I did a little “things they don’t tell you” post after my first experience with those early postpartum days, but now that I’m a second-time mom and basically have no filter, I thought I would share another round of gruesome details. Because no one ever talks about this crap and it’s something that needs to be said! Ladies. The first two weeks after birth? Not fun! Let’s discuss. Maybe you can relate, or maybe you’re expecting and I’m about to scare the shit out of you. But there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly about birth, and I’m here to share that with you.
The Things They Don’t Tell You About Birth
The bleeding. Holy hell. There’s a reason they give you those diaper sized pads (use them!). Because you’ll bleed more than you can imagine. The first day is like WHAT IS GOING ON?! but then it slowly improves over time. I totally bled all over my pajamas the first day, which is why I recommend wearing dark clothing after delivery. And changing that pad every hour.
Speaking of…the diaper sized pads. Seriously, these things are huge. FOR GOOD REASON (see above). As if your vagina wasn’t dealing with enough, these babies are large enough to add a waddle to your walk. I brought my own maxi pads to the hospital and they didn’t do a damn thing. Just use the diaper pads at for the first few days, trust me! And change them EVERY time you go to the bathroom. Ask for another pack before you leave the hospital!
The mesh panties. I don’t know if I should love or hate these. I’m bordering on the side of love because they’re so damn comfortable. Also, I wasn’t about to ruin any nice underwear, and the massive sized diaper pad fits them nicely. Super sexy sounding, right? And listen ladies, thongs are out of the picture for a good 6 weeks. So bust out the granny panties once you’ve graduated from the mesh ones and hold off on the g-strings until after your follow up appointment, mmmkay?
Birthing the placenta. Oh you thought the baby was it? NOPE! That placenta has to come out too! Luckily it just slipped right out with my second birth, but I remember having to push a bit with the first. It’s fun!
The post-labor contractions while breastfeeding. Second birth, these hurt like HELLLLLLL. Holy crap, I felt like I was in labor all over again!!! Like what the F is that?! I had just dealt with actual labor and then it felt like labor all over again, every single time I breastfed! I remember feeling these with Landon, but it was SIGNIFICANTLY worse second time around. I pounded Motrin like it was my job. You also bleed as a result of the contractions!
The swelling. So, being a nurse, I like to see what things look like. I don’t suggest doing this post-birth, HA! The swelling to your vag is UNREAL and you won’t even recognize it. Ask for ice packs and USE THEM! Your nurse will likely throw some ice in a glove and tell you to shove it down there. Seriously, a life-saver.
Use the perineal bottle. This thing is gonna be your BFF for the next week. Use it every single time you use the bathroom, especially if you tore during labor. Trust me. Fill it with lukewarm water and squirt down there WHILE you’re peeing. Cause OMG, that pee does not feel good against an incision if you tore. Nooooo no no no. That bottle was my saving grace. It also hurts to wipe, so the bottle does a pretty good cleaning job and then you can just dab it dry.
This next thing is something all birthing mothers fear….the first post-birth poop. This is more terrifying than actual labor. I didn’t poop for like 4 days after having Landon because I was so nervous about it. I was swollen, in pain, and it hurt to wipe, and I had NO idea how pooping would work into the mix. Basically, do NOT deny those stool softeners. Eat them like candy (kidding. Sort of). It will help you strain less during that first poop!
Your nipples WILL be sore. Whoever says breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt is a f-ing liar. That shit hurts, and hurts bad. Raw, cracked, sore nipples for a good 6 weeks! Ask for lanolin immediately after birth (they have little tubes of it!) or soothie gel pads. Use them as soon as you start breastfeeding. My tip: rub colostrum on your nipples, let it air dry, and then apply lanolin after every feed.
All dignity goes out the window. I remember walking to the bathroom fully naked, holding a chuck pad underneath me, post birth because I needed to pee! Luckily the nurses helping you have seen it before so it’s NBD to them (trust me, that’s coming from a nurse!)
(Taken by my doula a few short hours after I had Noelle. I had just taken a post-birth nap and I remember feeling SO exhausted in this photo, but so overjoyed and also a little in shock at how fast my labor went!)
I also polled a few cesarean birth mamas to see what they wish they new about their births. Here are some of their responses below:
“I was told after my [cesarean] that there would be a possibility of constipation but holy hell it was epic. Take whatever they are willing to give you to get that working again!”
“Your lady parts still swell….When noticing it in the mirror, you might be frightened.”
“You better not sneeze, cough, or laugh for the first few days after a c section. You feel like your incision is going to break open.” (As a nurse, my advice for this would be to hold a pillow over that incision while doing so!)
“Ask for the abdominal binder if your OB doesn’t already give it to you. Life. Saver. It braces your muscles so when you move, cough, laugh, it doesn’t hurt so bad.”
“C-section women are much more prone to baby blues, which no one ever told me. So when I cried, hysterically, every day for no reason for 10 days I felt like I was losing it! I googled and found out it was totally normal, I just really wish I had known beforehand so I didn’t think I was nuts for 4 days.”
“The swelling was incredible. And it probably got to be the worst about a week after surgery and didn’t go completely down until over two weeks after. It was freakin’ scary!”
Are you terrified of birth yet? We can all promise you that none of these things actually matter when you’re looking at your new baby, and they’ll be a distant memory in just a few short weeks! The amazing part is you CAN do this, and you’ll handle it better than you think. Promise!