It’s been 9 months since I gave birth to my daughter. She has brought so much joy to my life and I cannot imagine being without her. But, that is not to say motherhood has been easy. Taking care of a baby is hard work, especially when you are trying to recover from the damage caused by bringing her into the world. I did SO MUCH research and watched so many videos trying to prepare myself for what I knew would be a hard recovery. I ended up having a vaginal birth with no complications and minimal tearing. But guys…there is so much more to postpartum recovery than healing from a laceration. Your mind and body goes through some crazy changes during those first few months (not just the 6 weeks they tell you about).
If you’re about to give birth or have recently given birth to a bundle of joy, then I want to share with you these 6 struggles I went through during my postpartum recovery that I wasn’t really expecting.
You don’t completely heal after 6 weeks
They tell you to come in for a 6 week check-up so they can make sure you are “all healed up” and give you permission to resume your normal activities. I expected my body to be 100% back to normal after 6 weeks, especially since I had minimal damage down under. But this was so not the case. Every person and birth is different, but I can safely say it took me about 3-4 months until I started to feel completely healed. I did my kegels, sitz baths and healing sprays. But you have to heal internally too, which isn’t something I really thought about. Just have some patience with your body and listen to it. If you don’t feel ready for something, don’t do it. It can delay your healing even more.
Breastfeeding is very hard work
I thought breastfeeding was something that would come naturally. I thought the hardest thing about it would be positioning the baby’s head correctly to get a latch. And in the hospital it seemed like a breeze. She latched right away with no issues. The lactation specialists commended us for being an excellent breastfeeding duo. I was sent home with the utmost confidence.
But then I got home. And my nipples started to get sore. Then they started to crack and bleed. And I found myself dreading the next time I’d have to feed my baby. There is nothing worse than not wanting to feed your baby…so, we paid good money to have a lactation consultant come to the house and inspect our breastfeeding session. Two hundred dollars later and a diagnosed latch problem, I ended up pumping temporarily until my nipples healed. That temporary pumping lasted for 3 months. It took 3 months to have the confidence to try latching my baby again. And it still hurt but it was bearable.
I didn’t even know exclusive pumping was an option. It is something no one ever talks about. It is very hard work but it is doable. I want you to know that it is an option for you if you want it. It is still considered breastfeeding. I thought I would miss on bonding with my baby but I didn’t. We still had very special moments during those 3 months of pumping. Formula is always an option too. Don’t feel weak because you can’t breastfeed. To me, it was harder than giving birth.
You will be very emotional
I thought pregnancy did a number on my hormones. Holy cow was I wrong. Those couple of weeks after giving birth I was a hot mess. My hormones trying to get their act together coupled with my breastfeeding complications sent me into a spiral. Plus, your entire body is in pain from carrying a baby for 9 months and then pushing her out. I cried over everything. I realized I was suffering from “baby blues” when I was stuffing my mouth with pancakes one morning and sobbing at the same time. I’ll never forget the confused and terrified look on my husband’s face.
Baby blues and postpartum depression are talked about, but it’s something you don’t give much thought to until it happens to you. Acknowledge your feelings and understand that they are normal. Your hormones are going through the ringer so mood swings are something to expect. But if it doesn’t go away and you feel like harming yourself or your baby…TELL SOMEONE.
You wont sleep…ever again
People would say to me, “oh, just sleep when the baby sleeps”. Okay, that sounds great but it isn’t that easy. It might be acceptable to nap for the first 6 weeks with the baby, but then you have to be a grown up. My daughter didn’t get into a normal sleep routine for about 3 months and she still doesn’t have it mastered. They wake up a few times a night and when they don’t you’ll wake up anyway thinking they’re dead. But, you learn to function on minimal sleep. God gives you the gift of running on 4 hours of sleep a night once you become a mom. It’s definitely a talent I take pride in.
You’re going to be ravenous
You might think that you ate everything in sight when you pregnant…think again. If you are breastfeeding or pumping, you will suffer from hunger pains that you have never felt before. I could eat an entire pie of pizza, basket of fries and a sub…and STILL have room for dessert. This isn’t the best symptom to have when you are trying to lose that baby weight. The good news is, you actually need more calories when breastfeeding than you did while pregnant. So, bring on those chocolate chip cookies!
You’re hair is going to fall out
Quite literally. This was my most unexpected postpartum symptom. At first I thought it was from stress, until one time I was in the shower and pulled out a fist full of my once long, healthy locks. They tell you your hair will grow long, shiny and luscious during pregnancy. What they don’t tell you is that your postpartum hormones will cause you to lose all of that hair you grew during those 9 months. Try not to freak out, it will stop around 6 months postpartum. Just don’t wear your hair pulled back because you will look like an old woman with a receding hairline.
Being a mom is tough, especially when you are dealing with all of the physical and emotional changes that come with the job. Pregnancy and birth have their own struggles, but it doesn’t end there. Try to embrace the changes in your body and realize it won’t last forever. And more importantly, you are not alone. Us women are the strongest creatures on the planet!
What were some of your worst postpartum symptoms and struggles?
Check out some other posts you might be interested in:
- Confessions of an impatient new mom & how to cope
- Tips for staying active as a stay at home mom
- Encouraging words for moms
- What’s in my diaper bag
- Raising a daughter
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