There are dozens of things you hear about what to expect after having a baby. You hear about the stretch marks, the loose skin, difficulty losing baby weight, suffering from lack of sleep and other things and you probably thought it sounded like a lot to handle.
I hate to break it to you, but you haven’t heard the half of it! When I had my first son, boy was I in a for a shock! Yes, I had the stretch marks, the loose skin, and all of the things you might expect of your postpartum body, but man, it was so much more than that! Here are 9 things everybody “forgot” to tell you about your post baby body..
1 – Bleeding…More Bleeding…Still Bleeding…When is it going to STOP!
It’s only natural to expect some bleeding and discharge after you have baby. Your baby has been growing inside you for 9 months and your body needs some way to clean out everything in your uterus!
I bet you didn’t expect that bleeding to last more than a MONTH though did you? Some lucky women only bleed for a week or two. Most of us though, can bleed everyday for more than a month! I bled for a good 6-7 weeks after every single one of my kids. I’d recommend you stock up on some good heavy pads.
What is this postpartum bleeding and why does it last so long? Well, did you know that during your pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body rises by approximately 50%!
After your baby is born, and the placenta is delivered, there are open blood vessels where the placenta was attached to the uterus. These blood vessels bleed into your uterus giving you that heavy menstrual-like flow for the first week or two.
During this time, your blood levels are returning to normal and your body is also shedding tissue, blood, and bacteria from the uterus. The discharge this creates is called lochia, and, though it should decrease every week, it can often last for several weeks after your baby is born.
2 – After Pains
Going through labor is no picnic. It’s hard work, is very painful, and really takes a number on your body! At least when you’re done, you’re done…right?
WRONG. After your baby is born, your uterus shrinks over the next couple days until it’s back to it’s usual size. As it shrinks, you’ll feel your stomach contracting and it’ll often be painful enough to make you wonder if you’re in labor again!
You’ll notice these afterpains are much more severe as you’re nursing because breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin which then causes contractions of the uterus as it is shrinking back into place. Sadly, these after pains get worse with each kid you have. With my first I didn’t get them at all. After my second, I got them but they weren’t extremely severe. When my third son was born, I felt like I was in labor all over again every time I nursed for a couple days afterwards!
3 – Vaginal Stitches
Some of you lucky ladies won’t have to get stitches down there. If you’re one of them, count your blessings! After pains last for about 3-5 days after your baby is born and are usually only really painful when you’re nursing your baby.
Stitches are a whole different ballpark. You get to keep them in for 8-10 days and they hurt all…the freaking…time. If you thought the pregnancy waddle was bad, just wait till you see the way you walk with stitches in.
I’ve heard many people say that the worst part about stitches is when they’re being put in but that wasn’t the case for me. Yes, it was extremely painful when I was getting them, but it was so much worse afterwards!
Sometimes you only get a couple of them and they won’t bother you too much depending on where they are. Other times, you will walk as slowly as you can, sit down as carefully as you can, use a pillow anytime you sit down, dread anytime you have to use the bathroom, and constantly be in tears because of the pain.
I’ve often heard people say, yes your stitches might feel like they’re going to tear or come out but
don’t worry they won’t. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case for me with my second son. I tried to be as careful as possible but mine still ended up tearing and had to be redone.
You’ll notice that if you walk around or stand up very much at all, (5 minutes at a time was the limit for me), everything down there will start to swell and feel like it’s on fire! You also need to be very careful about keeping your stitches clean and taken care of so that they don’t get infected.
Stitches hurt, infected stitches are a nightmare! I was very fortunate the last time around and didn’t get any with my third son but if you want to know the proper way to take care of your stitches postpartum, I have a guide about it here that outlines how to manage them.
4 – You Might Wet Your Pants…A Couple Times
While you’re pregnant, you’re growing baby often puts pressure on your bladder making you prone to wetting your pants if you’re not careful. I bet you were looking forward to that being over weren’t you.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to be waiting for a couple more weeks or month after your baby is born for this to go away. After you have a baby, your vagina is stretched enough to let a baby pass through. It’ll be a little while before it shrinks back to its normal size and starts to feel normal.
5 – Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti doesn’t affect all women, but it does happen to a lot of us! This is a condition in which the inner abdominal muscles have split down the middle, leaving a gap that is at least two finger widths. You can diagnose yourself in your own home, without the help of a medical professional, using these steps here.
If you do suffer from diastasis, you should avoid your regular exercise routine until it has healed. Many cases will heal on their own but, the ones that don’t, require additional care and specific exercises that are designed to heal an abdominal separation.
When I had it, I saw how abnormal my stomach looked every time I exercised, and it looked awful! I told myself I just had to exercise even harder so that it would go back to normal, but it kept getting worse. Finally, I looked into it, and realized I had diastasis recti.
I and spent weeks researching the proper exercises to do for it as well as possible ways to heal it without surgery (who can afford 10k+ on their stomach?). I ended up finding a great training program that I hoped would at least partially heal the diastasis, but it did better than that and healed it entirely!
If you’d like to read about the training program I used, you can find it here. It can be used whether you have diastasis recti or not to help you bring your stomach back in and get your post baby body back into shape.
6 – Hair Loss
I’ve always had thin hair, then I got pregnant with my first son and it suddenly
started growing and growing like there was no tomorrow! It got to be pretty thick and heavy which I was happy with. During pregnancy, increased estrogen levels cause your hair to be growing much more than it normally does.
Once you have your baby, those levels return to normal and you start losing a lot of that extra hair. After each of my boys were born though, I noticed I was losing it in wads every week!
I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I wondered if it wasn’t going to stop until I was bald! Luckily, it never got to that point but I’ll be back to using hair extensions anytime I want thick, luscious hair 🙁
7 – Even though you may have put on 50+ pounds you’ll probably lose 10-15 max when your baby is born.
During your pregnancy, you’re supposed to gain between 25-40 pounds so that your baby can be healthy and develop right. Many of us gain more than that though, more than we’d care to share, during our pregnancy. Once the baby is born though, those pounds should just easily come off…. right?
Well, I’m sorry to tell you, it’s not likely you’ll lose more than 10-15 pounds. Your baby will probably be about 6-9 pounds, then you have the placenta, and the amniotic fluid that weighs a couple more pounds. The rest of it though, you’ll have to work off yourself.
For us normal people, the weight doesn’t just “come off”. Don’t look at those impeccable models/celebrities who look stick thin within weeks of having a baby. That’s not typical, and you’ll drive yourself mad if you expect that from your body.
Give yourself time, and slowly build up the intensity of your workouts. If you’re looking for a good postpartum training program to help you get back into shape and bring your stomach back in for good, I have a great one here that I’ve had amazing results with!
Any training program you use needs to include a nutritional diet if you want to see results. Here are some excellent choices for a diet plan that can and have worked for thousands of people!
8 – Baby Blues
After my first son was born, I cried…and
cried.. and cried. It was sooo embarrassing! I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t help it! Anything that happened, big or small, was another reason to let it all out. I remember one time in particular, my son was having a hard time breastfeeding and when he was about 2 weeks old I took him out for the first time.
I met up with some friends right after he’d finished eating (after screaming for an hour because he didn’t want to breastfeed), and my nerves were shot. I spent the first ten minutes struggling to stop myself from breaking out in tears. I quickly lost that battle and the tears started pouring like Niagara Falls.
My friends were shocked and quickly tried to find some way to make me happy. However, the more they tried, the more I cried. I felt like a horrible mother, wondered why my baby still wouldn’t eat without screaming for a long time first when it’d been two weeks! I ended up having to leave because I couldn’t get myself under control.
After having a baby, your hormones are up and down like a roller coaster! You may find yourself bursting into tears over the smallest things. You’ll literally be crying over spilled milk, or water, or food. It only takes the smallest trigger.
Luckily, this doesn’t usually last longer than a couple weeks and your hormones will start to level out. If it does persist, and seems to grow worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. To read about the signs of postpartum depression and how you can help someone going through it, you can see my guide here.
9 – Breastfeeding Is HARD…It Doesn’t Just Come Naturally
Breast milk really is the best thing you can give your baby. Our bodies were made
to be able to carry a baby and nurture him/her afterwards. You should notice your milk starting to come in about 2-3 days after your baby is born.
When you think about breastfeeding it might sound easy. You just bring the baby up to your breast and he eats right?
Not exactly. You’re baby is experiencing everything for the first time. He/she will take a couple days, maybe even weeks, before they realize that eating is good and makes them feel better. Before they become accustomed to it, it’s not uncommon for them to become upset and scream any time you try to feed them.
If you’re expecting your baby soon, and have been wondering about breastfeeding, a friend of mine has a guide dedicated to everything you could possible want to know about it. You can learn the basics of pumping and breastfeeding along with all of the following and more:
- How to Pump the Right Way
- Increasing Your Milk Supply
- How Much Does Your Baby Need
- How to Wean Your Baby
- How to Pump While Working
- Where to Find Good Quality Pumping Supplies
As I mentioned above, my first son took weeks before he’d let me nurse him! I’d never nursed before and every time he cried, I cried. The more I cried, the more he cried.
As you’re nursing, your baby can tell if you’re all tensed up and nervous. If you’re upset, they’ll often become fussy and refuse to eat. This is what happened with my son and I got to where I dreaded anytime I had to feed him. He was happier if I didn’t feed him but I couldn’t just let him starve!
Also, anyone that has nursed before though knows that you have to nurse! Otherwise your breasts swell up and, if you have too much milk, they really start to hurt. When your baby does finally eat and your breasts are swollen, it’s more painful to feed them.
I felt like I was in between a rock and a hard place. I could try to feed him and hope he didn’t fuss for long before he would eat. Or I could wait to feed him until he was hungry and more likely to eat without fussing for a long time but it was incredibly painful because my breasts were so swollen!
A good friend of mine heard I’d been having a hard time and came over to see me. She let me know that whatever I was feeling the baby would feel. If i was nervous and upset while I fed him, he wasn’t going to be happy to eat.
She advised me to take a couple deep breaths before I fed him and allow myself to relax; then, as I was going to feed him, I should talk gently to him. Let him know what I was doing and that I loved him. After just a couple days of this, my son started nursing well and I grew to love being able to nurse him.
That’s it! As you’re going through the ups and down after your baby is born, just hold your baby close and remember, it took 9 months to get that little angel here.
You should just enjoy the first couple months with him/her and worry about getting back to normal after you’ve had a couple months to heal. Your post baby body is something to be proud of; it’s amazing that our bodies can create such a precious, innocent soul!
Your baby won’t be this tiny for long, and you’ll never get this time back with him/her. Savor this time with them and don’t forget to take lots of pictures! You can never have too many 😀
Good luck to you, and if you have any questions or comments please let me know by leaving a comment below! I do answer all of them!