Let’s Talk Postpartum: What It’s Really Like After Giving Birth
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I knew that giving birth was going to be painful, and that it would require some recovery time. But I'm not sure I was really prepared for all the after-effects of delivering a new human into the world. So, if you truly want to know what you're in for, read on to hear what some been-there-done-that mamas have to say about their honest, sometimes embarrassing experiences after giving birth.
There is a LOT of bleeding.
I have always had pretty intense periods, but even those didn't prepare me for the six weeks of postpartum bleeding that followed my deliveries, both vaginal and cesarean. In the first few days there were some significant clots. If you experience a lot of clotting, or it lasts beyond the first few days, be sure to speak with your doctor because it could signal complications. Luckily mine fell into the range of normal, and I just had to get used to using pads for weeks.
You still might get hemorrhoids.
“I had hemorrhoids for at least six months afterwards. I would spend so much time sitting on the toilet trying not to strain and I couldn't sit on hard surfaces for long without extreme pain! I didn't know it would be such an extended amount of time before I felt recovered.” — Tracy M.
If you didn't get hemorrhoids during pregnancy, it may still happen after due to all the pushing. Either way, this can mean a lot of discomfort. There are quite a few things you can do for hemorrhoids treatment yourself, including using witch hazel, an ingredient found in Tucks Medicated Pads. The soothing formula will soothe and cool the burning and itching caused by hemorrhoids.
If you had vaginal tearing, an episiotomy, or had to get stitches, there may be after-effects.
“After the birth of my first child, a few of my stitches tore 3 days after (I had over 30 stitches total). It was the worst pain. I had no idea what was going on and it didn’t even occur to me that could happen. Got in to see the doctor and thankfully nothing was infected. I had to sit in Epsom salt baths 3x’s a day.” — Devan McGuinness
An ice pack may help reduce swelling and pain. Additionally, warm or cold shallow baths (sitz baths) may ease soreness and speed healing. Tucks Pads are also super helpful for tearing or episiotomy related pain, and even perineal pain. Try using them as a compress for cooling relief. Just fold and place the pad on inflamed tissue. Medicated creams or local numbing sprays may be helpful as well.
You may take a pain reliever as recommended by your doctor. But be sure to take only recommended medicines. Keep the incision clean and dry using the method your healthcare provider recommends. This is important after urination and bowel movements.
There may be vaginal changes.
It can feel embarrassing, but it's important to talk to your doctor. As Sonja S. told us, ” Vaginal dryness. Gross. Yes. Embarrassing. Absolutely. Finally worked up the nerve to talk to my doctor and was given estrogen cream that helped so much and I found out its common after childbirth.”
Pooping may seem super scary and gas pain can be intense.
“The first poop!!! So scary I was afraid of popping stitches!” — Maranda J.
“Gas … I had a long labor that ended in a C-section, and I woke up 24 hrs. later to sharp pains that felt like they were going to split my abdomen. The nurses helped me stand carefully but quickly, and after walking a bit I was able to get through the worst of it.” — Caralina F.
It's completely normal for it to be tough at first for most women or feel afraid to even try. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids and eat lots of fiber. A stool softener can also help. Try not to wait when you have the urge and move around as much as possible (but don’t overdo it!).
You may feel a lot of guilt or anger.
Katie H. told us she felt, “Horrible mom guilt about just about everything. Breastmilk production, splitting time between the two kids, not keeping up with housework. It was a tough first month going from 1 to 2 kids but it’s getting easier. Luckily my husband is supportive and so helpful. I try and just focus on the positive every day.”
Several moms shared that they felt a lot of anger and annoyance in the postpartum period. It's totally normal to have mood changes, but if your feelings are overwhelming or they don't start to improve with a week or two it's important to talk to your doctor.
If you had a C-section, even laughing may hurt for a while
One of the sadder things I've had to say is, “Don't make me laugh”. But it seriously hurt for some time after my C-section delivery.
Among other things, your doctor will tell you the following regarding C-section care: Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. Whenever you have to sneeze or cough (or laugh!), hold your abdomen to protect the incision site.
It's still totally worth it.
Yes, there is pain and some things may change for good, but having a little one to love helps to ease the pain and is probably why so many of us are willing to go back and do it all again!