Your Postpartum Body

I so appreciate the following candid guest post from my friend Rachel.

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“At six weeks postpartum, your body is almost back to normal, you’re feeling great, and you can resume being intimate with your husband.”

Before giving birth, I believed this! I really thought 6 weeks was the magic number.

After giving birth to an 8 pound 8 ounce baby boy which resulted in a third degree tear, healing was slow! I remember waking up exactly one week after my son was born and I was hardly able to move and wanted to cry as I was getting out of bed. Thankfully, that was the worst of it and I started progressively getting better after that day but why didn’t anyone tell me that the pain would last over a week!

Taking ibuprofen helped a little bit, but the most wonderful thing for me was a warm soak in the tub. I would soak sometimes twice a day while my husband was caring for our son; it was wonderful and I always hated to get out! I did this for several weeks just because it soothed my pain.

Before giving birth, I was told to be sure to take stool softeners. I am so thankful for the few women that were completely honest with me about this very personal issue, it’s something I never even factored in! I faithfully took the stool softeners beginning soon after my son was born and the first bowel movement wasn’t as bad as I was expecting (I honestly was more afraid about it than giving birth!) However, I was not warned about constipation which soon reared its ugly head and add to the constipation a third degree tear and you have one mama that’s in extreme pain!

I still had that magic number of 6 weeks in my head. I thought once I reach 6 weeks everything will be better. I went to my 6 week check up and was told I was healing great and everything looked wonderful! I was happy to hear that, but I still was incredibly uncomfortable and at times thought something was dreadfully wrong with me!

I was still bleeding fairly regularly, it was still uncomfortable to have a bowel movement, and I didn’t even want to think about being intimate because I was still so tender! So much for my theory of 6 weeks being the magic number where everything goes back to normal!   

Finally, around 12 weeks postpartum my body started feeling normal once again. I was still tender and being intimate was not the same as before but not painful. The constipation was no longer bad and bowel movements were much less painful! I believe you need to mentally prepare to give yourself 12 weeks for your body to begin feeling normal. And quite honestly, for some women, it never is quite the same again.

I was blessed with this pregnancy that once I reached 6 months postpartum I couldn’t even tell I had ever given birth. I felt completely normal and there were no lingering issues, tenderness or discomfort.

When most first time pregnant women think about the postpartum period they are thinking about losing the baby belly! As far as losing the baby weight goes, I followed the wise advise that it takes your body 9 months to grow this baby so give yourself 9 months to lose it. I knew that after I delivered I would still look pregnant and I was okay with that! My belly slowly went down over the first few weeks and then I progressively lost weight due largely to breastfeeding.

I never once worried about losing weight. I knew that in order to keep my milk supply up it was crucial to consume enough calories and for me, breastfeeding was more important than fitting in my pre-pregnancy jeans! I did choose healthy foods and only drank water but I was eating about twice as much as I did during pregnancy to maintain my milk supply!

Even though I was eating more, I did lose weight and at 1 year postpartum, weighed less than I did before getting pregnant! I’m not sharing this to gloat but to dispel another myth that I believed, that pregnancy was going to wreck my body and I’d never be able to fit into the same size I was before getting pregnant!

Tips for the Postpartum Period

  • Give yourself time! There really is no magic number for healing but don’t have a number in your head {like 6 weeks} when you think everything will be back to normal!
  • Drink plenty of water. This helps with milk supply, easing constipation and a hydrated mama is a happier mama!
  • Remember it took 9 months to grow so give yourself 9 months to shrink! Don’t be so hard on yourself, your body just did an amazing thing and there was a person growing inside of you! Focus on the beauty of motherhood and the miracle of birth and your baby instead of your physical beauty!
  • Let go of your expectations about intimacy! Again, don’t have a number in your head. Plus you are a sleep deprived, tired mama of a newborn! Don’t rush into things and endure pain, just wait a little longer. After a few months, things should be back to normal and if they’re not and you’re in pain, seek help!

Let’s hear it, Mamas.  What was the most frustrating, painful, or just plain difficult postpartum issue for you?  What tricks and survival tips can you share so no one has to ask Why didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

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Rachel is living the fabulous Frugal and Simple life with her husband and sweet toddler, Paxton.  They are expecting blessing #2 this winter!  Rachel has recently written articles on Feeding Baby on a Budget and Dressing Baby on a Budget

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Comments

  1. My recovery process (not surprisingly ;)) was different… and it even differed from baby to baby! What I love most about your post, Rachel, is how you recognize the individuality of each mama and implore ladies to let go of “numbers” and specific expectations. Very wise advice!

  2. I am soooo passing this on to my Daughter, who’s first Baby is due in late October….This is exactly the kind of thing no one EVER talked about when I was having my Babies 26/27 years ago! Thank you. THANK YOU for sharing!! *big hug!*

  3. Great topic, recovery for everyone can be so very different. I don’t remember having a lot of pain, (I didn’t tear) I had super small babies (4lb each twins) but I do remember being so very swollen when I first got home, and then by 2 weeks I had dropped 50lbs! Talk about a weight being lifted, I didn’t even feel like the same person.

    • I had the same issue! I gained about 50 pounds with my daughter. By the time she was born, my feet were so swollen I could wear two pairs of shoes- one that I bought that was 2 sizes larger than normal, and a pair of snowboots (luckily it was Feb, so that wasn’t too weird). My hands were constantly numb. Then during birth they gave me 11 liters of saline over the course of about 24 hours. When I look at the pictures of when she was first born, I don’t even recognize myself. I am so bloated and swollen. But over the next three weeks or so, I lost about 30 pounds, just because I was peeing every 20 minutes.
      Luckily, I did not have the same experience with my second baby. I wasn’t nearly as swollen or retain as much water.

    • 50 pounds in 2 weeks. Oh my goodness!

  4. For me, I pushed for 2 hours and my sweet girl wouldn’t come far enough down b/c my contractions weren’t close enough in between pushing. I had to have a c-section which I wasn’t emotionally prepared for. Getting ready for that was very hard and I was very scared! I thought I had prepared myself for that but how can a person prepare for something they’re really not expecting? I was expecting to push her out! :)
    It took me weeks to recover then I had an infection in my incision. Here we are 13 months later and I still get a burning sensation from time to time around my scar area, plus right above the scar I still have very little feeling in my belly.
    We all have different experiences and it’s nice to be able to share them with women, especially our pregnant friends who haven’t been through it before.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • “We all have different experiences and it’s nice to be able to share them with women, especially our pregnant friends who haven’t been through it before.” Most definitely!

    • Like you, I wouldn’t have been emotionally prepared for a c-section either! I have read a little bit about them but I don’t know all the facts. This is a good reminder to read up on them and their recovery process just to be prepared!

    • Ginny,

      Thanks for your comment! Your labor sounds very similar to my own. I prepared for an unmedicated birth, and everything went beautifully until pushing. My contractions spaced out as well. We tried EVERYTHING, including pitocin, a vacuum, and pushing for 6 hours before I consented to the C-section. It was heartbreaking to be able to see my son’s head when I was pushing but then to have to go into a C-section anyway. I also hadn’t really prepared myself, and the next few weeks were very rough! I don’t have the burning you mention, but I do have a large diastasis recti that I’m working hard to close. My son is 6 months old, and I thought my body would be back to normal by now. But it’s good to hear others’ experiences and realize that 6 weeks is not a magic time frame!

  5. No one told me that breastfeeding would hurt so much in the beginning! After my first child was born I was pretty angry that it hurt and that no one told me. I think I could have prepared myself more emotionally had I known. I pushed through it though because I knew it was important, and after about 2 1/2 weeks it stopped hurting! I put on praise and worship music during feedings, bit down on her blanket, and my favorite nipple cream is Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter. That worked wonders. After my second one was born it only hurt for a couple of days and not nearly as badly. I wish I would have actually nursed more often right away with my first one because I later learned that it would have helped my body get used to it even faster. Now I tell everyone before they have their baby that it will most likely hurt to breastfeed, but only for a time. Then I usually give them a tub of the aforementioned nipple butter. ;)

    • I think it’s great you’re doing that. And this kind of post is so helpful! This was actually one of the things my mom did mention to me quite a bit when I was pregnant… I think because she was so taken by surprise when she started nursing me as a baby. It’s such a natural thing to do, so it seems odd that it would hurt. But you’re right, knowing about it certainly helps you gear up for it. What actually surprised me is that it hurt as much the 2nd time around. I’d nursed my DD until I was 4 months pregnant with my DS, so it hadn’t even been that long I thought. Still, I got through it. Then went on to nurse 4 more (including twins).

    • “could have prepared myself more emotionally” See, this is where I think we do a disservice to our friends if we ignore the issues. If they knew the SHOCK of the pain wasn’t forever, I truly think more would push through and go on to have a pleasant experience.

    • This is one thing I was prepared for. I had heard and read absolute horror stories about breastfeeding so I was prepared for the absolute worst and was pleasantly surprised at how little pain I was in. {I was blessed in that area!} Now that number 2 is on the way I find myself becoming nervous about those first few weeks of breastfeeding and anticipating the possible discomfort!

  6. The postpartum period was a bit of a surprise to me. I did a lot of reading before the birth (and took a class), but I didn’t know much of what to expect after my baby was born. What surprised me:

    –The stench! I stunk so badly in the weeks following the birth from all the sweat (night sweats and just being extra sweaty as my body got rid of all the water it had retained during the pregnancy) and from the postpartum flow (smells SO bad! It’s not just blood but a lot of fluid and tissue too).

    –The pain. As the post above mentions, if you have any kind of injury, the pain doesn’t just go away. I got hemorrhoids while pushing my daughter out (it took 3 hours because she was partly stuck, she had a short cord, and I was just SO tired by that point!), and–honestly–14 months later those still flare up now and then if I sit at the toilet and strain. In the postpartum period those hurt worse than healing from my episiotomy and the major tears I had. As for the other pain, it took about two months before I could walk up a long flight of stairs or a distance more than just around the house without having pain.

    –The overwhelming feeling. It’s difficult to learn how to take care of a newborn, hardly sleep at night, learn to breastfeed, and recover from an exhausting labor. While having a baby is a JOY, it also feels completely overwhelming at times (and MOST of the time in those early days).

    –The swelling. I felt like my whole body swelled up. I had edema in my feet and legs (which wasn’t there during the pregnancy). I know this doesn’t happen to everyone (and if it does, it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia–yes, AFTER the birth!–so do get checked out), but it was definitely uncomfortable for me.

    –The bleeding. I actually was really surprised at how little I bled after the birth considering everything (hurrah for Red Raspberry Leaf Tea!), but I did bleed after intimacy for months. In fact, I FINALLY stopped spotting afterwards around 1 year postpartum (thankfully, the pain stopped long before that).

    –The weight. I was not overweight before getting pregnant, and I gained a normal amount of weight during the pregnancy (35 pounds), but it did NOT come off easily. I didn’t actually start losing anything significant (after the initial loss from baby/placenta/water/water retention) until NINE MONTHS after my daughter was born, and I was breastfeeding full time! I think part of it was the injuries I got during the birth that kept me from being able to exercise (and my daughter was colicky and HATED being in a wrap or in a stroller, so I could only go for very short walks until she was around 5 months old), but part of it is my body is just slow to lose weight. I still have about 7 pounds left (despite very healthy eating and a lot of exercise) that are probably stubbornly here to stay until my daughter weans.

    • Let me add one happily positive thing about the postpartum period!

      –Pregnancy discomforts disappear. Achy feet? Painful pelvis? Backaches? Heartburn? Itty bitty bladder? Poof. They’re gone.

      NOT being pregnant is one of the best feelings in the world!

    • Ah, the night sweats. Those were the worst for me after our second baby. A rather unpleasant surprise, for sure. ;)

  7. My husband and I are trying to start a family, and I didnt know alot of this information! Oh my goodness!!! I am 30 years old, how did I not know about much of this?!?

    Thank you, Rachel, for your candid, open post about your pregnancy (and the intimacy!)

  8. Well, that “myth … that pregnancy was going to wreck my body and I’d never be able to fit into the same size I was before getting pregnant!” is true for some people, though it may not have been with you. I’m one of the weirdo’s for whom breastfeeding does not = losing weight. Then factor in having twins and well, barring major (expensive) surgery, there’s no way on earth that my body will ever be remotely close to what it was before having children.

    But I hear you on wishing I really knew about some of the things beforehand. I don’t remember ever knowing before getting pregnant that you bled for weeks (or even a couple months) after having a baby. And the constipation thing, um, no. Oh, and how having one of those 3rd degree tears can wreak havoc on things is a good one, too. But maybe if everyone knew, they’d never have kids, LOL. Then again, I lived through all of those things and had more (I have 6), and it’s totally worth it.

    • The constipation thing nearly sent me back to the hospital at about 3 weeks with my second baby. Scary!

    • “Then again, I lived through all of those things and had more (I have 6), and it’s totally worth it.” Yes. Yes, it is. :)

    • I know some women have difficulty losing the baby weight and their bodies are never the same. (And I can only imagine what twins must do to the body!) I really was expecting that and thought it was more than worth it to bring little ones into the world and I’m sure as I have more children, my body will react differently!

      And bleeding, tears and constipation are not often mentioned!

  9. This post is great. I have 3 children each different although each were delivered the exact same way. I,too, had an 8.8 baby with broad shoulders causing a significant tear with pain for about 2 months. I remember taking a walk with the whole fam after he was born and thinking, “I think my insides are actually falling out.” It all healed in due time but there were some very weird experiences I wish I had known more about.

    Lastly, with babies 1 and 2 I lost the weight and felt wonderful. I was actually at my lowest weight before getting pregnant with #3. She is 15 months and I am still struggling to lose at least 15lbs. It has been kind of depressing for me. I would love to have another so we will see but part of me would like to see some more weight off before getting pregnant again. Thanks for the post!!

    • I instinctively wince when I read 8.8 baby with broad shoulders. {sigh} We do what we’ve gotta do. ;)

    • I’m getting anxious about weight loss again…I have that feeling that after baby “my body will never be the same”! I know it will be well worth it though even if I can never, ever get back into the smallest size in my wardrobe. And I know as I get older losing the weight will probably become harder…the joys of aging!

  10. I have had seven children now. The worst part for me was and continues to be when my milk comes in. None of my babies have been aggressive nursers and with the first few I became so painfully engorged that I was often in tears. My first midwife told me not to express milk so it would even out sooner. With the last couple of babies I have learned that for me, expressing milk is the only answer. I don’t empty the breast but give myself enough relief that I can tolerate it, and then gradually back off. By two weeks postpartum I am not really expressing anymore. This has helped me make it through those first weeks with my sanity. I know that not everyone has trouble with this, but it was always the worst part of postpartum for me.

    • I scared myself into thinking that very thing with our first, and oh my word, I was in so much pain for a few days! Expressing milk is super difficult for me, too, though, so I usually just pray through it until everything evens out. So difficult, but so worth it. :)

  11. Pain during intimacy was not something I was prepared for. In my case, it lingered the entire time I was breastfeeding. The only thing that made it bearable was those Liquibeads from KY (which gets really expensive). When my daughter weaned at 13 months things were back to normal within a month. I was warned about discomfort and “some vaginal dryness” but no one told me I would practically hate sex, even with lubrication for almost a year. My sister is an OBGYN PA and around 6 months I finally asked her about it (we aren’t usually into talking about those kind of things) and she told me that she learned that breastfeeding essentially gives you the vagina of a 65 year old. Wow! That was a helpful, while discouraging description. I think next time around I may just ask my doctor if there is any kind of prescription I can use. I loved breastfeeding and but those months were torture in the intimacy department.

    • I had the same problem, and my OB basically told me the same thing your sister told you. She said it’s related to the reduced estrogen levels that are associated with breastfeeding (and, for 65-year-olds, menopause). She recommended a topical estrogen cream to help fix the problem. I actually ended up not using it because the problem went away soon after, but I’ve since heard other moms say that was a very effective solution for them.

    • Ah, yes. That’s one that (understandably) isn’t talked about often. Good idea to check with your doctor about something to help for next time.

    • Thanks for sharing this interesting fact…I never knew that! And I can’t help but think, why isn’t this something doctors share at postpartum appointments??

  12. I think the reason no one tells you, is #1, no one believes they will be that way, or you are looked at like a weirdo. I have been treated badly for telling people that I was still having postpartum flow at 7-8 weeks postpartum and was not ready for intimacy because of the pain. They told me that they were ready at 1-2 weeks postpartum and basically I must be a wuss.
    I believed it too, until I found out that the opposite is more common and most people don’t admit it.
    I think that while pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum changes your body, so does getting older, and just because we choose not to have children, does not mean we will preserve our bodies. The marks that pregnancy leaves on our bodies at least have a good purpose and something special to remember that we carried life within us.
    Also, I think while we should be honest with others, we have to be careful we are not always negative about it, but I think that it is good to tell young moms, or first time moms tips about stool softeners, letting themselves heal and rest (as well as moms of more children), breastfeeding ideas and the fact that mothering is not always easy!

    • Uh… 1-2 weeks?! Wowza. No way. They are the weirdos. ;) And yes, the purpose of the article was to get real about recovery. In no way do we want to be negative about our battle wounds!

      • My thoughts exactly on 1-2 weeks! And, I was just sharing my experience to hopefully help other women. I have number two on the way and while I hope this recovery goes differently, if it is exactly the same (or even worse) it will be so worth it to have another child and I’ll eventually recover!!

        • Yeah, I remember when I had my third baby though, and didn’t tear, had a train wreck of a fast labor of 1 hour and 45 minutes and was amazed at how unsore I felt!!! I tried to do too much too soon though and paid for it! I am glad to hear though I am not weird for needing some time off, I figured if God gave the women in the OT time off, He must have had a reason for it!

  13. OK so after having my son via c-section a couple of things that no one told me. I did heal quickly and had staples removed before ever coming home. I was even able to take a bowel movement at the hospital 3 days after the c-section with little pain. Upon getting home though and going to sleep in my bed that first night I distinctly remember rolling onto my side, something I was unable to do at the hospital, and my entire stomach shifting and being able to feel things on the inside shift. It was the weirdest feeling. At that point my milk had not come in and my stomach had not shrunken down yet. Second, I went back to eating normally, not as much as when I was pregnant but about 1500-2000 calories a day and lost weight but noticed my milk supply was low. My husband suggested eating more. Turns out I had to gain about 5 lbs back to keep my supply going…..I talked to my OB and she said that there are some women who have to keep some of the weight on and continue eating more calories to keep their milk.

  14. I guess it all depends on the company you keep. There are some who complain about all the horror stories they have heard about childbirth, the complications and the after effects. Often, the complications get soft pedaled and people are encouraged to have their babies at home…even deliver them themselves! (An unbelievably unwise decision!…self-delivery!)

    As usual, the truth of the matter is somewhere in between. Simple logic indicates that the process of getting that baby out is going to be painful. There really isn’t any way to get around that. There are ways to diminish it somewhat, but generally, it will hurt!

    In your case, you had complications that will delay your normal recovery. A third degree tear takes awhile to heal…with good reason! Another delivery of yours may go very smoothly. Our individual delivery experiences aren’t normative even for us!

    Personally, I think it is just as wrong to tell women in understated ways what a delivery will be like as it is to be too graphic. There is no way to know what will happen! Women hemorrhage and die. But, as a nurse, I don’t discuss that when I’m around a first time pregnant woman. Her delivery is unlikely to be like that. I tend to answer specific questions.
    Young women are wise to talk to wise and knowledgeable people before they deliver…and make their delivery decisions. These are the people to ask your questions to, not just anyone at a party who may or may not be truly informed. It could save the lives of them or their babies.

    We can’t protect each other from the effects of our life decisions all the time. One thing I’m sure of is this, you would still go through it all again for that sweet child. And that’s the name of the game.

    Motherhood involves sacrifice…whether we know it or not!

    • Hmmm, I think we all understand that motherhood involves sacrifice, and that no two deliveries, even with the same mama, will be exactly alike, and I do think there are graceful ways to prepare one another for common occurrences without needlessly frightening the “rookie moms” about rare scary situations.

    • In know way would I share my experiences with a first time mom to scare her! I think it’s important to be knowledgable for the postpartum period, even though every one has a different experience. So much is focused on labor and delivery (and potential complications there) and very little is shared regarding recovery.

    • I don’t have children yet and my sisters have informed me what the pain of child labor feels like but they haven’t yet discussed the details of recovery. However, I would want to know everything about recovery and labor even possible things that could happen. I wouldn’t want to be laying in a bed for 12 hours unsucessful in labor then get a surprise thrown at me while I’m dead tired and trying to figure out what to do. Honestly, I am completely grossed out by the process and even the recovery! I witness a live birth and I about fainted! Still, if I am going to have children I want to hear it all and think about it before I’m in the middle of it.

  15. Great post! This is definitely a subject women don’t talk about enough! I wasn’t prepared for the way my body shape changed. I was surprised to find that, once I had lost all my baby weight, my pre-pregnancy clothes still didn’t fit. My waist was thicker, my hips were broader, and my bust was bigger. I didn’t get back to my pre-pregnancy sizes (especially on the bottom) until my daughter was over 3 years old. One of my friends who’s a LLL leader has since told me that the body doesn’t truly return to its pre-pregnancy state until about a year after weaning, when your hormones finally settle down again.

    • I think because I’m “older” at 36, and starting to deal with metabolism issues, I actually start gaining after weaning. Blech. No complaints, though. It’s in my genes to snap back rather quickly. :)

  16. My experience, after 2 births, is that any tear (or cut, I would guess) makes a huge difference. I had a very slight tear and 1 stitch with my first, and experienced pain and swelling for a couple weeks and intimacy wasn’t really enjoyable until 3 months after the baby. However, after birthing a 9 lb. baby with her hand on her forehead and elbow pointing out (ouch), I somehow didn’t tear. I felt increadibly “normal” after 3 days! All swelling was gone at that point, and going to the bathroom was never painful once. I was told I could resume intimacy at my 3 weeks visit, and it was back to normal from the first time. I hope some other women have similar great experiences, too!

  17. Love this discussion. I’d say the one thing I didn’t expect after giving birth, was the difficulty in nursing after my first. It was excruciating for three weeks…I even developed mastitis. Thankfully, I was determined to breastfeed, so didn’t give up.

    I’ve had nine children…and nursing has been a breeze since my first baby.

    I’ve also had a nine pounder….with no tearing. I’ve never torn…but the trade off must be with morning sickness. lol I deal with all day sickness for no less than 16 weeks up to 7 months. Ugh! But, God is good and has walked me through each pregnancy, showing His faithfulness time and time again! :)

    • I avoided mastitis, but I *always* tell new moms to give it three weeks. I was miserable for about that long, and not really comfortable for the first six weeks. So worth it, though!

  18. Yes, and please don’t be afraid to ask for help if things aren’t going well. Sex was still very very very uncomfortable 5-6 months after delivery with our first, and this caused a lot of issues. Finally I went in to see a doctor who gave me a cream for the large amount of scar tissue I had and that helped tremendously! Healing with my 2nd was a lot easier (physically, not mentally or weight wise) but I think it’s often because we have to go through things in order to really understand what people are talking about!

  19. Heather says:

    What surprised me after the birth of my first child was one of the first questions my OB asked: “What kind of birth control are you going to use?” Three weeks after delivery, still recovering and uncomfortable, I very bluntly answered, “Abstinence.” My husband was very understanding. Honestly, it was about eight months until we resumed intimate relations. I felt social pressure to get back into the swing of things with him, but he did not pressure me. He did communicate openly that he felt a bit sidelined with all of the attention that was going to the baby. I appreciated that openness. To compensate, I found little moments in every day to show him how much I love him – be it a lingering kiss or warming a towel while he was in the shower. We got through it. The adjustments in the postpartum period are difficult for dads, too, especially after the first baby. We went on to have another little girl two years later and are enjoying each other still.

  20. No one ever told me that after a vaginal delivery, the doctor checks to be sure your rectum didn’t collapse, that was a bit awkward to have someone’s finger going up there, as if everything else wasn’t intrusive enough! Also, no one talks about those ridiculously huge pads they have for after delivery and how they never stay in place! I also never realized how much I used the muscles in my groin until I had a baby!
    Another thing no one told me was that my husband would be so comfortable with the baby and be able to calm her down so I could soak in the tub or just use the bathroom!

    • Uhhhhhhhh, 4 babies and I don’t believe that’s ever happened to me! Eeek. (The huge pads, yes. Ick. The doctor check? Nope. Really?!)

      • Maybe I’m just “lucky” in the doctor check since I have big babies (up to 10 pounds, 4 ounces) and the 8 to 9 pounders were born posterior. So lots of trauma to that area! A lot of people are surprised that after all that, we’re having another one! It’s a good thing babies are so cute!

  21. Great post and great comments after. I wanted to add that I had a lot of pelvic pain after my son was born. I ended up seeing a specialist who prescribed physical therapy for it! I had NO IDEA that was even an option! I was so upset that I had spent years going to doctors trying to figure out why I had so much lingering pain and none of them had ever mentioned this resource. After only once month of treatments-which are very personal for sure, but not painful or uncomfortable, my pain has been reduced by at least 80%!
    So, if you are having lingering pelvic pain ask about physical therapy as an option. Also good for that pesky incontinence that can happen too!

  22. Dana Miller says:

    I had a c-section and I was having constipation issues the week leading up to my planned c-section. I didn’t know it would affect me so much, but it made everything SO much more painful! Hooooorrrrrrrriiiiibbbbblllllle pain! Thank God for my husband who was with me every step of the way. I could not have made it without him. I will always remember how he took such good care of me! <3 My baby was 8 lb 8 oz too, so I am glad for the no-tears part of having a c-section. He was a stubborn frank breech, so doc called for a section. God-willing I will have a VBAC. I'll only live once, and I want to experience a vag birth! :) Thanks for posting. It is so true that 6 weeks is not a magic number. I bled until 8 weeks postpartum….not just spotting either! :( I can't fit into my pants yet, but I am only 3.5 months postpartum….looking forward to it. Until then I will enjoy breastfeeding, eating healthy, my sweet baby, and wearing all these maxi dresses and skirts=) God bless!

  23. I had a c-section since my son was breech and even though I wanted to be intimate at ~4 weeks (doc said it was ok if I was up for it) it was too sore. It took about 8 weeks or so before it wasn’t super painful and maybe 12-14 before it felt better than just ok.

  24. I found this series before I was married and the topics have gradually become relevant for me! :)

    7 months postpartum…

    -I agree that the 6 weeks thing is NOT ACCURATE!

    -The smells, bleeding, etc. DO go away, but it took more like 3-4 months
    -I developed GRANULATION TISSUE, which my OB did not tell me about, just wrote it on my chart (and I got a copy because I then moved to Russia). The OB in Russia told me I couldn’t have it taken care of while I’m breastfeeding. Great! Luckily I can’t feel it, but I have this THING there that needs to be removed!
    -My STOMACH is so weird! I had my first baby at 30 and I had ALWAYS had a flat stomach, and now it won’t stop bulging out, though I’m skinny everywhere else…I dread people asking if I’m expecting again.
    -NO ONE told me how hard breastfeeding could be. Something about the constant irritation + the postpartum emotions + not being able to do normal activities because of needing to hide in a corner trying to get baby to latch, every 45 minutes or so.

  25. Wow! Wish I’d found this post earlier, although I was real lucky to have a very real and down-to-earth midwife teaching the antenatal classes I attended before we had our first, and covered everything from pregnancy and its associated discomforts, to delivery, to the post partum period, to toddlerhood… I’ll definitely be sharing this with all new mums and mums-to-be around me, because even though I tell them from the classes I attended and my experiences, I’m usually the only one telling them these things – it’ll be great for them to hear same from others.

    A pp said a tear / episiotomy makes a big difference in recovery, and it is oh so true! With our first, a 7.1lb boy, I was induced, had an 11hr labour, got an epidural after 7hrs, an episiotomy and 2nd degree tear… I bled for almost 6wks, spotted for another 3 or so wks, and those sitz bath soaks were heavenly… Intimacy didn’t happen until almost 3mos, and I started to feel like my old self about that time… Pain during intimacy completely went away around 10mos, after I stopped breastfeeding… And then I got pregnant a month after that, hee hee. With our second, a 6.3lb girl, I was also induced, got an epidural almost immediately after taking the tablet – the epidural insertion process hurt like mad with me screaming, but as soon as the anesthesia was administered, all was well with the world :-D… completely unexpected and very different from the first experience. Labour lasted for about 4hrs, and the doc helped me manage the pushing so that I resulted with no tear! I pushed for less than a minute with both, as the babies pretty much descended on their own. Recovery the second time around has been relatively quicker – bleeding stopped @ about 3wks, although with a toddler to take care of, I feel more exhausted @ the end of each day, but I know I’m generally feeling better than I did after having our first. The absence of anxiety and being a “veteran” also helps, along with having no injuries or complications, which I am very grateful for and do not take for granted.

    Things I didn’t expect before having our first baby:
    - how exhausted I was after the delivery – didn’t realise how much work my body had done, and I wondered why they brought a wheel chair to the side of the bed… tried to take a step on my own and almost collapsed on the floor, good thing the midwife was by my side
    - how flabby my tummy would be immediately after delivery… Don’t know what I expected, but that surprised me!
    - that there’s a thing called nipple confusion, and how difficult it would be to continue breastfeeding after introducing the bottle too early; I was intent to exclusively breastfeeding though, and endured the baby’s cries until he learnt how to latch on again
    - that my body would swell up a lot more the week after delivery, especially my legs and feet, than it did while I was pregnant
    - that there were growth spurts that meant my boobies would constantly be on call and I wouldn’t be able to do much else, even sleep
    - that there would be days when the thought to toss my baby out the window would cross my mind if that would stop the crying! And then I’d quickly banish the thought and remember that I’m blessed to be a mother, and wouldn’t let any evil or harm come the baby’s way. And sometimes I’d place the baby down on a soft and safe spot and walk away for a bit so I could mentally and emotionally return to a place where I could resume caring for him

    Thanks a lot again Rachel for sharing your story, and giving us the opportunity to share ours :-) {hug}

    • Apologies for any typos – forgot to proofread before sending :|

      • My husband scoffed when they gave us the “shaken baby syndrome” talk before letting us leave the hospital. But it’s one of the single most important pieces of advice! Yes, my baby may have witnessed a desperate crying fit or two, but I always make sure to put him down first.

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