18. What happens to your body after birth? - A quick guide to postpartum recovery
It’s no secret that your body changes A LOT throughout pregnancy and childbirth, but your body continues to change after giving birth, and these changes aren’t talked about enough.
So many of my clients have made comments to me like, “Why didn’t anyone tell me ___ would happen?”
Listen in to get into the nitty-gritty of what happens to your body AFTER having your baby.
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION:
Hey, hey, welcome to the better postpartum podcast. I’m your host, Angel Swan, crunchy Christian mama to one and postpartum doula to many. I help moms care for their bodies, minds and newborns naturally during the first three months after birth. If you’re looking for pro tips on how to nurture your body naturally after childbirth, take care of your newborn baby using crunchy mama methods and help your whole family thrive during the fourth trimester, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a lot to cover. So let’s dive in. I’ll see you inside the episode. Hey, hey. So this week, we are going to be talking about postpartum recovery, and what that timeline looks like. So it’s no secret that your body changes a lot through pregnancy and childbirth. But your body continues to change after giving birth. And these changes really aren’t talked about enough. So many of my clients have made comments to me like, Why didn’t anyone tell me blank would happen. They’re almost always surprised by something that is a total normal bodily function bodily reaction to childbirth. So today, we’re going to just get into the nitty gritty of what happens to your body after having your baby for the first week, the second week, at the six month mark through the first year. So week one, your physical recovery. If you had a vaginal birth, your vagina might hurt a lot. Depending on how long you pushed and how much you might have torn. It’s gonna hurt you’re going to be pretty sore, it’ll be uncomfortable to sit, get up and don’t walk. So take it easy, and just let your body rest. You can use an ice pack or frozen popsicles with a witch hazel on your cranium to soothe the area and reduce inflammation. Ice is going to be your best friend. You also should be using a parry bottle with warm water to cleanse the area each time you use the toilet and pat dry. Please do not wipe. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. Don’t wipe pat pat pat dry. You can also fill up your parry bottle with like an herbal sitz bath mix. So either if you want to just use like Epsom salt with a warm water or if you want to steep your water with some herbs for an herbal sitz bath you can do that. And that’s extra soothing extra healing for a your healing, vaginal and perennial area. So you should also be taking some kind of pain meds. I know some of you crunchy moms are like really against medicine. But personally I wasn’t able to make it through the day without Tylenol or Advil. And if you’re going to be taking pain meds, just make sure that you stick to a schedule to get ahead of the pain. Because if you forget a dose and you wait, it’s just going to be way worse and the pain is significantly reduced when you stick to a schedule. While taking those meds. You should also make sure that you take a stool softener and drink plenty of water to help pass that dreaded postpartum poop without pain after pushing out a baby,
pooping is really hard. And if you had any kind of drugs while in the hospital, like if you had an epidural
that is a drug that’s going to cause constipation. So this is especially important if you’ve taken any drugs like that. During the childbirth process is you really got to make sure you take a stool softener and drink that water so that you can poop and in fact, a lot of hospitals won’t even let you leave the hospital without pooping. With the current conditions right now with COVID pandemic. I’m not really I don’t think that they’re holding people hostage until they poop but ya never know every hospital is different. If you’re giving birth at a birthing center, it’s a little bit different there too, but either way, pooping is hard. Make sure you take a stool softener, trust me. Now you’re gonna have a lot of bleeding. So this postpartum bleeding is called leukemia, and it’s usually heavy at first but then it subsides as your body heals. So usually the first week is the worst second week it’s getting a little bit better and then it’ll taper off by six weeks. You’re going to feel some pretty intense cramps as your uterus contracts back to its pre pregnancy size. So things like period cramps but probably way worse. And the cramps actually get especially bad while you’re nursing or pumping, because the same hormone that causes your milk to let down also causes your uterus to contract. It’s just part of the postpartum hormone processes happening. Now, if you had a C section, you can expect to have a lot of difficulty moving around, you’ll need support on your stomach. So you’ll hold usually, it’s recommended, you know, like take a pillow and press that up against your tummy so that you don’t have a lot of pain when you’re pressing and giving that support. But you’ll need to support your stomach as you get up and down, you’re going to have some pain at your incision. And you’ll probably be prescribed a little bit harder drugs than Tylenol or Advil, for the first couple days, maybe the first couple of weeks, your pain is going to be I see I’ve had a lot of C section mom clients and I’ve had some moms who are just groaning all day because they’re in so much pain. And I’ve had some moms who were like, able to climb two flights of stairs after two weeks, and they’re perfectly fine. So it really just depends on your body. But your main focus should be keeping your incision, clean, dry and protected. Give it some air after a shower, and pat dry, don’t wipe it, ouch. Don’t wipe it pat dry, always. And while it’s going to be difficult and painful to move, you should still get up and move around to prevent blood clots. That’s a higher risk. And C section moms is blood clots. So usually getting to and from the bathroom is going to be enough movement for the first couple weeks. But you can also ask your partner, your support person, whoever to give you a nice little massage on your legs to help prevent those blood classes. Well, if you had a bladder catheter, that’s going to be removed. And that can also cause some discomfort down there. It’s just irritation from having a foreign object stuck in your body. But that will get better within a day or two. Now, whether you had a vaginal delivery or C section, you should take care, you should take your temperature two to four times a day for the first three days. And that’s just to catch any infections that might come up early on. Now let’s talk about your mental health during that first week, your hormones, excuse me, your hormones are going to be all over the place, your pregnancy hormones will drop drastically, and your lactation postpartum hormones are going to kick in. This can cause you to feel super emotional over a little things that normally wouldn’t bother you, you’re going to be exhausted, because giving birth is hard work mentally and physically. And it’s important to allow yourself to rest so that you can recover more quickly and easily. Now, you’re going to be likely feeling overwhelmed, maybe we be maybe you have doubts about your ability to parent. And that’s all completely normal. Don’t worry, you can do this, your body was literally made to do this, you can do it.
Day three in particular is really hard. And no one really talks about this. But Day Three is the one when you usually will come home from the hospital or wherever you had given birth. And it’s just rough, you are exhausted and your baby is starting to become more alert and they’re crying a little bit more than they were those first two days. This is normal, but it’s really hard. And having support is going to be key during this vulnerable time. So have your partner your support person. This is also a great time to bring in your postpartum doula as your relief. So week two, your physical recovery. Your your postpartum bleeding should start to taper off a little bit, but this can last up to six weeks, so don’t be alarmed if you’re still experiencing some bleeding. By two weeks, your bleeding should be lighter. And it’s normal to feel some itching down there as your vagina starts to heal. Especially if you have like stitches down there. It might also be a little bit itchy and uncomfortable. If you had a C section, you’re still probably going to be very sore. You did have a major surgery by having a C section it’s definitely not the easy way out and that really irks me when people say that so kudos to you. Giving birth is hard no matter how you do it. It should be a little bit easier for you to move around your C section moments and you might have some itching your incision site as your wound heals, just normal healing process it gets a little bit itchy. If you’re breastfeeding, you might be starting to feel And gorged as you’re mature milk comes in, which is usually like three to five days postpartum, you might start to see your mature milk. But by week two, you’re really going to notice the encouragement happening. So to try and treat this, you can apply ice to soothe your sore breasts. Make sure that you’re emptying your breasts by pumping any remaining milk after your baby’s done with a feeding. So if they nurse and they don’t get any, or they don’t get any, they’re going to get something but what they don’t getting all of it out. Then you can pump or hand express to ease that that feeling of fullness and encouragement until you feel comfortable. You don’t have to drain until empty. But it is a good idea to just drain until you feel comfortable. Draining until empty is great. You just want to be careful because pumping too much can cause an oversupply. Now an oversupply is better than an under supply. But it’s just a delicate balance. So just be mindful of that if you’re pumping as well as nursing. So let’s see, if you’re nursing and you have sore cracked nipples, you can apply some lanolin some nipple cream nipple butter, give your nipples some air time to help them heal. I really like recommending breast shells to my clients. Those are basically these little cups that you stick in your bra and it allows your nipples to get some air even while they’re in your bra and under your shirt. If the problem of cracks persist, you should definitely seek help from a lactation professional or your postpartum doula. And we can help you check your baby’s latch and make sure that that is okay. It is normal to have like soreness, but you shouldn’t be in searing pain, that’s a sign that you need help with the latch. Now, week two, mentally, you might be starting to experience what’s known as the baby blues. So again, like weep Enos, feeling like an emotional roller coaster, those things it’s normal. But if you’re experiencing depression or anxiety for more than two weeks, you should definitely talk to your doctor about postpartum depression. So make sure you’re moving around regularly and eating well so that you can keep your energy up and help stabilize your mood. But definitely, definitely, definitely reach out to your doctor. If you suspect that, you know, you’re starting to experience postpartum depression like it’s just lingering, you need to get help. Now, by week six, you are going to physically your uterus should be back to about its pre pregnancy size. And your postpartum bleeding will stop. But it can temporarily start again. So it might like trick you make you think you’re getting your period again, which
is postpartum bleeding. Everybody is different. So just know that it can start back up. Now by six weeks, you’ll go to your six week checkup with your OB, and there they will examine how well you’ve been healing. And this is usually at this appointment. This is when you’ll be cleared for things like sexual activity, exercise and also discuss your birth control options. If you had a C section, you might be more comfortable waiting a little bit longer to resume the normal activities. But always in either case, listen to your body and allow yourself as much time as you need to heal. C section mom’s might notice that your scar is starting to feel a bit numb or itchy. You can help this by rolling your scar between your fingers to help break up that scar tissue build up. Another thing you might notice around six weeks is that your hair is starting to fall out. postpartum hair loss is normal, but it’s still really scary to experience. So just try to avoid hairstyles that are going to tug or pull on your hair. Like a tight ponytail. swap out your regular hair ties for some silk scrunchies and take biotin supplements and check out this really great brand called Oh Hey Mama hair care. I think it’s Oh Hey mama. It’s great. They have hair serum and just came out with a new shampoo. I loved their hair serum. It worked wonders for me and it’s like natural plant based oil that you drop onto your scalp and it doesn’t leave you oily. It’s great. I love it. Love it. Love it. Now six weeks mentally, you’re probably starting to feel a little bit better but you’re still exhausted and maybe even overwhelmed. Again, this is all really normal. Bring A new baby home is exhausting, and overwhelming. So feeling those feelings is okay and normal. However, if you’re feeling stuck in feelings of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, you really should talk to your doctor about treatment options for postpartum depression. Please, please, please, please don’t wait to get treatment for that you don’t have to go through that. It’s normal to have postpartum depression. But you don’t have to live with those symptoms, you just don’t. Now we’re moving on, we’re gonna skip four to six months. So physically, your postpartum hair loss is hopefully slowing down or completely stopped altogether by now. If you had some issues with bladder control, this should also be getting better. If not, you should probably seek help from a pelvic floor therapist because there might be something else going on down there. If you’re still having those bladder issues. By six months, your period might come back, even if you’re breastfeeding, I was under the impression. If I didn’t know anything, I was under the impression that as long as I was breastfeeding, I wouldn’t have my period. Lo and behold, at eight weeks postpartum, I started to get my period again, and it freakin sucks. But you know what, it’s okay. It just means my body’s working. I was disappointed to say the least. Anyways. Oh, it’s also important to know, if you’re breastfeeding. And even without getting your period breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant. So definitely use birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant. Because it is possible even without a period while breastfeeding, it is possible to get pregnant. By six months, your milk might start to dry up a little bit. And if you notice a dip in supply, you should start taking steps to increase your milk supply. So this would be like applying heat. Massaging the breasts, taking supplements pumping more often. All these things can help you get your milk supply and backup. By six months, your mental health is going to be a little bit more stable. Hopefully, now, you’re going to be in a groove with your baby, you’re going to have new routines, you’re going to start to feel like you’re figuring things out. However, if you’re struggling with postpartum depression, you’re going to have those lingering feelings of depression, anxiety. This is a time again, to seek help from your doctor,
I keep saying over and over again. But it is really, really important that you get help. And that you don’t just let yourself sit in depression. These times, those early days are just, it’s so short, you don’t realize it when you’re sitting there going day to day, getting through the day with your baby like you don’t realize it but it’s all happening very fast. And I would hate for you to really miss out on all the great things that happened during those first few months the first year because you’re struggling with depression. Now by one year, hopefully you are feeling like your old self again, or at least as much like your old self as you can be, obviously you have a baby. So things are going to be a little bit different. But your body is going to look different as well. And that’s okay. It’s not ever going to go back to exactly how it was before having your baby. But you know, your body did incredible things like you literally grew a human being inside of you and birth to them. And that’s a huge accomplishment. So if your body looks different than it did that is okay. And you should celebrate that you should celebrate the amazing things that your body has done for you. Mentally, you’re going to be off right. And one year you should be adapted to your new routines and hopefully sneaking in a few naps here and there throughout the day so that you can keep up with your little one. But yeah, overall things should be pretty good at one year. And so this is what you can expect during the first year after having your baby. I hope that you learned something today. And if you’re in need of Postpartum Support, please reach out to me. I am here to help you. Thanks again for listening. You guys. I will see you back here next week. Hey, lady, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. I hope you enjoyed this episode. And if he did, would you do me a huge favor and rate and review this podcast. The more ratings we get the more moms we can help. If you want to get more postpartum tips and encouragement Subscribe to this podcast and hang out with me online. You can read my blog at postpartum companion.com/blog. Hang out with me on Instagram at postpartum companion, and join my free Facebook group called the better Postpartum Support Group. If you have your own postpartum story that you’d like to share, head on over to postpartum companion.com/podcast and submit an application to be on the air. Thanks again for listening and be sure to subscribe and meet me back here next week. Have a blessed day and don’t forget to pray. Bye bye now.