17 Little Known Things About the First Week After Giving Birth Nobody Tells You
Pregnancy and childbirth can be a dreadful experience or it can be a wonderful thing – we all know that. Interestingly, many mums often tell us about their 9-month ordeal, but nobody really focuses on what actually happens to your body after birth. So here are the crucial things you need to know (and wished someone had told you) about what happens after you pop that little one out.
#1 You will still look 6 months pregnant
You may be in a for a shock if you weren’t given a heads up on this! This is due to the uterus not shrinking. It will gradually improve every day, but on the very first day, you’ll still look 6 months pregnant.
#2 Very high chance of blocked ducts around day 3-5
Blocked ducts usually mean that the milk is not moving well in a part of your breast. Then the milk backs up, causing lumpiness and discomfort. If you don’t get the milk flowing, it can lead to inflammation.
The inflammation happens when milk backs up and is forced out of the duct into the surrounding tissues. Traces of milk may enter your bloodstream and your immune system responds, making you feel feverish and as if you have flu.
What to do:
Remove any white spots (blebs) by rubbing them gently with a clean, warm, damp flannel or using a sterile needle, after you’ve had a bath or shower. Your baby may even remove the bleb herself while feeding. As long as you deal with these spots, and check for them from time to time, they should be nothing more than a nuisance.
Keep breastfeeding your baby from your affected breast, if you can, even if it’s uncomfortable. It will help you to get better faster, as your baby will empty your breast.
Feed as often as possible, starting with your affected breast, and make sure there aren’t long gaps between feeds. This may sometimes mean waking your baby for a feed.
Make sure that your baby is latched on well. A breastfeeding specialist will be able to help your baby to latch on properly. Your midwife, doctor or health visitor should be able to put you in touch with one.
#3 Lochia will last for 6 weeks
….and the flow is heavier after your postnatal massage (which can start on day 5)
#4 First poop hurts as hell
If necessary, a stool softener and a mild laxative can team up to make that first movement a little less uncomfortable; your practitioner will probably recommend one.
#5 There will be more contractions
Afterpains are typically mild for first-time moms (if you feel them at all) and don’t last long, but they can be quite uncomfortable after a second delivery and usually get worse with each successive pregnancy.
That’s because first-time mothers have better uterine muscle tone, so the uterus tends to contract and stay contracted, rather than intermittently relaxing and then contracting again.
#6 Postnatal depression is real, and so are the baby blues
Postnatal depression (PND) is sometimes confused with the baby blues. Baby blues are when you feel moody, weepy, tired or anxious during the first week after giving birth. These feelings will usually pass within a few days.
However, unlike the baby blues, PND is an illness that is unlikely to get better quickly, and without help. The sooner you recognise that you have PND, and get the support that you need, the less likely it is to become a severe or long-term problem.
#7 Your stitches will fall off and may look like ‘bee hoon’
Nothing to worry about, ladies! When repairing the incision after you give birth, your doctor will decide what is the best type of material to use. The decision will be made taking into account their normal practices, your skin, your body type, and other factors in your medical history.
Staples will always need to be removed, some stitches will need to be removed, others dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed.
#8 Sleep might elude you worse than you had expected
The ideal newborn sleeps for 2.5-3 hours at a stretch. Monster babies may sleep for only 45 mins and then demand to be nursed – so you technically only sleep for 30 mins at a stretch.
#9 Hair falls like it’s never fallen before – you might even have a bald patch
Soon you’ll have more hair coming out in the shower or on the brush. This unusual shedding will taper off and your hair will be back to its pre-pregnancy thickness about six to 12 months after you give birth. By the way, not all women notice dramatic changes in their hair during pregnancy or the postpartum period.
#10 Stitches will hurt the most between days 2-4
As your drugs wear off, the pain from the wound and stitches will gradually get more intense and takes about 1 week or more to fully heal.
#11 There will be water retention in your legs
Sit with your legs stretched out! The swelling can lead to the skin having an appearance that is stretched, inflamed, puffy or shiny. In some cases, pressing down on the skin may result in it staying sunken in for a few seconds. In addition to affecting your hands and feet, pregnancy-related swelling can also affect other areas of the body such as your legs, ankles and abdomen.
#12 You might not like your baby right away
Some mums realise that they are not bonding with their newborn as expected. It frustrates them and they feel negatively towards their baby at the beginning.
The bonds that last a lifetime don’t bind overnight; rather, they form gradually, over time. Don’t be startled if you feel this way. Once you’re more settled into motherhood, these feelings will go away and you will be overwhelmed with the pure love you feel for your child soon after.
#13 Breastfeeding is ‘natural’, but not really
Breastfeeding was honestly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it totally didn’t feel “natural” until about three months in.
Some new mums get it right away and that’s awesome! But don’t feel like a failure if you’re not one of them. Find a good lactation consultant and keep at it.
#14 Back and hip pain like you couldn’t possibly imagine
It’s common to have some back pain after giving birth. After all, you did just push a whole baby out of you! I just thought this was a new normal for a while, but eventually, I went to a chiropractor and a masseuse. Best decision ever!
#15 That line on your belly might linger for a LONG time
I just assumed mine would go away within the first few of weeks postpartum, but it stuck around until my son was about 18 months old! Mederma, an over-the-counter topical gel, can help to reduce the scars.
#16 Your nipples will hurt like whoa!
The tenderness, soreness, and cracking in your nipples, usually occurs during the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
Poor breastfeeding positions, or a baby with a very strong suck, can cause sore breasts after pregnancy and even cause nipples to crack.
Always try to use both breasts at every feeding, even if it’s not for very long. If one breast is sorer than the other, nurse from the less sore one first. If your baby is very hungry, she’ll tend to suck more vigorously at the beginning of the feeding. Avoidance, in this case, won’t work — and will actually make matters worse.
Your boobs will be sorer than you ever thought was humanly possible. Make good friends with your nipple cream… and some ice packs while you’re at it.
#17 You’ll experience separated abdominal muscles
Abdominal separation, known as Diastasis Recti, is very common among pregnant women. Unfortunately, it may stick with you during the first few weeks of post-pregnancy.