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11 Post Partum Recovery Surprises

By Lauren Hartmann |

I’ve had a few friends who’ve had babies, so I wasn’t completely in the dark about what postpartum recovery entailed, but I have quickly realized that having a head knowledge of what postpartum recovery involves and actually going through it firsthand are completely different.

In the interest of “real-ness” I thought I’d share some of the surprises I’ve experienced postpartum – things I wished I’d known before I was in the throes of it all.

Read more after the jump!

Postpartum Recovery Surprises:

1.  There is a lot of blood.

*I knew there would be blood; I just didn’t realize how much of it there would be. Pretty much every time I stood up or the first few days, there was a giant gush of blood – so much that it was scary at first.  Gross, but true.

2.  The mesh underwear are awesome.  (If you have no idea what mesh underwear I’m talking about, then check them out here)

*In my vanity, I bought regular underwear to to take to the birthing center and then throw away later.  I thought there was no way I was going to wear those ugly mesh things!  Ha!  My vanity quickly went out the window with the arrival of my post delivery swollen lady parts.  Bring on the mesh!

3.  You’re going to need help – and a lot of it.

*I knew I probably wouldn’t be running any marathons in the near future, but I figured that since I was having a natural, vaginal delivery that the healing time would substantially decreased.  Ummm…not so much.  Hello tearing during delivery!  My husband was my personal servant for the first week and I’ve still had help all week this week, since I’m banished to the couch and can’t drive anywhere yet.  Getting up to go to the bathroom is a great feat of strength in the beginning days and let’s not even talk about trying to get up and make a sandwich.

4.  Basic tasks like taking a shower and putting on makeup will make you feel like a super hero.

*I’ve never been big on makeup and I’m totally fine going a few days without a hair washing, but for some reason now that I have less time for such primping I really crave those things.  For some reason, putting on a little blush and mascara makes me feel like a real person again (rather than a dairy cow) and that’s always a good thing.

5.  You may not always feel totally enamored with your baby every moment of the day, and that’s ok.

*I was never a “baby person” before getting pregnant.  I always knew that I wanted kids, but was never too keen on the fact that I’d probably have to go through the baby stage first in order to have a child.  Everyone always said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be different when you have your own baby.” They were right…but also wrong.  They were right because I actually love my own baby; I love her more than I possibly could’ve imagined.  BUT…do I love that she’s a baby and that all she can do is poop and cry and eat?  Meh.  Not really.  She’s super cute to look at and totally sucks me in with all the silly little things that (most likely) only I find amusing, but sometimes, the crying gets tiring and I just feel like I need a break for a little bit…and that’s ok and it’s normal.  It doesn’t make me a bad mom, despite the fact that my raging hormones make me feel that way sometimes, which brings me to my next point…

6.  The hormones are crazy.

*The “baby blues” are for real.  There have been days when I’ve cried at least 15 times.  I figured I wouldn’t experience this since I wasn’t extra emotional during my pregnancy, but nope…it still happened to me.  It’s starting to get better, but having a new baby is pretty overwhelming at times, so I guess it’s to be expected.  All I have to say is that when my midwives offer to encapsulate my placenta after my next delivery…I’m probably going to take them up on it.

7.  Breast feeding is pretty tough when you have a swollen…everything.

*Breast feeding has definitely been a challenge for me, but add to that the fact that I’ve had to figure it out with a busted up vagina that didn’t allow me to sit properly and it was doubly difficult.  Pillows and that inflatable donut thing have been awesome.

8.  It’s hard to hide an awkward post partum hobble.

*If you get off the couch when people are visiting, chances are that you’re probably going to be hobbling around and chances are also good that unless they’re morons they’re going to know exactly why you’re hobbling (hello – you just pushed a baby out of your hoo-ha).  Awkward, but oh well.

9.  Sweat happens.

*I’m not usually a sweaty person.  Pre-pregnancy I didn’t even have to wear deodorant.  But, waking up sweaty has definitely happened a few times now.  At first I thought it was a milk leak, but nope…it was sweat.  Super cute.

10.  Pants peeing also happens.

*I figured I had escaped the humiliation of pants peeing now that my pregnancy was over.  I breathed a big sigh of relief, since I was able to go my entire pregnancy without such embarrassment happening to me, but alas…I spoke too soon.  ”Everything” is pretty loose postpartum, which makes pants peeing pretty likely to happen.  It’s only happened a couple of times for me, but it’s not awesome.

11.  The stretch marks look way worse now than they did when you were pregnant.

* I went 8.5 months without a single stretch mark, but definitely got a few in the last stretch of my pregnancy, but they weren’t anything too terrible (or so I thought).  Now that my stomach has begun shrinking back down those little, not-so-red stretch marks on my belly have turned into angry, red furrows.  My midwives refer to them as “badges of honor”, but I’m pretty skeptical.

All in all, my postpartum recovery hasn’t been all that terrible, but there were definitely some surprises.

What surprised you most about postpartum recovery?

Read more from Lauren here at Baby’s First Year and at The Little Things We Do.

For more updates, follow Lauren on Facebook and Twitter !

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About Lauren Hartmann


Lauren Hartmann

Lauren Hartmann is a wife, wardrobe stylist, and mama living in Portland, Oregon. She writes about her adventures in motherhood on Babble's Baby Channel. You can also find her blogging at The Little Things We Do or obsessively partaking in social media. Read bio and latest posts → Read Lauren's latest posts →

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26 thoughts on “11 Post Partum Recovery Surprises

  1. Meagan says:

    Lack of sex… DRIVE. I won’t even admit how long it was before I was remotely interested in testing my tramatized “ho-ha” as you say.

  2. Koreen says:

    Great post! I experienced all of these things except the pants peeing (dignity retained). I didn’t imagine post-partum would be so rough. I thought the delivery was the difficult part. I was in so much pain from those stitches. You could not have a conversation with me if I just came from the toilet.

  3. Mary B. says:

    Afterpains were somethigng I never expected. I knew my uterus was going to gradually shrink back to its normal size, but I never expected those contractions to hurt. Worse, they came with breastfeeding, and my baby had a poor latch at first, so I was coping with breastfeeding pain and cramping. Totally caught me off guard.

  4. Leslie says:

    I thought the same thing about recovery… it wouldn’t be that bad if I had a vaginal delivery, etc. Ha! I was so wrong (I also tore) and so surprised how wrong I was. Not only was I surprised by how uncomfortable I was but how long it took me to feel remotely better (like sitting in a hard chair). I didn’t want to get up out of bed/off the sofa much less leave my house for at least 2 weeks.

  5. Stefanie says:

    Oh the darn stretch marks! I, like you, had minimal stretch marks til the very end. Then out comes my son and they’re all over and SO dark. Plus, I had no linea nigra during pregnancy and that popped up after he was born too. That has faded, but I’m still waiting for the stretch marks to fade.

  6. Kira says:

    I already told you about my recurring painful problem that is still happening 4 months after delivery, but seriously…I thought all of that stuff only lasted a week or two. Also…the pants peeing! So terrible.

  7. Rayme says:

    Bleeding after a c-section. I never would have thought it would be so much especially since I didn’t have a vaginal birth. I thought I was hemmoraging when I got up the first time but thankful my nurse reassured me

  8. AshleyB says:

    Definitely the night sweats. I hate sweating. My choice if work out is swimming whenever possible because then I don’t notice the sweat. I grew up in New England and California summers and I cannot STAND sweat! Waking up in the middle of the night, having to change not just me, but either the entire bed or putting something down on my side so I could comfortably go back to sleep was the biggest pain for me.

    That and it wasn’t just the lack of sex drive, it was the lack of wanting my husband even in the SAME HOUSE as me! Forget the same bed! I didn’t want to be touched, I didn’t want to be hugged, I didn’t want to be sat next to, let alone looked at affectionately. My hormones were SERIOUSLY out of whack with baby number one and I am hoping they aren’t anywhere near as severe this time. I can honestly say I even thought about divorce during the fist six months because of the extreme imbalance and how it was making me feel. Which totally sucks because my husband really is my best friend and a great guy and wonderful dad.

  9. brianna says:

    No one told me how HUNGRY breast feeding would make me feel. 6 months out & I am still carrying 20 lbs of pregnancy weight.

  10. valerie says:

    I would say the blood was my biggest suprise……I’ve known lots of people who have had babies….but no one ever mentioned this…ever!! I didn’t even have to stand up, sitting up and repostioning would cause the cringe inducing gush. Another shocker was my inability to have a bm. My body was tramatized from pushing out my baby (natuarally) so it would not allow me to push for a bm for over week! I didn’t experiance the needing a break from baby though, my baby blues had me missing him just going to sleep, I felt this obsession about not missing a single second.

  11. Jenny M. says:

    What? No talk of constipation? I can’t be the only one who had a rough time going No. 2 after my C-section. Apparently pain medication can make it difficult. It took me a week to finally go, and it was PAINFUL. Tip: drink Metamucil and take a stool softener.

  12. dana @ my little celebration says:

    Lauren great post! And a hilarious one, too! Thanks for being so frank. I love you for it!

  13. Sara says:

    almost 5 months out and the pooping is still horrible!

  14. Jamie says:

    Im surprised you didnt include trying to go to the bathroom in this. I was pretty much expecting everything post partum to happen except this one. I struggled to go #2 and the hemmoroids were terrible. My children are now 2 and 3 and I STILL struggle with hemmoroids!

  15. Adrienne says:

    I just re-read this after sending it to a friend who just had twins. I had mentioned it to her thinking that it was in the article, but its not. Perhaps you didn’t get that far in your postpartum recovery, but at about 3-4 months – the hair loss. OH.GOOD.LORD the hair loss. I am 7 months out and the hair loss has just started to diminish. I now have these annoying little new hairs along the hairline on my forehead that look as if someone took a weed whacker to my hair in an attempt to cut bangs. It is so scary to take that coveted shower and at the end of it look in the tub and see all the hair that fell out. GROSS!

  16. Sarah Lindberg says:

    This is the best post I’ve read on here because it’s exactly true. My friend is having a baby soon and as big of a downer as I felt I decided to tell her about my postpartum experience. I didn’t expect most of the things that happened afterwards, but it was extremely difficult. The first two weeks after I had my son I was miserable. I love him to death and would do it again today if I could, but it was horrible. I wasn’t sleeping and the hormones were insane. I literally felt like I was jumping out of my skin each time I tried to sleep. I would cry at all times. Breastfeeding is HARD. I think guys especially underestimate how hard it is. The pain was excruciating and I could barely walk. Sitting on the couch would literally put me in tears. The constipation is definitely missing from your list. I didn’t go until three days later and it took stool softener as often as I could take it and magnesium milk twice and even then…ow.

  17. Sarah says:

    Yeah, the pooping… The first time I went was about 3 or 4 days after coming home. The episiotomy stitches hurt so bad, and it took me over an hour. Meanwhile, my husband is outside the bathroom door with a screaming baby, telling me he’s hungry and asking if I can come out and feed him. I’m hollering back, from the toilet, in tears, “get a bottle, get a bottle!” I think I was sitting there for 45 minutes with half a poop hanging from my rear, just trying to gather the strength and resolve to push it out through the pain! Then you try to clean yourself with that little squirt bottle, but you know you’re still dirty. I used those tucks wipes as toilet paper for about 2 weeks, I think. Sorry for the TMI.

  18. Sara says:

    Oh the sweating! And the hair loss :( BUT, I did the placenta encapsulation and it was awesome! Helped a Ton.

  19. Samira says:

    OMG fish net underwear are the S oh sorry the awesomest things ever I wish they would have given me like six pairs to take home soooo comfy I was lucky had no probs getting up or anything but actually using the bathroom and the stitches and trying to clean up without tugging them and the hemroids or however ya spell it so uncool yeah baby blues mine was horrible I didnt even want to take a shower all I wanted was sleep and I had to force myself out of bed in the morning because I love my baby I love her so much and she needed mommy cuz daddy wasn’t there for the first few months mommy was and so I had to only reason I got through them baby blues hobbling was a definite and if they said anything stupid or giggled behind my back I looked at them with the dirtiest look I could muster and said You do it then my kid was damn near 9 pounds (she only lacked .3 of an ounce) and I pushed her out with 2 shots of fetinol and nothing else totally get the pants peeing thing I’ve done it and thrown up in wal mart and the whole nine not awesome leaves quite a red face especially if anyone sees and unfortunately for me my bladder dropped so I still have the issue occasionally totally understand your pain

  20. heather says:

    peeing after stiches omg…… i thought i was gonna cry everytime i would hold til i was bout to pee my pants ….. the stiches omg the numbing shots didnt help i left ever needle in my vajayjay . but other then that i drove a wk later went to walmart 3 days after baby . sex 4 wks later oked with dr first lol

  21. Miriam says:

    Not being able to have a bowel movement and suffering from constipation from lack thereof… I think I knew of all the above things, even from book. But no one told me that I wouldnt go to the bathroom for two to three days and when i did it would be the size of a baseball, and as hard! I know this might seem like tmi but its what surprised me and hurt me the most PP. WHACK!

  22. Heidi says:

    Bleeding for a month! Didn’t see that one coming. Leaking(gushing) milk, nope not that either. Nor did I forsee what engorgement meant. Wait he has to go back to work??!!!
    After having my second child via C-section, I had to take both kids, newborn and two year old to my post-pardem appt. Where I needed like three nurses, just to help me. Then after leaving I locked the newborn in the car after buckling her in. Too bad it wasn’t the toddler. Fire trucks and semi-sympatheic police men just rescue the sleeping baby. And this was all before I ever had my first cell-phone.

  23. Keri says:

    I loved those hospital mesh undies!

  24. Lex says:

    @ # 10 Thank you!!! No one told me for a month I would be pee’ing my pants if I coughed or sneezed!!! Lmao thank goodness it is short lived!!!!

  25. Jordan says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s hilarious…..and Bang on! I could completely agree with every step.

  26. Cassie says:

    I was under the impression all the weight I gained would be lost much more quickly than it’s actually being lost. That makes me a little sad. I had edema in my feet so bad I almost wanted to check back into the hospital. And red stretchmarks with leftover linea nigra are way less cute on a floppy empty tummy. In general, though, my biggest surprise has been how quick and easy my recovery was. All I have left to do is lose a few pounds and get a job.

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