What to expect postpartum and how to cope


It is unfortunately uncommon for people to talk about what women go through postpartum.  It can be scary to be experiencing things and not be sure if it is normal or if you are falling a part.  While I would recommend calling your doctor if you are concerned, I hope you find learning about common/realistic experiences of postpartum and how your supporters can use simple solutions to help you cope with them can be helpful to you. While there are some extreme stories of horror as well as magical recovery, most of us will fall somewhere in the middle: taking about 6 weeks to heal fully, experiencing many of the following symptoms, but ultimately dealing with them and moving on to being an amazing and loving mama.

The basic thing to keep in mind is recovering from giving birth takes TIME! Time and rest are key.  There are no shortcuts to healing.   I don’t know about you, but it drove me nuts not being able to do my usual things as I like to feel productive.  However, God whispered to my heart and reminded me that caring for my little one is the most important and productive thing I can do as a mother.

The following may sound grim right now, but all mothers have a different experience. You may only have a few or you may have them all and each to varying degrees.  Regardless of your postpartum experience, keep in mind it will all be worth it when your holding your precious little one.

  1. Shaky legs:
  • after the birth, mother’s legs and body may shake or tremble
  • caused by major hormonal shifts
    • take deep breaths
    • cover with warm blankets
    • remember to be patient


  1. Perineal tenderness:
  • Perineum and pelvic muscles have been stretched to the limit
  • tear or episiotomy will increase tenderness
    • Use a peri-bottle when urinating
    • apply frozen sanitary pads
    • sitz bath will improve blood flow and promote healing with natural herbs
    • Use Dermoplast pain relieving spray-spray right over your tender areas. This was a life-saver!!

  1. General soreness + weakness:
  • aching and fatigued muscles due tot he athletic nature of birth
  • may feel dizzy and wobbly when moving around
    • be patient
    • get lots of rest
    • take long, warm baths
    • have someone around to help
  1. Sweating:
  • Mother must eliminate her excess fluids retained during pregnancy
  • May wake up soaking wet
    • Wear cotton and lay on a towel
    • Be patient; after the first week it lessens and disappears


  1. Urinating:
  • May be hard after birth due to fear and long-term pressure on bladder
  • Method of eliminating excess fluids
    • Drink a lot before trying to urinate
    • Turn on the water
    • Run warm water over the perineum before going
    • Use the peri-bottle afterwards
    • Pat, don’t wipe clean

  1. Sluggish Bowels:
  • Digestive system takes a break for birth
  • Iron supplements, pain medication, and hemorrhoids may contribute
  • Re-starting the system may cause constipation, gas, and bloating
    • Eat small, frequent meals
    • Avoid gassy or constipating foods
    • Eat a healthy diet with fiber-rich foods
    • Drink lots of water and avoid caffeine
    • Walk to help things get moving
    • Many doctors will also prescribe a stool softener


  1. Hemorrhoids:
  • Varicose veins of the rectum
  • Usually temporary and will subside
    • Warm baths
    • Apply witch hazel to the area
    • Do not strain during BM’s.
  1. Afterbirth Pains:
  • Uterus is shrinking back to normal size
  • Release of oxytocin during breast-feeding increases pains
    • Deep breathing and relaxation
    • Apply heat to the belly1day1
  1. Lochia:
  • 4-6 week period of vaginal bleeding
  • Starts heavy and gradually abates
    • Do not use tampons
    • If the flow gets heavier and brighter red after tapering, mother needs to rest
    • Lots of rest and water
    • Use cotton reusable underwear as things can get messy! I would recommend getting oversized ones as you may want to load them with the ice packs, pads, and witch hazel.


  1. Rest:
  • Mother needs time to recover physically, mentally, + emotionally
  • A well-rested mother is healthier
  • Babies sleep schedules are erratic and it can be hard to sleep at night
    • Sleep when the baby sleeps
    • Let others help you
    • Cuddle and bond with baby in bed
    • A calm environment without lights will help baby adjust to nighttime sleeping


  1. Hair Loss:
  • Return of normal hormone levels causes this hair to fall out starting a few weeks to months after the birth
    • Not a cause for alarm
    • This is just hair retained during the pregnancy due to hormonal changes


  1. Intimacy:
  • Interest in sex is often low after the birth
  • Avoid anything in the vagina for at least six weeks after the birth
    • Include cuddling and loving moments
    • When you decide to resume intimacy, go slow and retain your sense of humor


  1. Productivity:
  • Doing “nothing” can be difficult
  • It may not feel like “real work” to sleep, change diapers and breastfeed
    • “People before things.” –LLL
    • Helping a new human being grow, bond and connect is not “doing nothing”


  1. Weight Loss:
  • Pre-pregnancy clothes will not fit
  • Mother feels “fat”
    • 9 months on=9 months to come off
    • Breastfeeding requires up to 500 extra calories a day- no starvation diets!






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