It’s been five months since I gave birth to my third child, Macks. I’ve been lucky that every single one of my labors and deliveries have been almost exactly the same with all three of my children.
But while I knew what to expect during my pregnancy and labor, I did not know what to expect after giving birth. There are so many books and classes you can take to prepare you for pregnancy and for life with your newborn, however there isn’t much that tells you how to prepare for the many things that happen to you and your body after you give birth.
My recovery with my oldest daughter was quite possibly one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. I was at my doctor nearly every week for six weeks because my stitches got infected and nothing was helping it. Although it was more painful than my labor, that was the only postpartum symptom I experienced. Aside from the one issue, I was back to feeling like my old self again within a week.
I was a bit scared after giving birth to my youngest daughter, Avery, but much to my surprise all of my postpartum recovery went well. Sure I had some of my hair fall out, but it was minimal, and not enough to write home about. I was more surprised by the adjustment of having two kids than anything else.
Now as a mom of three, there are so many things that have come as a surprise to me after this last pregnancy. Most of them I never experienced after the birth of my daughters, and some I had but are much more heightened this time around. Many of these postpartum symptoms had me calling my doctor to make sure they were normal. Yet again, this proves that while we know every pregnancy can be different, the postpartum recoveries can differ as well. Thankfully, everything I’ve experienced has been completely normal, but most women just choose not to talk about them.
This list isn’t meant to scare you at all. Your little one is a continuous blessing and all of these things are so small compared to the amazing amount of love that fills your heart as soon as they are born. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them …
The hair loss
I am pulling out clumps and clumps of hair all the time. My shower drain constantly has to be cleaned because of all of the hair that is falling out of my head. Sometimes there is so much hair that I feel like I am going bald. All of that great hair that I had during pregnancy? Gone. I wish there was something I could do, but many friends tell me it just has to run it’s course and one day I’ll be able to take a shower without pulling out clumps and clumps of hair.
My itchy scalp
This is one of the most annoying surprises that I continue to deal with every day. At about two months postpartum, my scalp began itching like crazy. I didn’t know it was related to giving birth until I asked my doctor. She told me it will eventually go away and to try a moisturizing shampoo in the meantime.
The hot flashes
I’d be nursing Macks in the middle of the night and want to take off my pajamas because I was sweating so much. It was in the middle of winter when he was born, so I’d make sure that all of the windows in our room were open so that it was as cool as possible because I could no stop sweating. Further proof that my hormones were going crazy.
So much blood. The first time that I went to the bathroom after giving birth to Macks, I took off those granny panties that they give you and so much blood just started to come out. I started freaking out because this had never happened with my other two, but the nurse that was with me assured me that it was very normal. It also lasted a lot longer than I ever expected. It was like a never-ending period.
The line on my stomach
That line that appears down the middle of your belly during pregnancy? Don’t expect it to go away any time soon after giving birth. I’m five months postpartum and it’s still there. It’s slowly getting lighter, but not as quickly as I’d expect it to.
My belly button
I had a cute little “innie” belly button before I had my kids. After giving birth to my first daughter it went back as it was prior to getting pregnant, but after my second and third, it looks nothing like it used to. While it’s not fully an “outie” it’s definitely not an “innie” either.
The crazy emotions
Your hormones are going crazy after you have a baby and that makes you an emotional roller coaster. I was crying — and still do — at nearly everything. Just looking at Macks while I’m nursing him can make me cry.
These veins are here to stay
I had really bad varicose and spider veins in my right leg during this pregnancy. I expected them to go away just like they did with my second pregnancy, but this time they only faded just a little bit. When I know I am going to be on my feet a lot I try to wear compression hose or socks to keep them from getting worse.
The phantom kicks
This was one of the weirdest postpartum symptoms that I’ve ever experienced. Although I knew I was no longer pregnant (and couldn’t possibly be again) I felt what mimicked baby kicks. Some were little flutters and some were like the baby was moving around inside of me. I brought it up with my doctor at my six-week postpartum visit to make sure I wasn’t going crazy and she assured me that it was in fact quite common.
The back pain
I expected back pain during pregnancy, especially those last few months, but I never expected it after pregnancy too. There were some moments when I got out of bed in the morning and had the worst back pain just as I did during pregnancy. Every once in a while it still happens, but thankfully it’s starting to go away.
What surprised you the most after giving birth?