Becoming a new mom is amazing, and a total whirlwind experience. I loved all the aspects of being a new mom. But what happened to my body postpartum was a bit shocking to me!
I loved the meaning being a mom brought to my life and the special bond I had with this new human that only I knew in such a special way.
What I didn’t love…. the process of healing after birth.
It was hands down, one of the roughest things I’ve ever gone through.
Mostly because I wanted so badly to enjoy my new baby, but I was bogged down by extreme exhaustion and a body that felt like it was falling apart, and then there was the emotional rollercoaster!
I’ll admit I was so excited about my new baby, that I only focused on prepping for his arrival.
I had no clue that I should have been prepping for my recovery as well! I thought BAH! Have a baby and live happily ever after.
There is a lot of happy, but these are things I really wished someone would have told me about.
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*Please note, this article is not meant to scare anyone or make the postpartum period sound terrible.
There are so many things to enjoy and love about the new and precious time with your baby.
Healing can be very difficult for some moms after birthing their baby.
If someone had laid it all out for me on what I should have been expecting, I would have prepared differently.
My hope is that this helps you not have such a hard time with the challenges I had.
I applied a lot of the tips I’m giving here with my second baby, and it was a totally different experience!!
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1. Moving Can Be Really Difficult
After birthing your baby, your core muscles can become really weak.
I had a bad case of diastasis recti and had trouble even sitting up out of bed.
This is because I had a big baby and a big baby belly.
My abdominal muscles had stretched out so much, that sitting up was impossible, which made getting out of bed impossible.
I thought my husband could actually get some sleep at night and I would get up and tend to the baby.
But I had to ask him to help push me out of bed every-single-time.
Then i ordered an abdominal binder and it was a game changer.
I felt so much better being able to sit up and move around, while being supported.
I also had quite a bit of leg swelling after birth.
*I recently found a program that helped with my abdominal gap and healing process that I wish I found a lot sooner called the Mutu System.
I seriously wish this class was available for my first days of motherhood. I think healing the gap in my stomache would have been more effective in the first few months.
And maybe have saved me a few embarrassing moments where I peed on myself while laughing over the years.
2. The Hormonal Changes
The hormones had me crying constantly. The tears weren’t from sadness, but the realization that this new little life brought so much meaning to my world.
The thought of something happening to him haunted me. My life would be ruined.
This thought made me cry ALL. THE. TIME.
Not to mention the discovery channel. NEVER watch the discovery channel postpartum.
When the baby gazelle doesn’t escape the lion’s grasp, you’ll regret ever turning on the T.V. as you try not hysterically sob all over your new baby.
But nobody, NOBODY, warned me about postpartum anxiety.
That hit me like a sack of potatoes. I didn’t even realize it was happening.
Looking back there were some obvious signs something was off, but I didn’t catch on until months after it was all over.
I didn’t sleep for weeks. I just thought it was normal for some reason.
There isn’t really a good way to explain why.
The thought of SIDS plagued me the most. I became obsessed.
I would only let our baby sleep right next to me, while I was awake and could watch him. I only slept if my husband was with him.
The anxiety brought constant surges of adrenaline.
I would go days with only a couple hours of sleep but feel wide awake.
When I did try to sleep, I would hear voices calling my name, and it would shock me out of my near sleep.
Which brings me to the next point. Sleep deprivation.
Action Tip: Protect your mental health. Do your research on postpartum depression.
Talk to your partner about what to look for if you start acting “funny.”
If things feel like they are getting out of control talk to your care provider too.
3. Sleep Deprivation is Brutal
Finding ways to get sleep as a new mom is so important!
Sleep deprivation can make everything feel weird and amplified.
It’s like being in a fake world where you are watching from the outside.
It goes well beyond being tired.
I attribute hearing voices strictly to the sleep deprivation because once I finally got into a routine of sleeping a few hours here and there, they went away.
If I could do it all over again, I would have asked for more help simply to sleep.
I was stubborn and thought that if I asked for help, it would mean that I couldn’t handle being a new mom. (This is so silly by the way!)
Getting sleep is hands down, the best thing you can do for your mental health. That whole “sleep when baby sleeps.” Yes! Do it.
4. The Bleeding Can Last so Long
I bled for 6 weeks. Since I bled for so long, I had to wear pads for a very long time.
This caused a weird reaction that caused a bad rash and raw skin where the pads were.
Invest in good quality postpartum pads.
Since then, I have learned that bleeding for that long is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard.
If you notice you are bleeding a lot after those first few days, your body may be telling you to slow down and get more rest.
You can also drink red raspberry leaf tea, which is supposed to be great for helping your body heal your uterus postpartum.
5. Breastfeeding Isn’t Easy
I was so excited to breastfeed my baby.
Once my baby came, I found out that it wasn’t as instinctual as I thought it would be. We had such a rough start.
My baby had a bad latch and it was painful to breastfeed.
I pushed through the pain, only to injure my nipples, causing breastfeeding to feel unbearable.
I now know that my baby had an undiagnosed lip tie.
We got through it, but it took weeks of very painful nursing while we figured it out.
This is why it’s so important to get help as soon as possible if your having problems breastfeeding.
You can contact a lactation consultant, join a La Leche League group or take a breastfeeding course like this one.
I also suggest getting a breast pump (at the very least a hand held one) to help keep your milk supply up if it’s just unbearable to breastfeed.
This is the best way to ensure your supply doesn’t falter while you figure out the latch.
Don’t be discouraged though. I say this only to help prepare you for possible problems.
Many of my breastfeeding friends did NOT have these same problems.
6. Even the best relationships are tested
I have the BEST husband. We have a great relationship and were together for 5 awesome years before having a baby.
But even the best relationship can be tested during a major life change, like having a baby.
The exhaustion that plagued us, the lack of alone time, just being together was difficult.
It was hard to find kindness when we were both in survival mode.
Over time we figured out. And the experience helped us come up with an excellent game plan for baby 2.0.
We talked about all the feelings that came with the hard parts and agreed to recognize when the other was having a hard time.
We are now stronger than ever.
Action Tip: Have a pep talk with your partner.
Agree to try to put yourselves in the other’s shoes.
It’s not an easy life change for either of you.
With compassion and empathy for each other, you’ll have a lot easier time getting along.
And resist the urge to play the “who does more” game. There are no winners in that game.
7. Stitches are a pain
I tore a lot during birth. Stitches are such a pain! I was so excited when they finally fell out and were done with.
There are a lot of things you can do to heal better and faster.
We have lots of tips for recovering postpartum that will help to heal up your vaginal area!
I carried around a boppy pillow those first few weeks and used it to sit on.
It took the tension off of the stitched up areas and that was crucial for me to sit comfortably.
8. The emotional rollercoaster
New baby love is so different than any love. I had never felt love like that before, and it is amazing.
It makes life scary and weird.
I was overcome with compassion, empathy, hope, and fear.
Not all moms feel that “instant connection” with their little one, but it will come, and will overtake you.
If you find yourself having negative feelings toward your baby, talk to your partner and healthcare provider.
It could be signs of postpartum depression, which is a big hormonal issue and nothing to be ashamed of, but does need help.
Keeping your mental state safe should be a high priority postpartum.
I think every new mom should take a postnatal DHA vitamin.
Other than being an essential nutrient for good health, it can help greatly reduce the chance of postpartum depression and anxiety.
You need an Omega 3 supplement that contains both EPA and DHA.
You can read more about the science of all of it here.
I like Nordic Naturals, these ones are specifically designed for the postpartum period and the doses are high enough to help stabilize postpartum moods. (good for babies brain too!)
This is actually one of my top 6 things you can do to prevent postpartum depression.