Postpartum Truths- What They Don’t Tell You

During pregnancy you read all about what’s happening to your body and how your baby is growing. You also read up on birth and all the different types of methods there are- normal births, c-sections blah blah blah. Yet for some reason no one ever prepares you for what happens to your body afterwards. Perhaps because it ain’t pretty. Well, I thought I’d let the cat out the bag- but don’t worry, I’m never here to scare you, just to tell you the truth.

1. Immediately after birth, literally immediately, I looked down at my tummy and it looked so flat! Saggy, but flat. I kept touching it when Sienna was taken to be weighed and cleaned up and I was telling everyone ‘hey, look at my tummy!’ and poking it. Then you get taken to the room in which you’ll be staying for a few days and once you see your belly, standing up, then it is so disappointing. You look 6 months pregnant. I was expecting it to be as flat as it looked lying down, but no, it looked all wobbly and just plain pregnant. My brother, who is 7, came to visit and the first thing he said to me was ‘Shanni, if you have your baby already, then why do you still look pregnant?’ My Mom moaned at him, but I just thought it was funny because I was thinking the EXACT same thing! Don’t be too upset though, your body has been through a lot. My tummy looked a lot better after about 2 weeks, and now, 6 months postpartum, it looks like I’ve never had a baby. So really, don’t be upset!

2. Postpartum is very, uh, bloody- to say the least. I was told that you had to wear super huge pads after birth for 6 weeks, but I never really asked myself why. Well, after giving birth you don’t need to ask anyone why because I don’t think any woman wouldn’t notice the tap switched on down below. Seriously, this shocked me the most. The midwife who wheeled me to my room told me that I have to call her the first time that I need to pee. I just laughed and she was like ‘I’m not joking, you have to call me or else!’ I thought that was a bit weird but I called her in the end. She told me to get up very slowly. I got up normally. All of a sudden, blood spilled all down my legs and onto the floor. I went white as a sheet and felt faint. ‘So that’s why I had to call her…’ It doesn’t hurt or anything- it just shocks you if you’ve never been warned. You bleed heavily for the first week, and then it gets less and less until you’re back to normal. It took me 4 weeks. It can take up to 6 weeks, though. You’ll get super duper maxi pads from the hospital, so don’t worry 😉

3. Breastfeeding has to be learnt. For me, it was quite easy because Sienna latched on really well. I was dropped in the deep end, though. Straight after birth everyone left the three of us to bond and as the doctor closed the door he said that I should feed Sienna. Then he just closed the door. No one helped me at all! So I just looked all puzzled at the hubby (he couldn’t help me) and I thought ‘here goes nothing…’ Like I said, luckily Sienna latched like a pro. It doesn’t feel weird at all- it’s just lovely because you bond so much. You both stare at each other and you know you’re giving her the best you can give and she knows that you’re the most important person in the world to her. It hurts after a day or so and it will continue to hurt for around a week or two. After that, you don’t even feel it anymore. So just stick with it, be tough and the pain will be a thing of the past before you know it. Get a really good nipple cream- that’s my one piece of advice! After the first week, my nipples were so dry that some skin came off and they bled 😦 You just have to be tough and you’ll get through it though! Come on, you gave birth mama- what can be worse than that?? The biggest hurdle is behind you.

4. When your milk comes in, you’ll look like you had a boob job- and all those congratulations hugs are a killer! My milk came in on day 2, which is quicker than most. Your boobs go hard as rocks and you leak through everything! I wold be having a chat to people and they’d start glancing nervously away from me, I’d look down and see that I’m wet. Invest in some good breastfeeding pads- don’t get the cheap ones! I’m a tummy sleeper and what I was looking forward to most was sleeping on my tummy again- think again, once my milk came in, I couldn’t even sleep on my side! Good thing is, your body is very clever and regulates itself very quickly, so after around 2 days, everything was fine again.

5. The first shower is the hardest. After I had given birth, all I wanted was a shower and nice, clean hair to make me feel better. It was hard though. I felt quite faint because I don’t like the sight of blood and I was very scared to get water ‘down below’. You have all kinds of thoughts about it stinging or somthing awful like that. It doesn’t, don’t worry! Just take it slow and make sure you have someone to listen out for you. If the shower is in your room, leave the door open a tiny bit just in case you topple over. It’s usually fine- I was nervous, but I felt so much better afterwards.

6. Your muscles are strained from giving birth and they don’t hold as well as they used to. This was only a problem for me for a week, after that everything was roughly back to normal. My problem was, and this is way TMI so if you’re a boy or someone who knows me, please don’t read this: you can’t even hold wind in! And I’m not talking about burping! It was so embarrasing because we’d get visitors in the hospital and I had the urge to pass wind- and I just couldn’t hold it in for the life of me. And the more you try to hold it in, the more it seems to happen! This also counts for doing a wee. It just starts to come out and you can’t seem to hold it. I never actually wet the bed, but it was my biggest nightmare. Like I said, after a week my body seemed to jump back to normal (sort of) – but this was one of my worst postpartum things.

7. The thought of the first bowel movement makes you weak at the knees. I was so scared, I was literally shaking when I knew I had to go. At our hospital, they wouldn’t let you leave before you had a bowel movement, which meant that either you went naturally- or they’d give you a suppository (for this wonderful word I had to google: what is that medicine called that goes up your bum? Funnily enough, others have googled it too, so I got a result immediately!). I chose to go alone. I was so so so scared! I had all kinds of horrors about my stitches coming undone etc. I’ve lived to tell the tale, and the tale is: you have nothing to worry about! If you don’t leave it too long, it’s soft anyway and you won’t even feel it! So really, don’t worry about this- although, I’m pretty sure everyone does- why else would they offer suppositories?? As a side note, the first few times that you urinate will burn slightly, I’m afraid. As with all side effect- this too, shall pass, literally.

8. 3 months postpartum I started losing my hair. This is normal, as any doctor will assure you, but it sure is a lot. In the shower, my hair seemed to fall out in chunks and I was (and still am) afraid of developing a blad patch. Women with shorter hair tend to notice this less. I have very long hair, so I REALLY notice this! My sister and I dyed our hair together a month ago, and when I washed the dye out and she saw all my hair going down the plug hole, she nearly flipped as she thought the hair dye was the problem. I hadn’t warned her that this is another postpartum thing, poor girl. Actually, I should have let her sweat! (I only say this because I know she reads my blog!) I am currently 6 months postpartum and its still happening. Apparently it can happen for up to a year. Yikes!

9. You’ll feel like an emotional wreck! I am a person who never cries, unless someone dies. I’m not the type of woman who cries because my best friend won’t speak to me or because someone criticises me. In fact, if I’m in trouble, I actually start laughing. I cannot hold my grin back! I only cry about important things. Until I gave birth. All of a sudden everything was so soppy to me. I’d cry when I saw my baby, I’d cry when I saw animals on TV, I’d cry when I saw a pretty sunset, heck I would have cried if I’d seen a pretty tree! I was just so emotional about everything. Not sad- just emotional, like I was constantly on my period emotional. This kind of goes away after about 3 months. Then I was back to being the snow-queen, as my mother calls me. Not completely, though, I can cry more easily now than before pregnancy. Like when I watch the trailer of the film “Babies” *sob*.

10. Sex hurts the first time. In fact, it hurts like the very first time. Don’t sweat it, though. Take it slow, never rush yourself, learn to laugh at yourselves and it will be fine in no time. If it hurt forever more, then people wouldn’t have more kids! After around 3 months (yep, it can take that long- or even longer) it will be back to normal. In fact, it could be even better!

So, that’s all I can think of. 10 things that no one seems to tell you about, except me! These were the things that I had never heard of, that made me really worried and I asked my midwife about every one of them. They’re all normal postpartum truths. It’s all part of the journey. Don’t be scared. None of them scarred me for life and I’m still willing to go through them all again. If you have more ‘truths’ that shocked you, post them in the comments box!

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