By Toni Brannagan
Typically, a few pieces of information dominate conversations about having a baby. The pregnancy: the hormonal shifts between trimesters, the cravings, the *glow*. Or the birth itself: one word — poop. And chances are, when you give birth, the focus shifts away from you and onto the new little one.
Obviously, a brand new baby needs quite a bit of attention, but something that shouldn’t fall by the wayside is caring for the person who just pushed that aforementioned bundle of joy through a very sensitive area. Every mother can recall exactly what was going on with their body in those days and weeks after giving birth—spoiler alert: probably *a lot*—but why aren’t we talking about it?
I asked 11 moms to share what they wish they could’ve known about living postpartum, and here’s what they eagerly shared:
“The days after giving birth were an amazing time where my husband, baby, and I lived in our own little bubble. Then my husband went back to work. I wish someone told me how lonely and isolating being at home with a baby can be! I had a newborn in the beginning of winter, so sometimes getting out of the house, even just for a walk, wasn’t really an option. I called my sister A LOT, and always felt guilty about talking her ear off about the same things (baby stuff, me stuff, marriage stuff). Now I realize that having a mom tribe to get you through those first few months is so important. It doesn’t have to be other moms, and don’t worry if you feel like what you have to say isn’t important to them — what you have to say is important in your life and they understand that.” - Marisa M.
“Taking your 1st (and 2nd...and 3rd) poop after birth is going to hurt more than actually giving birth. Cry all you want or need to, because it's normal, and it's okay. Also, Thinx are amazing and were some of my BFFs post partum.” - Danielle B.
“Make both of your hands into fists. Place them between your thighs. That’s how big your inner labia will be. Take stool softeners after giving birth. (Even if you do this, taking your first dump will be one of the scarier moments in life.) The first time you go somewhere alone with no baby in your belly or at your side, you will feel an inexplicable kind of naked and strange. You haven’t been alone for 40+ weeks.” - Misty H.
“I wish I knew it wasn’t going to be as awful as everyone makes it seem. I’ve only had easy, all-natural births and everyone made me fear the AFTER. I went to Target on my way home from the hospital. But I would have killed to know about Thinx for postpartum — not making that mistake again this pregnancy.” - Katie W.
“I didn’t know it was possible to love your body yet have it feel so foreign all at the same time. The emotions after birth are a roller coaster and it takes TIME to heal. Give yourself grace and patience and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no prize for being the most “put together” or quickest to recover. Your body just went through the hardest workout of your life so give it time — you will reach a new and beautiful normal. ❤️️” - Hannah K.
“Try so hard not to judge your postpartum body. Everyone looks so different. You may still look pregnant weeks later or you might look like pre-baby. Everyone is different. It took 9 months to grow and change and it can take just as long (or longer) to start changing back. Also, many women will never look 100% the same as they did before and it can be emotional, but be gentle with yourself.” - Betsy S.
“I think when a lot of women get pregnant, they're constantly Google-ing their symptoms, what every little ache and pain means, what is happening with the baby, etc. The first time I was pregnant, I was totally this person… but I didn't Google ONCE what would happen to my body after giving birth. I didn't realize that my body would feel like I had just been hit by a truck while running a marathon, that I would be bleeding for weeks, that my vagina would be swollen to three times the size, and oh yeah — hemorrhoids. Be kind to yourself after birth, because things down there WILL go back to normal, no matter how impossible that may seem. Have vaginal ice packs ready for you at home. Steal ALL of the hospital supplies, especially that perineum bottle. (It's not really stealing by the way, you and your insurance are paying an insane amount of money for this.) The Hi-Waist Thinx were perfect because they kept my postpartum belly in, and the Training Shorts were really good for lounging in baby jail. Speaking of baby jail, save a few shows you've been wanting to watch on Netflix — and don't feel guilty about watching them.” - Kathleen A.
“I had no idea how possessive I would be over my child — and how much I would be judged for it. I had terrible PPD/PPA. Anytime anyone held my baby (even my husband), I would have to calm myself down from the thoughts of ‘What if they drop her? What if they bump her head? What if they take her? What if they hurt her?’ I hated when anyone else would do anything for her because I was afraid she would love them more or they would hurt her. I spent so many nights laying in bed thinking the tree in my front yard would fall onto her room and kill her. I begged my husband for window alarms in case someone came to kidnap her. No one prepared me for those moments.” - Felisha R.
“Everyone’s birth experience is different, everyone’s pregnancy is different and everyone’s bodies feel/heal/look different after birth. I could tell you that my vagina felt like I had a watermelon sized swollen bruise between my legs for two weeks straight. But you might not feel that. You might feel fine within a few hours, or it might take longer. You might become an emotional wreck on day 3, you might not. You might not want anyone else to hold your baby, or you might want to pass them around to anyone who will take them for 5 minutes. You might feel an instant rush of love immediately after birth, you might not.” - Abi W.
“I hated the postpartum bleeding. I was warned about it but being able to actively feel the bleeding was definitely anxiety inducing. I really wish I had bought some Thinx because I think that would have helped ease that anxiety!” - Patrice M.
“Having a c-section is major surgery and it doesn’t make you any less of a mom because you had one! The recovery is tough, mentally and physically, but don’t be afraid to ask for help and accept it when it’s given to you! There’s seriously nobody stronger than a mom, and to all new moms out there, it’s okay if you don’t feel that strength right away! You’re allowed to mourn your old body and your old childless life, but when all is said and done — trust me, becoming a mom is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do!” - Courtney P.
How about our other mamas out there? Is there anything you wish you knew about postpartum? Share your experiences with us in the comments.