The conversation surrounding the reality of postpartum recovery has always been less than honest and open. For whatever reason, once we are packed up and sent home with a tiny human to take care of, we’re expected to be fully functional and dressed to impress just days after giving birth. And, absolutely no one told us about what the postpartum period is actually like.
Time for some #realtalk here.
Your baby isn’t the only one wearing diapers right now. You’ll have postpartum bleeding, heavier than your usual period, and it WILL soak over the edges of a pad. Just buy Depends and thank us later. Lochia lasts for 4-6 weeks, but shouldn’t last longer than that. You’ll want the Depends for about the first 48-72 hours. The flow slows down after that and you’ll be able to wear a pad without bleeding over it.
Prepare for blood clots in your underwear. The first time this happened to me, I was horrified. I stood up to go pee (about 6 hours postpartum) and could feel the giant jellyfish blob just hanging out. Glamorous. *hair flip*
You’re going to sweat. And, you’ll probably smell. Not because you’re dirty, but because during pregnancy our bodies hold on to a lot of extra fluid and you may have had fluids during labor. Sweating is one of the ways our bodies clear that extra fluid, and with sweat comes smell. Also, hormonal shifts can change your body odor.
You know what doesn’t smell like laundry fresh linens? Drippy breastmilk stains, formula drops, baby spit up and dirty diapers. It’s the distinct scent of Parenthood, also known as the rest of your life.
The first postpartum poop. Absolutely no one warns you about how terrifying it is. Except us, we remind people ALL. THE. TIME. Put on some Enya Radio, light some candles and dim the lights. Relax your pelvic floor muscles, use the lidocaine numbing spray if you have it and breathe your poop out- don’t push. If you have tearing, you can support your perineum with toilet paper so it doesn’t feel like everything is going to fall out. Also, take magnesium before your first poop. It helps. Promise.
Within the first few days, your milk will come in. You will be engorged and milk will just flow, even at the sound of your cat meow-ing. Your swollen breasts will be pretty uncomfortable, and it can be difficult for baby to latch well. You might have to hand express first. Buy yourself a Haaka to relieve the pressure without it being so uncomfortable and adding to the possibility of creating an oversupply.
Um, hemorrhoids. Need I say more? Buy a Squatty Potty and drink A LOT OF WATER. Tucks Pads are your friends. Don’t run out. Ever.
Postpartum sex. There are two groups of people here: YES! and HELL NO. You either want it so badly that you feel a little ridiculous or you don’t want anyone to even look at you sexually, ever again. Both of these feelings are okay and normal. Breastfeeding and being a new parent, exhaustion and hormones are all playing a part in your libido right now.. and it’s okay to wait. Use your discretion and talk to your care provider before resuming sex, and use lube. The birthing person should be on top, to allow for more control and the ability to quickly stop if it’s painful. Either way, you will eventually have sex again. Be patient with your partner and with yourself, and explore other ways of being intimate and connecting with each other.
What was the most surprising thing about postpartum recovery, for you?