What to Really Expect Postpartum

By Amanda Archibald

June 9, 2020

My name is Amanda and I am The Mama Coach in Vancouver, BC. I am a mom to one beautiful little girl, a Perinatal Registered Nurse, an IBCLC Lactation Consultant, a Sleep Consultant and a Prenatal Instructor. I can’t wait to help you reach your goals as a family.

The Postpartum period is a whirlwind of all the emotions. Physically and mentally you are a changed person with the birth of your new baby. Understanding the postpartum recovery process can help you feel less overwhelmed by the changes taking place and help to focus on bonding with your baby in this time period.

Many health care professionals will tell you that the postpartum recovery period takes 6 weeks for you to physically heal but in all reality it may take you much longer than this. It is important to give yourself grace in the physical and emotional recovery knowing that it may take you far longer to heal. For some it is 6 weeks and others it could take years to recover from the process of birth.

In knowing that some parts of healing may take longer than others and there is no specific time range, let’s take the opportunity to discuss the most common postpartum symptoms:

After Pains – regardless of delivery method you will likely experience cramping as the uterus slowly contracts back to its usual size and position. This may require a pain medication such as ibuprofen or a warm compress to help!

Vaginal tearing recovery – Can be varying in degree but most everyone will have some sort of tear or abrasion that requires some healing. A sitz bath can help minimize discomfort or padsicles!

First Bowel Movement – it can take 2 or 3 days to have a bowel movement postpartum and the first time can be uncomfortable. Try drinking plenty of water, walking as you feel comfortable and possibly adding in a stool softener alongside fibre rich foods.

Vaginal bleeding – both vaginal and c-section you will have bleeding that lasts for about 6 weeks. Typically heavier for the first few days, moving to a lighter brown bleeding and eventually to scant, decreasing with time and possibly increasing with any strenuous movement.

Pelvic floor discomfort – You may have difficulty with urinating, some will have trouble with the urge to go or you may leak urine. Postpartum and even prenatally it may be a good idea to see a pelvic floor physio.

Incisional healing – Healing from a cesarean incision is major abdominal surgery, and many women will experience discomfort at the incision site. As this heals you may feel itchy, there may be slight swelling and some will even feel numbness at the incision site.

Fluctuating hormones – As our body shifts and changes of hormone levels occur you may find that your hair starts to fall out (postpartum hair loss), you may develop acne, your emotions may feel uncomfortable with frequent tears and some will have night sweats!

Engorgement – As your breasts fill up with milk you may become hot, heavy and uncomfortable. The best relief is to feed your baby and remove some milk!

Baby Blues – many women experience baby blues, the first two weeks as our body shifts hormones its normal to feel emotional and very weepy at unpredictable times. Postpartum depression is a more serious condition marked by intense feelings o f sadness, hopelessness, anger and/or anxiety. If we are feeling these symptoms especially after the first two weeks please let your healthcare provider know.

This list isn’t meant to scare you but help you understand what the process of postpartum may feel and look like so you are prepared and can spend your time and energy focused on learning about your new little one and who they are!

If you have any questions please reach out to your local Mama Coach, we love to support moms postpartum during this transition!

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