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Postpartum recovery is definitely challenging physically and emotionally… here are things I wish I knew about postpartum recovery…
Postpartum recovery is seriously no joke. I’ve experienced two births and two postpartum recoveries – and both were different, very different. Like mine, not all postpartum recoveries will be the same, just like all pregnancies.
Now what I’m about to tell you isn’t to deter you from the beautiful experiences of pregnancy and birth! I just want to share my experiences of postpartum recoveries in hopes to help you prepare.
Prepare you from being blindsided like I was with my first pregnancy.
I didn’t have very personable doctors the first time around and I didn’t read up on what to expect after labor and delivery. I wish I had! This mama definitely not prepared for postpartum recovery after our firstborn.
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7 Things I Wish I Knew About Postpartum Recovery
Everything Hurts Postpartum, Seriously
Honestly, everything hurt. My pelvis hurt, my vagina hurt, my butthole hurt, and my boobs (because they were engorged). After I delivered my son I had a difficult time laying on my side, standing up and walking.
I had to have my husband or nursing staff help me sit up, and walk to the bathroom. The labor and delivery staff wouldn’t discharge me unless I was able to completely walk around the entire ward pushing little James in his crib.
You know peeing and trying to poop after having my baby was just as difficult if not painful. The last thing you want to do is try to poop but my team would not let me leave unless I made one bowel movement… but that didn’t matter because a couple of days after being discharged, I had to go to the emergency room.
I ended up developing two blockages from the epidural and couldn’t go. I was already having so much pain and difficulting getting in and out of bed, I was in tears!
48 hours after leaving the hospital my milk ‘dropped’ and I became engorged. I became very hormonal and almost quit breastfeeding because we couldn’t get him to latch.
After a couple of cries and figuring out what holds worked – James started to breastfeed like a champ and I was no longer engorged.
Prepare Your Postpartum Kit for Recovery
While you’re handling your postpartum hormones and excitement, it would be best to have some sort of postpartum recovery kit ready.
I do recommend having your recovery kit prepared by your third trimester – that way it’s one less thing to worry about when your baby does decide to make their appearance.
In your kit you should have:
- All the pads – You bleed a lot and up to 6 weeks
- Tucks – the witch hazel helps with inflammation and healing. These worked wonders for me postpartum.
- Sitz bath – I was in so much pain and swollen after my first delivery, my doctor gave me a sitz bath to soak in to help alleviate the swelling.
- Nipple butter – Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey but can definitely wreck your nipples. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of blisters and pain from breastfeeding.
- Stool softeners – What I wish I had with me the first time, trying to recover and develop a blockage is definitely not a good time.
- Nursing bras – These were a godsend, cozy and allowed easy access for breastfeeding and exclusively pumping.
- Cozy tops – Having a big cozy shirt will prevent anything from pressing on your engorged breasts or swollen tummy.
- Granny panties – YES, postpartum bleeding sucks. You’ll want to have an old pair of undies or granny panties during this time.
- Peri bottle – If you don’t have a sitz bath, a peri bottle is definitely helpful. Your lady bits will be swollen so wiping is definitely a no go.
- Water bottle – You need to stay hydrated! Drink all of the fluids.
- Haakaa – To catch breast milk from your breast when breastfeeding with the other.
- Sweat pants – I lived in my husband’s sweat pants for months. Definitely helped because they weren’t tight.
It Takes Time to Recover
Postpartum recovery does take a long time, depending on your birth experience. My first birth experience was difficult and traumatizing, therefore it took me months to fully recover and a full year for my pelvis to not hurt.
My second postpartum experience was different, my epidural didn’t work because I waited too long to have it administered. I felt everything on one half of my body and even felt the ring of fire (or crowning).
Once the crowning occurred I was able to push Jaxson out in 3 full pushes! Due to how fast my labor and delivery was with him, I was able to get up and down with ease.
I could even use the bathroom and shower at ease! No help from my husband or the labor team!
Recovery will differ for each person and for each pregnancy, so please don’t compare it to other women’s journeys! Just worry about you and your little family, you’ll get there.
The Postpartum Bleeding
I was definitely not prepared for the postpartum bleeding after delivering my baby. My period is heavy and long as it but nothing compared to postpartum bleeding.
Picture your period but double it! After I had both of my boys, the nurse gave me very attractive mesh underwear with heavy-duty pads. It’s to help control your heavy postpartum bleeding.
They do ask that you keep track of your bleeding because any golf size clots (or bigger) is a cause for concern. Please monitor your bleeding and let your doctor (or nurse staff) know anything alarming.
If you’re very swollen Baby Frida recently came out with an amazing product, Frida Mom 2-in-1 Postpartum Perineal Ice Pack, that kills two birds with one stone. The ice pack helps with the swelling and manages your postpartum bleeding – talk about a win, win.
Related: 10 Alarming Pregnancy Symptoms Every Woman Should Know (Tips from a Labor and Delivery Nurse)
The Crazy Hair Loss
I think the hair loss was definitely one of the hardest things about postpartum recovery to me. You can expect your hair and nails to grow and your hair will fall out less.
Because you have been pregnant, your body prevented all of your hair from falling out. Now that you are postpartum you can expect your hair to start falling out – most of mine was noticeable in the front, along the hairline.
It definitely made me feel even more self-conscious, I was already dealing with my new postpartum body and now I have to deal with hair falling out?
Don’t worry, it’s not permanent. Your hair will grow back and go back to normal once your hormones adjust.
Ways to help with postpartum hair loss (What to Expect):
- Don’t tie your hair uptight with a hair tie, try using a scrunchie or hair clip.
- Avoid the hairdryer and hair straightener.
- Take your vitamins!
Yoga Pants (and Bella Band) Are Your Friends
The last thing I was worried about was fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Seriously, don’t stress out about it. Yes, there are moms out there that can easily get back into their pre-pregnancy jeans… but remember, stop comparing yourself.
We all recover differently and we all have different bodies, hormones, etc.
Honestly, I used my maternity pants for about a year after having my firstborn and you know what? I’m not ashamed. I was comfortable and didn’t have to worry about feeling constricted.
Yoga pants and Bella bands are definitely your best friends during your postpartum journey – trust me. You can grab a few inexpensive yoga pants from your local Target, order yourself a Bella band and boom! You’re living that comfortable life.
Stop stressing about your jeans, you’ll get there!
Stop Comparing Your Postpartum Recovery
This one is definitely hard on every woman after having a baby. You’re hormonal, your body is different, and you’re trying to adjust to motherhood.
I totally get it.
You need to give yourself a little grace during this transition, mama. We are often our worst critics but you know what? You just had a baby, how badass is that?
So, please, please stop comparing yourself to Karen next door. You will recover at your own pace!
My Final Thoughts
Postpartum is definitely not a walk in the park! Postpartum recovery takes time and patience, mama. As a mom with two postpartum experiences, trust me.
Give yourself grace, take things one day at a time, and enjoy your days with your bundle of joy.
Now that you’ve read what I wish I knew about postpartum recovery, what was one thing you wish you knew about postpartum? If you could give advice to a new mom about to experience postpartum, what would it be?