Postpartum: What they don’t tell you!

Throughout my pregnancy my life DEPENDED on the BabyCentre site. If you’re pregnant or looking to be.. this site is a life saver! It will answer those questions that randomly pop into your mind when you’re over analysing a situation such as “ what does baby hiccuping in the womb feel like” or “ what do contractions feel like”.

However, there are certain things that you never HEAR about, no matter how many antenatal classes you attend or how many Google searches you do. There is sort of an unspoken expectation that once the mother gives birth, all is fine.

This may not be the case for everyone!

Pregnancy and Birth is a wonderful milestone in life, but it is also physically draining! Below I have listed some postpartum unspoken truths and how you can handle them!

Be sure to also check out my YouTube channel where I have posted a video on this very topic!

1. It hurts.. ALOT 

Every woman is different, so everyone’s pain threshold various. For me, the pain was excruciating! They say that women often forget what labor felt like once they give birth, LIES I TELL YOU! The pain escalated from heavy period pain to period pain x1000 in a matter of minutes!

Nevertheless, once the epidural hits, you’re not going to feel anything below the waist. The epidural can result in the inability to know if you was pushing correctly, and for some women, it can make it difficult to also know when to push

What to do: Be sure to ask your doctor and midwives if you are pushing correctly as you go through your labor. If you cannot feel when you need to push, do not worry as the midwives will tell you when.

As for the pain, do ask for the medication as soon as you feel it is time – provided that you are able to stay relatively still in between your contractions and you are not too late in your labor (head crowing) to have it administered.

2. You can struggle to walk for days

Again, the way in which everyone’s body responds to drugs various. The epidural can have an effect on your body that lasts from ten days to even six months. My right leg was badly affected – to the point where I couldn’t hold my baby and walk around safely due to the fear of my leg collapsing. I am now four months postpartum and still see minor effects on my right leg (it does go numb quite fast if I sit in one position too long).

The epidural also can affect your ability to go to the bathroom for a day or two, so you may not know when you have a full bladder, and when you do go, it may be so hard to push.

What to do: Do not hold the baby and walk long distances if you are not confident with your ability to walk. Stay close to or on a bed or simply ask your husband/midwives to help you.

For the bathroom situation, you just have to keep trying. Try go every hour without fail and eventually it will start getting easier and easier. If it doesn’t – its not the end.. They do hook you up to a catheter if it is really needed!

3. The pain of stitches can almost be as painful as labor!

I am not even kidding. If you have a normal delivery, chances are you probably will have a stitch of some kind down there. The first day or two after delivery, the stitches make it impossible to A) go to the bathroom and B) sit down without tremendous pain.

What to do: Use a plastic bottle filled with cold water to pour over your stitches when you do go to the bathroom. Or like myself, you can use tissues drenched in cold water and just hold them gently over your stitches. This really helps ease the discomfort and pain.

Use cold reusable compressors for pain relief when sitting down. These are affordable and a great way to ease the discomfort and pain.

4. Massive maternity pads are NOT comfortable

On top of the stitches, the numbed legs and the inability to pee, you have your large maternity pads – which do not help ease you in the pain department. They can touch the stitches and cause added discomfort.

Usually the heavy bleeding does subside few days after birth and eventually you can go back to wearing period pads.

What to do:If you live in Ireland, I would suggest getting your own maternity pads from Pharmacies close by as the hospital can have shortages at any time.

5.Don’t stress if everything is not the same!

Things change when you give birth – anatomically you may feel like things are worlds away from their pre-pregnancy looks. DO NOT OVER THINK IT.

What to do: If you feel stressed or anxious about the situation, show your doctors and midwives. Monitor the change and healing process and trust your body. Eventually things should return to their normal way of feeling and looking (took me more than 2 months to feel somewhat comfortable with myself again). You may not look the same 100% again but hey, you just pushed a human out of you!

6.Conflicting advice is EVERYWHERE

I was given conflicting advice to do with almost all aspects of pregnancy and childcare. Especially when it came to breastfeeding. In Ireland they recommend that you do not give a child a bottle before 6-8 weeks to avoid nipple confusion. They also advocate for breastfeeding in public, which not all women may be comfortable with.

What to do: Always hear everyone’s opinions but trust your own gut. You are the mom after all! I took the doctors advice and did not give my baby a bottle regularly. She was taking a bottle once a week in her early weeks without a problem, we then had a gap of no bottle and she totally forgot and now refuses to take it entirely. For me, taking the bottle is extremely important as I will be returning to work in a few months time.

In my opinion and from my experience (though it goes against the current recommendations of medical professionals)  if you need to, you should start giving your baby a bottle as soon as possible! Babies are great adapters and the earlier it is, the better they will adapt.

And finally, give your own body the rest it deserves. No need to go back to working out until you feel physically capable of doing so. You will only do more harm than good. Just enjoy your baby and keep a healthy diet. Its been four months for me and I have yet to fully feel like myself again.

Smile, enjoy this time and look forward to the positive influence that you can become for your new baby!

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