverage, OR just grab this 6 pack on Amazon. (Yup, welcome to diaper town.)
Third, line the giant pads with witch hazel pads (Tucks pads). The Tucks pads give so much relief to your sore vagina because they have a cooling and antiseptic effect. Then, use a first aid numbing spray to spray the whole area before you pull up the undies. Both of these combined were a game changer for me, and it made me much more comfortable!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use an ice pack. You won’t need it forever, but it will help ease the swelling and pain. You can even get ice packs designed especially for postpartum pain.
Nobody told me about how much maintenance my vagina would require after childbirth!
3. Six weeks might be too soon for sex. 🙅♀️
Remember how I just mentioned that your vagina might tear during childbirth? You will have some lingering pain. Now, the amount of lingering pain definitely depends on the individual, how fast she heals, the location and severity of the tear, etc. Even if you didn’t tear, your vagina just went through some serious trauma pushing the baby out.
C-section moms, you will have experienced the several weeks of bleeding, and you may or may not have lingering vaginal pain. For a mom who went straight to the c-section without any labor, your vagina is probably doing great. For a mom who went through a whole labor and several hours of pushing, there might be some lingering pain.
The standard advice given by doctors is that nothing should go into the vagina for six weeks. That includes tampons, body parts, and other objects.
So even if you CAN have sex after six weeks, does it mean you SHOULD?
Well, that’s up to you. I have a feeling that most guys have an alarm set on their phone for six weeks post birth on the dot because the doctor said that their lady could have sex after six weeks. My advice is to ask your partner for some patience, take it slow, and do what feels right.
There is no reason to grit your teeth in pain to get through it, just because six weeks have passed. If penetration isn’t working just yet, here are lots of other things you can do together to be intimate. But this isn’t a sex blog, so you’re gonna have to go to google to get some more ideas on that topic. 😏
4. Breastfeeding a newborn can be incredibly painful and emotionally taxing. 🤱🏽
Before I had a baby, I figured that breastfeeding was super beautiful and easy. Little did I know that breastfeeding a newborn was actually really hard and really painful for me! From getting the baby to latch to dealing with bruised and bleeding nipples, I think I cried as much as my baby. Check out my blog on the topic here, which talks more about many common struggles with breastfeeding and how to overcome them.
5. Most postpartum bodies don’t bounce back as quickly as celebrities would have us believe. 🏃♀️
I’m always shocked when I see pictures of celebrities who have just had babies and they look exactly the same as they did before they were pregnant.
Where is the lingering baby belly? How can she fit her postpartum sanitary pad into those pants? How is she wearing that cute bra when my boobs look and feel like they went 5 rounds with Mike Tyson? Why doesn’t she look more tired from waking up all night with the new baby?
Here are the answers: Photoshop, Spanx, nanny, Spanx, makeup team, and Spanx. It’s just not real. We shouldn’t hold ourselves to those fake standards that we see in the media.
If I have learned anything over the years, it is that everyone is different. And, not everything is as perfect as it may seem from the outside.
One of the biggest hurdles I had to get through with my most recent pregnancy is accepting my postpartum body. With my first baby, the pregnancy weight came off pretty fast and easily. With the second, I got stuck 30 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. Three months postpartum, I still looked four months pregnant. My skin was more stretched out than last time. I sprouted some gray hairs and I looked tired. What. The. Heck??
Maybe if I had the celebrity support system of Photoshop, Spanx, makeup team, and a nanny, I would be looking pretty gorgeous and back to normal, too. But that’s just not reality! I had to accept that things were going slowly for me and I wasn’t bouncing back as quickly as I had hoped.
I did my best to stay healthy and be active, but I had to remember that my life and body would never be the same. And you know what? That’s okay! My life and body will never be the same because I birthed another tiny human from my body and now she is my responsibility until the day I die.
With that joy, who cares if my body didn’t bounce back in a month? I will give it as long as it needs
Believe it or not, there are even more than five postpartum secrets that no one tells you about. First-time moms, I hope this article didn’t scare you!
Seasoned moms, is there anything you wish that someone had shared with you before you gave birth? I would love to hear your HONEST words of wisdom in the comments. 👇
Hi, my name is Katie. I’m a busy working mom, fit foodie, and lover of life. While there is no instruction manual for being a great parent, I hope is that the stories and information I share inspire your day, and help you show up strong for yourself and your family. Cheers!
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