5 Totally Weird But Normal Things That Happen After You Have a Baby
If you’re pregnant with your first baby, chances are you that you have some sort of idea what your experience after becoming a mother will look like. You might have a picture in your head of you rocking your baby to sleep, a lovely, soft glow in the room as you bask in the ethereal beauty of motherhood. Or maybe you’re a little nervous about what you fear will be the more realistic image of motherhood, with a screaming baby and no sleep for you and milk leaking out of your chest.
But whether your postpartum experience is the beautiful, glowing vision of motherhood or the tired, disheveled one (and odds are, it will be most likely be a mixture of the two), you can count on all of these totally weird things to be true no matter what.
Your hair will fall out
Your first experience taking a shower and looking down to see what appears to be half of your head’s hair now swirling the drain might lead you to panic but allow me to assure you that what you are seeing is perfectly normal. During pregnancy, your body will make more hair and the hair that you do have will get thicker and more luscious looking, thanks to good ol’ pregnancy hormones.
But just like your voluptuous pregnancy chest, all good things must come to an end, and that extra hair has to go. Your body will shed extra hair made during pregnancy and even though it is alarming, it’s totally normal. You might experience some hair regrowth, especially along the hairline or some women even experience drastic changes in their hair, such as going from straight to curly or vice a versa.
Your bleeding might get really weird
Most of the time, bleeding after a baby lasts about 3-4 weeks with a vaginal delivery and around 2 weeks with a C-section. But bleeding time can vary widely with each woman and you might even be surprised by some really random or heavy bleeding later than you expect. For example, I had a bout of bleeding the day I hit six weeks with my son and even passed some leftover tissue that we won’t describe, but we’ll just say made me really concerned something was wrong with me.
You might find that your bleeding gets heavier with a lot of activity during your postpartum time, so listen to your body and rest if your flow increases. And if it increases by a lot, you are passing a lot of clots, or your discharge looks or smells foul, call your doctor or midwife right away, as it could be a sign of an infection in your uterus.
The pain might be worse than childbirth
A lot of women fear the pain of childbirth and while every woman will have a different experience, I can tell you that honestly, the pain of pushing isn’t that bad, mostly because it usually doesn’t last that long. For me, the harder part was dealing with how sore I was down there.
Not every woman tears or requires any repair in the perineal area (that’s the skin and area between the vaginal opening and the anal opening), but if you happen to have a tear or an episiotomy, the pain in the postpartum period can be significant. For me, the pain of an episiotomy lasted weeks and it made it so difficult because I felt like my husband and family expected me to be “up and at ‘em” and it hurt so much to even sit. I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere and I remember crying from pain and frustration because no one told me this kind of pain could happen, so I thought I was just being a wimp.
Don’t be like me–there are medications that can help and tears and repairs from an episiotomy can be incredibly painful as they heal, so by all means, give yourself time to rest and recover.
After you give birth and especially if you have a C-section, it can take a hot minute for your digestive system to kick back in. Add that to the fact that many women have a fear of pooping (even the thought of pushing again sounds awful, I get it) and you can end up with a mean case of constipation. To combat the constipation, take the stool softener offered to you by the nurses before you leave and drink tons of water.
All the tears
With all of my babies, the peak of my hormone-induced emotions peaked around day 4 or 5. By that time, the adrenaline of giving birth had worn off, things were starting to hurt with my milk coming in, and I felt like a giant, mushy mess, especially because I couldn’t stop crying. If you find that are you crying about anything and everything, check your calendar because I’d be willing to bet you’ll start feeling especially emotional around day 5 postpartum. Give yourself extra grace and time to rest and don’t wonder if you are not normal, because I promise you’re not. And of course, if your emotions still seem to be higher or lower than usual after six weeks, you’re just not feeling like yourself, or you’re having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, be sure to talk to your doctor to be screened for postpartum depression.