Thursday, February 21, 2013

Post Partum: 12 Things You Should Know About Life After Pregnancy BUT Wouldn't Ask in Mixed Company

This is one of those definite "disclose all" type of blog posts, so consider yourself warned...

A few months before giving birth, my friend told me all about her postpartum experience & it frightened me. But, looking back, I was grateful to know what was coming. And guess what, it wasn't nearly as terrible as I imagined.

I'm not writing this to scare anyone away from having kids- I think it's better to be prepared than ignorant. All the same, don't read this if it will frighten you.

You are capable of managing whatever is thrown your way postpartum, especially if you have a good support team!

I feel that giving birth & the post six weeks were my personal rite of passage into the world of motherhood.

What to Expect After Baby 


This is Ezra & I hours after his birth. 

1). You may first experience a runner's high like no other. I felt empowered. I felt like running a marathon right there and then because nothing could compare to what I'd just done- my husband said he'd never seen me so happy.

2). You may not feel a deep, unwavering bond with your child moments after birth. This is still a relationship that requires getting to know one another & time to develop. I fell more in love with Ezra as days passed.

I mean, it was love at first sight, but it has also grown since the first time I first laid eyes on him.

Also, most moms report it takes longer to establish that bond with each additional baby, sometimes up to 10 weeks post partum, so don't feel guilty. You are already so in love with your first baby(s) & the new one is still foreign to you, in a way.

3). You will not magically shrink back to pre pregnancy size the same day baby is born. Most women look six months pregnant still for a bit (bit is a vague term bc every women varies).

I was that woman- the one who worked out her entire pregnancy & didn't eat whatever she wanted because she was pregnant. The woman who began long walks at 4 weeks post partum & longer, harder workouts right at the 6 week mark.

Even as that woman, I haven't been able to miraculously fit all my pre- pregnancy jeans again.

It takes time & patience. Your hips will be wider for awhile, or sometimes forever, so even if you look & feel good, don't expect them all to fit.

But, at the same time, know that it's possible to shed a majority of the weight so that you aren't walking around feeling like you are forever with child.

I am happy with where I'm at now- my stomach is as toned as it was pre-pregnancy & I'm close to my original body mass index. My hips are still a little wider than before but it doesn't bother me- I'm just more womanly now ;)

 I say that not to brag but because I know how many women fear they will never get their figure back.

As selfish as it was, I cried one night when I was first pregnant, imagining my body stretched & torn apart- completely ruined post baby. I laugh at that now because I realize how much 1). your body is capable of healing & restoring itself and 2). what a blessing a child is.

If you never lose all your baby weight- so be it. It's worth it.

(I do, however, recommend purchasing a belly bandaid. It's worn for 6 weeks post partum & really helped to flatten my stomach & get my abs back. It offered great back support too!! Also, nursing helps to shed pounds quickly. But, as a nursing mom, expect to keep an extra 5-10 pounds on you until you are done).

And stretch marks are pretty much genetic. I did nothing to avoid them & got none. I do, however, have the linear nochea (line down your middle) left over from pregnancy, which can take a year to fade. I know vitamin e would help but haven't applied any yet.

4). You will bleed for a time. It normally flows heavier for 1-3 weeks & then slows down. Typically, it'll last about 4-6 weeks. I recommend freezing pads with witch hazel on them for relief & using dermoplast spray. And keep good old fashioned granny pannies on hand.

See, I warned you this was a special blog post :)

5). You may tear, you may not. I tore so little I didn't need stitches. My friend needed fifty. Either way, you'll survive. If you do tear, I was told nori & honey do wonders.

6). Lay off what got you laid ;) wait six weeks, unless you are completely healed before then. And don't expect it to be all fine and dandy at first. Try coconut oil & do it often- it'll help you return to normal faster.

Some women feel great again at that six week mark, others it can take 6-12 months to feel the same.

The good news is most men don't even report a difference down there afterwards. That's good news.

7). Your breasts may become engorged & painful as your milk comes in. Regardless whether you choose to nurse or not, this will be part of the post partum experience. It will dry up if you don't nurse. Read my breastfeeding 101 blog for more on this :)

8). You may get a case of the weepies. Four days post partum, I could cry about anything & everything. Get help if it lasts longer than a few days- you may have post partum depression. It's ok to admit you need help.

9). Rest. You need lots of it. Many birth experts have written articles & entire books on the importance of resting after giving birth. Give yourself at least six weeks to heal & take it easy. Consider hiring a post partum doula to help you around the house too!

10). Parenthood is an adjustment. Give yourself grace. It's a lot of trial and error
& going with the flow.

When my husband went back to work, I had a few weeks of struggling to adjust to the idea of staying home all day with an infant. But then I found a community of moms & established a home routine. You may take longer to adjust, or never go through that, it'll just depend on you.

11). Sleepless nights are as bad as you heard they were. But, if it's your only baby, sleep when they sleep. I never felt sleep deprived because I did this. If it's not your first kid, don't be afraid to ask for help! You need sleep!

12). Intuition kicks in fast! Trust you know what's right for your body & your baby. You will love your child like you've never loved anything before! And beware that your camera's memory card fills up fast ;)

Good luck! Remember, you are stronger than you know!

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