You already know you’ll be sore after your baby is born – but postpartum’s more than that.
Yes, there’s a lot of soreness but it also feels like you’ve moved into someone else’s body. A squidgy, loose fitting body that doesn’t do all the things your body used to do.
And then there’s the emotional side.
This post is what postpartum me would have told everyone – if I could’ve stopped crying long enough.
1. The emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy continues
This post should be sponsored by kleenex.
Tears. Tears every day. Possibly every hour of every day.
If you are a crier, this is going to be a tearful time for you. I’m not normally much of a crier but in pregnancy and post-partum I cried buckets.
Such huge changes are taking place in your life right now – changes that can’t be undone. It’s overwhelming. Add hormones into the mix and that means one thing – tears.
Tears of joy, tears of terror, tears of misery and tears that seem to have no reason or purpose.
You may not cope as well as usual while pregnant or postpartum
Before and after birth you may be unable to handle situations than normally you would take in your stride. You may need to prepare others for your tearfulness and how you would like them to respond.
I ask people NOT to hug me because if I’m trying not to cry and someone hugs me, that’s it – floodgates open! When you’re not feeling tearful, tell colleagues and friends what you need when you are.
After your baby arrives, you will also be a bag of hormones and the combination of no sleep, physical exhaustion and trying to breastfeed may leave you in a constant puddle of your own tears.
It’s a hugely emotional time and it all just means so much to you.
Right now, everything to do with baby is a Big Deal and if it’s not going right (hello breastfeeding) it’s devastating.
It’s going to take a while, but you will reach a point where you think,
“Hey, I haven’t cried today.” And eventually,
“I don’t know when I last cried.” Which is hard to believe when you are in that season where only crying three times would be a good day – but that’s what it is – a season. It will pass. You will be yourself again.
Eventually, the crying stopped but I was so grateful for the wellness questionnaires I had to fill out as part of my post-partum care. These were designed to pick up post natal depression, which I didn’t have. If you’re also super-tearful, speak to your medical team to be sure it’s just baby blues and not PND/PPD.
2. Breastfeeding is so hard to begin with
I love feeding my babies but in those early days it was so HARD.
I didn’t feel like I ever got a break from feeding and it was just exhausting. My baby fed for hours going from breast to breast with tiny naps in between. Meanwhile, I binged on box sets and fantasised about sleeping for more than a couple of hours at a time.
But it’s not just the sleep. It was so painful I don’t even want to describe it.
That chafing, burning pain every time she latched on made me dread every feed. Feeding in public was embarrassing because I winced and cried when I latched her on and had to remind myself that it would get better.
It did get better – and I’m so glad I stuck with breastfeeding but there’s no point pretending the first few weeks were easy. They were not.
If you’re having a hard time with early breastfeeding, sorting your latch and trying different positions might help. Read this post full of useful tips for beginning breastfeeding to find out how.
If you’ve always known you’d breastfeed – or you’re deciding how to feed – and you want to avoid the agony, gather all the information you can now. A great way to do that is with an online course, such as this popular online breastfeeding class from Milkology.
You’ll get great tips to master your latch technique and build a great milk supply so you’ll be confident to start feeding as soon as your baby is born! All for only $19.
3. Yes, it’s sore down there.
The bathroom is not my favourite place after I have a baby.
Going to the bathroom means a couple of minutes of well-deserved peace and quiet with no baby in your arms. Well, unless you’re home alone and she’s crying and you have to take her with you.
But normally, the bathroom is a brief moment of calm – except that it hurts so much.
You guessed it was going to be weird for a while – after all, that area just went through a lot – and something big went through IT. There’s swelling and tenderness and even sitting is pretty uncomfortable.
A trip to the toilet is a bloody, messy and painful affair that you’d really rather avoid. Peeing burns like I can’t believe and that’s just the beginning. If I could I would refrigerate my underwear just to get some relief.
Unless there’s something wrong, the soreness shouldn’t last too long but you’ll bleed for a couple of weeks postpartum. Read this post about how to make postpartum soreness better.
4. You might feel a little disconnected from your body
That first shower after your baby is born is an education.
Especially if this is your first birth, you will experience your body in a way you never have before.
Hopefully, you will be feeling proud of yourself – what bigger achievement is there than birthing your own baby? But the toll on your body is harsh.
From your strange new belly to your sore lady parts, there’s a lot of new you to meet.
It’s like living in someone else’s body for the first few days after giving birth
So alien, like the squishy deflated beachball belly that doesn’t really move much when you try to suck it in. The muscles are still so stretched right after birth and it will take time to get them back to kind of how they used to be.
It almost feels like you are sucking in someone else’s belly. Practise sucking it in in front of the mirror every day and you will soon see a difference as the muscles start to do their job again.
You might even be scared to wash Down There. It will feel different – how could it not after everything it’s just been through? It will all probably be swollen and stingy to begin with and you may find that you have piles – don’t worry, they will go away. Phew!
When you look in the mirror, you may hardly recognise your body. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect to feel normal any time soon. You will get back to a version of yourself that feels normal – and good.
5. Dad matters a lot in the postpartum period
Yeah, I have the boobs. And because I have them , I expect to have the new baby in my arms most of the time in the early weeks.
But for my own good, please, take this baby away from me sometimes.
When you are groping your way through the first couple of weeks of caring for your newborn, it’s relentless. You need someone to take that baby from you now and again. So you can eat a dinner that isn’t cold or snuggle your older kids or take a bath or cook or whatever.
If your partner is ready to grab the little one and have some bonding time when you have been on duty all day, it’s good for everyone.
It’s great for you when you need to remember your own name and for him and baby to have time to develop a strong attachment.
It’s amazing if he does this without being asked.
6. Mama needs looked after too
I didn’t think I would but I really did.
We are so used to doing it all – working, taking care of the kids, seeing to the house – that it’s hard to stop and breathe.
Do you remember reading about how mothers need to be looked after in the postpartum days and thinking that sounded nice but impossible?
I really didn’t want anyone extra in my house. I wanted to nest and get to know my new baby – but I forgot that I would just have given birth!
Keeping visitors who want to meet baby at arm’s length for a week or two is great. However, I don’t think that’s the right approach with the people who want to take care of you.
If there’s a little control freak in you – one who doesn’t want to let your sister cook and your mum take the kids to the park – tell her to shut up and accept the help.
You’ve just had a baby. Sure, you probably CAN do everything you normally do but that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I ALWAYS overdo EVERYTHING. And I never ask for help. And I always end up exhausted, overwrought and miserable.
When the people who love you try to help you, let them. You’ll be alone with it all soon enough.
7. Don’t take my baby away. No, take her. No, don’t.
So a minute ago I said I want my partner to take my baby away sometimes. But I also don’t want that. I also want to cling onto this baby and never let her go.
People come to visit and want to cuddle the baby and in your head you don’t mind but it’s still hard to hand that little bundle over. Even while you enjoy the relief of empty arms, there’s still a niggling anticipation of having him or her back again.
If you really don’t want to let anyone else hold your baby yet, just keep visitors at arm’s length for a week or two. Put up a visiting policy on your Facebook page. It might seem a bit aggressive but people will actually love the information.
Frankly, visitors are extra work (sorry people who visited me) because you feel the need to clean and go out to buy treats. Really, you just need to wrap a fluffy blanket around you and watch the next Netflix thing while breastfeeding.
8. I nested but I should have rested
I wish that I had just rested in those last few days and weeks before my babies arrived. It’s easy to say that now because I can’t remember all the multitude of tiny pressing things that I couldn’t stop myself from doing.
I can remember how utterly exhausted I was when my baby finally arrived. There’s no way of knowing how much of a difference it would have made if I had managed to care less about sorting baby clothes and cleaning before she arrived.
You might not even realise at the time that you are doing way more nesting than you need to do – or should be doing at that stage of pregnancy. If I was doing it again, I think I’d build in daily naps or at least sit-downs to force myself not to buzz from one task to the next all day long.
9. But at least the cankles and back ache are gone!
There has to be something good – apart from the baby, of course! If you’ve suffered from swelling during your pregnancy, that should ease and clear up soon after the birth.
With my second baby, I had swollen ankles for the last few weeks before he was born and also back pain. It got so bad that I struggled to put on my shoes or even get out of bed. Pretty much as soon as my baby was born, the swelling subsided and my back felt so much better.
It was obvious that the weight and pressure of the growing baby had caused the problems and now he was out, they were gone.
But now other things hurt
It was great to have normal legs again and put on my own shoes easily – but it wasn’t all plain sailing. That pain was replaced by new pain – sore wrists and sore nipples from breastfeeding. My Ergo nursing pillow went a long way to solve both problems and I also found these strategies made a huge difference to my sore nipples.
- The Online Prenatal Class for Couples is your hospital prenatal class in your home and at your convenience. Led by an experienced labour nurse, this course will give you all the information you need to be well prepared for your birth without leaving your sofa. And it’s finally an easy way to get your partner involved too. Use coupon code SHEENA10 to get 10% off.
- The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class is an online course taught by a lactation consultant that will get you ready to breastfeed fast. With sections on the benefits and lots of practical advice on how to latch your baby and build your milk supply, this course is a winner at only $19. (There’s also a class to help mothers who plan to return to work and pump.)
More postpartum ideas
Postpartum is tough – but it doesn’t last long. If you’re sore and miserable, here are some ideas to help you feel better and enjoy your new baby.