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30 “Secrets” No One Shares About Postpartum Recovery

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Finally, an honest tell-all about what happens AFTER pregnancy.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was pregnant with our baby girl and then delivered her into this world.

Needless to say, the beauty of it all is forever etched in my memory.

However, there were a  few things that took me by surprise.

So, in honor of the new babies and badass moms in my life, let’s tackle the ugly truth about postpartum recovery with a list of 30 secrets no shares about the process.

Disclaimer: Some images may be inappropriate for kids under the age of 13.

 

30 “Secrets” About Postpartum Recovery

(1) You Are So Excited To Officially Meet Your Baby

After 9+ months of seeing and feeling the baby inside of your body, you officially get to meet them!

They are no longer kicking you in your stomach or stopping you from laying on your stomach while you sleep. They are here – in the flesh!

The overwhelming joy you feel cannot be described in mere words.

It’s a miracle, a beautiful miracle.

You and your partner created this new being, and being a part of that is beyond amazing.

 

(2) Prepare for the Bleeding

9+ months of no period sounds amazing, right? Well, it is!

However, after pregnancy, all the blood that your body didn’t discard during the monthly visits from Mother Nature COMES OUT. And it happens for about 6 weeks.

Fun, right?

Well, it gets even better!

While you’re in the hospital for the first 24-48 hours, the nurses will check on you to make sure you need to urinate and to check that you’re bleeding well.

A part of the process includes pushing down on your significantly smaller stomach to make sure your uterus is decreasing as it should. They don’t want you to bleed out. Nevertheless, this is pretty painful!

Plus once you’re home, you may feel sharp cramping pains as your uterus decreases back to its normal size. This, of course, is accompanied by….you guessed it – bleeding.

Blah.

 

(3) Get Used To Granny Panties & Adult Diapers

Now, this part of my postpartum recovery cracks me up to this day! LOL (<– literally)

With all that bleeding going on, you can’t wear your normal sexy underwear.

No, no, no! That won’t do.

Instead, the nurse at the hospital (or your midwife for home births) will bless you with pairs of disposable mesh underwear. Here’s the most appropriate photo I could find of them.

My advice, take as many of these from the hospital that you can. You will want them!

During your recovery, you will wear these under a fuller cut of underwear, you may know as granny panties.

Then when you run out of these, you can buy more OR, you can take the route I chose, and opt to wear adult diapers.

To this day, I still can’t believe that I spent over an hour researching the best brand of adult diapers for women. I mean, I looked at reviews on Amazon, Walmart.com, you name it. Eventually, I settled on the Always Discreet brand in size L as pictured below.P.S. I chose the Large size so that I would still be comfortable with my new belly and waist size.

 

 

(4) Witch Hazel Pads Are A God-Send 🙌🏾

The fact is you’ll be in pain after childbirth so you’ll need some things to help ease the ache in your private area.

One of these magical things is a pack of witch hazel pads.

Witch hazel pads are medical cooling pads that contain witch hazel, a natural chemical that helps soothe irritated areas, relieve burning and itching caused by hemorrhoids, and helps reduce inflammation or swelling.

They are VERY helpful with discomfort after childbirth, aka postpartum recovery.

So whether you haven’t gotten to labor and delivery, or you have already passed that stage, get you some of these from Kroger or Amazon!

I used the Blistex Tucks® brand but you can also make your own if you’d prefer. Just follow the handy-dandy step-by-step tutorial here by my fellow influencer, Chauntel Delgado.

 

(5) You’ll Have A Love Affair With Ice Packs

Another golden treasure during postpartum recovery – the pad ice pack, also referred to as padsicles or perineal cold packs.

According to my lovely medical team, these are simply large maxi pads that are run under water and then frozen.

The hospital will have plenty, so again TAKE THEM ALL AND ASK FOR EXTRAS!

Or if you prefer, like the witch hazel pads, you can DIY too.

They do wonders for the ache down there.

More than likely, you’re going to place one inside your adult diapers or mesh underwear periodically throughout the day as you heal.

 

(6) Where’s the Pain Medicine?

I remember pushing the nurse button every 4-6 hours like clockwork for pain medicine while I was in the hospital. And I stuck to that regimen when I returned home with our bundle of joy in tow.

I could take 1 MOTRIN® IB (ibuprofen) tablet every 4 hours and 1 oxycodone pill every 6 hours, and I needed it!

The pain was relentless no matter what position my body was in.

 

(7) No Need To Be Ashamed About Stool Softener

With all the pain medicine, a slowing down of your digestive system, and a temporary loss of muscle tone in your abdomen due to childbirth, you will need a stool softener.

Your doctor will most likely prescribe some to you in addition to the pain meds.

However, if they don’t, make sure to grab some like Colace.

You’ll thank me later.

 

 

(8) Your First Poop Will Scare You

Another thing, despite the pain medication and stool softener, your first poop will still SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU! 

Why?

Your body just went through a surgery and trauma at the same time.

You’re tender down there.

And you’re probably afraid that when you use the bathroom, you may tear a stitch or two.

Not that I want to be graphic, but I don’t know how else to get the intensity of the fear across.

Please remember that you’re not alone. Most moms experience this.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to overcome this except to go through it BUT you can take the stool softener pills and drink plenty of water to help.

This too shall pass.

 

(9) No Wiping Down There For A While, So You’ll Need A Cleansing Bottle

While we’re on the topic of the bathroom, here’s a gentle reminder that you won’t be able to wipe your private area until everything heals. So when you use the bathroom, you’ll need to clean down there with a cleansing bottle filled with warm water.

You may have seen a tweet from Chrissy Teigen about this infamous bottle. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a picture for you from Amazon.

The only cost $4 BUT again, the hospital (or midwife) will give you one so TAKE IT WITH YOU. It’s invaluable!

And just for context, I suggest that you fill this with warm water and set it by you before you sit on the toilet seat.

 

(10) Breastfeeding Is Natural But It May Be Challenging

News flash, in case you forgot (which I doubt you did), in addition to postpartum recovery, you still have a child to take care of. Part of that includes breastfeeding.

Whew. Where do I start?

First, breastfeeding is natural but it’s also a choice!

Now that that’s out of the way, I have to be real, breastfeeding is T-O-U-G-H!

As a new mom, if you choose to breastfeed, you experience the nurses telling and showing you how to breastfeed your baby. Even as your child may be crying, they’ll try different holds and techniques to try to improve the chances of your baby latching. For example, the football hold vs laying them horizontally across your upper body.

They mean well, but it can be overwhelming and exhausting.

My personal experience, our daughter did well the first day but 24 hours later, she just wasn’t interested. As a result, I had several times when I cried because I felt like I was already a horrible mom. I mean, I thought to myself, ‘Why couldn’t I get this to work??? It looked so easy online.

Keep in mind, I didn’t realize that breast milk takes most women 3+ days to come in and so for the first couple of days, you produce a substance called colostrum. It isn’t milk as we think of it, but it provides all the nutrients your child will need, including important antibodies.

Nevertheless, it was challenging.

 

(11) Breastmilk Makes your Boobs Hurt

Ever heard of the term “engorged breasts?”

Breast engorgement refers to a mom’s breasts becoming “larger, heavier and a little sore due to being filled with a lot of milk plus the extra blood and lymph fluids in the breast tissue.”

Basically, your boobs hurt!

This happened to me the day I returned home from the hospital, and let me tell you, I cried…again. I was also so scared that I called the lactation specialist at the hospital because I thought something was wrong with me.

My boobs swelled up but when I tried to pump, nothing came out.

Sadly, the lactation office at the hospital was closed for the weekend when I called but they returned my call on Monday and alleviated my concerns. Turns out my body was just preparing to make larger quantities of milk.  But it truly hurt.

 

(12) Pumping Is A Full-Time Job

Girl, pumping breast milk for your baby is no joke!

The nurse in the hospital actually gave me a schedule to stick to. Her advice, pump for 15 minutes and then rest for 2 hours. Then do it again.

Doing that all day while taking care of a baby  – WORK.

Doing that as a stay-at-home mom – WORK.

Doing that as a working mom – WORK.

It’s W-O-R-K, WWWOOOORRRKKKK!!!

That is all.

 

(13) Your Breastmilk May Not Last Long

Sigh, another personal experience I’ve had. And I’m not alone. (Approximately 5% of women are unable to produce enough milk to feed their infants)

My breast milk dried up after 2 weeks.

Yep, it stopped. Ended. Didn’t come back.

Again, I felt like a failure because I really wanted to enjoy the experience. I mean I had the Medela breast milk storage set. I had the nursing tops. I had the disposable nursing pads. I was ready to go. But sadly, breastfeeding wasn’t in the cards for me.

And please don’t tell me I could’ve eaten more specific types of foods, bars or even dare say it’s my fault.

I tried everything. EVERYTHING.

I did my best.

I’m not accepting the shame you are trying to project on me or others who experience this.

If you’re a mom experiencing the same, know that you did too! #SayNoToBullying

 

(14) The Formula Shame Is Real

Whether your breast milk stops or you simply choose to stick with a formula diet, there will be a lot of people who will try to shame you for not doing it the most natural way.

Again, breastfeeding is a great choice!

But it’s not wrong to use formula.

As I said in the point above, don’t let anyone try to shame you into doing something you are unable to do.

You are making sure your infant doesn’t go hungry. Enough said.

Don’t be fooled by the breastfeeding bullying that is disguised as support. Again #SayNoToBullying.

 

(15) Who Has Time To Cook Food? Order In Or Start A Meal Train

With all the care and attention needed for your new bundle of joy plus what you need to do for yourself, cooking will probably not be in the cards.

Therefore, you’ve got two options.

A. Start A Meal Train – A friend suggested this to us and started one for us, especially because we don’t live close to family! This became such a blessing for us. People can donate food plus schedule a time they’re going to bring it over, or they can give money so you can order in. Just go to mealtrain.com and sign up to get started!

Start A Meal Train - Postpartum Recovery  B. Order In – There are a variety of apps that can bring tasty food to you like my favs, DoorDash or UberEats. There’s even Amazon Restaurants in selected areas!

Ok, I know I said there were only 2 options but there are actually 3.

C. Food Prep – Tight on budget and/or have help, do some food prep! You can create sheet pan meals, crockpot meals or even make everything for the week in one day and then just heat it up during the week! IT WILL SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY!

My family and I used a combination of all three options in order to make it through the first few weeks with baby.

 

(16) Over 24 Hours Without A Shower

I know it sounds gross but trust me, it happens.

You will have days where in the beautiful chaos of things, you will end up going over 24 hours without a shower.

My personal record is 48 hours. I couldn’t go past that without feeling disgusting.

Sigh, it just happens.

 

(17) Get Family Help If You Can!

I have to give props to my mother-in-law for this!

As a mom, she knew that the first two weeks with the baby and postpartum recovery are the toughest so she offered to stay with us for a week in order to help us catch up on some sleep.

This proved to be INVALUABLE!!

Maybe some in your family, like your mom, grandma, or family friend would be willing to do this for you?

Don’t be afraid to ask!

However, it is also nice if someone offers! (so spread this ingenious idea around)

 

(18) What Is Sleep?

LISTEN, the lack of sleep is R-E-A-L!

My husband and I experienced it differently. Our daughter slept well but just because we were first-time parents, every noise, whimper, or cry made us jump out of our bed.

For other parents, the lack of sleep can purely be due to a baby with colic or just a baby that sleeps for shorter periods.

I don’t even know how parents make it with twins. I just can’t imagine!! #GodBlessYou

Either way, you will push your body to the limit no matter what.

Some advice I was given suggested that we sleep while our baby slept.

To be honest, I couldn’t bring myself to do this.

What my husband and I did do is take shifts. We split shifts by the nap, and used an app called BabyTime to track feedings, dirty diapers, etc. so we could communicate.

That way we both got spurts of sleep and felt at peace because the other was awake and available if our baby needing attending to.

Sidebar: Going through this experience helped me appreciate single parents so much more. I can’t wrap my mind around how they even do it. So if any of you single parents out there have any tips, PLEASE share them in the comments below! I’d even be willing to have a guest blog post for others to read! Just let me know and we’ll get it published.

 

(19) Postpartum Emotions, They Can Be A Little Crazy

Man, this one got me.

There were days that I cried while my baby cried as I rocked her back and forth.

There were days when I didn’t want ANYONE to hold her (and I wrote about it here).

Sigh, there were even days that I just felt sad for no specific reason.

Then there’s an immense feeling of doubt. I’ll admit it. I questioned if I should have had a baby. If I would be a good mother. If I thought this through, and the list goes on.

There’s also baby blues – a less intense version of postpartum depression. In fact, 70-80% of women experience it, especially because it triggered by hormone changes after birth.

Like I said, your emotions can get crazy.

No matter how they show up for you during postpartum recovery, be kind to yourself! Give yourself the love that you would freely give to others.

 

(20) It’s Different When Your Kid Is Out of the Womb

I will say one thing to describe this, an I have to thank a colleague for sharing this with me.

She said, “When your kid is born and outside of the womb, it feels as if your heart is on a string that’s still attached to you.

If that still doesn’t make sense, allow me to translate.

After childbirth, your baby is no longer under the protection of your body so the fear, worry, and anxiety that comes with that are intense. It’s as if you have taken your own heart out of your body, put it on a string that’s still attached to you and allow people to hold it.

Now if you’re anything like me and are very protective of your heart, you know how scary this is.

 

(21) Your Body Is Different + Your Stomach May Be A Little Darker

I know, I know, there are tons of photos of women online who have perfect stomachs after childbirth. There are even those who swear that cocoa butter and other natural remedies will remove the dark lines.

Ummm, I haven’t had that luck!

My stomach is still darker than the other part of my body, especially belly button.

 

(22) Sneezing & Peeing At The Same Time Is A Thing

I laugh every time this happens! And many of my mom friends and I have laughed about this reality.

Even the first time I heard about it, I thought it wasn’t going to happen to me.

But it’s a thing! It’s such a thing!

During postpartum recovery, it will shock you at first but from then on, just use it as a momen to laugh!

P.S. Panty liners will be your best friend!

 

(23) Periods May Be Worse…Or Not!

Hear hear!

When Mother Nature comes to visit from here on out, it may look like a crime scene.

I have no idea why but even that changes.

There are also women, like myself whose periods got better!

For example, mine have become shorter and lighter and that’s without any medical help! I still experience the horrible cramps on the first and second days but that’s about it.

If you do experience any worse periods, make sure to let your doctor know! They can help give you advice on how to make this monthly time more bearable.

 

(24) Hair Loss Is A Thing Too

Another thing I didn’t think would happen to me until I saw a photo I took during a recent photoshoot.

My edges have died y’all!! It’s so sad.

So no more high pony tails for me.

Hair Loss - Postpartum Recovery

I have had other moms in my tribe share that this isn’t weird at all. Hairstylists can even confirm that this happens to the new moms amongst their clientele.

The message: take care of your hair! 

 

(25) Postnatal Vitamins Are Great! 

My mentor (who is a nurse) and a colleague suggested these to me!

They let me know that it helps your body rebuild during postpartum recovery.

I have yet to purchase these for myself but the reviews I have seen are absolutely great!

Be better than me and get these ahead of time if you haven’t gone into labor yet. If you are in the postpartum stage, no matter how long, purchase them ASAP!

And if you find a great brand that works for you, let me know!

 

(26) Postpartum Doctor Visits

Can I cry again now?

This was another tough part for me, and it can be for many women.

On a basic level, this is the first doctor’s appointment that’s truly about you (aka without your baby in your body) so it can be tough.

During this appointment, your medical team will check to make on your healing progress as well as if you have postpartum depression.

Be open to what they say and how they offer to help. They truly care about getting you back on your feet.

 

(27) Prepare to Talk About Birth Control

This was a part of my first postpartum visit as well, and it was pretty scary because I have never been on birth control in my life.

I have my personal reasons. However, I did understand why my medical team brought it up plus I WAS NOT (and still am not) ready for kid #2.

Again, be open to what is shared about this. But also know that you don’t have to make a decision right then and there. You also don’t have to use birth control.

Maybe it’s my Caribbean roots but you really don’t have to. There are other options to make sure you give your body time to heal from this miraculous yet challenging experience.

 

(28) Clothes Don’t Fit The Same

Post-maternity style is an entirely different ball game that requires a unique approach.

In addition to the fact that you may not feel confident in your new body, pre-maternity and maternity clothes may not fit the same. Therefore, you feel like you have nothing to wear.

Plus if you’re breastfeeding, that requires clothes that make your breastmilk easily accessible to your infant.

My suggestions:

  1. If you’re breastfeeding, invest in key nursing basics from stores like Motherhood Maternity, Bamboobies, or even Amazon.
  2. Curate a capsule wardrobe of items that make you feel great! My go-tos: duster coats, maxi dresses, wrap shirts/dresses, boyfriend jeans, and high-waisted pants.
  3. Love your body! I can’t stress self-love enough. It will take time to get back to your preferred body, or it may not happen at all. Either way, encourage yourself like you would encourage that precious new baby if they told you that they felt ugly.

 

(29) Self-Care Is Beyond Important

Take care of yourself. I know it’s cliche but it is beyond important!

Try to do at least 1 thing a day that makes you smile.

Some days, that will be taking a 30-minute shower. At other times it will be taking a walk outside by yourself.

And let’s not forget making sure you do medical things like going to the dentist and brushing your teeth.

Personally, I have a cup of coffee and a pop tart every morning as a gift to myself.

Taking care of you doesn’t have to be complicated.

It’s literally the small things that make a difference.

So eat a meal!

Get a pedicure!

Buy a new pair of jeans for your new body!

Read a chapter in a book!

Preserve your peace mama!

Because if you don’t put the oxygen mask on yourself first, or you will not be able to put your best foot forward with the other loves of your life.

[bctt tweet=”Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, or you will not be able to put your best foot forward with the other loves of your life.” username=”baydiangirl”]

And if you’re the relative or friend of a new mama, remind them to do this as much as possible!

 

(30) And Finally, Postpartum Recovery Takes Time

There’s a consensus amongst mamas that getting back to yourself takes a VERY long time. Some would even say up to 2 years.

In fact, I may even argue that you won’t necessarily get back to yourself. You’ll just be a better version of you – for e.g. strategic with time.

Therefore, with that being said, remember that postpartum recovery is a healing journey. It’s a process.

There will be new strengths that you will discover about yourself, and there will be feelings you never expected to have.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

I know I’ve said that a million times throughout this post but it’s a motivator you cannot afford to forget.

 

Have these secrets helped you feel more prepared for the first few weeks of motherhood?
If you’re a mom going through postpartum recovery, does this help you feel less alone?

Let me know in the comments below!

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30 "Secrets" No One Shares About Postpartum Recovery

Tamara Sykes
Caribbean-Born Gal. Always Plottin' My Next Hairstyle. Encouraging women with a creative spirit to color outside the lines and live a life they love.
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