Postpartum – from the Latin phrase post partum “after childbirth,” from post “after” + partum, accusative of partus “act of giving birth, childbirth.
New moms are constantly searching for tips, tricks, and ways around the negative aspects of postpartum life. They google, search on Instagram, or even follow certain accounts on TikTok nowadays. It is very difficult to prepare a young, pregnant woman for something they have never experienced before. Add in the fact that every pregnancy and L&D is different, then it’s almost impossible to predict how someone’s immediate postpartum phase is going to be.
Vast majority of births in the United States are relatively uneventful. Standard hospital, vaginal deliveries, however C-sections are on the rise but those can also be very standard, uncomplicated procedure. I think it is important to educate our new mamas on the fact that no matter how the baby arrives, the body is going to go through some nature of trauma.
To use the word trauma for this event may seem harsh, but physiologically it’s a traumatic event to the body. Even if the most precious, beautiful baby comes from it. My point is that if we can prepare these mamas for the idea that trauma is happening, there will need to be adequate recovery time.
If there is tissue tearing, or an incision made then that tissue will take from 6-12 weeks to heal. That’s just surface healing, that does not include looking at tissue mobility, flexibility, scar adhesions, and factors like that. It will also be important to follow any discharge instructions from your medical doctor in reference to vaginal care or watching for signs of infection.
Another important thing to mention at this time is medications. Please follow your MD’s guidance on recommended vitamins, supplements, OTC or prescribed medications to help. The body is going to feel achey, your uterus is going to hurt, the swelling is unreal, and constipation can linger.
You would be surprised at how many people expect to return to their pre – pregnancy body after giving birth. That is NOT what happens at all. The uterus is still swollen and has to contract and shrink back down to it’s previous size. That does not happen in a few hours. Many women will still look like they are 4-6 months pregnant after giving birth.
It’s going to be important to check in with yourself or your partner in order to recognize if you are having body image problems. Mama, do not feel like you have to “bounce back”. Also do not be discouraged that because your body looks different now and feel like it will never be the same again. More than likely you will always feel different after childbirth, but hopefully it helps you feel stronger in what your body is able to accomplish!
This is a good time to segue into talking about mental health. Thankfully our society is bringing to light the actual statistics about postpartum anxiety and depression. This is not something to take lightly or feel like you can just “deal with it”. Your body’s hormones are going haywire due to birth, and now breastfeeding is also going to play a role in hormone regulation postpartum… You may honestly not feel like yourself (mentally) for a long time.
If you begin to notice that you are feeling more than just the blues, or very unhappy with yourself and cannot seem to find any happiness in your new life as a mother. Then please find someone to talk to. I would start with having a conversation with your medical doctor and your spouse. Then if it’s needed, find a professional that can help you.
That is probably the BEST advice I can give out of this blog. You are not supposed to be crying all the time, or so unhappy you can’t appreciate your new baby. It’s OKAY to need help. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not suffered. Talk to your partner/spouse, and seek the help that you deserve.
Breastfeeding is something that we do not prepare enough for. We think we will just deal with it when it gets here, and what we do not realize is how stressful that can be. Learning to breastfeed your infant can be a wonderful experience. If your milk comes in at a timely manner, and your baby learns to latch well, then it could be smooth sailing! In the hospital you should receive a lactation consultation which can add to your knowledge for the future and answer any questions you might have.
However the opposite side of that scenario are the unforeseen difficulties such as: tongue tie, delayed milk supply, poor latching, inverted nipples, or even just a lazy eater (like my daughter). There are various situations that could occur. If possible in your third trimester it’s helpful to establish a relationship with a lactation consultant, that way you can be ready for any scenario. At least have a resource that knows you are about to have a newborn and may need immediate support in this area.
All of these have common themes: Never be afraid to ask for help! That is why there are specific professions designed for these problems. It is OKAY to need help. Not everything will come naturally and sometimes just a simple conversation can save you a ton of stress and anxiety.
I hope this has been helpful for someone in planning for postpartum! My information is never meant to overwhelm, but to educate and prepare mamas to the best of my ability so you can have a wonderful postpartum experience!