Disclaimers: What I am about to share is not to scare or upset you. I am sharing because this is what I wish I knew before going through the postpartum recovery phase. It can be hard, graphic and for most of us it is uncharted territory that for some reason no one shares the gory details about before hand. Keep reading if you are a person who likes to be mentally prepared. And remember, these are possibilities, you might experience some, none, or all of them. Everyone is different. Also, some of the links are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!
What I wish I knew about the PHYSICAL changes during the Postpartum Period
You will still look pregnant at first
Your stomach may take some time to go down. Mine took about 3 weeks to “flatten” and 4 months until I felt “normal” again. I still don’t feel or look how I did pre-baby but I have come to love and appreciate my new mom bod.
Your boobs will leak like crazy if you breastfeed – like crazy crazy – invest in some reusable boob pads. I spent the fist 3 months basically covered in breast milk. It just becomes the new normal. Also, highly recommend getting a Haaka to collect the milk that leaks while you nurse. I built a nice stash without pumping by using mine.
Your nipples will also probably hurt like crazy while the 2 of you figure out breastfeeding. Get nipple shields and some good nipple cream. I really don’t think I would still be breastfeeding if it wasn’t for nipple shields. Roam had a lip tie and I didn’t discover that until she was almost 2 weeks old.
Breastfeeding is HARD!
Breastfeeding is demanding and it can be painful and hard to figure out while you’re sleep deprived and hormonal. It can also cause anxiety and depression for some moms. Once you get past that first initial learning curve it becomes such a beautiful bonding moment for you and your babe. Not to mention it’s so incredible for your baby (and free!) Breastmilk is amazing and I’m so happy that I pushed through the hard part of breastfeeding because now I love those moments so much. If it doesn’t work out, just know that fed is best and you are still a great mom.
That dark line might take a while to go away
You linea negra might take a while to fade and that’s normal. Mine took about 2 months to fade and 4 months to go away completely. It’s different for everyone. Some may only take a few days, others a few months. Just be patient with your body.
There will be tears
You’re probably going to cry a lot. I MEAN A LOT! It’s totally normal and doesn’t mean you’re depressed. It means you are sleep deprived, and your hormones are all over the place, and everything is new, and confusing, and overwhelming. CRY GIRL! Let it out. I sobbed uncontrollably every time I took a shower for the first 2 months. I sobbed on my husbands shoulder, I sobbed while my baby girl ate. I sobbed myself to sleep. I did not have PPD (but that is also common, seek help if you think you might harm yourself or your baby.) If you’re only emotional and crying, just know so is/did basically every other mom postpartum.
You’re probably going to feel like you got hit by a train for the first week or two..or month. I can’t speak for c-section mommas (my sister had one and I remember her being in a lot of pain after.) Basically every muscle in my body felt like I did the most hardcore workout the day before (which I pretty much did hahha) and If you delivered vaginally expect it to hurt like a mother effer down there for a while.
postpartum hair loss is a Thing
Around the 4 month mark you might experience postpartum hair loss… SAY WHAT? I was just as shocked to learn about this from another mom when I was 2 weeks postpartum. Apparently it’s due to your hormones starting to level out. I started to experience it around the 5 month mark. Holy moly, I lost an insane amount of hair. I’m honestly not even sure how I still have hair. I shed in clumps basically all day every day for a few weeks. Don’t freak out, this is normal and your hair will grow back eventually!
going to the bathroom is scary
If you delivered vaginally peeing is horrifying for a while. (Or at least it was for me. It stung so bad I wanted to die every time I had to pee) and I didn’t even tear at all, so I can only imagine it would hurt more if you have any degree of tear. Use your Perri bottle to rinse instead of wipe for as long as you need. Don’t forget to take one in your diaper bag when you have to go out in public. Make Padsicles and use them. They are amazing. Witch hazel really helped ease the stinging for me as well.
It’s a bloody mess for a while
You’re going to bleed for a few weeks. I think I bled for about 6 weeks. Get adult diapers for the first week or 2…it just makes life easier.
you might pee your pants
You might be incontinent for a little while after- it’s very common. 65%+ experience this after pregnancy & childbirth. If it doesn’t go away after your 6 week checkup go to PT if you can. If not google exercises for incontinence. Incontinence means ANY leakage of urine that you didn’t voluntarily want to excrete. So if you leak pee when you laugh, cough, or run/jump that’s not just “part of being a mom” and with proper exercise you CAN fix it. With improper exercise you WILL make it worse. France’s health care system actually encourages and pays for all women to see a pelvic floor specialist after pregnancy. This is a common issue that isn’t talked about enough in America.
You can lose feeling down there
It might be hard for you to find your pelvic floor muscles again. Aka: do a keegle, have an orgasm, hold your pee in, etc. Your muscles can apparently “fall asleep” from giving birth and can take up to 2 years to “wake back up” according to my PT. If this is happening to you also look into PT.
Pelvic Organs Can Prolapse After Pregnancy & Birth
Not to scare you but this happens to 1 in 3 women yet is never mentioned to you during pregnancy. It can happen just from being pregnant so C-sections don’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. This is why it’s so important to take things slow. Some women said they experienced pelvic organ prolapse at 3 weeks PP because they carried their baby in the car seat or decided to go on a run before their body was ready. Some women didn’t even know they had a prolapse until they were told by a Gyno or use a hand mirror to check it out down there. If you have a “heavy feeling” in your vagina, feel like you are sitting on a “golf ball”, have lower back pain, pain with sex, trouble with bowel movements, or incontinence, tell your doctor and go to PT. There is a chance those symptoms are cause by a prolapse. There is a lot you can do to heal this naturally but you will need to learn exercises to avoid and exercises that will help. If you suspect this is happening to you join this support group on FB called POP Fitness and do not go down the negative google rabbit hole.
Your ABDOMINAL muscles can seperate
Your abdominal muscles might separate (Diastasis Recti) this also happens to about 50% of Moms after birth. It’s import to do the right exercises to help close the gap…again, go to PT. If you can’t go to PT then look up Diastasis Recti exercises on Pinterest and learn how to heal it with proper exercises.
The photo below kinda explained what the first 2 months of adjusting to my new normal looked like. I remember Roam was crying, Rush was whining, it was noon, I was still in PJ’s (always in them lol) and all I wanted was to drink my coffee and have a moment for myself. I took this photo after getting them both to be happy and getting a sip of my coffee. I have come a long way as a mom since this photo, but It is still a challenge to find a moment for myself at least once a day. Do your best to make that a priority because your mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance.
My Postpartum Advice for First Time Moms
Take it nice and easy. All I wanted was to feel like my old self again and as quickly as possible. It’s so important to listen to your body. Mine kept forcing me to go slow. I started Physical Therapy 2 weeks after and I am so happy that I did. First I attended a postnatal class called the fourth trimester and after the 6 week period I went to a pelvic floor physical therapist and got more understanding of my unique postpartum recovery needs. I know that if I would not have attended these two different types of PT I would have done all the wrong things. I would have started running as soon as I got out of that 6 week period and I would have done 100 sit ups and crunches to try and get my abs back. If I did those 2 things I would have set my recovery back BIG time. I am happy that I listened to my body and I am so grateful that my insurance covered PT. If you don’t have the option of PT you can pretty much find out anything by searching Pinterest, Youtube and Google. I learned a lot from PT but I also learned a lot by finding other moms who have gone through similar physical postpartum experiences.
On my instagram I asked fellow mothers to share their best advice for first time moms. Read these encouraging words and know, you are doing a great job Momma! 💙
Adivice from Real Moms
“Don’t forget to love yourself. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your new baby, which is totally fine, but don’t forget that you were just born. Born into Motherhood. Give yourself grace and do something for yourself every day even if it’s just small.” @Smith_partyof3
“It’s hard as hell but every week gets better and more beautiful. You might experience a sense of loosing yourself before you discover who you are as a Mom. So hang in there new Mama’s it only gets better!!” @therosycheek
“Never be afraid to be truthful about what you’re feeling. PPD is not something to be afraid of, so many of us experience it and so many of us have gotten through it with the help of our loved ones and other mommas.” @taylordumais5717
“This season will pass. There is a struggle in every stage of parenting but knowing that the “struggle” wont last forever is comforting and it will get better.” @myarrows126
“Don’t be hard on yourself – there is no formula. Let expectations, others and your own, go out the window and try to enjoy the ride as much as possible.” @lindsaymynatt
“learn to take a break and allow other people to watch the baby. Taking a break to do something for you allows you to be a better mom!” @arivins86
You can see more advice from real moms about the PP period/ join in on the conversation on my Instagram post.
If you can make it through the first month you can do anything!
There is a good chance that postpartum is going to be a lot more difficult than you really ever imagined it would be. The lack of sleep combined with lack of experience, insane hormones and adjusting to this new life can be really overwhelming. It gets easier every day and as long as you are trying to be a good mom, then you are a good mom! At times you may get frustrated with yourself, your baby, your partner, your body…the list goes on. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you human. It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to have bad days, it’s okay to cry. It will get better! Just hang in there momma. Before you know it you will feel like a professional.
Was there anything that happened to you during the PP period that you wish you would have known about before hand? Feel free to leave a comment to share with other Moms-to-be, or lets be friends on Instagram and we can talk about all things Momlife.