Birth · Postpartum

Healing and Expectations

Healing after giving birth sucks. It is a gross, exhausting, bloody, sore and leaky experience. There is nothing even remotely attractive about it. Growing a human isn’t easy work, and neither is healing from it. This post is about to get real about the healing after birth, you have been warned…

The morning after having a baby everything is sore, literally everything; your vagina, abdomen, back, butt, boobs, arms, you name it it will hurt. You will still look pregnant after having a baby but instead of a nice tight baby belly it will be squishy and feel like pudding. Sorry to surprise some of you will that bombshell but I hadn’t expected it to be like that after my first child. I don’t know exactly what I expected after having my kids but it wasn’t that.

Trying to use the bathroom can be painful and terrifying. Peeing with stiches if you don’t use the squirt bottle is like sticking a match to your parts, it burns. Sometimes it’s hard to pee. If you had a catheter in for a while it seems as though your body can’t remember how to pee, or the “have to pee” sensation isn’t there. I had that issue with my son because of when I hemorrhaged I needed a catheter put in for a while longer (3x times total when I had him, oh joy), in doing so it can cause some trauma. Then you add in all the swelling down there, it looks like your vagina tried to give itself Kylie Jenner lips, ice will be your best friend to curb that scary beast. Whatever you do don’t take a mirror downtown; you will be tempted to check out the damage but don’t, trust me. At least for two weeks don’t do it, I promise it will get better just be patient. If peeing wasn’t bad enough don’t even get me started on the first poop. That my friends is an experience all its own. Some people say stool softener helps, drinking a lot of fluids, eating foods with fiber, and moving around some will help keep things flowing. It feels like your insides will fall out, they won’t, it just feels like they will. Just remember be patient. Prayer helps too.

Ugh bleeding, those nine months without a period they were amazing right?! Yeah well now that your uterus isn’t being occupied anymore it is angry and ready for payback. There will be blood, lots of it. It can last a few days or a few weeks. It starts as the worst period of your life and will progressively get less and less gross from there. BUT and this is a big but, if your overexert yourself and do too much too soon you can start bleeding worse again.

The sweats. It was so gross, I didn’t experience this after my first pregnancy but I did with my second. While in the hospital one night after having my son I sweat so bad, everything was drenched. I felt so nasty; I’ve never sweated so badly in my life. The sweating is your body’s way of getting rid of all that extra water weight from pregnancy, sometimes any medication you get during labor can have something to do with it as well I’ve heard.

If you breastfeed, it can be incredibly weird feeling having a baby on your boob for the first little while. When first starting you will only have colostrum coming out for the first few days then all of a sudden your boobs will be milk making machines. Hopefully for those that choose to breastfeed that’s how it works but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way for everyone. It can be incredibly stressful time for some mothers. Several of my friends weren’t able to produce enough no matter what they tried; where as other people I know have an overabundance of milk. You never know until you are in the thick of things. If you have troubles ask a lactation consultant for help that is what they are there for. There are usually some through hospitals, doctor’s offices, or even through the state that can be contacted. If you are uncomfortable doing that, talk with other mothers who have nursed they may have some great advice or encouragement. Some advice I would give is:

  1. Don’t Stress- stress can effect milk production, close your eyes, take a deep breath and try again it will be alright
  2. Don’t Stress- if breastfeeding isn’t working for you, the baby or both that is perfectly fine
  3. Breathe- a fed baby is a happy baby however that comes about. Breast, bottle or a combination of both that is great.

Around the third day your hormones will crash, that means lots of crying for no reason. Looking at your babies little nose and fingers will make you a sobbing mess just because they are so darn cute. I remember after my daughter was born we were about to be discharged from the hospital and they had to do a heel stick on her. My goodness the lady doing it probably thought I was crazy, while my daughter was crying from the heel stick I was cuddling her and just blubbering. How embarrassing. But I couldn’t stop, I was like that for a couple weeks while my hormones worked themselves out some more but I hadn’t expected it to happen. After my son was born I was a lot more prepared for it but that third day again hit me hard but it didn’t last as long or was as bad as it was the first go round probably because I did expect it to happen.

Part of what goes along with your hormones crashing is what is called baby blues it usually only last for several days to a week or two. It when you feel teary, overwhelmed, irritable and sad. It’s like PMS on overdrive. When those feeling though become too consuming or last for too long it could be postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is something that needs to be talked about. There is NOTHING wrong with someone who has this. It happens to the best of us. Postpartum depression can start from those little baby blues feelings and become potentially dangerous if not taken care of properly. Severe mood swings, excess crying, inability to sleep, trouble bonding with your baby, overwhelming fatigue, fear that you aren’t a good mother, severe anxiety or panic attacks, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, feeling worthless, shame, or guilt, intense irritability or anger, trouble concentrating and even thoughts of suicide or death can all be signs of postpartum depression. If you or someone you know is experiencing some or all of these symptoms please see a doctor, postpartum depression can be treated. Don’t let embarrassment or shame or anything stop you from enjoying this time in your life.

While people experience the postpartum time differently there is no doubt it is not easy especially while caring for a newborn. Some advice I wish I took the first time around (didn’t listen but who does, live and learn) is to make sure you take some time to take care of yourself. Shower, shave, blow dry your hair, wear a pair of pants that aren’t pajamas. Pack up the baby and go out and meet someone for lunch one day. I’m not talking crazy things here just things that make you feel like a human not a mombie (mom zombie). My mom told me something after my first that I didn’t listen to of course until I had my second (again live and learn) this is the “easiest” time to go out with kids, when they are most portable. They can’t run off, can sleep anywhere, very go with the flow. (You hear that Mom you were right) Granted I’m not talking roll out of the hospital and party, take your time and when you’re ready to adventure out do it, it is worth it. Terrifying the first time out but worth it.

Physical healing isn’t all having a baby does to you; there are emotional and mental obstacles to get around as well. When leaving the hospital with my first child we were about to walk out the door and it hit me. I am now responsible for someone else, they will just let us walk out the door with her and that’s it no one will be there to help if we don’t know what we are doing, or if we have questions. Logically I know we have help and everything but at the time it was just unbelievable we could just walk right out the hospital doors with this other life and no one bats an eye. Several days after we were home and her doctor called to set up an appointment with her I said I was her mother and at first it was so weird to say, such importance comes with that word, such responsibility. You know you will be a parent, you know you are responsible for someone else but it reality of it doesn’t set it until the weirdest moments I believe.

Healing is a part of life and this is one time to be gentle and patient with your body. It took nine months to grow life and it will take no less than nine months to heal. Sure you aren’t bleeding anymore by that point but your body went through a lot and it won’t be the same after kids and that okay. Take the time to heal.

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