So much of pregnancy is spent preparing for the arrival of baby and hopefully, taking care of yourself in the process. You schedule your checkup appointments, research for all of the best products to put on your registry, get yourself some prenatal massages, and force your husband to give you regular foot massages...or is that just me? But what you may not do is spend time thinking about and preparing for what is in store AFTER you have the baby. Sure, you already know sleep as you know it will never be the same and changing diapers will be your new favorite hobby (it’s not really but just tell yourself that it is so you feel more excited about the NUMEROUS diapers you will be changing every day), but what about the nitty-gritty #nofilter details of postpartum life? Well, my friends, that is exactly what I am delighted to share with you because even though I did in fact spend a good amount of time figuring out what postpartum had in store, I came across more surprises than I anticipated.
I told you to make diaper changing your new favorite hobby for a reason because not only will you be changing your baby’s diaper numerous times a day, but you will be changing YOURS too.
Now, you likely won’t be fitting into a cloth diaper or some Pampers yourself, but you do have a few options for your own diaper. If you give birth at a hospital, they are likely to give you some disposable mesh underwear and the biggest pads you’ve ever seen. No joke, those things are like 12” long and 4” thick. Aka NOT COMFORTABLE but they do the job. For a way more comfortable option and what I used, I would go with Depends for women. Even if you have a C-section, you could easily roll them down to lay under your scar while you are at the early stages of healing. The Depends are super absorbent and you could line them with some organic cotton pads too for extra protection against leaks but my guess is, you won’t need to.
Why are you wearing adult diapers postpartum, you ask? Because blood. So. Much. Blood.
But also, there is a thing as too much postpartum bleeding so be sure to keep an eye and contact your doctor or midwife if you think you are bleeding too much. If you are soaking the pads from the hospital or your Depends in an hour, then that is leaning towards excessive bleeding and a good time to reach out to your care provider. But like woah, I was not expecting to be bleeding so much after birth. Or for as long as I did. The bleeding definitely lightens up over time, but I had to wear a pad – yes, I was able to graduate to a regular organic cotton pad like these – for like 4 weeks after giving birth. Mind you, some woman stop bleeding after a couple weeks and some bleed for longer. But be prepared to need some pads when you can finally ditch the adult diaper.
Speaking of blood, lemme tell you about the biggest blood clot I’ve ever seen come out of my body.
Right after birth your midwife, doctor, or nurse will want to know about any blood clot that you pass that is larger than a chicken egg. Yes my friends, you may pass blood clots that are nearly that size. If you do, be sure to let them know so they can evaluate the clot and monitor any additional blood loss after passing the clot. While at the hospital, I did not pass any blood clots larger than what I have seen while on my period, but 11 days post-delivery, I gave birth to a bloody chicken egg. TMI? Well, I thought that was why you were here. It actually was a little bit smaller than a chicken egg, but equally as shocking. I was taking a shower and felt like something was sliding out of my vagina, I put my hand down there and next thing you know, it was in my palm. At this point, I had seen so many things come out of my vagina in the past two weeks that it really was just something else to just add to the list, but because of the size, I immediately took a picture of it and texted my midwife. She asked if my bleeding had increased since passing the clot and because it had not, she was not worried but told me to keep an eye just in case.
The peri bottle will be your best friend, but also your worst enemy.
Also, do yourself a favor and don’t rely on the peri bottle the hospital provides if you can afford to buy the FridaMom peri bottle. While at the hospital, I used what they gave me because I did not want to pack the FridaMom bottle, but theirs sucks. The FridaMom bottle is the best because it has an angled spout that makes it perfect for spraying upside down while you are peeing and praying you don’t feel any burn. Why is this peri bottle your enemy? Because if you’re like me, you are going to want warm water in the bottle and in order to get that, you have to turn on the water, wait for it to warm up, fill the bottle, and make it to the toilet all while trying NOT to pee your pants. No matter how strong your pelvic floor is, you’re likely to have some incontinence right after birth so watching water come from the faucet does not help. And you’re also likely to wait until you REALLY gotta go until you make it to the bathroom in the first place because you are now under a baby 24/7. So be extra grateful for that diaper you’re wearing when you do pee your pants and try your hardest to make it to the bathroom earlier next time.
Or at least that’s what your lady bits feel like. I swear for the first 7-10 days postpartum I would be walking around the house and getting myself some water in the kitchen and all of a sudden it felt like my uterus was going to push it’s way out of my vagina and that pressure would radiate through the entire vulva. And to be frank, the best way to counteract that pressure would be to stop in my tracks and just hold/pull up on my crotch. Fortunately, that pressure would go away nearly as quickly as it came, but it was always quite surprising.
Return of the “chicken skin”.
I was plagued by bumps on the back of my arms often referred to as “chicken skin” when I was a teenager and young adult. Lucky for me, by my mid-twenties it totally went away. Well, that shit has come back with a vengeance since having Ari and this time, on my thighs. The front and back of my thighs are literally covered in red, hard bumps and I have some on the backs of my arms too. Apparently this is fairly “common” for postpartum women because of the hormone changes, especially those of us who had it when we were younger. I have tried exfoliating & moisturizing like it’s my job but so far, no improvement. I am only 2 months postpartum so if this improves, or I figure out what I am able to control to help improve, then I will definitely update.
So. Much. Online. Shopping.
And I don’t mean just for baby. I literally bought ONE true maternity dress while pregnant but otherwise, I wore clothes I already had. I was also in my third trimester during the winter so I was able to just wear a sweater with leggings every day and those same sweaters look great not pregnant too so I could generally stick with my pre-pregnancy size if I bought anything new. Well, once my milk came in and my boobs grew from a 34D to a 34DDD, nothing fit that was nursing friendly and cool enough for warmer weather. Finding clothes postpartum has been a CHORE. I have had to go up anywhere from 1-2 sizes in tops, depending on the brand. Button-downs are great but still impossible not to flash your entire tit while trying to get the baby to latch. You can easily just lift up your shirt but also have to feel comfortable flashing your tummy, which for a majority of us, isn’t our favorite body part to flash while freshly postpartum - even though that is one of the top 3 most incredible parts of our body since it literally STRETCHED to grow another human. Another nice option is a nursing tank with a kimono or cardigan on top depending on the weather. You can more easily pull out the tit without a full flash – but like also, if you flash the world with your boob for breastfeeding then who gives a shit and if they do, they can f*ck right off – and even use the kimono or cardigan as additional coverage for modesty if you’d like.
Wowza the hunger is REAL!
I was shocked as to how hungry I was postpartum. I will say, now that I am two months postpartum, it has leveled off and I eat similar portions and frequency that I did while pregnant (which was slightly more than prepregnancy) but the first month I ate WAY more than I normally do. Even my husband was shocked as to how hungry I was and my appetite but like, you are using so much energy taking care of your baby, especially when breastfeeding. It is SO important to be nourishing your body postpartum with lots of warming foods, high-quality fats, and all the WATER. Have the talk with your partner NOW that their #1 job is to make sure you are fed and hydrating all day long. I highly suggest making way more freezer meals then you think you will need because finding time to cook is TOUGH. My recipe for baked oatmeal bites are great to make large batches of and freeze for a quick, easy breakfast postpartum that also helps with milk supply!
HOLY SWEAT = HOLY STINK
I have never sweat more or stunk more in my entire life. I literally would have wet pajamas at night from sweating so much. This is likely due to hormonal changes which then, in turn, means, YA STINK. I have never been much of a "stinky" person and have always been able to use natural deodorants no problem but dang, I regularly smell like rotten onions. Fortunately, after 6 weeks postpartum, I stopped sweating all over my body at night but my smelly pits have yet to vacate the premises. I will shower, scrub my pits, and then get out and still stink. I have heard that putting an Aztec Clay Mask in your pits a few times a week for a couple of weeks will do the trick but like who has the time to sit with your arms over your head while the mask dries with a newborn. NOT ME! I have to say though, I also sweat a little bit while I nurse, and that hasn't gone away. So basically you just become a stewing pot of rotten onion-y hormones that are not bringing anyone to the yard. Not like you'd want them in your yard anyways. The yard is 100% closed.
Even though you are in LOVE like you've never been before, you might also want to run away.
I was fortunate to not have any sort of depression past the postpartum blues, but I was just not prepared for how mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing it would be to have a newborn. I could write an entire blog post about this topic alone, and good chance that I will at some point, but to quickly sum it up, constantly communicate what your needs are to whoever is in your village helping to support you and baby. You will be shocked that something as simple as taking a shower and putting on some moisturizer will do for your mental health during this time. Better yet, take a bath with an herbal blend like this one so you not only help everything down below, but you get some time to feel indulgent.
Pumping SUCKS. But spilled milk SUCKS MORE.
I don’t care what pump you have, pumping sucks. You feel like a milk cow and possibly not even a good one at that. I figured if you were breastfeeding your baby then you were able to pump enough for a whole bottle for them. Some women, NO PROBLEM. Me? BIG PROBLEM. Shockingly I have been able to exclusively breastfeed even though I had a breast reduction 11 years ago (often women with a reduction are not able to exclusively breastfeed, especially with their first child) but I cannot pump for shit. And I lucky to get a couple of ounces from a 20-minute pump session. And yet Ari is gaining weight right on track. So this is where your instincts and your baby’s hunger cues are so much more important than judging how breastfeeding is going for you based on your output from a pump session. But I gotta tell ya, whoever said that there is no use in crying over spilled milk, must have been a man. I spilled a few milliliters (yes, you read that right, literally a fraction of an ounce) of colostrum that I had hand expressed in those early days and I threw down everything in my hands (wasn’t holding the baby…), said “f*ck this!”, started bawling, and ran upstairs. Breast milk FEELS like precious gold and IS liquid gold. But the upside is, two months later, my husband dumped two precious ounces of milk that I had JUST pumped, and guess what? I didn’t cry. Also, get yourself a good hands-free pumping bra. Pumping is boring AF and you will want to scroll Instagram or pics of your baby while you do it.
Chances are, you are not going to want to take newborn photos five days or even two weeks after you give birth, but do it. You will thank yourself later.
Postpartum is full of ups and downs when it comes to your body confidence. On one hand, you feel like a f*cking superhero (cause you are) from birthing your baby no matter how that baby made it into the world. But then you might also feel ashamed/sad/traumatized it didn’t go how you planned. At first, you see your once-pregnant belly start to shrink and you feel excited to feel a little more like yourself again. But you also feel empty and like you miss feeling that life inside of you. But then your belly stops shrinking so quickly and you wonder when you will feel like your old self. But you aren’t that person anymore and that’s hard. You will feel that soft skin of your belly and be amazed at how it brought you the most precious gift you’ve ever had to you and also struggle with looking in the mirror at a body you do not recognize. And then you have to take newborn photos. And you don’t feel like that cute pregnant woman with the bulging belly that is socially and culturally “acceptable” but now like this tired woman who is trying hard to find a freaking outfit that hides that soft, kinda-sorta shrunken belly. And you might hate all of the pictures yout took at first, but give it a little time. You will look at those photos and be so grateful that you captured that blip of time when your baby was so fresh, and you were so tired, but you showed up anyway.