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The First 24 Hours Postpartum

Immediately postpartum...and here's what happened!

When I had my first baby, I was not prepared for how I would feel in the first day after the birth.  I knew the basics — that I’d bleed a lot, be tired and sore, etc.  But there were other things that happened that no one told me about!  And it’s not exactly fun to find out while you’re in the middle of it and wondering, “Is this normal??

So today I’ll share with you some of the odd — but normal — things you’ll experience in those first 24 hours!

Soreness — Okay, you knew that.  But it may not be where you expect.  In my second pregnancy, my son had his back along my right side, so the sorest place was my left hip.  He’d somehow kicked or pushed against it during the birth and I’d strained that muscle.  Most likely you will be sore in the “usual” place, which is where ice packs will come in handy.  You will need a new one every hour or so, if only because it’ll get pretty messy.

Bleeding — You knew that too, but this isn’t like your period.  For the first couple of days it will be a lot and you are likely to bleed through anything you wear.  Some women sit in bed on disposable pads (the huge square ones) instead of wearing underwear.  Others actually buy and wear Depends or other adult diapers.  Choose to wear huge pads and sit on a disposable square and don’t wear pants with a short shirt…or you will be dealing with blood stains.  (Hospital gowns come in handy here…but I’ll be sharing what I wear post-birth at home next week!)

Night sweats/hot flashes — I had no idea this would happen…but it did.  When your hormones are so rapidly changing to adjust to not being pregnant (and preparing to produce milk), you will experience night sweats.  This doesn’t happen only at night, it’ll happen any time you sleep.  I remember falling asleep feeling normal and comfortable…and waking up a short time later burning up.  It’s a good idea to ask for the room to be cooler or to have a fan if you can, and know that as tired as you are, you probably will not get very restful sleep in the early hours following birth.

“Deflated” breasts — Mine had been so full during pregnancy that it felt strange that they weren’t for once.  They seemed so small and empty.  Of course, this was just temporary…a couple days later my milk came in and they were huge!  But be prepared that you won’t feel that immediately.  And yes, your baby will still get the colostrum he needs.

Difficulty in the bathroom — Not exactly fun, but, let’s just be honest.  It may sting when you pee, if you’ve torn at all (and, unfortunately, if you’ve had stitches…it may sting for a few weeks afterward.  Stay well hydrated, and use your sitz bath if you need to.  Being well-hydrated means your pee is less acidic so it won’t hurt as much).   Pooping…totally depends on if you’ve torn or not.  Some women are constipated after having a baby, too, and this can make it uncomfortable.  Some doctors recommend stool softeners for this reason.  I wouldn’t take it unless you think you will need it: I took one after my first birth but definitely did not need it.  You also will want to keep your peri bottle filled with warm water, and some soft cloth wipes for the first couple of times you use the bathroom; things are tender and this will help.  Luckily, if you haven’t torn or have only a tiny tear, this situation will improve in just a couple days and you’ll soon feel normal.  (If you’ve torn badly/have stitches, expect this issue to last about three to four weeks.)

Emotions – Your emotions may be all over the place, as your body is rapidly adjusting to not being pregnant.  You may feel tired, weepy, elated, overwhelmed, or any number of different things.  This over-emotional response will slowly settle down until a week or so later, you feel much more normal.  (I remember, around 7 – 9 days postpartum, feeling like a fog had lifted from me…and then thinking, whoa, I really was crazy the last 9 months!)  As long as you are not showing any signs of postpartum depression (seriously negative thoughts that won’t go away, lack of energy or interest, etc.), these strong and changing emotions are normal.

That’s about it!  What did you experience in your first 24 hours postpartum?

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