In the first week postpartum, things to expect include:
- bleeding: this will be like a heavy period the first few days and will gradually begin to decrease
- sore bottom: Mom has just pushed out a human being, things are going to be a little tender to downright sore down there
- swelling: the tissues in your nether regions have been through a lot! Swelling is normal, it may take up to 24 hours to peak and should start to go down on day two or three.
- moving around like a Great-Grandma: it is normal to feel the need too move very slowly as you get around. Mom may have sore muscles all over, like she just did a marathon and then climbed Mt. Everest.
- still looking pregnant: yes, baby is out but your body needs time to go back to your pre pregnancy state. Your uterus is slowly shrinking, organs are shifting back into pre pregnancy positions, and your stomach muscles are recovering from stretching out to support your belly in pregnancy
- tiredness: this is the one thing that the myths get right. Expect to be tired. You will be waking up every 1 to 3 hours to feed baby around the clock. That will tire anyone out!
- heavy and leaking breasts: as your milk comes in, your breasts may start feeling like they weigh a ton. Leaking like anything between a faucet trickling and a fire hydrant when your baby cries is perfectly normal
- new fashion accessories: breast pads, diapers, belly support wraps or belts, nursing tops, or going topless are all going to be options Mom may want to try out in the first few days postpartum.
I share all this to prepare families. We glamorize pregnancy as a society, having gender reveal parties and pregnancy photo shoots. Pregnancy is beautiful and I don't want to discount that but...I feel postpartum is even more beautiful. Mom has given birth, an act that requires digging deep into strengths she has never tapped into before. Baby has arrived, and the same body that sustained the baby in pregnancy is sustaining the baby after birth, and doing all the things it has to do to shift out of pregnancy mode. That is absolutely amazing to me.
Let's celebrate just how amazing Mom's body is after birth. Let's start having postpartum photo shoots, just like we do during pregnancy. Slip into that adult diaper, grab your camera and take some pictures. It's time to normalize, document and celebrate every aspect of postpartum!