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There are a lot of things that happen to you after you give birth. A lot of them you know or the books tell you all about (like breastfeeding, euphoria, and then fatigue) – but what about all those things that you don't know? So, just like I did with pregnancy, let me share with you the 25 things no one tells you about postpartum!
// Please note: This is written entirely from my experience with a natural birth and breastfeeding. If you had a different experience, please share your surprise moments/things in the comments! //
- The Sweats. Due to the post-baby hormones, you’re gonna sweat. SO MUCH. I didn’t know about this and totally thought that I had a terrible case of the flu. I was dripping with sweat and insisted that the nursing staff take my temperature… yeah, I felt like a dumb ass when it turned out to be just hormones.
- No One Cares About You. Seriously, the second that baby comes out of you – no one cares about you. Sure, I had staff around for the after birth and some sutures but… literally EVERYONE else was all baby, all the time.
- Charting EVERYTHING. Hospitals and doctors LURVE paperwork. You will be given a chart for everything: the baby’s dirty diapers, feedings, your feelings, etc. and you will be expected to fill that shit in.
- Inchworming. This is possibly the coolest thing ever if you plan to breastfeed. Moments after your baby is born, they will be laid on your bare chest and then… start inching up your body and face plant on your nipple. It is TOO COOL.
- The Afterbirth. Some women have said that this was worse than the actual delivery. I didn’t feel anything but a huge release and then something wet and slimy between my legs. Either way, be prepared for it.
- Nipple Sores. Again, this is totally a breastfeeding thing, but your nipples? Are about to be S O R E. And, if your baby’s latch is bad (as mine’s was), you could end up with open, bleeding sores on them. Fun times!
- The Swelling. OMG. After pushing a human out via your nether regions, everything lady part adjacent is going to be so, so swollen. I swear to God, I was lugging around a grapefruit down there. And don’t even think about sitting in a chair or a stool for like, weeks. OUCH!
- You Will Never Sleep Again. Yes, yes – you all know that new parents are exhausted from lack of sleep but I had always assumed that at the hospital, I’d at least get 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time. HAHAHAHA! Nope. Between checking on your baby every 2 hours and then waking you up every 2-3 hours – you. will. never. sleep. And guess what else? Chances are, those 2 hour increments will not run concurrently. Oh no! You’ll probably be up every hour for either you or the baby’s check-ups.
- Modesty. So, you should know that when you give birth – all modesty goes out the window. Period. But, AFTER you give birth you will be stuck in this weird situation where loads of people still want to see/touch you in all your “special” places (all medically necessary, of course) but… God forbid that you leave your room wearing only the hospital-issue gown. OH, MY STARS. Where is your robe?!?!? It’s ridiculous, really.
- No Walking For You. Had an epidural, C-section, or natural birth? NO WALKING FOR YOU. Each one has its own no walking issue/reason but you can pretty much bet that the earliest you’ll be allowed to walk on your own is 12 hours after giving birth.
- Vomit. Did you know that an epidural, C-section, or even just post-birth hormones can make you throw up? Yep. Enjoy!
- Holding Your Baby. So, most places will not only encourage you hold your baby immediately after birth (using skin-to-skin contact) but they will insist upon it. Awesome. However, if you try to leave your hospital room holding your baby or co-sleep… OMG. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! And don’t even THINK about doing anything other than holding your baby in your arms exactly the way they want you to.
- Pooping. Oh, sure. You’ve probably heard about the first big poop (it’s like giving birth all over again – but from a different angle!). But, has anyone told you about the lazy sphincter (not a medical term)? Well, for a while after you’ve delivered a baby, all your Southern parts will be really tired and sore. So sometimes, your butthole won’t be able to um, finish. Like, it’ll feel like it’s still open. It’s… special.
- Peeing. Same as above. You know that peeing will probably hurt like a motherfucker for a while after but did you know that for a few days after you give birth vaginally, it can be hard to control it? Like, you’ll literally start peeing everywhere without even realizing it or being able to stop. Some hospitals give new moms catheters until they can walk to the bathroom by themselves (I got one). But be prepared to have to clean up bloody pee trails from your bed to the bathroom for a while.
- The Grossness. In addition to the pooping and the peeing, there’s the general after birth grossness. Basically, it’s a lot of blood and goo and ick. Some women have heavy discharge (a friend referred to it as her CSI crime scene) while others will just have what appears to be a very prolonged period (as I did). Whatever happens for you – stock up on huge panties and giant maxi pads.
- HUGE Panties. After birth, you’ll be encouraged to put on these huge mesh panties that the hospital provides. From what I gather, thinner women adore these while those of us on the chubbier side haaaaate them. Either way, you’ll be rocking them for at least 24 hours (which is actually great because then, when it’s all too gross, you can just tear them off Hulk-style and toss them in the trash). Then you’ll switch to ENORMOUS granny panties (you should have these packed in your hospital bag). If you’re like me and a diehard thong wearer – this will be, hands down, the worst part of postpartum. I hate Granny panties!!! But, alas, they are a necessary post-birth accessory for those gigantic pads you’ll be wearing for weeks and weeks (see: The Grossness).
- The Shakes. Whether it be the pushing, the drugs, or sheer exhaustion – you will be shaky. It will last for a while so be careful standing up, walking, and (most especially) taking a shower. You’ll probably also get a “Falling Risk” wristband from the hospital that you’ll wear the whole time you’re there.
- The Padcicle. Super popular with Pinterest moms and loathed by postpartum nursing staff. The padcicle is essentially a maxi pad soaked in witch hazel or aloe vera and then frozen. When the swelling gets to be too much, you’re supposed to put one in your giant panties and zen out from the frozen relief. HOWEVER, according to every single nurse in my postpartum unit – this, while hugely comforting, is actually a bad thing since it interferes with the healing process. The staff instead wanted me to use their version of the padcicle for the first 18-24 hours post-delivery and then switch to just presoaked witch hazel pads (like the kind people use for hemorrhoids). Just line 4-5 up in your panties and switch them out every time you go to the bathroom. According to the staff, the frozen pads are too cold and slow down blood flow to the swollen area and the large pads can cause people to leave them on too long. Whatever you’re thinking though, always see what your nursing staff/doctors want you to do.
- The No Shower Zone. After you have the baby (with all its bleeding and leaking and pooping and peeing…), you are SO going to want to take a shower and be clean. Well, it is not gonna happen for you for all loooong time. Basically, once the afterbirth is done, the staff will quickly swipe around your birthing parts with some wet wipes and then… you’ll hang out in your still-bloody hospital gown for a long, long time. Like, until you’re off the catheter, IV, and are cleared to walk. It’s straight up icky.
- Up Close and Personal Stuff. So it’s a given that in addition to the labor and delivery, you’ll have many, many people all up in your business for a while. It’s all purely medical but can still be, well… odd. Like, several times during your stay they’ll ask you to roll over so they can shove a finger up your butt. Or, the awesomeness of being told to sit on the toilet with your legs wide so they can squat down and STARE at your lady parts for a long, long time. Like, long enough you consider asking them if they should have taken you to dinner first. It’s all just… odd.
- Still Looking Pregnant. I hope you liked how you looked when you were 5 months pregnant ‘cause after that baby is born, you’re going to look exactly like that for a while. So don’t bother bringing any pre-pregnancy clothes with you to the hospital – all yoga pants, all the time!
- Cramping. After you have the baby, the staff will be really concerned about your uterus returning to its original size. This is very important to the healing process and involves a lot of cramping – some mild, some painful. Be aware of it and ready to answer questions about how much and how often.
- Farting. Not only will all the birthing make you a gasbag but – the staff actually WANTS you to. Apparently, it’s a sign of healthy healing or something? All I know is, they ask you a lot of questions about if you’re farting, when you’re farting, and how much you’re farting. It’s like having a conversation with a 12 year-old boy.
- Quiz Show Time! Most staff at the hospital will be lovely and patient and kind to you. Some will not. Some will insist on trying to make you feel like a huge idiot and a terrible parent by asking you increasingly harder questions about babies and childcare until you get one wrong and then they will smirk at you like you’re a dumbass. Don’t stress out about these people. They are assholes.
- I Have A Baby – Now What? And the biggest thing no one tells you about postpartum is after you leave the hospital with you new baby… and have no fucking what you’re supposed to do. You will probably spend a lot of time staring at each other thinking, “what now”? The answer? Do whatever you need to in order to make it through each day. Just survive, man.
What was something that surprised you during your postpartum experience?