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10 Real Truths After Baby Arrives

Postpartum disorders are real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Depression and anxiety are huge with Postpartum Depression, but only 15% of women affected get the treatment they need. After delivery, women give all their attention and energy to caring for their baby but few are ready for the physical changes and hormonal flux. I know I wasn’t! I would have loved if someone had filled me in on a list of uncensored truths before I’d given birth. Here is my list for you and yours:

  1. You will bleed for while, even after a C-section. Whether you give birth vaginally or have a C-section, there’s an after-mess. A heavy flow of bright red blood and mucus, possibly with clots, starts after delivery and can last up to ten days. Lighter bleeding and spotting can go on for six weeks. While I didn’t have a C-Section, I’m told this happens even after a cesarean, since the uterus is shedding lining built up from your pregnancy.
  1. Depends are your friends. As a consequence of truth #1, have no shame waddling around in an adult diaper as you heal. This may last up to a month, and really is the easiest way to “contain” yourself. We’re talking blood, but we’re also talking pee, and possibly number two as well (see truth #10).
  1. The squeeze bottle is your friend too. The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus, and in the first few weeks after childbirth, it’s sore and painful. First-time moms have a 95% chance of experiencing some form of tearing during delivery, so using a peri-bottle to rinse your perineum with warm water instead of wiping after going to the bathroom (or anytime) will help you heal faster, feel better, and prevent infection.
  1. Sit your rear in an herbal sitz bath. Herbs can be instrumental to speeding up your recovery time! Soak in a sitz with your baby for perineum healing. Try any or all of these: Lavender Flowers, Plantain Leaf, Red Raspberry Leaf, Yarrow Flower, and Calendula Flowers. Get ‘em here.
  1. Nipple balm. Often, the road to breastfeeding is not easy unless your baby is a natural latcher. Your nipples get sore and can even crack during those first few weeks as you figure out optimal positioning, and get used to a proper latch for your baby’s sucking. Don’t get discouraged and stop feeding. Your baby needs all the goodness in your breast milk. Here are some awesome balms to help you on the road to recovery.
  1. Your baby may have trouble latching on. Many babies have a hard time latching onto your nipple at first. If the problem persists for more than a few days, hire a lactation consultant (we love Tanya Wills at Manhattan Birth), and a craniosacral therapist (CST) to evaluate the situation. CST is a good way to assess infants with head (or other) injuries sustained during birth, especially if any vacuums or forceps were involved. But it also helps with difficulty feeding, lifting their head, colic, and teething.
  1. You’ll look bloated for a while. You’ve done the work of giving birth, but people are still asking when you’re due? Yuck. Simply let them know post-birth bloat happens. Pushing a baby out can slow digestion. Minimizing processed foods, sugar, wheat, and dairy for a few weeks, drinking lots of water, and eating whole foods can help. Other causes of bloating include Diastasis recti, so if persistent, it’s worth consulting us at Urban Wellness Clinic.
  1. Don’t lift anything heavier than your babe (especially if you had a C-section). Just because the business of giving birth is behind you doesn’t mean you’re ready for the next big project—like renovating the kitchen. Take it easy, and if you can, get someone to carry the baby to you to avoid unneeded strain for those first weeks, and longer if you had a C-section. Short walks are good. Start with a couple of blocks at a time, and make sure you give yourself a chance to heal!
  1. You sleep when baby sleeps. Lack of sleep affects hormones that regulate your appetite, so when you’re zombified and want only cookies, don’t be hard on yourself. Your baby will wake up to eat every two hours in the beginning. This is natural and expected.  Your baby’s precious sleep is no time to do the dishes, clean the house, and do laundry. Hire a postpartum doula for these chores. Baby sleeping is an opportunity to catch some guilt free zzzzzzs yourself, skin to skin, for more baby-mama bonding.
  1. Get your pelvic floor assessed. Visit a pelvic floor specialist about six weeks after birth. They’re trained to evaluate pelvic floor muscles and treat dysfunction. At your six week check up, you doctor will say “everything looks good down there” but it sure as hell won’t feel normal for months. Hello! A 2015 study showed that 24% of women were still experiencing painful sex 18 months after birth. Another study found that 77% of new mothers had persistent back pain and 49% had urinary incontinence, a year after birth. Postpartum injuries are common, yet highly undiagnosed! Get assessed!

There’s my truth for post pregnancy bliss. Finally, if you are feeling depressed or sad or just not feeling right, be sure to consult with your doctor or midwife. Postpartum depression is real and not something that you should have to “tough out”.

Here are a few more resources if you want to know more: Our fave Pelvic Floor PTs in NYC:

Renew Physical Therapy

Beyond Basics Physical Therapy 

Functional Pelvis (Lindsey comes to you)!

Best in health,

Dr. Emily Kiberd