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Everyone talks about what to expect during pregnancy. You know to expect aches and pains, the leaking breasts, the acid reflux and kicks to the bladder. There are books and classes dedicated to pregnancy. No one talks about postpartum recovery, also known as the fourth trimester.
Postpartum recovery has its battles and strangeness as much as pregnancy. On top of the physical issues during this time, you also have a new baby to learn and understand. Here is what I wish someone had told me about postpartum recovery.
Mesh Panties are The Best
Don’t even bother bringing your underwear to the hospital. You don’t need or want underwear during delivery. After delivery, the nurses give you packs of these strange, stretchy, mesh underwear. They are amazing. First, no one wants to get blood on their good underwear. Second, you are wearing a pad the size of an adult diaper. You need space for your pads and frozen pads. Save yourself the laundry and take some mesh underwear home.
You Bleed for Eternity
Postpartum bleeding is like a menstrual cycle on steroids. The bleeding can last for six weeks or longer. Typically, the bleeding will subside by three weeks. After that, you might spot or have random bleeding, especially if you do too much.
If you have a c-section, expect to bleed as long. You might hope that having abdominal surgery would spare you from postpartum bleeding, but you are out of luck there.
So, make sure you have an arsenal of pads available when you come home from the hospital. Tampons are a big NO-NO, not that you would want to put a tampon into your vagina after birth anyway.
Did a Train Hit Me?
Birth isn’t easy. After birth, you might feel like you could sleep for a week if you didn’t have a nursing baby. It is literally exhausting.
Aches, pains, and soreness are normal. If you have a c-section, your incision area will ache. There could be some slight bruising around the incision. No one ever said birthing was easy and painless, right?
Feed Me, Please
The first meal after giving birth tastes amazing, even if it is nasty hospital food. If you are lucky enough to have real food, you are in heaven.
Your gigantic appetite won’t stop after giving birth. Once home, you will continue to feel starving, especially if you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding burns calories and makes you feel ravenous. You also are constantly thirsty.
I’m so glad I knew this ahead of time. I made freezer meals, stocked up on drinks and purchased easy snacks and lunches. After you give birth, no one wants to cook!
If you thought contractions ended after the baby arrives, you would be wrong. The uterus still has to contract back down to its normal size. For your first child, the pains might not be so bad. The pain level gets worse with each child. As a mother of four, I can attest to this truth.
Afterbirth pains are worse when breastfeeding. Despite the agony, the purpose is essential. Your uterus must go back down to its correct size. Luckily, these only last for a few days!
The First Poop is the Worst
It never occurred to me that going to the bathroom would be frightening until I had my first child. In my case, I had a c-section, and I thought my incision would explode open. I promise that didn’t happen, but I was sure the pressure would lead to my death.
Going poop after having a baby is difficult no matter how you give birth. Pain medication can lead to constipation. If you have stitches in the vaginal area, the fear is even worse. You are afraid to go, but you have to just breathe. It will be fine but scary.
Beforehand, invest in some stool softeners and take them after the birth for a few weeks. You’ll feel more comfortable!
Pass the Tissues, Please!
Once your baby arrives, your hormones take a nosedive, leading to hormonal issues. Part of this is why women suffer from baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum anxiety.
Expect things to make you emotional. Your favorite TV show might make you cry. Your husband might look insanely sexy holding your new baby. I tell my husband I want a new baby each time because seeing him hold a newborn baby makes my ovaries go wild.
You might look at your baby and start to cry because you love her so much. Crying is normal. However, keep an eye on it! Baby blues and emotions can quickly turn to postpartum depression.
Are You Due Soon?
In the perfect world, we would leave the hospital skinnier than we were before pregnancy. We would look amazing.
We don’t live in a perfect world, and your belly won’t go back to normal in a few days. Don’t box up the maternity clothes just yet! You will still want that comfort and elastic band for at least a few weeks. I live in leggings and maternity pants for a few weeks postpartum. Who wants to wear jeans anyway?
Your belly and uterus will eventually go back to its normal size. It took nine months to get that large, so don’t expect a miracle.
Boobs The Size of Texas
Upon the arrival of your milk supply, your breasts grow in size. Your knockers are giant, rock-hard and not comfortable. Most husbands, if they are like mine, enjoy this part of postpartum recovery. Instead of being sexy play toys, you have bazookas loaded with milk on your chest. Step away, men!
Engorgement is fun for no one. You leak everywhere. Sheets get saturated at night. I have to change my shirt at least one time a night at a month postpartum. During a shower, my body gets showered with milk. Those porn star status breasts might look sexy, but you sure won’t feel sexy!
There are lots of inexpensive items that can help with many of these issues, check out 10 Postpartum Must Haves to Ease Your Recovery.