When I was pregnant no one told me about what really happens during postpartum healing.
Not the nitty-gritty details anyway.
I understand that no one told me because they didn’t want to scare me but I’m a worry wart. I needed to know what to expect so I wasn’t always wondering if something was normal.
And since no one would tell me I didn’t know what to ask my doctor about or what to look up (that was probably a good thing for that one).
But it scared me! Everyone told me, “It’ll work out in the end. Don’t worry.” Which only made me worry more.
So if you are anything like me you need to know what to expect and what is normal so you don’t drive yourself crazy wondering about the what-ifs.
Disclaimer* I am not going to sugar coat anything. So if you don’t think you can handle it or if you want to learn by trial-and-error then this post is not for you. You can check out what you can’t forget in your hospital bag.
8 things no one tells you about postpartum healing
1. Clogged Milk Ducts
This is worse than being engorged. It’s like having someone stuff a part of your boob full of concrete.
I would get these all the time but the first time I got one I wasn’t sure what to do and worried I’d get mastitis (luckily I didn’t ever get it but I had a different clogged milk duct every week).
If I was ever off by 10 minutes on our feeding routine I’d get one. So I had learned what worked for me when I got one.
Breastfeeding worked the best to get it unclogged. That little baby knows just what to do to take care of the issue. And you will more than likely spray your baby in the face if they unlatch after the milk duct gets unclogged (it’s ok if it makes you laugh, I won’t tell anyone).
Heat is also great to open up the duct and release the plug that’s causing the clog. A shower helps but if you don’t have the time, or just don’t want to get in the shower, you can use a rice bag. I didn’t have one so I made one with a sock and rice from my pantry (don’t worry the sock was clean). Nothing glamorous but it worked.
Advil also helped because of the anti-inflammatory in it. It is safe to take while breastfeeding but check with your doctor just to make sure you are able to take it.
Once my baby was finished and I was unclogged I would pump just to make sure I got everything out, because if I didn’t there was a small chance it would clog up again.
2. Blood Clots
I know you hear about how you are going to bleed when you are healing postpartum but no one told me the size of blood clots you are going to have (that’s why you need to get these instead of those giant pads from the hospital. I promise you will be thanking me later)!
I remember sitting in the hospital and the nurse told me I need to keep an eye out for blood clots and let them know if I had any big ones.
So the next time I went to the bathroom I noticed there was a golf ball size clot in the toilet. I panicked and called the nurse in. She wasn’t even worried. They only wanted to know if there was a baseball-sized clot.
She left and I felt like an idiot.
I also felt like an idiot when I thought I was supposed to be done bleeding after a month postpartum. Nope!
Everyone was surprised that I was surprised that I was still bleeding after a month. Turns out its normal to still “spot” (it was way more than what I had considered being my normal spotting) for 2 months.
I know everyone is different but I was blown away about how long I was bleeding for. So don’t be surprised if you bleed longer than you thought. But if you do get worried I would just give a quick call to your doctor, just to be safe.
3. The Stitches
For me, this was the most painful! I actually didn’t even realize that you have to get stitches until the doctor told me that I needed them. This is one of the things I wish someone told me about before I had my baby.
To be honest you won’t even notice them when the doctor is stitching you up or when you’re in the hospital. You actually won’t notice the stitches until 3 days after you are home and then they became the most painful thing you have experienced after labor.
I knew they were supposed to dissolve after 5 days but I didn’t think I was going to make it that long.
They get dry and start to poke your lady parts and it’s painful to just sit there. I was trying to sit on the boppy to get some relief (without success I might add.)
I had heard people talk about using Tucks but I hadn’t given them much thought because I didn’t know what it was or how to use. Well let me tell you, they help soften your stitches so they don’t poke you and help with the downtown-inflammation.
My mother in law was the one to tell me why I needed them. So you better believe I sent my husband out to get some right away.
They really are the best! They made me feel so much better and I could sit comfortably.
Please don’t forget these in your postpartum care. I don’t want you to regret it.
4. Postpartum sex
This topic probably deserves its own post because I think its an important one.
Someone once told me that sex isn’t just the cherry on top of the sundae it is the sundae. Which to me means you really need to make it one of the major priorities in your marriage.
So jumping back on the horse after you get the all clear from your doctor is way scary! I was so nervous that I actually waited about 8 weeks postpartum because I was afraid it was going to be losing-your-virginity painful. But it was its own kind of painful.
When I had my baby my doctor was actually out of town (isn’t that how it always is?) so the doctor who delivered my baby stitched me a little bit too small. I don’t think she did it on purpose because it was just slight but she wasn’t my doctor so I couldn’t ask my doctor if that’s what happened.
Everything is fine now (there’s your daily dose of TMI), but the moral of this story, talk to your doctor if you think something is not quite right.
But that wasn’t the only thing that was painful. You hear about how you need lube to help with things down there after you have a baby and this is no joke!
Breastfeeding actually makes your vag dry! And sex with a dry vagina feels like sandpaper, and it makes you spot the next day (take it from someone who has been there). My doctor suggested using coconut oil because it was natural and it wasn’t going to cause an infection. You don’t have to use coconut oil just use something that you know will work. And don’t be afraid to use A LOT!
So lube, lube, lube!
5. How sore you’re going to be
Oh my gosh, this one was a shocker to me! I was laying in the hospital bed the next day feeling like I had a total body work out (well it is a full body workout but I wasn’t expecting it).
It’s obvious that you’re going to be sore, but I thought it would only be from your waist down.
All of the tensing from the contractions and the pushing made my shoulders and my biceps sore. Luckily it doesn’t last long, but it was something I wasn’t prepared for.
I heard some people will bring pineapple juice in their hospital bag for this reason. But I didn’t so if you try it I would like to know how it goes!
6. Hair loss
Ok, this is one that I know you heard about but no one talks about what happens when it grows back.
I didn’t notice that my hair was falling out until I was 6 months postpartum. And my hair didn’t fall out in clumps like some people made it sound like it would. It fell out slowly over time so I didn’t really notice I was losing hair until I was bald!
And it mostly fell out in the front so I looked like an old man bald for a bit while it grew back, so that was fun.
And when your hair grows back it’s wild! I feel like my hair is wavier than it was before but nothing a straightener couldn’t fix.
But even 1 year postpartum my little hairs are only down to my eyebrows. So be prepared to have to fight with fly-away baby hair for a long time!
7. Postpartum Depression
This one I felt like I was actually prepared for. I was on antidepression medication while I was pregnant so I continued it after I had my baby. It was probably the reason postpartum depression was kept at bay.
This topic is talked about a lot nowadays, and its a good thing, but it can still take you by surprise.
It took my normally very upbeat friend by surprise. She would come over to my house and just cry. She would tell me everything she felt and we would work on solutions together. I even watched her baby a couple of times so she could nap.
So make sure you talk to your doctor, your family, and/or your partner about what’s going on. The more people who you talk to, the better you will be. They can help you feel better, whether you just need a nap or someone to take you to a doctor.
Make sure you talk to someone if you aren’t feeling yourself, this includes going to talk to a therapist and maybe getting on some medication. If you suffer from postpartum depression it will pass, just hold on, and please don’t be afraid to get the help you need.
8. Diastasis Recti
If you stay active you aren’t supposed to get diastasis recti, right? Nope, that was a big fat lie I told myself.
When I went to my 6-week check up my doctor let me know that I had an inch gap in my abs and she suggested I do some exercises and wrap my torso.
So I scoured the internet and found out how to belly bind. I didn’t have the type of wrap that you’re supposed to use so I just used my moby wrap (which is probably not the best thing but it seemed to work just fine).
Now if you want to use the correct fabric this is the kind that was suggested to use.
All of these things I wrote about aren’t meant to scare you. I just to make sure you know what to expect and to know what to ask about if you think something is wrong.
And everyone’s recovery is different so don’t think something is wrong just because it’s different from mine. Use your intuition and talk to your doctor. You got this mama bear.
And the moment they put your little baby on your chest, you aren’t going to care what recovery you have to go through. It will all be worth it for that little baby.
I’d love to hear how your recovery went and what surprised you about postpartum recovery.
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