So, you made it through childbirth! It may not have gone like you planned, but you did it. It’s behind you, and you have finally gotten to meet your baby!!! Bask in the glory of it for just a minute…are you basking?
Okay, now lovingly look at your body. It’s going to do some bizarre-o things over the next few weeks. Here are a few things you may be concerned with: your hair, your skin, your boobs, swollen ankles, your belly, your bladder, hemorrhoids, bleeding, and having sex again.
Your Hair: Pregnant women don’t lose hair like other women. But once those pregnancy hormones shift after childbirth, your scalp makes up for lost time.
I have to say I have clogged the shower drain many times after the birth of each baby. Besides the hormones, the other thing that compounds the amount of hair in the drain is that you may not shower as frequently as you used to. So when you do have the time to shower, you end up losing 4 days worth of hair!
I think my baby was around 4 or 5 months old when I finally stopped losing clumps of hair. I know it’s kind of unsettling, but it will taper off. I promise.
Another really lovely thing that happens is that you may start to grow super-fine hair around your hairline. You get these little whispies in your bangs and above your ears that have a mind of their own. I usually end up wearing headbands near my hairline to hold them down until they grow long enough to lay flat. Check out the pics of this Mom’s new crop of hair growth after baby. Cute, right? :)
Last thing about hair. With baby #4, my hair was so oily after he was born. I thought for sure it was because I wasn’t making the time to shower. But even when I did shower, my hair was super greasy by the end of the day. And I don’t normally have oily hair. I can’t imagine what it’s like for new Mammas who do! Just wash your hair more frequently if it bothers you and know it’ll go back to pre-baby hair in a few short months.
Your skin. I don’t think I’ve had pronounced skin changes after childbirth, but some women’s skin is sensitive to hormonal changes (like women who break out right before they start their periods). So brace yourself and know that it’s temporary.
Also, if you had any darkening of your skin during your pregnancy, that should begin to fade after the baby is born, too. A side note: I had a really dark linea negra from my belly button to my pubic bone with babies #1 and 2 and none at all with babies #3 and 4. In fact, babies #1 and 2 both had it themselves when they were toddlers. All oddly normal.
Your boobs. Can you believe your boobs!?!?! My husband and I call the time right after childbirth the you-can-look-but-you-better-not-touch stage. They get big and full with milk and they look good (vein-y, but good!). They may also be very sore, especially your nipples. I used gel pads (Soothies by Lansinoh or Hydrogel Pads by Medela) to ease the nipple pain with #s 3 and 4. They made a huge difference!
Your boobs may stay really full during the months while you breastfeed or they may level out a bit. I know of some women whose boobs stayed bigger even after they weaned their babies from breastfeeding. The rest of us poor saps have sad little empty sacks where our boobs used to be when we stop nursing. A dear friend describes them as deflated little water balloons. This isn’t something to obsess about. My husband, for some unknown reason to me, loves the deflated water balloons just as much as he did before I started breastfeeding. I’m sure yours will, too!
Your feet and ankles. I had bad preeclampsia with baby #1 and was crazy swollen everywhere. After giving birth, I peed a litre an hour for a few days while my body let go of all of the built up fluid. It. was. awesome!
I have to say, though, that when I went back to part-time work when she was a few months old, my ankles would still be swollen at the end of the day. It took 4 or 5 months for the swelling to completely disappear. I don’t think this is typical, but if you have major fluid retention, know that it may linger after you deliver the baby.
Your belly: You may also notice your stomach is a mess right after you deliver. It will probably be super rumbly and gassy, and it may be a tad uncomfortable. That’s actually good – it means things are moving!
My tradition after delivering my babies is to push on my stomach and scream, “I’M NOT PREGNANT ANYMORE!!!” (My pregnancies aren’t fun.) But then the joy quickly is replaced by “What is this stuff?” The layers and rolls of unsupported skin and organs and baby fat feel so empty…and it jiggles!
You will look look you’re in your 2nd trimester for many weeks (months?) after giving birth. It is humbling and normal. Go easy on yourself during this time.
Your perineum. Ouchy. If you had a vaginal delivery, you may have very swollen labia. I had a nurse peek at my pad to check my bleeding once and say, “Oh, honey, it looks like you got testicles!” That’s how swollen I was. Ice packs are awesome. Tell the nurses to keep ‘em coming every few hours.
With baby #1, I had a lot of anxiety about having a bowel movement after childbirth because I had had an episiotomy and stitches. I decided to not push at all and wait until my body had a bowel movement all on its own. The only problem with that is that the longer the poop stays in your bowels, the more water that gets absorbed. And that makes you constipated! So find a comfortable balance between exertion (and fear of popping your stitches) and letting nature take its course.
Hemorrhoids. My little sister called me once and said, “I have something that looks like cauliflower coming out of my butt. What do I do?!” Hemorrhoids. Ugh. They can be really awful. I experienced them when I was pregnant with my 3rd and then after delivering my 4th.
Get pads medicated with witch hazel like Tucks and a topical cream to shrink them down and stop the itching. Eat a high fiber diet, take those stool softeners (not laxatives), and they will go away eventually. Most of us go through it at some point. I know you want them gone now, but do your best to be patient with your traumatized-by-childbirth body.
Bleeding. You are probably going to have heavy vaginal bleeding for many weeks. With my 1st two babies, I bled for 14 and 12 weeks respectively. This is not normal, so the doc ordered an ultrasound of my uterus both times and everything looked fine. It can be heavy and it can linger, so stock up on pads with wings. Don’t skimp on the pads – I’m all for buying generic, but not when it comes to pads after having a baby.
You can’t use a tampon until after you’ve had your 6 week check up with your OB. After that, you can use tampons if you’re still bleeding. And you can have sex, too! You probably can’t imagine ever wanting to at this point, but you will get there.
Sex. After having a baby, it’s normal to be anxious about having sex again. Wait until you’re at least 6 weeks post partum, and just go slowly. K-Y jelly is a great thing to have. After that 1st time post-partum, you should be fine. If it is really uncomfortable, talk to your husband and ask him to give you more time to heal.
Vaginal dryness is pretty common after having a baby and it can make sex more difficult. You may also want to mention it to your doctor to see what his or her recommendation is. Keeping the anxiety to yourself will only make it worse.
Your bladder. Immediately after having my babies, I had a very hard time telling when I needed to go to the bathroom. And when I did finally remember to go, I’d pee so ssslllooowwwlllyyy. It just wouldn’t come out! No matter how long it takes, it’s important to urinate frequently to prevent the risk of urinary tract infection.
You may also leak urine. Laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising – anything that involves exertion – may cause you to leak (or gush). If it really affects your quality of life, there is something called a pessary that can be placed in your vagina to help support the pelvic floor. I understand that this is the best option if you plan on having more children.
Love your body, ladies. Let your husbands love your bodies, too, even if you’re embarrassed about they way they look and the things they’re doing right now. Those stretch marks and scars truly are a testament to the love that you have for your husband and your baby!
Much Mommy love, Mommy Mentor CurlyQ
If you liked this article, you may also like this article about increasing your milk supply!
As always, here is my have-mercy-on-me disclaimer. Thank you!