This post is coming to you from our friends at Juna, an app that provides workouts and nutrition info for every stage of your maternity journey.
You’ve given birth to your adorable baby. These next weeks are supposed to feel like complete bliss, right? For some of us, they will. For everyone else, it'll be a mixed bag of joy and omg, what is happening right now? The truth is, it's likely to take several months (if not longer) to feel like yourself again. And while there are endless tips and shared stories about what to expect during pregnancy, there's much less info out there about your postpartum body.
Take the following 6 symptoms, for example. While a few may be on your radar, it's likely that others could take you completely by surprise. Not if we can help it. Read on to be prepared — and reassured. You've got this.
Maybe it’s no big surprise, but after you’ve given birth (no matter how you’ve given birth), you can expect to have vaginal bleeding. This bleeding, known as lochia, can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks, sometimes even longer. If you’re still having vaginal bleeding by 12 weeks postpartum, talk to your healthcare provider.
It’s important to note that this bleeding is not your period. It is tissue and blood that lined your uterus during pregnancy. You can expect the bleeding to be on the heavier side and bright red for the first couple of weeks, then start to become lighter in both flow and color.
It’s likely you experienced hemorrhoids during your pregnancy. If you were one of the lucky ones that didn’t, you will most likely develop them during pushing if you have a vaginal delivery. Applying witch hazel to the affected area is a great way to soothe these painful and itchy annoyances.
It’s not uncommon to completely dread the first bowel movement after you’ve given birth. You’re swollen, sore, and the last thing you want to do is push something out again, right? Especially if you experienced a vaginal tear during delivery or had an episiotomy. This fear alone could cause constipation, or it could be brought on by anesthesia or medications given to you during delivery. Drinking plenty of fluids as well as eating foods that are high in fiber can help.
If you need more assistance to get things moving, talk to your healthcare provider about your options. The solution may be as simple as taking a stool softener or you may benefit from working with a pelvic floor physical therapist who can help you overcome barriers to pooping comfortably.
Whether you intend to breastfeed or not, you can expect your milk to come in within the first 3-6 days after giving birth. You’ll know your liquid gold has arrived when your breasts feel full and uncomfortable. If you want to breastfeed, feed your newborn frequently and apply cold compresses to the breast to help relieve the pain. The engorgement should subside within 24-48 hours.
If you don’t plan on breastfeeding, it can take several days for this engorgement to go away. Avoid massaging your breasts or applying any heat to them (i.e. warm water from the shower), as this can stimulate let-down, causing your breasts to make more milk. For more information on managing engorgement, check out Juna's breastfeeding course.
Before you wake up in a sheer panic because the t-shirt you went to sleep in is soaking wet, you should know that this is very normal during postpartum. This is one of the ways your body tries to get rid of any excess fluids that aided in your pregnancy. These sweats will pass, but in the meantime, keep the room cool, and wear loose-fitting pajamas. And don’t forget to drink that water!
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression
During and after pregnancy, your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. During postpartum, 70-80% of women will experience the “baby blues”. It’s common to feel sad or overwhelmed and to cry often after having a baby. Do not feel guilty about this. Your body just went through a hugely transformative process, and if you find yourself feeling less than joyful to have a new baby in your home, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you're feeling this way for more than a couple of weeks, or if you’re feeling a sadness that is more intense than just "a little blue," you may have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression usually begins within a month of giving birth and can last up to one year.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, please talk to your healthcare provider.
- Feeling sad/hopeless/extreme despair
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- Lack of interest or connection with your baby
- No motivation
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Distancing yourself from family and friends
One More Thing
While these symptoms may have you worried about what’s to come, it’s important to know this: the postpartum period will not last forever. And whether your symptoms are mild or severe, they deserve care and attention. Don't hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider and ask for help and advice.
For more support and knowledge, consider signing up for your FREE trial of the Juna app today!