What Happens After Childbirth? 10 Things No One Tells You About Postpartum


1) After you give birth you will bleed for at least a month. I never knew about this postpartum period with my first and it is quite a flow. Another reason to…

2) Avoid sharing room at all costs. If your hospital doesn’t offer private rooms, consider switching hospitals. If they charge extra for a single, PAY IT. I lucked out both times but let me tell you, if I would have had to share a room I would have begged to recover in a broom closet. Apart from the hygienic nightmare of sharing a bathroom after that physical trauma, I can’t even imagine having to listen to someone else’s baby cry on top of mine, visitors, cell phone calls, dueling TVs – plus your partner couldn’t stay over in the room! Should be illegal in my opinion and fortunately for local friends, Pennsylvania Hospital will be all single rooms by next year. I got to stay during the construction period while they just drilled into my ceiling all day. Still better than having shared a room though.

3) Even if you are the most stable person in the world, you will very likely experience some level of temporary postpartum anxiety/depression/insomnia or just plain emotional insanity. Your hormones take a massive drop, you are seriously sleep deprived, you’re in several kinds of physical pain, and you are suddenly responsible for another human life. Some people develop longer term or later onset PPD. Some people just have a mild case of the baby blues. But don’t be alarmed if you don’t feel immediate baby bliss. Talk about it with your support system and get professional help if needed. I promise anyone who has ever become a mother can relate.

4) When you first try to breastfeed it will hurt like hell and you will think there is no way you can do this. When babies first latch, they usually just hang on to the tip of your nipple until it bleeds. This is not permanent! Have the hospital’s lactation expert help you as often as you need to get the correct latch. Even when you get the right latch it will still hurt for a while because of the initial damage. But give it a week and it will start to feel much better! And in the meantime, after you get through the first few seconds it will stop hurting so much. Eventually you will be a pro and it will feel like nothing. Oh, and if you have to supplement (or only use) formula for any reason (I do to get some sleep when I don’t have enough pumped milk), do NOT feel guilty!

5) You may not be able to pick your baby out of a nursery lineup. My son, a genetic anomaly, has white hair and bright blue eyes so I can spot him in a crowd of a thousand children. However, my daughter has brown hair and eyes – beautiful for sure, but not initially distinctive in the first couple weeks of life. In fact, when there were several white babies with brown hair lined up in the nursery and someone asked which was mine, I was not sure. You are not a bad mother if you can not recognize your baby right away. They really do all look pretty much the same.

6) You will still look six months pregnant when you leave the hospital. Accept it. By a week in you will see a big difference but you will still have an overhanging belly. Time and exercise will likely offer vast improvements – but you will probably always have a deflated kangaroo pouch. Just embrace it – nobody cares but you.

7) Don’t pack a fancy maternity gown or any other clothes for that matter apart from something to wear home from the hospital. You will bleed on everything. Just wear the hospital gowns. Do you really need to bring home more laundry?

8) When you are ready to have sex you probably don’t have to worry about that “hot dog down a hallway” thing. Everyone I know got sewn up tighter than a city parking space on a Saturday night. If anything, sex will be painful for about a year. But your partner will be thrilled.

9) Steal as many hospital pads, witch hazel pads, and ice pads as you can before you leave the hospital. Hell, take the disposable diapers even if you are using cloth at home! The only thing I left was that scary freezing chemical spray meant to numb stitches and the toxic Johnson & Johnson body wash.

10) At all costs, do not look at your vagina with a hand mirror until after your six-week OB checkup.

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  • Pingback: Postpartum Anxiety, Insomnia, and Breastfeeding Through Medication | Spit That Out: The Blog()

  • michelle

    I am sure first time mamas will appreciate your honesty and sharing! I had different experiences post partum and I think it is important to realize that it is different for everyone, and every time can be a whole different story. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

  • randomrecycling

    Having just lived through this I’m chuckling…I’m on the better side of all this, although breastfeeding still hurts from the early damage done. Best advice for nursing moms who experience cracked nipples is to get an Rx for Apno cream. It’s a lifesaver.

  • Betsy (Eco-novice)

    Keepin it real, as usual, Paige. BFing was not crazy painful for me, even in the beginning. I also did not realize that my body would be making up for not have a period for 9 months all at once. Def. agree with 2, 7, 10. Happy to say 8 was not true for me, but I did wait a good long while (my choice). Re: 6 — after baby #3, I’m pretty sure I’m never going back to my flat tummy, regardless of exercise/ diet. Hope your recovery goes well, Paige!!!

  • paigewolf

    I have been using olive oil and it is awesome!

  • paigewolf

    Thanks Michelle!

  • paigewolf

    I must believe that flat tummy is possible! Do not lose faith! 😉 Though it is not the most important thing….

  • I survived the shared room experience. You just have to have tunnel vision and know you are going home soon. But, I would book a private the next time. It wasn’t an option the last time. I second the grab the witch hazel pads tip! Those things are the best!

  • All three of my child birth experiences were traumatizing for me. I had c-sections for all three births (including a set of twins) due to high blood pressure. No one prepares you for the realities of c-sections! My first experience, I had per-eclampsia, post delivery I was in a large room with like 5 other women and we were all miserable. I switched hospitals after that experience. My 2nd was in a shared room with one other woman who delivered vaginally and was surprising up and about with many visitors while I desperately struggled just to get to the bathroom to pee. With the 3rd, I at least had a larger room but unfortunately, this woman was equally in as much pain as me.

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