As Doulas we always talk about what to expect before and during labor. But something we might overlook prenatally is what to expect after your little bundle arrives. So, I asked mothers to weigh in on their postpartum experiences and what no one had told them about. Here are the top things our clients were surprised by in the postpartum!
Breastfeeding is HARD
Nursing can be painful for some women, especially initially--and it generally is just challenging. Steph says, “I remember calling all of my mom friends and saying, 'Why didn’t you tell me?!'” When establishing a nursing relationship, normal pain may last for the first 30-60 seconds of a nursing session, which could last for up to two weeks, but pain during sessions should not last the entire feeding, and soreness between sessions should improve everyday and not get worse. If pain and soreness persist, contact your local IBCLC--persistent pain can usually be resolved by assessing latch, positioning, and for the potential of tongue and/or lip ties.
Hemorrhoids are a pain in the butt
“Nobody told me what hemorrhoids could/would be like.” Ashley shared. If you have hemorrhoids while you’re pregnant, there’s a chance they’ll come back to plague you post-delivery. Hemorrhoids are a result of stress on the perineum in the months before, and during delivery. For some, hemorrhoids may simply be itchy and annoying but for others, they can be pretty painful. Here’s a few things to help ease the discomfort:
This is just crampy...
So you've birthed your baby and...YOU'RE STILL HAVING CONTRACTIONS?? What is that about? Afterbirth pains are caused by contractions of your uterus as it involutes, or returns to its pre-pregnancy size. They are usually mild for first-time moms but may get more intense with each subsequent delivery. Afterbirth pain will be most intense for the first day or two, but it should start tapering off around the third day or so. Nursing can cause afterbirth pains to intensify because your baby’s sucking triggers the release of oxytocin.
The First Poop
Pooping after having a baby can be intimidating to say the least. Linda says, "No one warned me about the first poop. For me, it was worse than recovering from a C-section infected with MRSA.” That sounds terrible, Linda! Voiding your bowels for the first time can be REALLY scary, but it should NOT be terrifying or impossible. Staying hydrated before, during, and after delivery of your baby will help make your first “poo” a little easier. Asking your doctor for a stool softener may help to assuage your fears. Don’t forget to stay hydrated after coming home… I speak from experience on that one, otherwise there’s not enough Vaseline and Jesus to help if you don’t! Utilizing a Squatty Potty may also help you assume as natural and relaxed of a position is possible which should reduce the need to bear down. Many moms don't know that it can also be very normal for bowel regularity to take several days to return to normal after birth.
Second Night Syndrome
More commonly known as cluster feeding, the second or third night after baby is born can make a lot of moms feel inadequate and overwhelmed. “Holy crap that second night in the hospital was probably the toughest in my life to date!" says Kelly. Immediately after your baby is born he/she will most likely be very sleepy, so take advantage of this by limiting visitors and get lots of rest. Charge your iPad so you can binge watch Netflix, have your husband get the snacks you like, act like you're having an awesome slumber party, and just try to enjoy those moments bonding with your baby--sans slumbering.
Empty Bed Panic
Being a Mom is hard, and most of the time exhausting. You now have this super-demanding human dictating everything you do, you're sleep deprived, your hormones are all over the place, and now you're starting to feel a little loopy--you can’t even shower without hearing phantom cries! Sometimes, this can result in hallucinations of a sort. Kelley comments, “I feel like I was pretty prepared for what could happen postpartum, but I had never heard anyone talk about getting so incredibly tired you hallucinate.” Know you’re not alone if this happens, as some point many, many moms go through it. A common experience is waking up thinking you’ve fallen asleep with your baby in your bed, ripping the sheets off, frantic because your baby is nowhere to be found, while your partner tries to reassure you the baby is in her own bed, all to no avail. This is empty bed panic--you’re exhausted! Call on your support team for some help. While they watch your baby, you go soak in the tub, then try to get at least three hours of sleep in a row. I bet you’ll wake feeling more like the woman you remember.
Planning to nurse? Well, there may be milk EVERYWHERE. "No one told me I might wake up SOAKED in breastmilk!" Fallon says. Another client adds, "Oh, and the milk fountains during intercourse!" Yes, and yes, these might happen, but it’s not as bad or gross as it might sound! Putting a large, soft towel under you while you sleep, or before, ahem, shenanigans, will help make clean up easy. And if it happens during sex, oh well--your partner watched as you carried, birthed and nurtured their baby! Their love for you is beyond anything you could ever imagine. I bet they'll just be glad to finally be able to have sex again. If you’re really worried about it, just wear a bra with your Milkies or breastpads in--easy peasy.
Not everything about postpartum is horrible, or painful, or scary. Quite the contrary,
postpartum is fun, free, and intoxicating. You literally forget yourself for the longest time
because your love for another human literally takes over. Life will forever be different and
intriguing, what will they do next? What great milestone will they reach that makes as love
them even more? Oh, the love a Mom has for her child! It surpasses all the love you could have ever known or felt and literally erases all the “big, bad, and ugly” parts of postpartum.
Relax Mom, you’ve got this! Much Love, Christina
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