It's almost a secret. A secret initiation of motherhood. We don't know if it's because it's too hard to talk about, we forget, or we are afraid to scare first time moms. While all of those could be valid reasons, we believe the best way to remedy a situation is to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Postpartum recovery is a lot more than depression and bleeding. We are here to let you know of common postpartum issues that no one talks about. Don't worry, as most pass, and before you know it you've forgotten all about it and are expecting your newest edition to the family.
Contractions don't stop after birth:
So you thought that once labor finished and your bundle of joy is in your arms, the pain would subside. Not so fast! Most women complain of uterine contractions for days. That's because, your uterus and your ligaments are going back to its normal state. Think about it, you've housed a baby the size of a watermelon for 40 (+) weeks. During that time your muscles, joints and ligaments have all loosened and not to mention your uterus has grown triple its normal size to accompany your baby. Once pregnancy is over the brain sends a message for the uterus and other parts of the body to return to non-pregnancy state (involution of the uterus) As well, if you're breastfeeding those uterine contractions can be increased thanks to the hormone oxytocin.
What you can do: Not to worry, "this too shall pass." You can take the pain relievers the doctor prescribed you or endure the pain and get lots of rest and drink plenty of water. It will be over before you know it and we are sure you won't remember the pain as you remember it now.
Breastfeeding is really brutal:
You've probably heard that breastfeeding is magical and blissful, but ask most breastfeeding moms and they will tell you that, the magical stage didn't hit until 6-8 weeks postpartum! Even if you are an "expert" and your baby has the perfect latch you can still end up with really sore nipples. In other cases, if baby doesn't have proper latch or you don't have proper technique it can result in sores, bleeding and scabs. Once the milk comes in you will experience engorgement! It is an uncomfortable pain while your baby tries to set up your supply. Breasts become hard and painful. You will wet your shirts with breastmilk until the supply is set. It can be irritating but, will eventually balance off.
What you can do: If your hospital offers it, see a lactation consultant, if not, contact one. They can help you with technique and correct baby's latch before it is too late. Also the La Leche League is an excellent source of help, go to a meeting, speak to other moms that have gone through what you are going through now. Continue breastfeeding and feed baby frequently and make sure he/she is not sucking on the nipple! For "leaky" breasts try using breast pads, they can help absorb the milk so you won't have to go through as many tops.
Stretch Marks are not a thing of the past:
You went untouched all through pregnancy, but now that baby is here you suddenly notice that your breasts look like they've been attacked by a wild tiger. This too is normal as the breasts double in size during breastfeeding and possibly pregnancy. All the tugging and tearing cause the collagen and elastin to damage resulting in stretch marks.
What you can do: Use a cream such as Mama Mio, Goodbye Stretch Marks Cream (we have seen definite results) to help minimize the look, or forget they are there until they change color and are less noticeable.
You're breaking out like a pre pubescent teenager:
Acne! You might have suffered from it during pregnancy or have never even heard of the word before or during pregnancy, but now you have it. Don't get angry and fight your skin, instead learn to control it. Avoid using irritating products or ingredients that aggravate the situation by stripping your skin of oils. Instead you'll be dealing with acne and dry irritated skin.
What you can do: Try using less products, but oil free products, not leaving your makeup on and washing your face with an oil free cleanser everyday! Plus, use an exfoliator once a week. As well, look for cosmetics that are non-comedogenic (non-clogging) and let it be, once your hormones settle your skin will too.
First bowel movement is stressful:
Let's be honest, who wants to push when you've just been pushing for who knows how long, it is probably the LAST thing on your mind. Not to worry this pushing will not put stress on your stitches or cause other issues, it just might be a monumental problem mentally if you're not prepared. Good news, it will be over within 2 or 3 days and things will go back to normal.
What you can do: Take your FIBER! Before, after and even possibly during! Drink lots of water as well. You can also take a mild laxatives (they will most likely prescribe one for you in the hospital) that will help "ease" the process such as: Healthy Mama, "Move it Along" to help get things in the right direction.
There's no control:
Although, not as common as the other symptoms, still most women suffer from it in the early stage. Urinary incontinence is absolutely normal and nothing to be ashamed about. Vaginal birth can sometimes, weaken the pelvic muscle and damage the nerves that control the bladder leading to UI.
What you can do: If it continues more than 6-8 weeks speak to your doctor, he or she can set out solutions for you. In the meantime engage in "Kegel" exercises to help strengthen the muscles. An alternate therapy we've been hearing about is, pelvic physiotherapy which helps to strengthen the muscles.
Hemorrhoids will visit:
Every postpartum woman we talked to, had to deal with this in some form or another, most were mild however, others were outrageously uncomfortable. Hemorrhoids are basically, varicose veins, during late pregnancy the pressure from baby pushing down and later the pushing during labor can (or mostly will) result in hemorrhoids.
What you can do: Use a sitz bath, It will help to alleviate the discomfort and use witch hazel periodically (tip: freeze some pads with witch hazel and use them). Also we have found Zita West, Comfort Down Under Cream, is a wonder cream for such issues. If the situation is really bad you can ask your doctor for topical medication or other solutions.
You will sweat:
We're talking real sweat, as in"i've been working out insanely at the gym" sweat. Not to worry once again it's the hormones doing the talking. As well, mostly likely you've been holding onto some water weight after pregnancy and if you had an IV this is the bodys way of flushing out everything.
What you can do: Unfortunately not much, just be prepared to change a few times until things settle down.
You hair is falling out:
Don't worry you won't go bald, but you will lose some hair right around the crown. That's because the hair does not shed during pregnancy and once the hormones stop there goes the hair. (You can read more about it here)
What you can do: take your vitamins, they won't give you pregnancy hair, but they will help in keeping your hair stronger. Don't dry out your hair, over processing and washing can aggravate the situation. Another option is to get bangs until the hair grows out!
You still look pregnant:
It's been a few weeks and everytime you look in the mirror you think your 5-6 months pregnant. Don't expect to go back to normal in just a few weeks ,it took you 9 months to raise your baby in the womb, so calm down and stop the high expectations, ever hear of the phrase, "9 months in and 9 months out?" It's because, realistically it takes time for things to go back.
What you can do: Ask your doctor at your 6 week appointment if it is ok to start doing low intensity workouts such as yoga, don't think of it as exercise for weight loss but for a healthy mind. Yoga will help to ease tension and calm the mind through breathing exercises and if you're feeling a little blue from the change in hormones, it will also help with that. Once you are ready for more higher intensity workouts you can check out our series: Post-Baby-Body.
The scary 3 letter word after pregnancy and labor, it is definitely not on your mind, but there will eventually come a time when you " uhum" want to engage in it. Most women complain of low-libido as well as dryness, which can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you've also had a cut or an incision, the thought can be stressful.
What you can do: Talk to your partner about the issues you're having and try to gently work through them. You can also talk to your doctor to see if there are solutions.
Most of these problems are not as scary as they sound and as mentioned previously they will pass. We hope that we have informed you on a few issues that most postpartum women go through. Remember that all women are different and that this is just a guide for your information.
We have found the perfect postpartum kit to take with you to the hospital. No more making a list and hoping you have crossed every single item off, or researching for what to pack. Check out Pinch Provisions, Labor and Delivery kit. Packaged in a cute mesh case, inside you will find 10 childbirth essentials. From breath fresheners to a stop-watch, your mind will be at ease and comforted that you have what you need for your big day.