Your entire pregnancy the focus seems to stay on the birth of your baby. You’re flooded with tips and advice for childbirth and sent to prenatal classes. Sure, there’s plenty advice about babies and infant care being thrown at you, too, but no one seems to want to talk about YOUR postpartum recovery.
There is a gap in our culture for information about the postpartum healing of birthing parents. We don’t want to talk about stitches, and vaginas, and lochia. It can all come as a shock when the focus is pregnancy, birth, baby. What about you?
It’s not that it doesn’t ever get talked about, it’s just that your physical and emotional experience in the weeks after your baby is born seem to get glossed over. So, let’s lay it all out and talk about the most surprising things about postpartum healing.
Vaginal birth will leave your bottom tender.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer but I still think many new parents are surprised by how tender they are. It’s manageable but peeing can be pretty traumatic.
In case no one else tells you, that little squirt bottle provided by your midwives or the hospital is a magical device. Fill it with warm water when you go to the bathroom and squirt the water over your labia as you urinate. It makes a world of difference. It’s also a great way to clean your entire bottom, especially if you have had hemorrhoids or tearing.
You can also try herbal sitz baths or perineal healing sprays to soothe your tender parts. Pad-sicles are a favorite among our clients for soothing perineal swelling after birth.
You might find you’re a sweaty mess.
Remember in prenatal class when they told you about that increased blood supply that was putting pressure on your circulatory system? Now it’s time to rid your body of those excess fluids. You may notice increased night sweats or more sweating in general. If you were given IV fluids during or after birth that can increase the sweating and your urination output.
Postpartum Mood Disorders, like Postpartum Depression, are probably more common that you think.
Studies have shown as many as 17% of new parents experience anxiety symptoms after giving birth. If you find yourself feeling anxious or experiencing other symptoms of a Postpartum Mood Disorder, you should seek medical care. Don’t be afraid of judgment, get the help you need so that you can be the parent your child(ren) need.
Many pregnant parents are choosing to take preventative action by consuming their placenta and hiring a postpartum doula. While there is no scientific evidence that placenta encapsulation prevents Postpartum Depression, the anecdotal evidence is astonishing. We do know that having judgment-free, professional postpartum support helps to avoid and ease Postpartum Depression. While placenta encapsulation and postpartum doula care do not replace medical care, they are complimentary to the treatment you are receiving from your medical care providers.
Intense cramping may result from breastfeeding.
You may notice intense menstrual like cramps when breastfeeding. You may not. When you are breastfeeding, your body produces oxytocin, the hormone that is responsible for love and uterine contractions. This is nature’s way of helping your uterus return to its normal state but can be a little scary if no one has warned you. A heating pad or hot water bottle can be soothing. Talk to your health care provider about over the counter pain medication, or if you prefer, natural remedies such as arnica. These cramps will go away over the first week or so.
The beauty of postpartum doula care is that you can have someone with you as you experience any unexpected things after your baby is born. Whether your baby has surprises in store for you, or your body does, your postpartum doula is by your side to guide you through this unfamiliar territory.