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If you are nervous about your recovery after childbirth, then this post will really help you!
You may think that reading about someone else’s postpartum experience would create MORE anxiety for you.
However, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and knowing what to expect will help you prepare for an easier postpartum recovery!
At the very least…. YOU WON’T BE SHOCKED or surprised!
The Challenges of Recovery After Childbirth
Many women feel physically or emotionally blindsided by the challenges of their postpartum recovery.
Mainly because they made the wrong assumption that once the baby is born… everything will be easier.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
But… now you know… and because of this knowledge, things will already be easier for you!
10 Things That Shocked Me about My Postpartum Recovery…
Uterine contractions are painful, but they don’t stop immediately after birth.
As part of your recovery after childbirth, your uterus will continue to contract as it slowly shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Some of these contractions are mild and you won’t really notice them.
But, sometimes these contractions hurt!
This is especially the case when you breastfeed your baby during the first few days.
The good news?
These “after-pains” don’t last long and it’s a very good sign that your body is healing properly!
I wish I had known about this wonderful natural pain-relief remedy when I was experiencing postpartum cramping!
In fact, this gentle homeopathic remedy is also great for swelling, bruising and general muscle soreness that you will also feel after a vaginal birth. 😛
2. Swelling, Bruising, Hemorrhoids and Pain “Down-Under”
Yup. It’s true.
Don’t be surprised if your “lady parts” feel very different for a few days.
I felt really bruised and sore.
This, too, is very normal after a vaginal birth.
Again… many women find relief from this gentle homeopathic medicine that is so easy to take!
I was also dealing with stitches from an episiotomy, which was no fun either.
If you have stitches or hemorrhoids, this postpartum cooling spray will feel amazing and help speed healing.
Also amazing… taking frequent postpartum sitz baths with soothing herbal bath salts!
3. Achy, Sore Muscles
You may have heard that labor is hard work.
I have heard some women compare a long labor to running a marathon.
So, I have never actually run a marathon, but the way that I felt after childbirth made me feel like I had!
If you deliver vaginally, your muscles will most likely be sore.
Not only are you straining and pushing during delivery, but sometimes you are squatting and lunging during labor as well.
All this exercise will leave you sore for a few days.
My favorite sore muscle remedy can really help!
As mentioned above, homeopathic arnica montana helps with all sorts of pains associated with recovery after childbirth. Check it out!
4. Postpartum Bleeding
Immediately after birth, there will be lots of bleeding.
I know that this may seem too graphic for some of you, but it’s a reality that you need to be prepared for.
Make sure and stock up on pads and postpartum undies before your baby arrives!
You won’t want to ruin your good underwear during the first few days.
If you have a hospital birth, they will supply you with very large pads like these.
Some women prefer to use them at home as well, especially during overnight sleep.
You should also consider using pads that are chemical-free like these pads.
Your skin will be more sensitive than normal following birth and you will be wearing these more normal-sized pads for a few weeks postpartum.
Here is everything you need to know about postpartum bleeding in this post.
5. Breast fullness, tenderness and leaking
About day 3 postpartum, your milk will start to “come in”.
Actually, you technically already have milk at delivery called colostrum (and during later pregnancy) but when your breasts begin producing mature milk, you will feel a fullness and tenderness that is brand new.
You may even experience engorgement at first, but be patient as your breasts will gradually adjust to the feeding needs of your newborn.
Another thing that I was NOT expecting was how much my breasts leaked!
This, too, subsided over time, but during the first few weeks was quite surprising!
Make sure that you get some really great nursing pads like these to catch the drips and avoid embarrassing leaks!
I actually prefer these organic cotton washable nursing pads since they are environmentally friendly and more natural!
6. Nipple Pain with Breastfeeding
Lactation professionals will tell you that you should not experience nipple pain if your baby has a correct latch.
If you are experiencing nipple pain that continues during a feeding, make sure that you reach out to a lactation professional right away!
If you have already had a latch assessment by a breastfeeding professional, and you are still feeling mild discomfort while breastfeeding, this may be normal too.
Some women (like me) find that it takes a few weeks for their nipples to toughen up.
Your nipples are a very sensitive body part and they simply are not used to this much activity so fast!
So again… it is quite normal for you to feel some pain during the initial latch, but this pain SHOULD GO AWAY once the baby is correctly latched on!
I also experienced very tender nipples when I was not breastfeeding and this, too, is normal during the early days of breastfeeding.
7. The Fear of Pooping and Peeing Post Birth
If this is your first baby, you have probably never even thought of this one!
But… many women are afraid of the first poop after having a baby.
That’s because everything “down there” is so tender.
For me, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, though!
After all, I had just given birth to a baby… what could be harder than that!
But that doesn’t mean that it might not be a bit scary at first!
The hospital will probably offer stool softeners, which some women feel is necessary.
I never took them and I was fine.
To prevent constipation, it’s really important to stay hydrated before, during and after birth!!
8. “Baby Blues” and Other Crazy Emotions!
After you have your baby, your hormones will probably take you for a ride!
It will feel like an emotional roller-coaster for a couple weeks. One minute you will feel happy, the next sad or overwhelmed.
Yup! You guessed it…. it’s normal too!
This hormonal change will probably peak around day 3 or when your milk “comes in.”
Even if you are not breastfeeding, you’ll feel these hormone changes as your body adjusts to no longer being pregnant.
In addition to all the hormone changes of the first couple weeks, you may also be feeling some pretty intense fatigue.
Labor and childbirth is exhausting for your body and feeding your baby around the clock only adds to that fatigue.
Your recovery after childbirth can be SO MUCH EASIER if you get enough postpartum sleep!
It’s really REALLY important to prioritize sleep during postpartum. Here’s how to do that!
Getting enough sleep is often enough to combat normal “baby blues”.
However, if you have depression or anxiety that lasts more than 2 weeks or your symptoms seem quite severe or frightening, please talk to your doctor!
9. Anxiety about Baby
Many new moms have anxiety about their new baby.
You may not want anyone else to hold your baby or you may find yourself constantly checking to see if your baby is still breathing!
You may even have trouble sleeping due to new mom anxiety.
Over time, this usually does improve, too.
Again… make sure you get help if things get worse or you cannot sleep well!
10. Extreme Hunger and Thirst
I had never felt so hungry than I did after delivering each of my babies!
In fact, that hunger continued for several weeks during the 4th trimester that I could easily out-eat my husband!
Not only extreme hunger, but every time I began a breastfeeding session, my mouth would literally GO DRY… It was nuts!
I could guzzle a liter of water and still feel thirsty!
Do you have a Postpartum Plan yet?
A postpartum plan is probably even more important than a birth plan!
Find out why in this post!
What About You? How was YOUR Recovery after Childbirth?
If you have already given birth, what were some things that surprised or shocked YOU?
What are some ways that you could have been better prepared for your recovery after childbirth?
Please share your experiences to help new moms-to-be!