Updated: Jul 13
Ahhhhh postpartum.... We do so much work to prepare for the baby, but our society forgets all about the parents. We talk to people all the time who say, "nobody told me ___!" or "I wish I'd known about ___!"
Our 2-hour, virtual, Preparing for Postpartum Workshop was designed to peel back the curtain and give you a true insight into the first 12 weeks after baby is born, as well as tools to set yourself up to thrive in the postpartum period. Sign up today for our next class today!
3 Things to Know About Your Postpartum Body:
1. Bodily Fluids
You'll bleed vaginally for 2-6 weeks postpartum, even if you have a c-section. This bleeding is from the wound left inside the uterus when the placenta detaches. Stay in bed and rest (read more: here) to aid healing. We recommend this kit from Frida Mom for essential supplies like vagina ice packs and comfy disposable underwear.
Sweating is normal, especially at night. It should resolve on it's own in a few weeks, but in the meantime you might want to sleep on a towel and plan time to take extra showers.
Incontinence is common, but not normal. Despite what your mother-in-law claims, you shouldn't pee a little when you jump or sneeze. Everyone who carried a full-term baby should see a PT to strengthen your pelvic floor. No matter how you gave birth, the weight of your baby put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles for 9 months, and they deserve a proper recovery. We recommend Dr. Michelle Wall in Minnesota, or Your Postpartum PT if you're looking for a virtual option.
2. Physical Changes
You'll still look pregnant for a while - bellies don't "bounce back" instantly. Pack maternity clothes to wear home from the hospital. Consider wearing a belly band for support (it's not a waist trainer, but may provide comfort as your abs regain strength).
Get checked for diastasis recti before resuming intense exercise. 100% of people will experience DR (separation of the abs) during pregnancy. It should resolve on its own in the first 6 weeks, but it's important to know that you're fully healed before doing any intense movement. If you still have a gap between your abs at the 6-week point, seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist for core exercises to help you heal. Most OBs or midwives will "clear" you for exercise at your 6-week postpartum appointment, but we don't recommend returning to exercise until you're cleared by a pelvic floor PT.
You'll lose a lot of hair from your head around 4-5 months postpartum, but it will grow back. Don't worry. Let it fall out in clumps. This is the hair you didn't lose while pregnant - it's your body's way of catching back up to normal. You won't go bald. Maybe buy some Drano for your shower.
3. Mental Health
Feelings of "Baby Blues" are common for the first two weeks due to massive hormonal shifts. The Baby Blues are different than more serious perinatal mood disorders because they're almost comical. You might have a huge cry-sesh because you saw a cute dog commercial, or because your baby turned 24 hours old and you feel like they're growing up too fast. This is normal. Cry and let it out!
If the Baby Blues last beyond two weeks, or get more serious (like thoughts of harming yourself or your baby), that starts to put you in perinatal mood disorder territory. Perinatal mood disorders are more than just postpartum depression - they include things like anxiety, OCD, and PTSD, and can happen while still pregnant.
You're not a bad parent if it feels hard. Talk to a mental health professional who specializes in perinatal mood disorders. Check out: Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota.
Postpartum is hard, but it's a heck of a lot easier when you educate yourself about what to expect, and create a plan for support. Do both in our workshop: