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Afterbirth & Aftermath: The First Few Days Postpartum

By Amalah

My postpartum experience in six words or less:

Oh My God, What Just HAPPENED?

(If the challenge had allowed for a couple more words I probably would have included some profanity.)

You might feel the same way too. Awestruck and thunderstruck and monstertruck. Completely amazed at what your body just accomplished…but now your body is…things are not quite…look at that BABY…

Oh my God. What just HAPPENED?

(Or you might not. You might be one of those women who bask in a gentle glowy glow afterwards, with your perfect makeup and hair and oh look! The basketball you’ve been carrying under your shirt is gone and HI AB MUSCLES! And then your milk comes in five minutes later and your baby poops gold ingots and you know what? This column is probably not for you. Move along.)

For the rest of you, now, a few things you should probably be ready for immediately post-birth:

You will still look very pregnant.

I know, I know. No-brainer, right? This isn’t like giving birth in a sitcom. But both times I admit to being a little (okay, very) taken aback by my empty, squashy abdomen. What was once so round and ripe and lovely now resembled a large batch of smushy bread dough. It deflated a bit each day, but there were definitely days when I stood in front of the mirror and regarded myself with frustration because ARGH. GO AWAY BELLY.

It will. Eventually. Patience.

Your uterus will continue to contract, painfully at times.

Uterine contractions are the key to getting your stomach to deflate, but man. They are not super pleasant. I was particularly shocked by the force of my discomfort this time, probably because I didn’t go through the rigors of labor, but instead walked into the hospital feeling all fine and dandy. (I had a scheduled c-section back in October.) Then I was doped to the gills and hacked up and wheeled back to my room and suddenly…what the hell? Why do I feel like I’m in labor NOW?

At their worst, postpartum uterine contractions can feel like labor pains. Other times, they’re more like vicious menstrual cramps. They’re uncomfortable for sure, but ESSENTIAL. Breastfeeding is the best way to stimulate your uterus – it tells your body that indeed, the baby is out and pregnancy is over. My son nursed and nursed and NURSED during our hospital stay and the nurses were always “congratulating” my on my “good work” with my rapidly contracting uterus. I usually just glared at them, since they determined my progress by mashing on my super-sensitive abdomen and OW. GO AWAY.

If you aren’t breastfeeding, you can stimulate uterine contractions just by holding your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is best, so don’t be afraid to undo the hospital swaddle and get him all good and baby-naked and let him curl up on your chest. Smell his head, feel his breath, stroke his skin – these little acts of affection can actually trigger powerful hormonal reactions that will get your uterus in shape.

You will bleed.

So as if menstrual cramps weren’t enough, you’ve also got the privilege of having the LONGEST PERIOD OF YOUR LIFE. Lochia. It’s blood, mucus, placental tissue. It lasts a freaking long time. Four to six weeks, usually. (Although it’s normal for it to stop and start during that time frame as well, or to even stop completely and then come back with a vengeance right around six weeks.)

The first three to five days after you give birth, the blood will be bright red and constant and totally something out of Carrie. The first trip to the bathroom will be gory, to say the least (particularly if you’ve been confined to bed for any reason, like after a c-section). (I swear the first time I got up to pee it was a freaking HORROR MOVIE, and BONUS, post-section a nurse accompanies you the first time and it’s awkward and gross and I kept making weird inappropriate jokes while trying not to get woozy at the sight of all. that. blood. and keep most of it off the floor and in the toilet.)

At some point the blood will start looking pink or brown, and eventually it will be more like white-ish or yellow-ish mucus. The hospital will provide a wide variety of pads, in different sizes and shapes and you’ll want to steal pretty much every pad you can get your grubby mitts on.

(Lochia shouldn’t smell, by the way, or at least shouldn’t smell any different than your run-of-the-mill period. If you do notice an order or any green-looking gunk, call your doctor right away to get checked out for infection.)

You may be in a lot of pain.

C-sections, episiotomies, tears, rough deliveries and other complications can lead to pretty significant pain afterwards. Don’t feel the need to be a hero here – you’ve got enough going on, including the responsibility of a WHOLE NEW HUMAN BEING. Take care of yourself and speak up. Percocet and Ibuprofen are effective and breastfeeding-compatible.

For all my fellow c-sectioners out there: do NOT mess around with missing or even delaying your pain medication. My first birth was an emergency c-section after hours of labor and pushing and you know what? I FELT GREAT. The hospital staff administered my medication like clockwork and the first time I really felt significant pain was when I got home and – you guessed it – got distracted and missed a dose. You don’t even realize it until you go to get out of bed or reach for the milk or do some other small movement and suddenly you realize that OH, I HAVE BEEN NEARLY CUT IN HALF.

This time I had the scheduled c-section, which I had been assured by tons of people was actually easier and less traumatic than the emergency procedure. The problem was that the hospital had switched medication policies and it was now completely up to the patient to request pain medication. Every. Single. Dose. Of pain medication required me to monitor the clock and call the nurse and justify my pain level using the 1 to 10 scale. The bigger problem was that NO ONE TOLD ME THIS, so I sat in my room for hours after the surgery wondering when the Percocet would arrive. (Look, you might also be super mentally sharp afterwards either, you know?) My husband finally caught on before I did and called the nurse, but by this point I was literally sobbing from the pain and it took a few doses before I felt like it was really back under control. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YE ALL. Stay on TOP of that medication. If you’re allowed to take Ibuprofen every six hours, set your watch, set your partner’s watch, set an alarm on your phone, buy a stopwatch, whatever.

Your milk may take a few days to come in.

I gave birth on Wednesday afternoon and my milk came in on Sunday morning, just BARELY in time for us to avoid the dreaded 10% weight loss marker. (Your baby WILL lose some weight, that’s unavoidable. The goal is to keep it within a reasonable percentage amount.) With my first baby, my milk took a full seven days to come in, and we simply had to supplement in the meantime, as Noah lost more than 10% of his birth weight and was getting lethargic and a little sickly looking.

This time, I was so petrified of that happening again I packed Mother’s Milk tea and fenugreek supplements in my hospital bag (both are herbal remedies that increase and stimulate milk production). Once I got the all-clear for a regular diet, I started taking them. I do believe they made a difference, as I had a very abundant milk supply right from the get-go. If you have no reason to believe you’ll have supply problems, there’s no reason to be this aggressive: your baby will get colostrum in the early days and your milk will follow at some point. A hospital may offer you formula regardless, and you can decide for yourself if you think it’s necessary. (I turned it down but ended up giving Ezra an ounce or two the night we got home, more because I just needed a break from his round-the-clock tongue-tied nursing.)

Your emotions are yours and yours alone.

There’s no “right” way to feel about your birth experience or your body or your baby. You might burst into tears every time you look at her because the force of your love has just up and pummeled you senseless. You might look at her and not be so sure about this motherhood thing after all. You might be preoccupied with how you look and your own discomfort. You might have a hard time coming to terms with how the birth happened or the fact that you are no longer pregnant. You might be too exhausted to give a crap about any of it.

For now, cut yourself a LOT of slack. Yes, giving birth is the most natural thing in the world and been done for millennia blah blah blah, but this time it’s YOU who gave birth and YOU are your own damn unique person. Your hormones are going haywire, but will settle down after a few days. (I found day five to be the most emotionally draining, like every pregnancy hormone I’d built up over nine months just crashed through the floor and left my body.) A little sadness or a crying jag or two immediately postpartum does not mean you’ll have postpartum depression or never bond with your baby or be a terrible mother woe woe weep omg. Likewise, feeling absolutely ecstatic and wonderful at first doesn’t mean you might experience a little crash later on, or even a major one. Stay aware of your emotions (we’ll cover PPD in more detail another day) but in the early days it’s important to just…let yourself feel how you feel, look how you look and take it one day (or one Ibuprofen dose) at a time.

If you landed here but are still pregnant, visit Amalah’s Pregnancy Weekly. You won’t regret it.

Amazon Mom

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • kelly

    March 27, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Excellent post! I’m six weeks postpartum, and this all sounds pretty right-on.
    One thing that I was not prepared for was the fact that every time I moved, for the first 12 hours after delivery, my entire body would start shaking powerfully and uncontrollably. Sad! And very disconcerting. But the nurses told me it was normal, and due to hormones.

  • Hilary

    March 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for all the honesty. I have long-wondered how much I didn’t know about what happens after a child is born. Love this new topic!

  • courtney

    March 27, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Hooray! I’m due next week with my very first baby and I just finished the weekly pregnancy thingy a couple days ago. I thought I would be out of things to worry about and agonize over but now I have this! Thanks for not letting a sister down!

  • spitupisthenewblack

    March 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I had a really super great fun time about six months into my pregnancy (that I had found out about 13 weeks in btw) when I delivered my son via c-section. Having zero time to even grasp the fact that I was pregnant in the first place and not going through an actual “labor” process with pushing and all that really screwed with me. For all I knew they could have just handed me some random baby from behind that sheet. Combine all that with not being able to hold him right away or take him home for 7 weeks and one can turn all kinds of crazy. I just never felt like it was real. I was pregnant, then not pregnant basically in the span of 3 months so yes, every experience is different and unique. But no matter what way you get to motherhood, you’re right, we all need to cut ourselves some slack and just enjoy it as much as we can. Thanks for always being so open and honest about something that is both beautiful and freaking scary as hell!

  • cagey

    March 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Another very critical thing about lochia is looking for clots and heavy bleeding (defined as soaking a pad within an hour). At my hospital, their guideline for clot size was the size of a quarter or larger, but I have seen other sites that say the “size of a ping pong ball or a golf ball”. If you pass one, it’s advised to call your doctor, or if after hours, the hospital.

  • Tiffany

    March 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Man, I was all excited for the mesh underwear. I heard stories about it! People sang songs about the underwear. But no, mine wasn’t mesh. Boo. Don’t get excited about the mesh panties.
    And I may be weird, but my post partum bleeding lasted 4 days. 4! I had sex with my husband two weeks later (we’re rabbits, it’s okay). I was bragging to everyone about my only 4 day bleeding … until my first period two months post partum, where I was at the doctor and the bleeding. Oh my god, the bleeding everywheres. It was embarrassing.

  • Navy Bean

    March 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I loved the 0 to 40 and I read several pregnancy books, but I still had stuff happen that no one had ever mentioned. My baby pushed my vaginal wall out with her head. And then I needed an episiotomy. Good times!!! They stitched me up, then realized my placenta hadn’t come out, pulled that out and in the process ripped out all the stitches they had just put in. All that hurt worse than labor. Why didn’t anyone tell me that all of that could happen!!! But I healed well and my baby is beautiful!

  • Stacy

    March 27, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Here are a couple things that happened to me the first week postpartum
    -Exhaustion is inevitable.
    The tough pill I swallowed reluctantly was being unable to sleep when the baby was sleeping because I was so wrapped up in how I was going to prepare myself for when the baby woke up!
    -Blood clots will happen – No, I wasn’t dying…but when I sat in the bath tub and something dark, red and the size of a golf ball came floating out of me I was HORRIFIED! I cried hysterically (no thanks to the exhaustion and my WTF JUST HAPPENED instinct)

  • alexa

    March 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I had my baby 12 weeks ago today…wow that went fast. What shocked me most was how much it hurt after the baby came out. I had her naturally and survived, I knew that that part would hurt. And it’s even fading to the point I would consider doing it again. But I didn’t know it would hurt to sit and stand and walk for at least a solid week afterward. And why do they take so long to sew you up?! It felt like the doctor was down there for hours just poking me with needles for fun, and stomach prodding?! What the hell…it really hurt and I was not prepared for that either.
    I was in shock when they gave me Olivea and it took me a few hours to fall head over heels for her. She was a big baby, 9 lb 4 oz and I seriously felt like my body had waged some kind of war. So, Amen, take your ibuprofen and your Percocets.
    AND it is totally worth it. I hope I didn’t scare any preggos out there. I’d do it again in a heartbeat for my little angel.

  • Amy

    March 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Gah. The only thing worse than being pregnant is being postpartum. Why do we do this to ourselves? Multiple times even?
    Glad you’re writing here again! But um… why is Max not in the new header? (He’s totally my favorite.) (After Noah and Ezra, of course!)
    And Psssst… the thing at the bottom reads: “If you landed HER but are still pregnant…” (Not to be all critiquey or anything, just trying to help.)

  • lolly

    March 27, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I had a c-section and was surprised at how painful the recovery was. For some reason I underrated my pain when the nurses asked. I kept saying 4 because I thought an 8, 9, or 10 would mean I was in to much pain to talk right? I mean, a burn victim would be a 10, I can’t be near that! Gah, I was not a 4!
    Also, I’m single and I told my family that they didn’t have to stay over night with me in the hospital…bad idea. If you have someone willing to sleep on the couch and help you get up to pee/change diapers/find the tv remote/etc then use them!

  • Erin

    March 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I knew the first two weeks would be rough, but after I survived those, no one told me that six months was when it really got fun! I suppose it’s different with your second when you know what to expect and appreciate each stage more fully, but with my first I was all sorts of bummed out. I was tired, grumpy, angry and the baby just CRIED ALL THE TIME when she was not eating or sleeping. I thought, “Something must be wrong with me. I am not enjoying this.” But just wait. The joy will come. I even enjoy NURSING now! Also, do yourself a favor and find mom friends who tell it how it is, not these moms who’s babies are perfect, never cry, eat and sleep wonderfully and never say anything negative EVER. That is not REALITY, it’s image control.

  • Blythe

    March 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Biggest surprise for me: how long it took for me to no longer be in pain from my episiotomy. We’re talking WEEKS until I could sit without the donut pillow. I’m not sure how big/long it was, or how many stitches I had (I think it was pretty major but I gave birth in a non-English-speaking country and they didn’t share that information with me), but it was a frustrating experience. Feeling like it interfered with my enjoyment of/ability to take care of my baby was the worst part, especially a couple of weeks after he was born when I felt like I should be getting over it already.
    I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have a C-section!

  • Whozat

    March 27, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    My daughter is about 2 weeks younger than Ezra, but was 4 weeks early, so I was 6 weeks behind you when we were pregnant.
    (Are you lost yet?)
    I really enjoyed reading Zero to 40, as a sneak preview of what was coming up for me.
    On the one hand, I’m thinking I would have loved to have had this guide available back when she was born, but on the other hand, she’s five months old, and I just paid the final bill to the perinatoligist today, and I’ve only got the one of her so, yeah, I totally get why it’s just starting now!
    At any rate, and at any time, I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it, and will refer all my pregnant and recently post-partum friends to read both guides!

  • jodifur

    March 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Yeah, more amalah to read!
    Only you could have written this because it was so spot on!

  • Meg

    March 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I have a question – if you are taking questions. My baby is 5 months old and I just recently stopped breastfeeding and I wondered how long it takes for your breasts to reach the size they will end up being and you can go buy bras? I seem to still be a different size every day. They don’t know what to do…

  • Jen

    March 27, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Yes, day five. The WORST day ever. I felt like I was going to die. Not just hormonally, but physically as well.

  • ryley

    March 27, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Spot on..
    One thing I wasnt prepared for was that after my natural childbirth of my 9 lbs baby that I would get 2 full Iv bags of pitocin to contract my uterus back down! should have mention NEVER to look at your “down theres!”
    I was SHOCKED at what it looked like.. it resembled nothing I had EVER EVER seen.. but i promise it gets better and back to normal..
    what else… hmm. this was only 13 weeks ago. I should remember a lot..
    Your boobs get super hot to the touch when your milk comes in.. I wasnt prepared for that…
    Thats all I got for now..
    Thanks for being open and honest about this kind of stuff! We need it!

  • Kimba

    March 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    So glad to have more! I’m a few weeks behind you Amalah, and I enjoyed reading this. I had a super crazy fast 3-hours-after-arriving-at-the-hospital-birth, and was completely…out of it, for a while after. It took a bit for me to be like, Oh, Hi Baby, after being in so much pain (9 cm, the anesthesiologist decides to come in…GREAT).
    My postpartum crying spurts seemed to last about 4 – 6 weeks, and I cried about every night for a few minutes. Most of the time I couldn’t have given a reason why, it just happened whether I had a “reason” or not.
    Some advice I was given that I enjoyed though, was to enjoy every stage. Don’t wish for the next, or the previous, just enjoy the one you’re in. I try. 🙂

  • Cecily T

    March 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Yes, on the still looking very pregnant. In fact, at 5 weeks PP, my 5yo niece asked me if I was having another baby. Ouch.
    Ha ha on the bleeding as well…mine was about 12 weeks of grossness. I thought it would never end. But then it was followed by 9 blissful breastfeeding months of NO PERIOD.
    On the milk…At the other end of the spectrum, your milk may come in about 7 seconds after your baby is born, and you will look in the mirror and freak out at the giant flesh-covered bowling balls that have been attached to your chest.
    @kelly – Yeah, I had the shaking thing too. It sucked.

  • Elizabeth

    March 27, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I have two small additions:
    Labor is called labor for a reason. You will use muscles you didn’t know you had, and like any other type of exercise/work, you’ll feel them the next day or two. I had a fairly quick, easy-ish L&D and my legs were sore like I ran a marathon afterwards (probably from being in stirrups for a bazillion hours of stitching).
    Also, my milk coming in was the most painful part, far worse than labor. It felt like someone had attached burning rocks to my chest, and my boobs were all lumpy (and painful to look at, not to mention touch) and I could literally see milk ducts popping out like veins. I was sure something was wrong, nothing should feel like this, but no, the nurses all said that’s completely normal and the only solution was to feed the baby. It was better within 18-24 hours, but wow did I wish someone had warned me.

  • Gina

    March 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    What was so amazing to me is how very different it is each time.
    With my oldest the birth part was fine (yay, epidural! Yay 4 hr. labor!) but the stitches and all the postpartum stuff… man o’man that was bad! It hurt a LOT to walk 2 weeks later and still hurt some a month later. The bonding thing wasn’t so easy either because I was tired beyond belief and just wanted a break. The nursing thing was tough because while I never seemed to have quite enough for my constantly hungry infant, I always seemed to be totally damp. Soggy boobs were my life for the 3 months that I could bear it (and the constantly crying baby who never got enough to eat) before switching to formula.
    With my youngest, I had a whole other experience. He arrived 20 minutes after we got to the hospital (thank God for it being 3am and no traffic!!) so there was no medication, not even a doctor present. The nurses had just started setting up the room- two pushes and he was out- honest! Fast labor is nice but it’s also a little bit scary when you start with the OMG, what just happened?!?! I actually experienced labor pain that time unlike before with the epidural but since he was so small, I had almost no pain afterwards. I was shocked as hell that I could walk an hour later when the nurse made me make that obligatory accompanied potty visit. Later on I felt great and only took mild pain meds once because the nurses urged me to and kept telling me that I “just hadn’t felt it yet, but it’s coming”. Turns out, it never did. So, a complete opposite of the previous experience when I was calling the doctor to beg for a refill on the the scrip for my pain meds.
    It’s just another example of you never know what’s going to happen….

  • Louise

    March 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I didn’t experience much pain after labor (even with the episiotomy), which I speculate is because labor itself hurt so stinkin’ much that nothing felt terribly painful after that, but what I couldn’t get over was the exhaustion. I couldn’t even make it to the grocery store the first few weeks without feeling like I’d run a marathon (not that I’ve ever run a marathon, mind you), and while my daughter never fell asleep nursing, boy I sure did. And the bleeding–I’m bleeding, I’m done, whoops, I went for a walk and now I’m bleeding again–it felt like it was NEVER going to go away completely. I think my daughter was three months old before I stopped checking to see if I’d started bleeding again.
    Oh, and I totally hear you on the nurses poking the uterus. OW OW OW! “Oh good,” they’d say, “You’re deflating nicely,” and I’d want to HIT them. Hard. That HURTS, lady!

  • Kendra

    March 27, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    You speak the truth about having to request your own pain meds. Apparently I pulled or bruised a muscle pushing my baby out (NO ONE TOLD ME YOU COULD DO THAT!!!1111eleventy) and I needed that Ibuprofen badly. I was also responsible for remembering to request it, as if I didn’t have 5,000 other things on my mind. Oh well.
    I can’t wait until you get to the part about your boobs going from an A cup to a D cup during engorgement and then shrinking back to a B cup some 6 months into nursing, leaving you with stretch marks that look like a bear mauled you. What, that didn’t happen to everyone else?

  • Kathy

    March 27, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    For me, the biggest post-partum shock was the anxiety. I had panic attacks every evening for the first week after my daughter was born, and the only thing scarier than the feelings themselves was the thought that it wasn’t normal. Nobody I knew had gone through that, and I was convinced I was losing my mind. It was such a relief to find out it’s normal for some people, and for me, they passed after a week, but oh, it was awful. I quickly forgot how much I hated being pregnant, but I will NEVER forget how awful I felt in those first few weeks after she was born. Everything feels so scary and foreign and all you want to know is, am I normal and when will this go away?
    GREAT idea for a column, in other words:)

  • Heather

    March 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

    My baby was born October 1 and this is taking me baaaaack. Some places, I don’t want to go! But I love Amalah so I will be reading faithfully (even through the scary parts).
    I remember being afraid that my c-section stitches were going to open up. Ai-yi-yi.

  • Joy

    March 28, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I’m so glad you’ve continued with the rest of the story. Because pregnancy doesn’t really end when your kid pops out.
    You did forget to mention the non-stop, 24 hour a day, constant flow of hospital staff, family, friends in and out of your room that all remind you to “get your rest, you’ll need it when you get home” AS IF!!! Sleep in a hospital?? It’s a sad, sad joke.

  • jonniker

    March 28, 2009 at 12:15 am

    At three weeks postpartum, I might add that a nurse accompanied me as well for my first post-birth pee, and I had a vaginal birth. HUMILIATION.
    There is something VERY IMPORTANT that isn’t mentioned here, and I must say it again: VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW IN ADVANCE.
    It’s huge. HUGE. And terrifying. And NO ONE TELLS YOU. And then you tell everyone else, and those who had a baby are all, um, YES. And you’re all, NO ONE TOLD ME.
    I didn’t look at it, thank Jesus, but I felt it, and oh. I wish I hadn’t. THE HORROR.
    It took about a week for it to go down. Oh my fuck.

  • lulu

    March 28, 2009 at 12:46 am

    I had my baby in Nov of last year…one problem with me was my milk not coming in well..(talking to LLL people they say it can take 6-8 weeks to settle a supply)..for me that was very true, so a lot of stress with not enough boob milk, supplementing and mum and M-I-L hovering..not a helpful situation..
    Next time would believe in my instincts and not stress too much about the whole natural vs supplementing…cos really, its only small part of what is hopefully your childs long life.

  • LilliMa

    March 28, 2009 at 1:23 am

    I was just a few weeks behind you and am SO delighted to see the new column. One thing I would also encourage the c-sectioners out there is to really DON’T be shy to ring the nurse to help get the baby out of her plastic bin (by your bed) and put her back in the bin. I felt hesitant & embarrassed, particularly in the middle of the night until the nurse clucked at me and told me a) it’s their job and b) they WANTED me to hold her as much as possible, which meant I needed help getting her in & out (a painful or near-impossible maneuver on one’s own). Also, they were always offering to take her away to the nursery. I didn’t want that, and it is totally OK to refuse over and over and over again. BUT. If you do need it, it is also totally okay to say yes, please take the baby, and get some sleep. Oh and? Second and third on the remembering-to-take-the-meds thing. I had an emergency c-section and was all, “oh I don’t want the baby to get drugs in my breast milk blah blah” and spent needless hours in horrible pain. When I took the pills, I was a better mother, for true. Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to reading the column.

  • Wendy Hagen

    March 28, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Postpartum life is HARD in so many ways – especially with what’s coming out the back door. Here is my personal account of that action:
    The room was quiet and sterile. White walls, white floors, bad lighting and a small window overlooking the parking lot. I had just birthed my son, Elijah, the day before. And now I was enjoying a moment without phone calls, visitors, nurses and the like. My husband had snuck away for a shower back at home and the pediatrician had taken Elijah away for some tests. I was just starting to relax when all of the sudden I felt it. The urge. I knew there had to be a reason they were pumping me full of stool softeners. The time had come to for me to come to grips with that reason. I made my way to the bathroom as the feeling of discomfort increased. I squatted cautiously over the lovely white toilet (where are the seat covers in the postpartum rooms?) so that I would not be germified by OPP (other peoples placentas). This in and of itself is a sight to see, a true challenge and workout for my 5’1’’ self. Squatting on my tiptoes, I proceeded with the inevitable. At least, I tried. The pain got worse. Tears welled up in my tired eyes. This hurt. Were the stool softeners expired or something because they certainly did not seem to have done their job? There I was – tired, alone, hormonal and fat. And now I was stuck in the bathroom.
    I looked over at the wall where an enticing contraption hung ever so sweetly. The words jumped out at me, “Pull cord in case of emergency.” This was an emergency. I pulled. Two nurses came rushing in within seconds, panting in anticipation of what they would find. I will never forget the look of disappointment on their faces when they saw me squatting over the toilet in tears. “Um, I think I have poop stuck halfway in and halfway out. And uhhh, it hurts really bad. And I don’t know what to do.” They had hit the jackpot with this cord pull. You know they wanted to ro-sham-bo for the follow up on this call. One of the nurses politely said, “Okay. I will check you.” Fabulous. She checked me and then broke the news. “Sweetheart,” she said in an I feel sorry for you kind of way. “That’s not poop. That’s a hemorrhoid.” Welcome to motherhood.

  • Alli

    March 28, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Just had my second son 5ish weeks ago. I thought I was much more prepared for a second birth than I was the first. But hey, if the pregnancy is totally different (which everyone loved to tell me “Every pregnancy is different!), then why shouldn’t the birth?
    The whole going to the bathroom after a vaginal birth routine is kind of comical.In the mother/ baby room the sink was on the other side of the room and not in the bathroom. This made filling up the squirt bottle with warm water number one priority before entering the bathroom. Not easy to do when things are so messed up you totally misjudge just how much you had to pee. Also, the ice packs you have to break to make cold are kind of hard to break when you are so weak you can barely walk to the bathroom in the first place. And for some reason, they only leave supplies in there for the next three bathroom trips, so you are constantly having to ask for new ice packs, mesh underwear, and gigantic pads.
    Now I’m maneuvering the life of a mom with two kids. Looking forward to hearing your perspective, Amy! My oldest is 4, so it is interesting.

  • jonniker

    March 28, 2009 at 11:56 am

    God, Alli, YES. Why do they not stock the bathrooms properly? Why was I CONSTANTLY asking for new mesh panties and feeling bad about it? WHYYY?

  • Jo

    March 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Sorry for this long comment, but I got a little tearful just remembering those weeks after birth. My darling 9 pound, 8 ouncer got stuck in my pelvis during labor. After a large episiotomy and lots of tugging with the vacuum, out she came after 2 hours of pushing.
    No one tells you how painful it really is, do they?! I hemorrhaged and needed an immediate transfusion and was anemic for months. Then, after I begged to be sent home from the hospital, my baby began jerking and twitching in her sleep at home. Completely petrified, we got an ambulance and spent the next week in the hospital getting loads of brain scans, lumbar punctures and other horrible things done to my little newborn that I hope no new mother has to endure. Luckily, she was fine and had something called benign neonatal sleep myoclonus (yeah, what?) that she outgrew in just a few weeks. During that week though, my stitches came out and I got horribly infected–in my hoohah. I couldn’t even get up to hold my baby when she cried. It was the worst pain and I didn’t tell anyone because I was too concerned about my baby. Words of advice: PLEASE TELL SOMEONE WHEN YOU’RE IN PAIN! It took weeks of hardcore antibiotics to get rid of that infection and it could have affected my future fertility if it grew any worse.
    My milk took ages to come in because my daughter had a tongue-tie that I was oblivious to (never even heard of it at the time!) and was also causing my nipples to shred–which I also didn’t tell anyone about because I was scared they would make me stop nursing and supplement. Oh how I wish I had asked for the help I needed, it would have made life so much easier!
    Anyway, I guess I just wanted to share another experience. It is such a shock the first time and it’s so important to take care of yourself and ask for help.
    Happily, my daughter is a thriving 7 month old who is still breastfeeding, hooray!

  • Dawn

    March 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for continuing this. I had my daughter in September and postpartum was rough for me. Sometimes it still is. I look forward to reading more and seeing that I am not alone.

  • Barbara

    March 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Here’s a few notes from a mom of 4. I reacted differently with #1 and 3 than I did with #2 and 4. !&3 I was down right Super Woman, complete with caught up laundry, daily walks and NO PAIN MEDS!!!! #2&4 brought massive depression, no inclination to mother and a paranoia that all men are molesters. (No, I was never molested.), not to mention an extended prescription on the pain meds.
    Anyway, you can’t count on any of your experiences repeating. I had 3 girls and 1 boy, so it wasn’t based on babies gender or time of year born or anything like that. It was my specific body chemistry at that time. Do your best, ask for help and cut yourself some major slack.

  • Jess

    March 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    One thing I haven’t seen anyone else mention: for some people (me!) an epidural (and I had an unplanned C-section, so got a nice drug-cocktail on top of my epidural) makes you get very very itchy for a couple of days afterwards. My skin was so sensitive, and my face turned bright red because I would rub my cheeks trying to get the itch to go away.
    It was very uncomfortable, but my nurses told me it was very common. It made for some god-awful hospital pictures, though…

  • Shosh

    March 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    The best thing for episiotomies – FROZEN PADS. Stick them in the freezer, pull them out when you need them. I can’t tell you how much pain relief they brought me.

  • Melissa

    March 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Lots of great comments so far. This really brings it back, doesn’t it? I think I would only add two things: 1) From the variety of experiences posted, take away that YOUR experience is normal, because everything is normal. The emotions, the physical difficulties, the whole shebang. You should ask your Dr. how he/she supports you postpartum. The endless cooing over the baby and Pollyanna positivity could conceivably drive you insane. You have to have someone real to talk to.
    2) I almost never talk about this because I find it deeply embarrassing, but I have a bit of incontinence. I wish I would have pursued it with my OB right away, but I didn’t and we moved and now my daughter is 2.5 and I’m just now seeing a GYN next week and I will bring it up. It makes me deeply resentful of pregnancy and labor, not to mention the care I have to take not to run or jump on a full bladder. If this happens to you, buck up and get over the embarrassment and get treatment as soon as you can. I could do Kegels 24/7 and it wouldn’t help. So there you go.

  • paranoid

    March 28, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Wendy Hagan, you made me laugh. I will never, ever forget being trapped in the bathroom for over an hour after my first daughter was born, just trying to get something to come out. I foolishly thought it would be better with my second, ’cause I never actually made it to the pushing part before I had a c-section, but it happened again. For, like, two weeks, I had to plan trips to the bathroom so I’d have kid coverage for the inevitable 20-30 minutes it would take.

  • Beth

    March 28, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    You will be CONSTIPATED.
    I also had an ’emergency’ c-section. I say ’emergency’ because I was having dysfunctional labor(1 minute long contractions, 1 minute apart for hours and hours with .5cm to show for it) and was unable to get an epidural due to a low platelet count. So it was c-section or continue with the freaking stupid constant effing contractions.
    Anyway, my first ppp(postpartum poop) was the most horrible experience ever as it was what I imagined labor would be like. And that was with the stool softeners 2x a day. Some moms I talked to after thought since I didn’t have to push I wouldn’t have the hemorrhoids and the issues with the pooping and the ew. But I did. And how.
    Really. No one ever tells you THAT. But that’s why I’m here. To talk about the poop.
    BTW, SO excited for this column! Kick-ass!

  • Suzanne

    March 28, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Another thing that happened to me post-partum that no one told me about was the night sweats. The first week or so, I woke up drenched in sweat every night. I guess it makes sense that it is related to your hormones readjusting. I told myself at least I’m losing all that water weight, but it was still unpleasant.

  • Catherine S

    March 29, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Damn Jo, that was one horrible postpartum mess. You have my fullest sympathies:(
    Nothing all that new or original to add. Just seconding everything for the most part. I was just never prepared for how hard it was to recover from my first major surgery and take care of newborn. Also was totally not prepared for the fear and anxiety. I had a C-section at 3:00 am and had been up since 6 to prior morning. Was not able to sleep till about 2 am 24 hours after my section. That was about 48 hours and no sleep. That is what anxiety will do… Everything else was kind of a blur.

  • kate

    March 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    My first pp experience was horrible. My second was great. It just shows how every time is different and that having experience from the first time helps ease the anxiety so much. With my first everything was great in hospital and then it was time to go home and BAM that is when it hit me. My home no longer looked like my home. My kitchen looked different. My bedroom was different. It was like someone had gone into my home while I was in the hospital and rearranged my furniture, except that no one had. The best way I could explain this to my husband and anyone else who would listen to me was “You know when you’ve just spent two hours watching a movie or reading a book and you feel like you’ve become emmersed in that world for a little while? And, then for a little bit afterward when the movie’s over or you’re done reading, everything just seems a little DIFFERENT?” That’s what it was like and I hated it. I cried all the time, I couldn’t breastfeed worth a crap, I got a spinal headache from the epidural (which no one told me could happen. I get migraines and it was one thousand times worse) and I could hardly move so taking care of a newborn was practically impossible. Thank god for my hubby who would bring the baby to me when it was time to try to nurse again. Which leads me to another thing. If you are trying to breastfeed a jaundiced baby and breastfeeding is not going well SUPPLEMENT WITH FORMULA. I, being a new mom and hearing from people that you mustn’t supplement for fear of effing nipple confusion, was hellbent on only breastfeeding my baby. And being a new mom I didn’t know because no one had told me that if your jaundiced baby has a weak cry and is hard to wake he is dehydrated and can end up on an IV and under bili lights at the hospital (my son did) So- point of story is- you will probably cry and feel anxious and like you are the only person to have ever felt like this, but know that you aren’t! And it will get better in time. They don’t stay infants forever. If you need meds, talk to your dr. And, seriously, watch for dehydration signs. I look back and I get so angry with myself and my doctor and the pedi for not telling me more about what to watch for with that. My second pp experience was fine so everything time is different. Sorry to ramble!

  • Meagan Francis

    March 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    What great advice! I can attest to the rumor that afterpains get worse with each baby; by number four, mine were nearly unbearable. Like labor pains, only they lasted a lot longer and were totally nauseating. A heating pad (I used a sock filled with dry rice & then popped in the microwave) helped a lot.
    Also: for some women, painful gas is a common postpartum complaint (even if they haven’t had a c-sec). I learned that one the hard way.

  • Ren

    March 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    YAY YAY YAY!!! I followed your weekly pregnancy blog faithfully and I’m now two weeks post c-section. I can’t thank you enough for starting this at this time.

  • LauraP

    March 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I’m probably going to be the person that everybody hates, but my post-partum experience was fantastic. I was only pushing for 12 minutes, had no tearing, and was home from the Midwife Center 8.5 hours after I gave birth.
    The one thing I was surprised by was my hip pain. I had quite a bit of pain prior to going into labor, but it was a pain that was really hard to pinpoint. It made making even the littlest movement in bed painful and I sure looked funny when I walked.
    A couple chiropractor visits though that first week really helped and it felt good as new within about 2 weeks.
    Editor: We don’t hate you. We are just jealous. Nah, it’s great to hear wonderful stories. We love those too, because they are just as honest, real and true.

  • Michelle

    March 29, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Love this and can relate with you on so many levels. I just gave birth to my third daughter almost three months ago and it’s nice to read everything you write to know that I am not alone in this adventure we call parenting. Thank you

  • mhart

    March 29, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    My postpartum experience was so horrible that I chose not to have another baby after my doctor told me that once you have ppd it gets worse with each baby.
    I really believe that the reason the ppd was so bad is because I was so terrified of letting everyone down, my husband, mother and babysitter that I still feel major guilt over my baby’s first 6 weeks of life.
    Somehow I got it into my head that my husband was going to leave me if I didn’t show him the same attention that I had before the baby came. That included taking care of the house, having dinner on the table when he walked in the door and laundry. All this after an emergency c-section. The baby was fed, bathed and ready for bed an hour before he got home from work so that I could spend the evening catering to his every whim, even though that’s not how we were before the birth.
    My mother wanted to take the baby home with her for the night the day we brought him home from the hospital. Which inspired zero confidence in myself as a new mother and told me that apparently I was a great disapointment to her as a daughter as well if she didn’t trust me to take care of my own baby. And she was constantly teling me that breastfeeding was not giving him enough to eat since he needed fed so often. So I stopped, because, hey my mom must know what she’s talking about right?
    And I made an effort not to hold him because the babysitter kept telling me how many babies were so spoiled by being held and it was such a nightmare for her that she had even stopped sitting with some of these babies. I couldn’t lose my day care right?
    And our financial situation was not so great at the time. I spend hours sitting on the couch while the baby sat in his carrier on the loveseat across the room trying to figure out who I could give him to because we couldn’t afford to raise him. I did’t want to get attached to him if I decided to give him away. So no holding of the baby.
    No one knew about any of this until much later because I didn’t want anyone to know what a failure I was.
    Happily, things got much better after 6 weeks. The hormones finally stablized and I became the person I was before giving birth. My son is now 13 and is the greatest, most well adjusted kid in the world and we have an extremely close relationship.
    There are still times when I get a little stab of guilt reading blogs about new babies and the enormous rush of love and protectiveness new moms have for their babies because I didn’t have that and feel that a lot of time was lost with my son.
    I guess what I’m trying to say in this incredibly long post, is that TELL YOUR DOCTOR what you’re feeling. Don’t let it eat at you like I did and mess with your head. There are medications that can help and you can still breastfeed while taking them. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help and you’ll be saving yourself tons of guilt over what you allowed yourself to lose during those precious first weeks of your beautiful baby’s life.

    • LibrarianJo

      June 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      While having PPD can be a risk factor for future pregnancies and increase your likelihood of developing it again, it doesn’t always happen.

      I had it bad with number 1 and not at all with number 2. Just thought I’d throw that out there in case anyone else who has suffered is concerned about it happening again.

      But yes, what you said about not being afraid or ashamed about the feelings and talking to your care provider.

      It’s ok to ask for help and to tell people you are struggling. Most people won’t think you’re a bad person and are more than willing to jump in and help.

  • Angela

    March 29, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    That’s it. I must be ready to have another, because after reading all this I STILL am looking back to my son’s birth and the aftermath (neither of which were easy, painfree or uncomplicated, in fact, quite the opposite) wistfully.
    Something that I found unexpected was that I actually GAINED weight right after giving birth! They said it was because of all the IV fluids and water retention, but my legs, feet, everything, was bloated up like crazy for about one week. I even took photos of my feet to document it because they looked so weird. But it really did go away after a week. (Probably due to those night sweats another poster mentioned! lol)
    Oh, and I did lose all my pg weight (although I was overweight to begin with, so that wasn’t a really big deal for me) in a few weeks, but I think that’s because at mealtimes I spent so much time looking at and holding the baby that I truly forgot about eating. Too bad that went away after a few weeks. 🙂
    As challenging and weird at this PP time can be though, it’s still pretty amazing. I mean, Look what you just made! Score!

  • Stacy S.

    March 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Amalah!!!! I am one of the ones who requested a PP calendar, yay!!! I am nearly 3 weeks post-partum, and I am so excited to have this! I loved 0 to 40, and I know this will be just as funny and candid and get as many “YES!!”‘s out of me…. 🙂
    Me? Four days overdue, I was induced, then 12 hours of labor later, had a c-section. Not really what I envisioned, but, eh – I got a damn cute baby at the end. (And a nasty infected incision too! Grrr….) 🙁

  • wallydraigle

    March 30, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I had one of those awesome pregnancies that make most women just seethe. I felt great, I felt beautiful (was I actually beautiful? probably not, but I felt AWESOME), I had tons of energy even though I was huge (strangers would stop me on the street and ask when the twins were due when I was 7 months along; I started showing at 10 weeks). I thought my postpartum experience would be similar.
    36 hours of labor, 12 of which was just easy, early labor, 10 of which was back labor, the rest of which was heavily medicated because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Once I got my totally awesome drugs, I had so much fun, and I progressed at light speed. Then I stalled at 9 cm. My gigantic baby had to be hacked from my midsection. And here’s one of the things they don’t tell you: when you have a spinal block, and they pull a giant baby out of you, it will still hurt like a MOTHER.
    The hospital stay was great. My least favorite nurse was still pretty awesome. The drugs were amazing. My husband roomed in with me, and got to pawn my baby off on the nursery whenever I needed a break. My nipples felt like bloody pieces of sandpaper, and I cried every time my daughter decided she needed to eat, but that was the only problem. I thought, “This motherhood thing is great! I love this! It is so fun!”
    And then I got home and spent a week crying and fantasizing about my favorite nurse Joan coming to live with us. And even though I loved my daughter fiercely, I didn’t like her. I resented her intrusion on my carefree lifestyle. I don’t handle sleep deprivation well at all. It makes me a horrible, depressed monster. And I, too, made the mistake of going without pain meds for a day. It was also fall, and added to your normal baby blues was the mild depression I always go through every October.
    My sister came to the rescue. I sent her an email that I thought sounded pretty upbeat, but which actually screamed, “HELP!” and she flew in from halfway across the country. She cooked, cleaned, taught me how to swaddle and helped my daughter get her days and nights straightened out. She will never know how eternally grateful I am.
    Things still sucked for a while after she left, and I felt like a horrible person for not liking my baby, but one day a couple months ago I realized that I was enjoying motherhood, that I liked my daughter and enjoyed playing with her and taking care of her. She’s six months old now, and I actually look forward to waking her up in the morning. I miss her when she goes to bed at night. I enjoy nursing (I nearly gave up around the two-month mark because I hated it SO MUCH). It took a while, but things evened out.
    Another thing they don’t tell you: even if you have a c-section, postpartum sex SUCKS. It’s like losing your virginity all over again, except that your vagina is made of sandpaper and raw nerve endings, not normal human flesh. And your midsection is still tender, and your organs still feel like they’re still sloshing around inside your belly. Ugh.
    I wish veteran moms and dads would be more open about the early months. They probably don’t want to scare expectant parents by saying things like, “Life really sucks for a while. You’ll probably want to shake your baby at least once. You’ll probably feel like a terrible person for resenting your child. You’ll probably spend weeks wishing you were back in the hospital.” But I think if I’d known this stuff ahead of time, it wouldn’t have been so dismaying when it happened to me. The reigning emotion in my life for two months was guilt. If I’d known other people felt this way, that it was normal, I think I would have ridden it out a little better.

  • Wallydraigle

    March 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I forgot to mention one other thing: the postpartum poop. OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was probably worse in my case because of all that back labor, but when I finally got to the hospital, I hadn’t pooped in a day, and it still hadn’t happened until the day after we came home. A whole week. And let me tell you, those stool softeners DO NOT WORK. At least, not for me. Especially since oxycodone is constipating. She was born on Tuesday evening, and I gave birth to my arm on Sunday morning. And the next few times were still awful. For weeks after that, I still had problems. Oh my heck.
    Next time, I’m gradually ramping up my fiber intake toward the end up pregnancy and during my hospital stay. Worst experience of my life.

  • Catherine S

    March 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Wallydraigle, YES, YES, and YES to ALL of it. The first 3 months were awful and I had more than one night where I just ended up yelling and crying bc I wanted to sleep so badly. Then once I got the chance, I was such a bundle of raw nerves and anxiety that I couldn’t sleep. Many nights of baby crying from 8pm till 6 am, after which I broke out the wine and ear plugs. NO ONE TOLD ME IT COULD BE THAT BAD!!! It wasn’t until after that other moms were all like yeah, that happens a lot. Bunch of assholes.
    And the sex is still not the same 6 months later and after a CS. The nursing has dried up the vajay like a damn prune. Really don’t feel like having the sexes anymore really. Again, this is something that I would have appreciated being warned about.
    And did anyone get the “healing ridge”? That is the weird swollen bump above your CS incision and makes you abdomed look really weird for a while. I panicked every time I looked at it for 4 weeks until my doc said it was normal and would go away. I thought it would be like that permanently!
    You know what though? Even if someone had tried to warn me about all of it, I would have been in denial that it would happen to me. So, not sure that being warned would have even helped.

  • Jo

    March 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Wallydraigle and Catherine S–YES! You both summed it up so well. I also think I would have been in denial, so no amount of warning would have helped. But it has been so great to read all these stories and know I wasn’t alone.
    I’m sure Amalah will have a great column about post-partum sex. Actually, it should be very short. HA. Post-partum poop is just about as fun.
    Can I just say, my hemorrhoids still hurt. A lot. I’ve named the big one Harold.

  • Jess

    March 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    That whole uterus shrinking thing – I didn’t think it was such a big deal…until my second kid. WOW! THAT HURT! The nurse mentioned that it gets worse each kid. Ugh.

  • wallydraigle

    March 30, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Oh, I agree that I would have been in denial if people had told me all this ahead of time. But when it DID happen, I would say, “Oh, this is NORMAL. It will PASS.” Not, “Oh my goodness why did they send me home with this thing I’m a horrible, evil, mother and should be locked up.”

  • Darcy

    March 30, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Yes to all of it! And yeah, postpartum sex is surprisingly painful, especially if you had to be stitched up after a vaginal birth. That was disappointing.
    The most glamorous moment ever: about a week after the birth the stool softeners finally began to work… sort of. I was so scared of The First PP Poop because of my stitches. Well, the urge reached “cannot ignore any longer” status while I was nursing, so there I sat on the toilet with a Breast Friend pillow wrapped around me and my baby latched on and half asleep. I was moaning a little from the pain and the dread. My poor husband was standing next to me and holding my hand, and after a few long minutes he said, “Do you want me to put on a glove?”
    I will love him forever and ever for saying that.

  • Kelly

    March 31, 2009 at 8:53 am

    @ Stacy: Yeah, I had horrible clots the first few days. (Opted for a c-section after 12 hours of unmedicated labor. Why I waited so long for the drugs, I don’t know, because they were FABULOUS.) The first time I stood up, I didn’t know at the time, but my husband told me a clot fell out, and the nurse promptly disposed of it after I went into the bathroom. Hubby called it a “hairless gerbil.”

  • Cheryl S.

    March 31, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Here’s my experience. I had a great birth, lovely epidural. Then I woke up the next morning and felt like I had been run over by a TRUCK. Multiple times. Every muscle in my body hurt. Amen to taking your meds!
    Also, I cried leaving the hospital because I was scared to death and I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do with a baby for FOREVER. Now, I can’t imagine a day without her. Your feelings are OK whatever they are!

  • Alexis

    March 31, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I’m 22 weeks pregnant. With twins. And I shouldn’t have read all these comments. Um, can I be unpregnant now, please? Thank you.

  • Elizabeth_K

    March 31, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I’m so glad to read these! I had some of the same experiences, some different, but I know when I was desperately Googling “Why my three week old won’t sleep” at 3 a.m. last year I wish I had found this.

  • Leah

    March 31, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    So glad you’re doing this. I was SO prepared for pregnancy and SO prepared for L&D, but nothing–NOTHING–prepared me for the aftermath, particularly the physical stuff in those first few days. I had a few moments there where I was all, “WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MY BODY?!?!” It’s better now, but it sure would have been nice to have been prepared.
    (I think the reason most people don’t talk about it much is because it’s super-duper gross and somehow more embarrassing than talking about all the super-duper gross stuff that happens during pregnancy. Oh yeah, and who wouldn’t want to talk about the baby instead of ALL THE BLOOD?)

  • L.M.

    April 1, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Because someone was kind enough to tell me about Lochia, approximately 3-4 weeks before I gave birth (GOOD GOD PEOPLE nobody thought to mention this to me before then!?!!)
    anyhow… because I knew that…
    ….the one thing that freaked me out the #1 most:
    Your lotus petals of love? May actually be more like a mango of love.
    TMI alert here, [chance for you to avert your eyes],
    but I happen to have rather large flaps in that area. As in, my inner labia, if taken off and stuck together, would make a flat skin tortilla almost the diameter of a softball. I’ve always felt selfconscious about this, but have had plenty of years to get used to how it’s supposed to be down there.
    After giving birth, they were swollen from tortilla flaps to PITA FLAPS. Like, go order yourself a gyro, see how thick the pita bread is, and compare that to a standard flour tortilla. Or compare a pantiliner with a HEAVY OVERNIGHT style maxipad. They stayed that way for nearly a week.
    Additionally, the outer labia (the fatty part that is basically right next to your leg) was equally swollen… sticking down about 1/2 to one full inch lower than they were supposed to be.
    Luckily, there was no pain FROM the swelling (it was mainly the 3-4 stitches and the actual birth canal that hurt), but the swelling was unnerving.
    The nurse who was inspecting things in the recovery room pulled out this HUGE, huge, HUGE pad. I groaned, because I hate thick pads. She snapped it, shook it, and applied it into my panties for me. IT. WAS. COLD! It was a combination cold pack and sanitary pad! SHE HAD NOT WARNED ME!!
    I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stand it, because it was very cold at first! After a minute or two, I started to get used to it and it felt SO GOOD. In fact, I stayed on those things the whole time I was in the hospital, and I even ended up asking for a couple to take home with me, just in case I’d need them. I think those cold packs made a huge contribution to my swelling going down.
    So, all that to say that a) you’ll probably swell up, and the more you had to start with, the more you might have to deal with in that regard, plus b) anything they give you at the hospital, try at least once. If it sucks, you don’t have to do it again but it’s possible that just MAYBE these people have enough experience to recommend something that will actually HELP. 🙂

  • Kathy

    April 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Oh yeah, one more thing: nobody expects a colicky baby. Some of us get them anwyay. It’s awful and difficult and like wallydraigle said, you might not like your baby very much at all for awhile (true for all parents, and nobody talks about it, but especially true if your baby screams herself purple 24/7). It’s normal. Don’t waste what little energy you have feeling guilty for wishing your baby had a different (better) little personality. it is so, so normal.
    Also remember- colic passes, and then it all gets SO much better.

  • Georgina

    April 16, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it but I found that after my emergency section my whole lower abdomen was so bruised it looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to me. It wasn’t particularly sore. Or well I suppose it might have been but I took the pain killers religiously.

  • Ashley

    April 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Oh god, help help help. There is a reason that people don’t tell you this stuff EVER because the human race would dwindle to nothing.
    I’m preggo right now and like to be over-informed about stuff. Oh god, I may have just REALLY over-informed myself with all this stuff. I’m actually terrified now of the giving birth process. I’m sure I’ll forget between now and then but good LORD this sounds like hell on earth.
    Why did I do this again?

  • Della

    April 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    For those who feel like Ashley at this point…. Just remember, the VAST, overhelming, huge MAJORITY of the population of the earth, currently and throughout history, has siblings. Meaning, literally, billions, with a B, BILLIONS of women who did it once and ALREADY KNEW THIS STUFF YOU JUST READ… then went did it AGAIN.
    Also, Lochia is stupid. Also, stooooool softeners, how I love them.

  • Marie

    April 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I am due in September and this has to be the best thing i have ever read. It doesn’t scare me but i now know what to expect and what to plan for.
    It is so funny hearing how pregnancy and birth are such wonderful experiences and then you get in the middle of all this and go “WTF”. lol
    It’s great to actually hear the truth and also hear how great it is at the same time.

  • Brittany

    September 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Yes , this is exactly what i felt i also had a episiotomies. It hurt so bad it took me at least 5 min to get in and out of bed. But one thing you didn’t mention was after i gave birth to my now 12 week son last june was about 1 1/2 hours after i gave birth i could not stand up stright! everytime i would stand up i lost my breath and it felt like all my organs were falling down into my uterus almost like they were about to fall out of me. I looked like a Hunchback for about 2 days. But going through that pain was worth it , just looking at my son and watching him laugh & smile at everything is the best thing in the world!

  • Kim

    January 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Another entry in the “nobody told me…” file.
    My first delivery was fine. I had a vaginal birth with an epidural, and I tore a bit. Can’t rememberhow manyu stitches I had. But my girl was preemie, and spent 8 days in the NICU. There was no putting my feet up, very little resting, no sitz baths. As a result, I didn’t heal right for a looong time.
    And then, right after my six week checkup, I was in the shower, and there was flesh hanging from my cootchie. A piece of flesh coming out of me. WTF??? I called and the nurse very calmly informed me that I could come in at 4 that afternoon, even though, hello, piece of flesh hanging out of me?
    It was a blood clot, and my OB removed it. Turned out it was acting like a cork, because by the time I got the baby into the car, I had gushed a puddle in the parking lot. I sat on the kid’s diaper changing pad on the way home. My bathroom looked a murder scene. I sat on my toilet nursing my kid, hoping it would trigger uterine contractions that would stop the bleeding. I was passing clementine-size clots. I ended up in the ER, sitting on towels, and getting an ultrsound before they finally sent me home.
    That kickstarted my period, too – no bf’ing break for me.
    (This second time around, though – I’m 2 weeks PP – has been much easier. Except for the breastfeeding. I’m hoping to skip the clots this time.)

  • teri joinbee

    November 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    thank you so much….. exactly as it is. Love this

  • Sabrina

    April 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Yes to all of this! These are the things no one tells you after you have a baby. I am however shocked at your hospitals policy of requesting your own pain meds! That is insane! I was so out of it after both my c-sections, I would’ve totally missed my pain meds. I hope they think about reversing that… yikes! 

  • beatlebugg

    November 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve been stressed out about my mother in law’s plan to come stay with us for 6 weeks after the baby is born, but after reading all this it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea! Thanks guys 🙂

  • Lisa

    December 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I’m so glad I found this. I delivered 2 weeks and 5 days ago. I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for 14 years. But I was in no way prepared for the postpartum fun. My labor was fine, had a blast with my co-workers. I was laughing, watching football, looking in the mirror during delivery…had a nice perineal tear, described as a “long” second degree, which I know was probably really a third degree. I was so numb right after the delivery from my wonderful epidural I didn’t think twice about it. The next day is a blur of no sleep, people in and out all day (it’s worse if you work there, trust me!), perineal pain, and the worst thing was breast feeding. I had too much pride or stupidity to think I needed classes, I mean I help moms get their babies latched all the time, right? Wrong. Take the damn classes. The lactation people were very helpful/terrified me to death about nipple confusion and the horrors of formula and how I should offer the breast every time the babe smacked his lips or rooted. His only thing he knows how to do is root/smack his lips. They came in a got on my case about not doing skin to skin every minute, I did do a lot of skin to skin, but sometimes he had to go in the crib! So I had a love/hate relationship with them in the hospital, but they were great to call when I got home. The postpartum poop fun happened day 5, so did the breast engorgement. I had never heard of that before. My google history is full of “is it normal if my nipples bleed”, “why won’t my baby stop crying”, “postpartum constipation”, “how long should my incision hurt”, etc etc etc. so anyhow, I think I’m still in the shit storm, but I appreciate that it won’t last forever. Also, I too feel anxiety that I’m doing all this wrong…

  • Nelly

    February 11, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Very helpful thank you!