I thought after my Stuff No One F*cking Tells You When You’re Pregnant blog that I would have gotten a heads up on some of this stuff. The thing is, no one can prepare you for your postpartum experience. They haven’t had it. They’ve had theirs, and fortunately here are a few things my awesome Mom friends told me about their experience that helped:
1. The uterine “massage” after you give birth is not a f*cking massage. It hurts. BE GENTLE I pleaded. They were as gentle as possible in their pressing on me to get my uterus to contract.
2. Get a sitz bath. Your vag will thank you.
3. Get a haakaa. The opposite boob that baby is not nursing will thank you, as will your future stash of breast milk.
Now. There are other things that I experienced that I would like to share, in case they are helpful to you:
1. Grab your step stool.
I literally could not get into bed the first few nights without it. Now is a good time to just come out with it: my body went through a trauma; I had above average bleeding and a mediolateral episiotomy (done at an angle) to avoid all of the swelling from pushing for two and a half hours. Yikes, I know. But basically, you suffer through awful pain and then you get to meet the most beautiful being you’ve ever seen. It’s a pretty amazing deal.
2. Kegels are still a thing.
You pee yourself. Like a little bit every time you stand up or sit down. So in addition to yoga and prenatal workouts, I did kegel exercises during pregnancy (they were supposed to help with the painful symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD,) a group of symptoms that cause discomfort in the pelvic region. And by discomfort I mean it feels like being stabbed in the vag. I quickly resumed kegels postpartum and the inopportune incontinence stopped.
3. Sweating the bed.
Obviously your body has to transition from not being pregnant and recalibrate to normal hormone levels. But the sweating the bed night after night is pretty wild.
4. “How are you feeling?” is no longer the question you are asked 24/7.
For nine months, it’s pretty much the #1 question people have for preggos. Then you have the baby and, to quote one of my Mom friends, “after that all people care about is how you look and how quickly you “bounce back”. This is most unfortunate. It’s like people just forget that you went through one of the most emotionally and physically traumatizing experiences of your life a matter of days ago. Even the OB who you have been seeing on a weekly basis gives you the cold shoulder for six weeks. Gratefully, I have a support team (husband, therapist, lactation consultant, family, and friends) to help me through the most sleep deprived, hormonally challenging, emotionally trying, and physically humbling time of my life.
5. You get a new badge of honor.
I’m a people pleaser. I want everyone to like me. I wrote a blog, “How To Stop Chasing Perfection” but I forgot about it after I gave birth. The day after I gave birth, I joked to my ObGyn that my alter ego angry Kelly came out. I was trying to poke fun of myself because I felt embarrassed and badly for being in the “zone” and getting angry at the nurses and doctors for various reasons during the incredible two and a half hour pushing phase. I told one of my Mom friends this and she said, “Wear all of it like a badge of honor.” You’re damn right, Mama.